Media Center

Press Release


  March 24, 2009

• OAS Secretary General intervenes at the Conference on the development challenges in the Caribbean
• Assistant Secretary General calls for strategic repositioning of the Caribbean

During the Conference entitled: ‘Caught in the Global Hurricane: Debating the Caribbean’s Development Challenges in an Uncertain World’, the Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), José Miguel Insulza, said that “the Summit of the Americas will be an opportunity for dialogue among all 34 leaders of the region, but it will also be a unique opportunity for the Caribbean region, and for CARICOM in particular, to articulate their vision of hemispheric relations and to draw attention to the challenges the region faces.”

Since the main topics of the conference were the Caribbean and the Summit of the Americas that will be held in April, Insulza noted that issues such as finance and development, climate change, and security are included in the agenda to be discussed by the leaders in Trinidad and Tobago, and that those issues are the priority for many of the Caribbean countries.

Specifically, on the issue of security, he said that “it could become the Achilles heel of CARICOM’s development” and that the hemispheric meeting should serve to identify solutions to this and other regional problems.

In his speech, the Secretary General noted that the five of the twenty participants of the G-20 Summit, which will take place before the Summit in Trinidad and Tobago, will be from the continent. In this regard, he suggested that that the Trinidad Summit takes its cue from the G-20 discussions and adapts them to the realities of the region.

“The people will be asking what the Summit is going to be about, and we don’t want to tell them it was jut about taking note of the resolutions of the G-20. Leaders should adopt concrete measures that can help most of our countries find solutions to the global crisis, especially the poorest and the smallest countries”, he stated.

Insulza also acknowledged that, “although most of the countries of the Americas have had reasonably good economic performances in the past 8 years, it would be an illusion to say that the financial and economic crisis is not going to affect us, and for that reason we need to be prepared.”

He concluded by saying that the Presidents and Heads of State that will be present at the Summit, should be both cooperative and realistic in the search for solutions. “We should know exactly where the continent stands, and how we are going to work together to solve the challenges ahead”.

Making specific reference to the situation of the Caribbean region, OAS Assistant Secretary General, Albert Ramdin, gave the welcoming remarks to the attendees of the Conference. He said that the “the problems facing the sub-region are not unique to the Caribbean”, and he encouraged participants to look, not only at the challenges in the Caribbean, but also at the tremendous opportunities that can become available through the creation of a strategic repositioning of the region in international affairs, a bolstering of its integration processes and the judicious use of a one-voice strategy.”

Ambassador Ramdin mentioned some immediate problems of the region and added that “Caribbean leaders are keenly aware of the challenges facing their societies and are committed to addressing not only the current financial crisis, but also lingering and equally thorny issues such as food and energy security, environmental degradation and climate change, crime and security and economic development.”

In this regard, Ramdin noted that there is “a need for the region to define a set of key priorities as part of a strategic agenda including trade, education, agriculture, the environment and security.” He also stressed the “importance for the Caribbean in broadening the dialogue with the private sector, trade unions and civil society so as to create the highest commitment and buy-in on ways forward.”

The event, organized by the Brookings Institution, the OAS, the Woodrow Wilson International Centre for Scholars and Manchester Trade Ltd, brought together leading experts and scholars to discuss issues related to trade, finance and development, security, climate change, natural disasters and relations with Cuba within the framework of the Caribbean region. The objective was to generate recommendations in light of the upcoming Summit of the Americas that will take place in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago on April 17-19, 2009.

Reference: E-094/09