EDITORIAL: The rhetoric vs action to advance Caricom’s agenda
THE 25th Inter-Sessional Meeting of the 14-member Caribbean Community got under way in St Vincent and the Grenadines yesterday with a packed agenda for two days of deliberations and decisions ahead of the regular annual summit of Heads of Government in July expected to take place in Antigua and Barbuda.
The circulated draft agenda is focused largely on advancing what’s considered to be traditional but quite important issues, such as crime and security, the climate change phenomena, plus Information and communication technology (ICT). Inevitably, however, current political and economic matters of regional and international interest would also be addressed.
These would certainly include the ongoing political demonstrations involving supporters and opponents of the government of President Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela since last month. These violent demonstrations have prompted calls for restraint and independent monitoring from regional and international organisations.
Significantly, United States Secretary of State John Kerry also broke his silence to urge a “mediation process”, although his own State Department has been openly accused by the Caracas administration of President Maduro of being “actively involved” in aiding anti-government demonstrations.
Truth is that mediation seems absolutely vital , as recognised by United Nations monitors. Yet to be addressed, however, is the continuing failure by President Barack Obama’s administration to renew interest in normalisation of diplomatic relations with the government in Caracas after successive presidential and local government elections by the governing socialist-oriented party of President Maduro.
For its part, CARICOM would be expected to move from rhetorical urgings to offering specific initiatives that could be pursued by the decision-makers in Caracas and Washington, given the importance the Community rightly places on the comparatively small but vital geographical/cultural bridge it represents between the two Americas – North and South.
Likewise, the citizens of CARICOM would expect our Heads of Government to come forward with some new, specific proposals to counter spreading gun-related criminality than seemingly being unable to go beyond recurring hand-wringing utterances over mind-boggling data on the crime epidemic sweeping across the region.
Further, since their annual summit last July in Port of Spain, the equally sensitive issue of intra-regional air transportation has become even more in need of collective, Community-wide involvement for prioritised responses, now that LIAT feels compelled to cut back on some intra-regional routes it has been servicing amid all the political talk about a fast-ferry service and also improved shipping for intra-regional cargo.
We therefore await the official communiqué to be released, hopefully this evening, with the closure of the 25th Inter-Sessional.