Sensitive issues in final summit round By Rickey Singh
Guyana Chronicle
July 5, 2002

Related Links: Articles on the Caribbean
Letters Menu Archival Menu

AS RELATIVE calm returned to Georgetown yesterday after Wednesday's eruption of violence, Caribbean Community (CARICOM) leaders were locked in a late caucus session dealing with the political crisis situation in Haiti and forging a common approach on security and crime.

They were expected to come up with a set of recommendations for action based on a report from the Regional Task Force on Security and Crime.

But there was no confirmation that it also incorporates the proposal by Prime Minister Lester Bird of Antigua and Barbuda for the establishment of a Caribbean Rapid Response Anti-Crime Force to deal with specific challenging threats to any member state of the Community.

All one source was prepared to say on the discussion on Haiti was that the Community leaders had "a very candid exchange with President (Jean Bertrand) Aristide on issues like human rights, democratic governance and the securing of development aid".

This, he said, was done in the context of the Community's continuing support for Haiti, now CARICOM's newest and 15th full-fledged member, to obtain international development aid and the Community's own commitment to "upholding democratic traditions".

Recommendations for the award of CARICOM's highest and most prestigious honour --Order of the Caribbean Community (OCC) -- were also scheduled for consideration by the leaders.

And conference sources indicated that "there is wide support" for the noted Caribbean intellectual, Lloyd Best of Trinidad and Tobago to be among the recipients of the OCC.

Last week, when it became known that the advisory committee for the OCC award was making recommendations for the current 23rd Summit, the well-known Caribbean novelist and social commentator, Barbados-born George Lamming, said that the 68-year-old Best has been "the most persistent and creative of activists of Caribbean integration".

And he urged the CARICOM leaders to confer on him the OCC.

Earlier in the day, the Prime Ministers of St. Lucia (Dr. Kenny Anthony) and Grenada (Dr. Keith Mitchell) signed the revised Treaty of Chaguaramas.

When the leaders resume their plenary session this morning, the focus will be on an "Overview of the state of the Community" that will include presentations by the President of the Caribbean Development Bank, Dr. Compton Bourne (OE) and the Governor of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB), Sir Dwight Venner.

Unlike previous summits, a significant departure from this one has been the absence of any pre-summit meetings of either the Prime Ministerial Sub-committee on External Negotiations or the Prime Ministerial Sub-committee on the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME).

Jamaica's Prime Minister P.J. Patterson heads the sub-committee dealing with external negotiations, that includes lead responsibility for the Caribbean's Regional Negotiating Machinery (RNM), while Barbados' Prime Minister Owen Arthur chairs the sub-committee on the CSME.

Prime Minister Arthur was forced to cut short his involvement in the summit because of a throat infection and left yesterday morning for home, with his Foreign Minister, Billie Miller, assuming leadership of the Barbados delegation.

The financing of the proposed Caribbean Court of Justice and administrative and related matters pertaining to the RNM, as well as the recommendations arising from the pre-summit Civil Society Conference are also to be addressed before the curtains come down this evening on the 23rd Summit.