A historic first Africa-CARICOM Summit was held virtually this Tuesday, attended by Heads of States and Government of the African Union and Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Member States.
Hosted by Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta, and with the theme ‘Unity Across Continents and Oceans: Opportunities for Deepening Integration’, participating governments looked at ways to strengthen the linkages between the people of Africa and the Caribbean regions by addressing integration challenges across continents.
Prime Minister Gaston Browne of Antigua and Barbuda, and Chair of CARICOM, proposed the establishment of a Forum of African and Caribbean Territories and States (FACTS) to be coordinated jointly by the Secretariats of CARICOM and the African Union (AU). He also proposed the designation of September 7th “Africa-CARICOM Day” in every year going forward, which would coincide with a repeat of the Africa-CARICOM summit “to analyze the global situation and our place within it; to discuss initiatives and programs; and to authorize joint actions.”
Browne also proposed the establishment of a Multilateral Air Services Agreement between the AU and CARICOM and the removal of visas for Africans to allow hassle free travel to the Caribbean and vice versa, for CARICOM nationals traveling to Africa.
Prime Minister Mia Mottley of Barbados put forward a proposal for the establishment of a regular weekly direct airline flight between an African country and one CARICOM member state as well as the establishment of a joint AU-CARICOM electronic mass media platform or mechanism that facilitates the flow of news, information and artistic programming between Africa and the Caribbean, for the benefit of our two peoples. Mottley also called for a collective commitment to jointly advance the claim for reparations within the processes of the United Nations during the upcoming High Level meeting of the General Assembly.
Prime Minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, called on the summit to show support to Cuba, as it battles the U.S. economic blockade, saying the nation played an instrumental role against Apartheid and other popular struggles in Africa.
“We recall from the Caribbean, the contribution of the heroic and selfless nation of Cuba. This nation shed its blood in the liberation of southern Africa,” Gonsalves said.
“We all know the selflessness of Cuba. It demands of us today, at this summit, that we give a practical commitment to assist Cuba, which is currently being besieged by the twin challenges of the illegal economic blockade by imperialism and the ravages of COVID-19. Cuba will not ask but it is our duty to assist and to do so with urgency.”
Gonsalves stressed the importance of the presence of Caribbean states as non-permanent members of the UN Security Council, beyond Saint Vincent and the Grenadines’ current one year UNSC presidency, which expires at year end.
Remarks by Chair of CARICOM, the Hon. Gaston Browne, can be read here.
Remarks by Trinidad and Tobago PM Dr. Keith Rowley can be read here.
Remarks by Saint Vincent and the Grenadines PM Ralph Gonsalves can be read here.
The full event can be viewed here.