The people of the Caribbean have remained resilient, despite the various adversities encountered, including the current COVID-19 pandemic.
Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley expressed this view last evening, as she addressed the Virtual Launch of Pan African Festival TT, in commemoration of Emancipation 2020 and African Liberation Day, held under the theme: 1970 Remembered: Reconnection and Recommitment.
Ms. Mottley told those listening: “Resilience is most certainly not a newfound trait of ours in the Caribbean…. In fact, while our history may feature many struggles and adversity, we have always prevailed.”
Highlighting some of those struggles as the slave rebellions that precipitated the abolition of slavery, the popular rebellions of the 1930’s, and the Black Power Rebellion of 1970, the Prime Minister pointed out that there were values produced and lessons learnt.
“I can confidently assert that as our Caribbean region faces the many existential challenges that are currently bearing down on us, there shall be no retreat, there shall be no abandonment of our core values. There will be no deviation from the positive mission of transformation that our history has bequeathed to us! And it is up to us to run our leg of the relay,” she stated.
Ms. Mottley, who is also Chair of the Caribbean Community, said CARICOM would be reaching out “in an extremely determined manner” to the African Continent.
She added that the COVID-19 crisis had caused the postponement of the inaugural CARICOM/African Union Heads of Government Summit in Nairobi, Kenya, next month.
“I regret that that has happened. But I assure you that this will in no way dampen our resolve to deepen the Caribbean community’s relationship with Africa and to close ranks with the African Union in our battle for a more just and sustainable international social and economic order. Our people must start to trade, our people must start to travel…,” she insisted.
The political leaders of CARICOM, she stated, face a multiplicity of threats and vulnerabilities. She added that they must boldly confront the inequities of the existing International Order head on, and in so doing, join ranks with all allies in the developing world, and the nations of Africa.
Ms. Mottley noted that several CARICOM Member States were forging ahead with plans, even if delayed by COVID-19, to establish embassies in a number of African nations.
“In addition, I can report that plans are still in train to take up the very gracious offer made by the Government of the Republic of Kenya to provide CARICOM with rent free diplomatic office facilities in Nairobi for an initial period of two years,” she disclosed.
The Prime Minister congratulated the Emancipation Support Committee of Trinidad and Tobago for, despite the pandemic, forging ahead to host the virtual launch.
She said the Committee had played a tremendous role in developing the Caribbean/ African Union relationship in the sphere of civil society.
The Prime Minister also thanked the Committee members for their continued contributions and lobbying on the issue of reparations, adding that she looked forward to engaging further on this critical matter.
Ms. Mottley is Prime Minister with lead responsibility for the CARICOM Reparatory Justice Initiative.