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Your Excellency the President of Suriname and Mrs Venetiaan-Vanenburg
The Vice-President of Suriname
Speaker of the National Assembly
Honourable Ministers
Members of the Diplomatic Corps
Distinguished Artists
Members of the Media
Ladies and Gentlemen

We have come to the end of another shining exhibition of Caribbean creativity. Over the past seven days, at CARIFESTA VIII here in Suriname, the artists and artistes of the Caribbean and some of its base countries, have seized the opportunity to display their talents and create any number of unforgettable experiences for those fortunate enough to be here. As was noted at the Opening Ceremony here on Sunday, the theme for CARIFESTA VIII, Cultural Diversity, could not have been chosen more aptly, for this festival here in Suriname.

Our host, apart from providing the facilities for their guests to exploit, has also provided an excellent backdrop for the activities. The Government of Suriname and the National CARIFESTA Committee can be justly proud of their efforts

There is another dimension to CARIFESTA that should not pass unnoticed – the forging of new links and the strengthening of old ties between the members of the Caribbean family. As the Secretary-General said at the Opening Ceremony, “CARIFESTA celebrates our ‘Caribbeanness’ in a way nothing else can.” The people of Suriname have fully lived up to their reputation of friendliness and hospitality. You have been most accommodating hosts. We have all experienced the essence of togetherness, the Spirit of the Caribbean and will all leave Suriname with the indelible memory of your generosity and warm welcome.

As we move forward from this thrilling experience, the future of CARIFESTA, in all its facets, is very much at the centre of our concerns. In this regard, a number of recommendations has been put forward by the youth, the Indigenous peoples, the artists and artistes as well as experts involved in the cultural sector, drawing on the discussions at the series of symposia.

It is now our job as a Community and a Secretariat to rise to these challenges, to distill these views and to come up with practical suggestions to optimise the potential of CARIFESTA, both culturally and economically while keeping in focus that this festival lies at the heart of maintaining our Caribbean identity. In light of this exercise, it is not possible at this time to name the host of CARIFESTA IX.

Ladies and Gentlemen, if we are to transform our countries to grasp the opportunities offered under the CARICOM Single Market and Economy, then it is critical that there be a C-change in the approach to things Caribbean. That ‘C’ could well stand for Culture – a culture that would ingrain in us a deeper appreciation and acceptance for what we produce and what we create.

On behalf of the Secretary-General of the Caribbean Community, I thank all the participating countries and their contingents, all the crafts people and those who displayed their wares at the Grand Market and elsewhere, all the visitors without whom there would be no “spirit” and the Government and people of Suriname for ensuring that CARIFESTA VIII was a success.

May you all return safely to your countries and your homes.

Thank You.

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