Envoy welcomes launch of Guyanese association in Barbados By Rickey Singh
Guyana Chronicle
April 29, 2004

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BRIDGETOWN -- A Guyanese Association of Barbados (GAB) has been launched here with the intention of promoting the integration of Guyanese into the Barbadian society.

Heading a 12-member steering committee until arrangements are made later in the year for election of office bearers, is the well-known and now former private and public sector executive, Pat Thompson. He is among an estimated 25,000 Guyanese currently residing in Barbados.

Other objectives of the association include: "Preserve and exhibit Guyanese culture in the Barbadian society; provide resource information for newly arrived Guyanese and Guyanese in need of assistance; and organise celebrations around Guyana's national events".

Thompson said that the association has assured Guyana's Honorary Consul in Barbados, Norman Faria - who was among the more than 200 Guyanese at the launching ceremony on Saturday evening, that it was GAB's intention "to cooperate with his office whenever that proves to be relevant and practicable".

Greetings on behalf of their respective governments were delivered by Barbados's Minister of State in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Kerry Symmonds, and ambassador Elisabeth Harper, Director-General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Guyana’s newly-accredited High Commissioner to Barbados.

Minister Symmonds, in echoing a stated position of Prime Minister Owen Arthur, commended the contributions that CARICOM nationals had made to Barbados, and in particular Guyanese in the agricultural and construction sectors.

Ambassador Harper had earlier presented her letter of credence to Governor General Sir Clifford Husbands, as Guyana's High Commissioner to Barbados and later participated in the 7th Meeting of the CARICOM Council for Foreign and Community Relations (COFCOR) as a member of Guyana's delegation that was headed by Foreign Minister Rudy Insanally.

Both in presenting her letter of credence and subsequently in her greetings at the launch of GAB, envoy Harper, soon to be accredited High Commissioner also to Trinidad and Tobago, praised the Guyanese diaspora in the region for their contributions to the “cultural cross-fertilisation and enrichment" of Caribbean peoples.

She also spoke of the increasing initiatives to strengthen bilateral relations between Guyana and Barbados, and pointed to recent developments to bring into force an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) treaty between the two countries as well as the Guyana Trade Exhibition in Barbados.

The Barbados business sector is expected to mount an exhibition of their own in Guyana within the near future.

Ambassador Harper, who also had a meeting with Barbados's Chief Immigration Officer, Gilbert Greaves, during her visit, said that there have been "very useful consultations" between Guyanese and Barbadian immigration officials with a view to addressing "the challenges faced in travelling through the region and to working to overcome those challenges".

She said it was the expressed view of the Guyana President and other CARICOM Heads of Government that the “Caribbean Diaspora can be worthwhile partners in the regional development process..."

In his introductory remarks, GAB's Thompson noted that the association "is a non-political body and we would like as many Guyanese as possible to join us".

Delivering the feature address at the event was the Guyanese management consultant, Aubrey Armstrong, who urged unity in the interest of Guyana's progress and to avoid what he deemed "politically toxic people" and those obsessed with "ethnicity and racism".