Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley said it was essential for the Caribbean to remain a zone of peace.
She challenged countries attending the Caribbean Nations Security Conference (Cansec), to collaborate to strengthen the region.
At the recent opening ceremony of the conference, Mottley said the region was a theatre of war for many years.
She noted that the Caribbean, for too much of our existence in the last five centuries, has been a zone of conflict, not a zone of peace and that is why “we insist on becoming a zone of peace”.
“It is against that backdrop that we come to work together to ensure we can remove those clear and patent threats, whether those threats are related to the climate crisis, counter-narcotics, or illegal weapons,” she said.
Cansec was co-hosted by the US Southern Command and the Barbados Defence Force.
Some of the topics discussed during the conference included challenges such as stronger hurricanes and rising sea levels caused by rising sea levels caused by climate change, trans- national crime organizations, the need for International finance for funding key development projects, cyber attacks, disaster relief and regional security challenges, among others.
Caribbean Community (CARICOM) leaders remained divided on their support for the two candidates for the position of Commonwealth secretary general, agreeing instead to appoint a sub-committee to delve further into the matter.
A three-paragraph statement issued last week following their deliberations indicated the CARICOM leaders were still divided on whether to support the incumbent, Baroness Patricia Scotland, who has been nominated by Dominica, or the Jamaican nominee, Kamina Johnson-Smith, the island’s foreign affairs and trade minister.
Scotland was elected to the post at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Malta in 2015 and her re-election is scheduled to take place during the June 20-25 Commonwealth summit in Kigali, Rawanda.
The Dominican-born Scotland is the second secretary general from the Caribbean and the first woman to hold the post.
According to the statement, the regional leaders, who met virtually in caucus, “reaffirmed the obligation of member states to co-ordinate foreign policy as outlined in the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas” which governs the 15-member regional integration movement.
They noted that two member states of the community had nominated two eminently qualified candidates for the post of secretary general of the Commonwealth and agreed that a Sub-committee of Heads of Government comprising The Bahamas, Belize, Dominica, Guyana, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Jamaica will meet with the two candidates, the statement said.
Several civil society groups have sent a petition to Prime Minister Dr. Ariel Henry urging him to declare a state of emergency in the French-speaking Caribbean country to deal with a spate of criminal activities, including kidnapping.
In their petition, the groups outlined a “road map” with recommendations for dealing with the situation, urging Henry to declare war on armed gangs who are causing widespread hurt in the country, as well as to crackdown on Customs fraud to prevent the diversion of revenues and impose control measures to eliminate the trafficking of arms and ammunition.
“We strongly protest against the taking of hostage of the entire population by criminal organizations and the inaction or even tolerance of the authorities who are failing in their primary obligation to ensure the safety of citizens,” the groups said.
The petition notes that cases of murder, kidnapping for ransom, rape, armed robbery and organized looting are countless and that businesses are forced to close with families living in terror for their turn.
The petitioners said that while the state of emergency, the mobilization of public resources to fight organized crime and austerity measures should have been in force, as required by the standards of good governance and transparency, there is also need to fully equip the law enforcement agencies.
The Guyana government will commence the first trial of 20 wheat varieties before the end of May, in an effort to further diversity the country’s food sector, Minister of Agriculture Zulfikar Mustapha announced.
Cultivation for the initial trial is expected to begin at the Burma Rice Research Station, Region Five and the project will be led by scientist Dr. Mahendra Persaud.
President Dr. Irfaan Ali recently announced the government’s plan to explore the possibility of sourcing a variety of wheat for local production.
He said the government is unwavering in its quest to build a Guyana that is resilient and not only its national responsibility but plays an important role in its global responsibility.
Minister Mustapha explained that the rice research station will be used as a testing location since it has adequate land space. The climatic condition has also to be taken into account.
He said the ministry is also examining the possibility of establishing nurseries at locations across the country to test for better growing results.
The minister said the approach to introducing the new wheat varieties shows government’s determination to ensure the nation becomes self-sufficient.
Grenada, which is responsible for more than 20 percent of the world’s nutmeg production, second only to Indonesia, said it is pleased that trade with Argentina is developing to the pre-coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic level.
Chairman of the Grenada Cooperative Nutmeg Association (GCNA), Leo Cato said “like most markets, we too were also affected by the slowdown of the world’s economy by COVID-19, but as the world recover we too are recovering and once again, the Argentina market is almost back to normal.”
Cato said that several 40-foot containers comprising different grades of the island’s nutmeg are now being sent to Argentina.
GCNA executive board member Byron Campbell has described the South American market as of tremendous significance to the association.
He said, “It’s a market we never thought of before. They are into a lot of food production and food processing.”
He suggested that Grenada, and by extension the region, needs to identify new markets for both importing and exporting of goods.
Besides Argentina, GCNA has also sold nutmeg to India, Dubai and most recently Israel.
St. Vincent and the Grenadines Minister of Fisheries, Soboto Caesar says the Caribbean will need to collaborate with international stakeholders in the global fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing and organized crime in the fishing industry.
Caesar, who is chair of the Ministerial Council of the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) told a recent meeting on the issue that the fight globally has increased against IUU fishing and organized crime and CRFM member states continue to honor their duty in that regard.
“We intend to work with regional and international partners and other friendly government’s such as Norway… because every member state in the global community must play an important role,” he told the meeting organized by the CRFM and CARICOM’s Implementation Agency for Crime and Security (IMPACS).
Last October, during a high-level meeting of CRFM ministers, 12 member states signed the International Declaration on Transnational Organized Crime in the Global Fishing Industry, also known as the Copenhagen Declaration.
Caribbean Airlines (CAL) says an agreement on air services is expected to be signed between Trinidad and Tobago and Qatar Airways.
CAL chairman, Ronnie Mohammed, who recently accompanied a T&T delegation to Qatar for the sixth Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Gas Exporting Countries Forum made the announcement recently.
While in Qatar, Mohammed held discussions with high-ranking officials of Qatar Airways about exploring prospects for deepening the relationship between the two carriers, especially in passenger and cargo operations.
He said the impending signing of an Air Services agreement will enhance the mutual interests of Trinidad and Tobago and Qatar. It will also increase the potential for Caribbean Airlines to expand its connectivity, offer greater choice to its customers and increase trade and cargo movement for Trinidad and Tobago and the region.
He said Qatar Airways serves all six continents, and is the world’s fastest-growing airline, connecting more than 140 destinations globally.
— Compiled by Azad Ali