On October 26, General Secretary of the Caribbean Conference of Churches (CCC), Mr. Gerard Granado, addressed the CARICOM Caucus of ambassadors in Washington, D.C. Presiding over the session was the Chair of the Caucus, His Excellency Dr. Izben Williams, Ambassador of St. Kitts-Nevis to the U.S.A.
During his hour-long exchange with the twelve ambassadors present along with other Heads of Mission and their staff, Mr. Granado re-iterated the CCC’s commitment to regional integration, pointing out that both the CCC and CARICOM came into being in the same year.
While identifying the need for a critical re-assessment of the prevailing notion of development, the General Secretary stated that the CCC viewed integration as an indispensable factor in the development agenda of the region.
In this regard, Granado further indicated that, in recent years, the CCC saw it fit to highlight the cultural dimension of development, emphasizing that this was, however, more in terms of cultural resources than cultural forms.
The General Secretary also advised the diplomats of the CCC’s intention to facilitate a re-visiting of the current notion of Development through its soon-to-be launched Regional Ecumenical Institute (REI).
In expanding on the notion of Caribbean regional integration, Granado outlined what he saw as the need to “re-define the ‘space’ which we call Caribbean.” Pointing out that the definition of ‘Caribbean’ is in large measure expressed in geo-spatial terms, the General Secretary went on to suggest that the time had come when the notion of “Caribbean” should be understood more as “a socio-cultural space.”
Continuing in this vein, Mr. Granado emphasised the critical importance of solidarity among Caribbean peoples “at home and abroad.” He indicated that - as an organisation committed to the enhancement of the quality of life of Caribbean peoples for the last 33 years – the CCC was well positioned to be instrumental in facilitating the networking and linkages necessary to effect such solidarity.
Earlier in his presentation, the General Secretary shared more generally with the diplomatic corps on the current programmatic initiatives of the CCC, citing the organisation’s responses to HIV/AIDS, substance abuse, and Youth at risk as priority areas.
A keen interest was shown by the diplomats on the issues raised by the General Secretary as evidenced by the lively discussion that followed his presentation. In the course of this discussion, deep appreciation was expressed for the work of the CCC in the Region over the past three decades, especially with regard to its role in Haiti.
The diplomats also identified specific priority issues and events in which they felt the CCC’s involvement should prove meaningful and enabling. Follow-up discussions between the CCC’s Secretariat and the caucus of ambassadors on these matters are planned.
Earlier in October Mr. Granado paid a courtesy call on Mr. Luis Alberto Moreno, the President of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). Mr. Moreno assumed office just under a year ago as the successor of Mr. Enrique Iglesias under whose presidency the CCC participated in various events organised by the Bank.
In this regard, for example, Mr. Granado was invited to Washington as a panellist at the IDB’s forum discussion on Ethics and Development in January 2005. There are nine (9) Caribbean countries that are members of the IDB, including Dominican Republic, Haiti and Suriname.
The Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) countries relate to the IDB via the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB).