Colombia’s new Ambassador to the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) on Wednesday said her country will make every effort to participate in the Caribbean mega festival of arts: CARIFESTA XIV, scheduled for August 16-25 in Trinidad and Tobago.
Secretary-General, Ambassador Irwin LaRocque extended the invitation to Her Excellency Martha Pinilla, as he received her credentials at the Georgetown, Guyana Headquarters of the CARICOM Secretariat.
Underscoring the importance of people-to-people contact, the Secretary-General said the significant presence of people of CARICOM origin in Colombia, present ideal opportunities to strengthen relations.
In this vein, he told the Ambassador that CARIFESTA XIV is “an excellent opportunity” for Colombia and CARICOM to share their cultural experiences.
Ambassador Pinilla said enhancing diplomatic ties with the Region is a foreign policy priority of President Iván Duque’s government. The presentation of her credentials, she said, is one of several actions in that regard. Other actions include visits to eight CARICOM countries by Colombia’s Foreign Minister, His Excellency Carlos Trujillo, and a bilateral meeting with the Secretary-General.
CARICOM and Colombia are expected to resuscitate high-level political dialogue to discuss cooperation in areas of mutual interests on June 29th, in Cartagena, at the First Meeting of Ministers of Foreign Affairs of CARICOM and Colombia.
Secretary-General LaRocque said his recent discussions with Mr. Trujillo focussed on areas such as trade, technical cooperation, disaster management and security. However, he stressed the importance of reviving trade between CARICOM and Colombia in light of data which revealed that total trade exceeded three billion US dollars as of 2013, but declined to 520 million dollars by 2016.
In this regard, he said the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) has agreed to Colombia’s proposal to host the seventh meeting of the Joint Council – the main implementing mechanism established under the 1994 Agreement on Trade, Economic and Technical Cooperation between CARICOM and Colombia.
Ambassador Pinilla agreed that the Agreement, “is an ideal tool to continue interlacing” CARICOM-Colombia economies.
While the Agreement addresses economic and technical cooperation, the Secretary-General said human resource development, science and technology, research and development, renewable energy, tourism and agricultural development, and migration are other areas of common interest they can explore.
The SG requested Colombia’s support for CARICOM’s advocacy for international policies that allow for a balanced approach in the provision of financial resources to help Small Island Developing States combat climate change and build their resilience.
PHOTO CAPTION: New Colombian Ambassador to CARICOM HE Martha Pinilla presents her Letter of Credence to CARICOM Secretary-General Ambassador Irwin LaRocque
Skerrit – Caricom support ‘overwhelming’ for Baroness Scotland
19 hours ago
February 20, 2020
Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit said heads of government of CARICOM have expressed their “overwhelming” support for the renewal of the term of office for Secretary General Baroness Scotland.
Scotland, a Dominican by birth is under pressure from the international community to resign from her position of Secretary General of the Commonwealth.
But Skerrit who spoke on the sidelines of the Thirty-First Inter-Sessional Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) in Bridgetown, said the grouping is standing behind Scotland.
He said at the meeting, heads of governments also expressed their gratitude for her achievement during her tenure.
“Heads of governments expressed our gratitude for the range of activities undertaken by the Commonwealth Secretariat whose added value redounded to the benefit of small island and low lying coastal developing states,” he said.
According to Skerrit who has been one of Scotland’s main supporters, the heads of government also expressed support for the renewal of the term of office of the secretary general.
“We do hope that when we meet in Rwanda, the current holder of the post of secretary general will receive a second term in that very important office,” he said.
Skerrit said heads of CARICOM also engaged Scotland “directly and frankly” on the issues leveled against her in the media.
But he said CARICOM remained satisfied and accepted the responses given by her as “legitimate”.
The questions about Scotland’s future leadership of the Commonwealth came after she was criticized by internal auditors last November for awarding a lucrative consultancy contract to a company run by her friend.
The audit committee report also found that the Secretariat had no register of either tender waivers or conflicts of interest and was unable to explain why not.
That committee also identified 50 occasions between July 2015 and June 2018 when the usual procurement tenders had been waited by the Commonwealth Secretariat.
Baroness Scotland has always denied any wrongdoing
Scotland’s four-year term of office as secretary general comes to an end next month.
The UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is said to be backing moves to persuade Amina Mohamed, a 58-year-old Kenyan politician, to challenge Baroness Scotland if she refuses to stand down.