‘CARICOM a zone of peace despite border controversies’ – Dr. Barnett


As Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) meet for four days in Georgetown, the body’s Secretary- General Dr. Carla Barnett stressed that the region must remain a zone of peace.

“We are committed to retain the region as a zone of peace despite various border controversies and the passage of guns from overseas,” the CARICOM SG said on Sunday.

She made no direct reference to Guyana’s border controversy with Venezuela but over the past few months, CARICOM has been behind Guyana as Venezuela reignited and heightened the border controversy by seeking to annex the Essequibo region.

CARICOM Secretary General, Dr Carla Barnett (Photo: News Room/ February 25, 2024)

In fact, CARICOM was one of the bodies that helped to broker a meeting between Guyana’s President Dr. Irfaan Ali and Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro. Eventually, both countries agreed to desist from threatening or using force against one another. They also agreed to continue exploring ways of cooperating even though Guyana is seeking a final, binding judgement to the controversy at the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

Belize, Dr. Barnett’s home country, also has a border controversy with its neighbour, Guatemala.

Dr. Barnett spoke at the opening ceremony of the 46th Regular Meeting of the Conference of the Heads of Government of CARICOM, hosted at the National Cultural Centre in Georgetown. Guyana is hosting this meeting as President Dr. Irfaan Ali serves as the current Chairman of CARICOM.

And as the first speaker of the ceremony, she made it clear that the leaders were not in Guyana to give long speeches. According to her, the leaders are in Guyana “for serious business” and to make decisions that will affect the security and prosperity of people in the region.

Food security, climate change, the free movement of people, financial support and increase trade are key issues to be discussed at this meeting.

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