CARICOM Chairman, Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit

Chairman of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit says a new forum established by the Caribbean and Latin America will seek to address issues affecting member countries.

The first ever Caricom/Mexico Summit ended in Cancun on Tuesday with the formation of the Community of Latin America and Caribbean States, which “should not be another bureaucracy which will cause any burden to existing governments in terms of its own funding,” Skerrit said.

“It’s a forum where we can come together as Caribbean and Latin American countries to address issues pertaining to us,” he said, pointing to matters such as democracy, crime and security, trade, and integration.

The CARICOM chairman dismissed suggestions that the new forum is meant to exclude the United States and Canada, and will undermine the Organisation of American States (OAS).

“There have been much talk about attempts to set aside the US and Canada; this is not the case at all. The US and Canada are not part of the Caribbean region and there are particular challenges which confront us …We cannot set aside the fact that there are several issues which are germane only to the Caribbean and Latin America and some of them we have to find solutions for ourselves and others. We must draw on the support of our fellow Caribbean and Latin American states to seek to advance our issues

He further clarified that the new forum will not ignore an existing organisation; rather Latin American and Caribbean leaders believe it will strengthen the OAS and their resolve at the United Nations (UN).

“If we had done this in the 80’s in a more profound manner, the challenges which we have with our banana industry would not be so …While the US is the one who led the fight against us in terms of our bananas, Ecuador plays a very important role too,” he added.