The Caribbean Conference of Churches (CCC) wishes to express its pleasure at the celebration this year of the 35th anniversary of the establishment of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).
Launched in 1973 after at least two other previous attempts at forging closer regional unity, CARICOM today stands as a shining example of hope over cynicism, determination over doubt and mutual solidarity over pessimistic insularity.
While the regional journey has not been without major challenges, there is much for which all citizens should be justifiably proud.
The Caribbean Community is committed at this moment in its history to the vision of a Single Market and Economy (SME). It can be described as the most ambitious regional project to date.
Attainment of this goal will necessarily demand the unequivocal support of all 15 member states. For this reason, the Caribbean Conference of Churches views as unfortunate and inopportune recent public statements by the Honourable Ralph Gonsalves casting doubt on the prospect of the viability of the CSME.
In his remarks at the Launch of Public Consultations on the Draft OECS Union Treaty on June 16, the Honourable Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines contended that a Caricom-wide Single Economy is unlikely to be realised either at all or in a manner sufficiently advantageous to all member states.
The CCC also views with concern the unhelpful manner in which claims made with respect to specified CARICOM territories were used by Dr. Gonzalves to buttress his curiously ominous assertions.
We feel strongly that, given a global environment in which the very survival of states is closely linked to the strengthening of regional blocs, there is need for a responsible, elucidatory discourse which - while taking account of potentially inhibiting factors - is ultimately facilitative of consolidating consensus around this signal enterprise.
As an organisation itself committed to pan-Caribbean integration and development for the last 35 years, the Caribbean Conference of Churches recognises only too well that, given the very nature of the undertaking, the implementation of the CSME will pose significant and unprecedented challenges to the region and that fundamental issues remain to be resolved.
This, however, is in itself no reason for despair. In fact, it should provide greater motivation to work even harder at realising the vision. It is important not to be daunted by the reality of diversity in our quest for integration.
Rather, the challenges of plurality ought to point us in the direction of creative solutions aimed at maximising the potential of this initiative to deliver on long-term benefits. In the final analysis, it is the enhanced quality of life of the children, women, youth and men of this region that matters most.
There is no ‘quick fix’. As citizens of this Region, we need to stay with this process for the ‘long haul’.
The CCC therefore encourages all involved to adopt a constructive, responsible and hopeful approach towards the vision of a CARICOM Single Market and Economy.
In a special way it urges the leaders of the region to rededicate themselves, as harbingers of hope, to the fuller integration of the Caribbean Community. We trust that the Twenty-Ninth Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government taking place from 1-4 July in St. John’s, Antigua and Barbuda will provide such an opportunity.
Gerard A.J. Granado
Caribbean Conference of Churches
July 01, 2008