A full house listen attentively to Minister of Tourism Richard Sealy, at a meeting for the Barbadian Diaspora in Panama last night. (F.Ince/BGIS)

Plans are well under way for the second Barbados Diaspora Conference, which is scheduled for Bridgetown from August 2 to 10, next year

This disclosure came from Minister of Tourism, Richard Sealy, last evening while he was addressing a meeting for the Barbadian Diaspora in Panama. He urged the near 200 people attending to spread the word to other descendants living there and begin making plans for their visit to Barbados, "especially since they would also be able to participate in the climax of the Crop Over Festival.

"I trust that by then, you will be able to avail yourselves of a direct flight via COPA or Redjet, two of the airlines that have expressed an interest in the Panama/Barbados/Panama route," the Minister revealed.

"As you make your preparations to participate in the next Diaspora Conference, I urge you to give attention to building up the linkages within the Barbadian descendant community here in Panama, through the further strengthening of your network to help you better coordinate your activities in support of your local community and Barbados," Mr. Sealy recommended.

The inaugural diaspora conference was held in August 2010, under the theme Strengthening the Bonds that Unite Us, and it attracted nearly 500 persons from Barbados and abroad. It was designed to lay the basis for a seamless connection between Barbadians living on the ???rock’ and those abroad, among other things.

According to the Minister, the conference raised the existing relationship and past dialogue to a new level by identifying the areas where Barbadians overseas and those contemplating returning home could more effectively participate in the nation’s development.

Mr. Sealy called on the descendants to invest in property, construction and new businesses, among other things, in Barbados. "We need your continued efforts to promote our cultural industries and our artistes, we need you to demand Barbadian products and distributors in your respective communities, we need your contributions in cash and in kind, and your time to worthwhile, charitable causes in Barbados in health, education, sports and the like and at the community level via the Constituency Councils; and we need you to feel comfortable to return to Barbados, to the land of your ancestors," he said.

He assured the group that their assistance would be requested as plans were being made for the celebration, in 2014, of the centenary of the Barbados-Panama connection and other initiatives being pursued to cement the cross-linkages between the two countries. He highlighted some of them as the twinning of Panama City with Bridgetown, the establishment of a Friends of Barbados chapter in Panama and a similar group in Barbados, and the erection of a Centennial Monument in Barbados in recognition of nationals whose labour contributed to the construction of the Panama Canal.

Minister Sealy reiterated Government’s commitment to "keeping the line of connectivity between Barbadians at home and Barbadian descendants here in Panama, not just open, but filled with meaningful exchanges".


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