Above: Fort de France, Martinique (CJ Photo)
By the Caribbean Journal staff
In a major move for the region, Martinique will be joining the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States as an associate member.
The OECS announced the move this week. Martinique, the first-ever French territory to join the OECS, will officially join the grouping on Wednesday in a ceremony at the Bateliere hotel in Fort de France.
“The involvement of Martinique in the OECS; while there are limitations because of their status in relation to France, opens up great potential and certainly widens the demographics from an economic perspective,” said OECS Director General Dr Didacus Jules. “We have seen the relationship grow between Martinique and Saint Lucia and between Guadeloupe and Dominica for example. What that does now is widen this to the whole OECS. The use of Martinique as a tertiary health facility centre for the OECS is something under discussion so there are a lot of opportunities.”
The decision comes about two years after a report commissioned by the government of St Lucia urged OECS integration for both Martinique and Guadeloupe.
Martinique and Guadeloupe (along with French Guiana) are also seeking associate membership in CARICOM.
“It’s not enough to just grow the economy if you are growing it and only the existing players benefit, it has to be the type of growth that leads to a widening of opportunity for smaller persons; trickle-down effect; a spread of the benefits and community tourism we think will do particularly well with the engagement of Martinique and Guadeloupe,” Jules said. “So we are expecting that this will yield great benefits in terms of weekend travel, bed and breakfast arrangements, community sporting activities, and so on.”
The President of Martinique’s regional council, Serge Letchimy, has been a major proponent of strengthened relations with France’s neighbours in the region.
Martinique is joining Anguilla and the British Virgin Islands as associate members of the regional grouping.