Secretary-General of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Ambassador Irwin LaRocque hailed the strength of the Caribbean Community’s unity in the face of adversity brought by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.
In his end-of-year message for 2020, LaRocque lauded the region’s approach to public health adopted from “the very outbreak of the virus, even before a pandemic was declared.”
“Thanks to the hard work of the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), our lead Institution in the sector, other Regional Institutions, the CARICOM Secretariat and health officials across the Community, all under the guidance of the Heads of Government, we were able to avoid the worst effects.”
The secretary-general said the regional body, in an effort to facilitate its post-COVID-19 economic recovery, has been seeking support from friendly countries for the international financial policy-making bodies to review their eligibility criteria which bar access to development assistance, grants and concessional financing.
He added that heads of government and foreign ministers have been advocating for a Universal Vulnerability Index to be used to determine access.
“These financial resources would be invaluable to assist in recovery from the pandemic, and the continuing battle to adapt and mitigate the effects of climate change,” the secretary-general said.
As we celebrate during the season, it is imperative we adhere to the health protocols and maintain the discipline that will relieve the pressure on both the health and economic sectors.
He said CARICOM must be thankful it has been relatively successful in managing the health aspects of the pandemic with 1300 deaths, a comparatively low figure in the global context.
LaRocque said evidence that governments across the region were not “throttled by the pandemic was exemplified by the fact that seven Member States and one Associate Member held general elections.”
“Issues arose in the aftermath of the elections in Guyana and the Community responded to the invitation to assist in providing a resolution. This further underlined the spirit of community that is the hallmark of our integration.”
He said heads of government, ministerial councils, and officials ensured that other priority issues apart from the pandemic engaged their attention by having virtual meetings intra-regionally and internationally provided the platform for advancing and protecting the Community’s interests.
“As challenging as 2020 has been, we have not lost the vision of what the future can be, as demonstrated by the unity on which our Community has drawn to manage the pandemic.”
“There is much to celebrate in this joyous season. Let us make it a truly special and safe holiday season, while looking towards a brighter 2021.”