Haiti is poised to assume full participation in the Caribbean Community, the functional cooperation and economic integration organ initiated by the English-speaking former British colonies.
A release from the CARICOM Secretariat, in Georgetown, Guyana, says that the CARICOM Council of Ministers, which met in Barbados on Friday, received official notification that the Haitian parliament had ratified the revised Treaty of Charaguamas, the original of which is the founding document of the organization.
The Chairman of the Council of Ministers, Brent Symonette, the deputy prime minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of The Bahamas received the official notification from Haiti’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Jean Renard Clerisme of Haiti during the 21st Meeting of the Community Council held in Barbados on Friday 8 February.
In accepting the document from the Symonette, CARICOM Secretary-General Edwin Carrington expressed his delight and quipped “it has been a long time in coming.”
Haiti’s Parliament had approved the revised treaty last October and the final act in Haiti’s internal procedures for ratification was for this approval to be gazetted in the Official Monitor and this was completed earlier this week.
The Council considered the arrangements for the follow-up to the 2007 Conference on the Caribbean, in particular the proposed series of activities to be held in New York in June 2008 during Caribbean American Heritage Month.
The Bureau of the Council for Foreign and Community Relations (COFCOR) chaired by Antigua and Barbuda, with the support of the CARICOM Secretariat and Caribbean consuls general in New York, will spearhead the arrangements for the June 2008 activities – an important component of which will be the meeting between CARICOM heads of government and congressman Charles Rangel, chairman of the Ways and Means Committee of the US House of Representatives.
The COFCOR Bureau also includes Grenada, incoming chair and Belize outgoing chair.
The first Conference was held in June 2007 in an initiative to strengthen the relations between CARICOM and the United States and has resulted in CARICOM being invited to a congressional hearing on deportees and to an investigation by the United States International Trade Commission specifically on the trade between CARICOM and the USA.
The meeting in Barbados approved the work programme and budget of the CARICOM Secretariat and welcomed a report by Carrington on the first meeting between the CARICOM Secretariat and other regional institutions which took place in Georgetown, Guyana last October. The Council noted the possibilities for greater co-operation and co-ordination among the institutions which regular interaction could bring.
The council also approved the arrangements for the 19th Inter-sessional meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government including the draft agenda which is to be submitted for the consideration of the heads.
The Inter-Sessional meeting is scheduled to be held in The Bahamas March 7-8. The Inter-Sessional meeting will be preceded by meetings of the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) on March 5 and the Council for Finance and Planning on March 6 both in The Bahamas.
The Ministers also received an update on the plans for the Caribbean Festival of the Arts (CARIFESTA X) from Guyana, the hosts of the festival, scheduled to be held August 22-31.