40 years later, is Caricom still relevant?

The opening of the Caricom Heads of Government meeting last evening. [Photos: Shan Mohamed]

 By Radha Motielall in Trinidad and Tobago

 This is the question which every speaker sought to answer during the opening ceremony of the 34th annual Heads of Government Conference of Caricom in Port of Spain, Trinidad.

And this question is not coming from the media, but from the people across the fifteen-member group.

Caricom-2-300x225The general feeling over the years has been that Caricom is a ‘talk shop’ and that none of its movers and shakers is serious about integration.

But addressing this exact title ‘talk shop’, Prime Minister Perry Christie of The Bahamas said the Caribbean society is replete with ‘talk’ as ‘talking’ is therapeutic. But the record he added would show that they have done much more than just talk.

Picking up on this point however, Grenada’s Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell said Caricom must now ‘walk the talk’. And this is something many former Caricom Heads have also been saying.

But while this argument continues, there are also those Heads of Government who feel that Caricom has achieved a lot and that it continues to make progress.

Chairperson, Trinidad and Tobago’s Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar. [Photo: Shan Mohamed]
Chairperson, Trinidad and Tobago’s Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar. [Photo: Shan Mohamed]
In addition the new chairperson, Trinidad and Tobago’s Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar said Caricom should move a step further and expand its membership to include the Dominican Republic and the French and Dutch islands.Meanwhile, the Heads are also celebrating the bloc’s 40th anniversary since the treaty of Chaguaramas was signed by Guyana, Barbados, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago.

The celebration is taking place under the theme “Celebration and Renewal” and will include a re-enactment of the signing today, Thursday, July 4 in Chaguaramas.

That ceremony will be addressed by Guyanese President Donald Ramotar, as a founding member.