CARICOM Heads of Government Begin Summit in Antigua

Above: Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne

By the Caribbean Journal staff

Leaders from across the Caribbean region assembled in Antigua and Barbuda this week for the 35th regular meeting of the CARICOM Conference of Heads of Government.

The conference is being hosted by Antigua and new Prime Minister Gaston Browne, following the country’s assumption of the CARICOM chairmanship at the beginning of the month.

The summit is being held at the Sandals Grande resort in Antigua.

In his opening address, he hearkened back to French clergyman Pere Labat, who said “we are all together in the same boat, sailing on the same uncertain sea and … that it is no accident that the sea which separates our lands makes no difference to the rhythm of our bodies.”

Browne addressed the situation of the region, saying the Caribbean was “being pummelled from all sides – in unfair terms of trade; in severely reduced official development assistance; in greater demands for costly regulation and enforcement in financial services that are disproportionate to the risk our systems pose; in the insistence on denying us low cost loans based on the false criteria of per capita income; in pressures to open up our markets in ways that refuse to accept that equal treatment applied to un-equals – represents injustice.”

He also said his government was committed to the recently-formed Reparations Commission “to achieve reparatory justice for the victims of genocide, slavery, slave trading, and racial apartheid.”

And, speaking on the single market, he said it was a “work unfinished.”

“A single economy is work not yet begun,” he said.