President David Granger departed earlier today for the Fourth Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) in Ecuador, which will be held tomorrow (Wednesday), with a focus of ensuring that Guyana’s position on the security of small states is placed on the agenda of the bloc of nations.
Providing a comment to the Ministry of the Presidency, before his departure, President Granger said Guyana views the Summit as important and expects that it will contribute to regional security for both large and small states.
“This is a unique organisation because it combines the small states of the Caribbean and larger states of Central and South America from Mexico, right down to Argentina. The two groups of states are almost evenly balanced. I would say that it is an opportunity for the small states to have a voice in the international community and yes I would say that there needs to be a special regime to pay attention to the concerns of small states,” President Granger said.
The Head of State, who outlined the importance of the security of small states in his address at the United Nations General Assembly in September 2015, noted that the vulnerabilities small states that are a part of CELAC face can also affect the larger states.
“The concerns of Guyana are well known and we intend to put those concerns on the table and seek assurances from the larger and medium size states that our security would be protected in this hemisphere. Small states are very important because; without the protective shield that we speak about, without fair trading practices, without greater equity, the small states would be vulnerable and once the small states are vulnerable, everybody is vulnerable. It is in the collective interest to pay attention to the concerns of the small states,” President Granger said.
Speaking specifically to the ongoing border controversy with Venezuela, the Guyanese Head of State said there is some expectation that the matter may be discussed.
“It is not a confrontational meeting. It is a meeting in which we build consensus and yes I expect the matter to arise and we have a position. As you know, we have engaged the United Nations General Assembly; the Secretary General himself is fully appraised of our position and we are working towards a juridical settlement as quickly as possible. Venezuela is aware of that and that is what we will adhere to,” said President Granger.
The Head of State also added that he looks forward to a speedy resolution to the matter of Guyana’s Ambassador to Venezuela, being accredited to operate in that country so that there would be no breakdown in communication between the two states.
Overall, President Granger believes that the value of attending the meeting is the opportunity for the states that make up the bloc to build a mutually beneficial agenda that advances the region as a whole.
“We cannot expect any short term economic gains. The value that I see coming out of this meeting is building consensus and getting the continent, particularly South America and the Caribbean and the entire hemisphere to move forward much more quickly. Other groupings in Asia and Europe and North America have agendas and move forward very quickly but we need, in the Caribbean and South America, to get our agenda together and to start moving quickly because we have a lot of poor people, we have a lot of challenges and the quicker we build a consensus, and to the extent that is possible, unify the interest of the Caribbean and South America, the quicker our people will have a better life,” he said.
CELAC, which was created on December 3, 2011, in Caracas, Venezuela, is being held under the theme “Reduction of inequalities and Sustainable Development of the region”.
The countries forming the CELAC are: Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Dominican Republic, St. Lucia, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Vincent and Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, Uruguay and Venezuela.