Barbados’ Ambassador to CARICOM, David Comissiong, has called on the people of the region to see each other as “kith and kin”.
His comments came yesterday, as he addressed a special ceremony to mark CARICOM Day, with the unveiling of wax figures of six Caribbean people at the Caribbean Wax Museum, Norman Centre, Bridgetown.
He said: “Some of us across the region have not understood that we are family. Some of us across the region still have this attitude of distrust…. We say that we want to have total free trade with the goods that we produce, but you find some officials who are not sure that they actually want to allow in all these goods from their neighbouring countries.
“And, whether they put up the blockage of sanitary and phyto-sanitary requirements, or we say we’re going to do the Freedom of Movement [régime] and we come up with the Skills Nationals Programme – we still have some diffidence.”
Echoing calls by Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley, while at the last CARICOM Intersessional Summit in Barbados, for greater unity, Mr. Comissiong said a psychological breakthrough was required as “the key to the full success of our regional integration movement”.
He noted: “All the ideas are there. We don’t lack for that. It’s just the question of having the confidence to enthusiastically implement those ideas rather than some people trying to find all kinds of reasons why to go slow – not to implement and drag your feet on implementing. No need for that fear because you are dealing with your family.”
Ambassador Comissiong shared that one of CARICOM’s biggest accomplishments was functional cooperation.
He said this is evidenced by its 17 institutions, including the Caribbean Development Bank, the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI), the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), and the University of the West Indies, that carry out “a whole range” of functions from climate change, to renewable energy, education, finance and culture, with many of them headquartered in Barbados.
He suggested that more public education was needed to make these structures “more visible to the people of the region”, so as to develop “an ideology of regionalism in our people … where we develop this mindset, where we embrace the region”.