The Caribbean region is special and has its own contribution to make to the ???unfolding drama of mankind???.

This view was expressed by Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, as he delivered an address at a Commemoration Ceremony to mark the 40th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Chaguaramas, today at the Chaguaramas Convention Centre in Trinidad.

The Prime Minister said that at that location in 1972, ???Barrow, Burnham, Michael Manley and the late Dr. Eric Williams met and took the historic decision to affirm this region???s maturity, by committing themselves to the establishment of diplomatic relations with Cuba. That was a historic step in itself and the road to Chaguaramas further into the history???.

???One year later it was here at Chaguaramas that the same four Caribbean leaders…met and signed the Treaty of Chaguaramas. They had one simple mission and it was to bring this region and its people closely knit together …I need no persuasion at all that 40 years later, the people of this region are more closely united than at any other time in the history of the Caribbean.???

Recalling the region???s historical struggles, Mr. Stuart observed that as a result of the legacy of colonialism, rolling back the tide of history and the consciousness which that history imposes would take ???a little time???.

However, he added that as a region, the Caribbean people had nothing to be ashamed about.?????We have shown the world that we can come together, work together, and try to realise the dreams and aspirations of the peoples of this region…

???We stand …positioned between hope and history. History we cannot reverse, we cannot unmake, but to hope [that] we can give flesh and authentic living expression.

He declared: ???We need to consolidate the independence for which we fought in this region. And we can only consolidate that independence by working more closely together. It is not going to happen by accident; it is going to happen by us consciously deciding to make our history within the constraints, of course, that our concrete circumstances allow. We are not going to consolidate that independence if we keep our gaze fixed beyond the perimeters of this region and if we continue to invest in Madison Avenue tastes and lifestyles.???

Referring to the book of Hebrews, Mr. Stuart challenged the people of the region to look inward, draw on the strengths and the resources of this region; affirm our faith on what this region produces, creates and believes; and constantly remind ourselves that we have a unique contribution to make to the treasury of human civilisation.???

A highlight of today???s ceremony, which is also CARICOM Day, was the signing of a commemorative document by the leaders of Member States to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Chaguaramas that gave birth to CARICOM. In addition, delegates were given a taste of Barbadian culture, with a performance by the Barbados Landship.

Also today, (Thursday), regional leaders commenced deliberations on matters of importance to the region. They are expected to meet in a full day of closed-door sessions tomorrow.??

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