By Fareeza Haniff in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago
Braving heavy rainfall on Tuesday morning, President Dr Irfaan Ali joined other Heads of CARICOM in a tree-planting exercise as part of CARICOM’s 50th-anniversary celebrations.
The event took place at the Chaguaramas Convention Centre in Trinidad – the same place where the Treaty of Chaguaramas was signed exactly 50 years ago on July 4, 1973.
The Caribbean leaders also signed and placed a letter in a ‘time capsule’ for future leaders to open and read in the next 50 years. The event was attended by other foreign officials, including China’s Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hua Chunying and the Prime Minister of the Republic of Korea, Han Duck-soo.
At the flag-raising ceremony, the new Chairman of CARICOM, the Prime Minister of Dominica, Roosevelt Skerrit, urged CARICOM heads not to falter in their drive to make CARICOM stronger.
“I believe we are living in a more difficult world now than 50 years ago… and this requires us to be even more united in purpose. There are too many injustices that have been meted out to us as CARICOM,” he said.
Some of those issues he alluded to include climate change.
“And sometimes we feel like giving up; we feel like not going to COP conferences (United Nations Climate Change Conference), but we must never relent on our fight against an injustice… we have to look even deeper within ourselves to continue that noble fight of ensuring that the developed world does what is just and right where we are concerned with regards to climate change.”
The Prime Minister said he is “confident and comforted” to know that CARICOM remains united in its “vision” and “commitment to fight the good fight.”
He said the celebration is a time for reflection and planning for the next 50 years “to secure a solid future for our young people.”
“Our young people are leaders of today and tomorrow and we have to ensure they play their part today.”
Meanwhile, the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Dr Keith Rowley highlighted the plethora of challenges being faced by CARICOM, including its own limitations but he too noted, “We are stronger together.”
“As we take stock of the last 50 years and look with anticipation towards the next 50, let us do so knowing that whatever divides us will never be bigger than that what unites us. We will always be stronger together than we are apart.
“Let us go towards the future, confident in our strengths, cognizant of our weaknesses, and determined to strive through both towards success,” Dr. Rowley said.
The event took place as CARICOM holds its 45th Regular Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Port of Spain.