Above: CARICOM SG Irwin LaRocque and Jamaican PM Portia Simpson Miller (Photo: CARICOM)
By the Caribbean Journal staff
The Caribbean Community must “embrace” freedom of movement and expand its categories of free movement to include security guards, household helpers and caregivers, according to Jamaica’s Prime Minister, Portia Simpson Miller.
Jamaica’s leader, speaking at the opening of the CARICOM Conference of Heads of Government in St Lucia, said it was important to build a community in which Caribbean people feel confident in the organization’s ability to improve their quality of life.
“[CARICOM] has been a journey, and one that we cannot stop on now,” Simpson Miller said, calling for a greater focus on issues affecting women, particularly poor and vulnerable women in the Caribbean Community.
“Every single CARICOM member state benefit from the regional integration movement,” she said, although she pointed to trade imbalances in the region as having “become a distorting feature of our single market.”
Trade imbalances in the region, particularly that between Jamaica and Trinidad, have increasingly raised controversy in the region.
But Simpson Miller said it was important for improved awareness of the single market and its initiatives.
“If our people are to appreciate our community and to value the time and effort that we, as leaders, expend to give it direction and shape, then we must invest in communication and engagement,” she said. “It will take time and effort, but we fail to do so at our peril. What a disservice this would be to the people of our region.”