Prime Minister Freundel Stuart is congratulated by the Haitian Ambassador to the OAS, Duly Brutus,??after his address to the OAS Permanent Council. (C. Pitt/BGIS)
Barbados will strive, through its active participation in the deliberations of the many and varied organs that comprise the inter-American system, to make the system better, and to promote the upliftment of the people whom it was designed to serve.
This was asserted by Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, as he addressed the Protocolary Meeting of the Permanent Council of the Organisation of American States (OAS) yesterday in Washington, DC.
Pointing to this country’s vigorous efforts to improve the lot of all persons, the Prime Minister said that Barbados had " consistently called for improvement and change in policies affecting women, persons of African descent and those of indigenous communities, as these have been subjected to institutionalised, socially ingrained and systematically practised forms of maltreatment and discrimination. We placed a high store on the promotion and protection of human rights."??
In light of this, he told his audience that Barbados was currently carrying out an ambitious social development programme that would lead to a paradigm shift in the provision of personal social care in Barbados. He said that the programme was based on the Chile Bridge (Puente) Model, with assistance provided to the countries of the Caribbean by means of triangular cooperation with the participation of Canada, Chile and the OAS in the initial stages and now through the Inter American Social Protection Network.
Speaking about Barbados’ long history of parliamentary democracy, Mr. Stuart noted that this country came to the Organisation of American States, "not as an empty vessel needing to be filled, but as a new state that was ready and willing to be a pragmatic partner in the building of a better Hemisphere.?? As such, we were early advocates for free and fair elections, and the securing and fortification of rights for the historically disadvantaged."
He said that the participation of Barbados and the other former British colonies in the OAS since the 1960s was an opportunity "to open and enhance the space for discussion, collaboration and mutual understanding among the governments and peoples of the Hemisphere, breaking down old barriers".
The Prime Minister said that the OAS was a forum for the improvement of conditions for people throughout the Americas, adding that "Barbados remains convinced that the OAS continues to be relevant to the lives of people in its member states, even if it may from time to time need to introduce necessary reforms.??
Mr. Stuart, however, cautioned that "we must, however, be wary of staying on enchanted ground, inhaling an air of supposed optimism that may just as soon be replaced by that of slumber. Sleeping on the grand projects of democracy and development is not an option".
The Prime Minister is winding up a five-day visit to Washington that included a town hall meeting with the Barbadian diaspora and talks with several influential US leaders. He returns to Barbados tomorrow.