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    September 22

  • 07:01 PM

Caricom heads to meet in Jamaica

Rickey Singh,

Added 27 June 2010

WITH THE extradition of Christopher “Dudus” Coke to the United States last Thursday, Prime Minister of Jamaica Bruce Golding will settle down this week to finalise arrangements for his hosting of the 31st CARICOM Heads of Government Conference that starts in Montego Bay next Sunday.Coincidentally, the same day Coke was being extradited to face trial in the United States on drug-trafficking and gun-running charges, Golding was leaving Jamaica for Canada to participate in a meeting of the G-20 group of nations.Golding would have left Jamaica with an understandable sense of relief that the infamous “don” of Tivoli Gardens in his West Kingston “garrison” constituency has probably spared Jamaicans from the trauma of a court trial at home. In a curious way, by evidently aiding his capture with the help of a well-known pastor (Reverend Al Miller), subsequently waving his rights to an extradition trial, and then appealing to Jamaicans to “pray” for him, Coke may well have the paved the way for a more thorough battle between security forces and other “dons” and criminal gangs that have contributed to Jamaica’s unflattering profile as one of the world’s major murder and crime centres.Terrorism and criminality were expected to surface at the G-20 Summit in the context of how serious social and economic problems often provide the conditions that threaten national, regional and international security.Golding, who has lead responsibility among CARICOM Heads of Government for external economic relations, will be expected to brief his colleagues in Montego Bay on the outcome of the summit in Canada.The G-20 pledge to make available new financial resources to the poor and developing nations, among them CARICOM states, to tackle crime and security. Updates on status of preparations for advancing CARICOM’s Single Market and Economy (CSME) as well as the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the European Union, negotiations with Canada for a new trade and development accord, and US/CARICOM relations are some of the main agenda issues. At the time of writing, the Caribbean Community Secretariat was not in a position to confirm the full list of participating Heads of Government. It said, however, that all 15 member countries of the now 37-year-old regional economic integration movement were expected for the four-day summit that concludes on July 7.Among likely absentees would be outgoing President of Suriname Runaldo Venetiaan, whose party was defeated in the country’s recent general election. The election by the parliament of a new head of state is unlikely before August.No confirmation could be obtained on the participation either of Barbados’ ailing Prime Minister David Thompson. But his presence would certainly be a most pleasant surprise for his colleagues. Thompson has lead responsibility for advancing arrangements for CARICOM’s flagship project – the attainment of a seamless regional economy by 2015.Of course, the goal-post on CSME inauguration keeps shifting as a number of member states continue to falter in honouring their pledges to close the yawning gaps on implementation of treaty-based policies and programmes.A few appear to be simply going through the motions of participation but succeed only in fostering more cynicism with their stale platitudes – whether the issue involves the much-needed new management system to conduct the community’s business, or sensitive people-oriented matters like even intra-regional free movement of nationals with contingent rights.

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