Published On: Tue, Feb 14th, 2017

Caribbean Integration in times of Trump

donald_trump7GEORGETOWN - Caribbean leaders analyze with worry here this week, the political and economic impact and the regional scenario after the assumption, last January 20, of Donald Trump as President of the United States.

The leaders of the 15 member nations of the Caribbean Community (Caricom) who last month attended in Dominican Republic the 5th Celac Summit, will now study the more recent measures decreed by the U.S. tycoon.

About to open this Thursday and Friday, the preps for the 38th Caricom Summit are full speed ahead. Local observers told Prensa Latina that the 'Trump topics' are a few, among them the migration, banking, environmental and security measures which will have an impact on the socioeconomic life of many Caribbean territories, dedicated not only to tourism.

At the Celac summit, Guyana President, David Granger, in charge of the rotating presidency of Caricom, called the grouping to create mechanisms that advance the objectives of the community and to 'build doors, not walls; gates, not fences; bridges, not blockades'.

After highlighting that the peoples of 33 nations of the region, have common interests, principles and values, said that Caricom tries that Celac contributes to its integration process, in particular before the threats facing the region.

Caricom needs for Celac to help protect our countries from aggressions and our citizens from abuses, he pointed out.

Although it is not officially in the agenda, Prensa Latina confirmed through diplomatic sources that those issues are present in the debates of Caribbeans, not only for being the United States its most powerful neighbor, but also its biggest trading partner.

Specialized media said the U.S. enjoyed in 2015 a favorable trade balance with the member countries of Caricom of 4.17 billion dollars, figure probably exceeded in 2016.

In this regard, some Caribbeans contrasted the interest of former President Barack Obama regarding the Caribbean and expressed wishes that Trump maintains that policy and even improve it, although there are doubts.

The most recent Caricom Summit (Georgetown, July 2016), agreed to boost an ambitious Five-Year Plan (2015-2019) and, among other measures, promote the Caricom Single Market and Economy (CSME).

Also, to study the Caribbean migration situation and the international banking practices affecting trade, economic development and the transfer of remittances.

The Caribbean Community, whose Secretariat is based in this capital, was created in 1973 to transform the Caribbean Free Trade and Common Market and face its members' problems, boosting trade and economic relations with third countries.

The organization that holds its summits every year in July and February, added Dutch, French and Spanish to the official English language after the entrance of Surinam (1995) and Haiti (2002), as well as some Spanish-speaking countries.

Caricom has just marked the 44th anniversary of establishment of diplomatic relations with Cuba (December, 1972) when Guyana, Jamaica, Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago took that step, described by the historic leader of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro as 'decision of unquestionable political bravery'.

The five Caricom-Cuba summits have rejected the U.S. economic, commercial and financial blockade on Cuba and appreciated the health, education and other services rendered by Cuban specialists.

The population of the 15 Caricom member countries, occupying 451 thousand 775 square kilometers, totals almost 18 million persons and a similar amount is radicated in the United States and Canada, as well as in other countries.

Apart from Haiti (10.3 million inhabitants), the most populated territories are Jamaica (2.8), Trinidad and Tobago (1.3) Guyana (some 800 thousand) and Surinam (over half a million). Bahamas, Belize, Barbados, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and Grenadines, Grenada, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, St. Christopher Nevis and Montserrat have less than 400 thousand each.

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