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Chairman of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) His Excellency Bharrat Jagdeo, the President of Guyana, is planning to lead a mission to Haiti, the Community's newest Member State, in early December.

The Mission will include representatives of both Government and Private Sector as a means of familiarising key Community stakeholders with Haiti. Heads of Government at their Meeting last July in Georgetown agreed that the Chairman should visit Haiti to mark its accession to the Community which was formalised during the July meeting. 

This was one of the outcomes of the 15th Meeting of the Bureau of Heads of Government of CARICOM, which ended today at the Tom Adams Financial Centre in Bridgetown, Barbados. The Bureau, comprising the Prime Minister of Belize, Hon Said Musa, the Prime Minister of Dominica, Hon Pierre Charles, CARICOM Secretary‑General, Mr Edwin Carrington and the Chairman decided the time was right for such a mission. One of the key objectives will be to emphasise to the Haitian Government and people the importance of good governance, respect for civil and political rights and the maintenance of the rule of law to the Member States of CARICOM. 

The Chairman also indicated that he would accept an invitation from the President of Cuba to attend ceremonies in Havana marking the 30th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Cuba and the Caribbean Community. The ceremonies are scheduled for December 7‑8 and all CARICOM leaders and the Secretary‑General have been invited. 

President Jagdeo's tenure as Chairman of CARICOM ends on December 31, 2002 and he will be succeeded by Prime Minister Charles of Dominica. At the Bureau meeting, the President took the opportunity to review with his colleagues some of the major issues, which he saw as critical to the advancement of the Community. These included, the formulation of a Community agricultural policy including a common fisheries regime, a review of the functioning of regional institutions, the promotion of greater accountability in democratic governance as well as greater involvement of civil society.

Members of the Bureau expressed disappointment at the continuing difficulty of CARICOM nationals to travel without hassles throughout the Community. Particular concern was raised over the treatment of Guyanese in this regard and the Bureau emphatically stated that such treatment was unacceptable both in the law and in the spirit of Community.

A report on progress towards financing the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) was presented by the President of the Caribbean Development Bank, (CDB) in which he requested further direction from the Heads of Government to speed up the process. The Bureau also urged those Member States that had not as yet completed their national and regional requirements to establish the Court to do so by January 2003 at the latest.

Efforts to assist Dominica in its current economic crisis were also reviewed and in this context Dominica was urged to put the necessary measures in place to facilitate speedy technical and financial assistance to move the country out of its current situation.

The Bureau also stressed the need for the establishment of the Regional Stabilisation Fund, which was proposed to assist countries faced with economic difficulties in the short-term. This proposal is expected to be advanced at a meeting of the Community's Central Bank Governors later this month in The Bahamas. 

A number of technical teams to move the proposal for a Regional Transformation Programme forward were recommended. This Programme, which came out of the August 16 Special Meeting of the Heads of Government is intended to develop a long term plan for economic sustainability in the Region particularly in the light of the Single Market and Economy.

Two major events in 2003 also came under the attention of the Bureau. These were CARIFESTA VIII and the 30th Anniversary of CARICOM. The Bureau urged that the entire Community become involved in these two events as they bring to the fore the spirit of togetherness so important to nurturing a strong community. CARIFESTA VIII is scheduled for Suriname while celebrations marking the 30th Anniversary are being planned to take place throughout the Community.

The Bureau also recommended that there should be a review of the conditions applicable to Associate Membership of the Community.  This review is being conducted with a view to enhancing the participation and involvement of Associate Members.

Members of the Bureau issued a Message of Condolence to CARICOM Assistant Secretary‑General, Regional Trade and Economic Integration, Mr. Byron Blake on the recent death of his son.  The message is attached. 

11 November 2002


The Bureau of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community expresses on its own behalf and that of the entire Conference, deepest condolences to Mr. Byron Blake, CD, CARICOM 's Assistant Secretary‑General, Regional Trade and Economic Integration, and his family on the death of his youngest son Omari Chede Blake.

The sorrow that is felt is exacerbated by the fact that Omari was merely 24 years of age and a final year veterinary science student at the University of Tuskeegee, Alabama, United States of America when he met his death in a vehicular accident on November 6, 2002.

The Bureau is deeply conscious of the great distress, which the death of Omari has caused to the Blake family and to the staff of the Secretariat, many of whom have been close to the Blakes during the Assistant Secretary‑General's 30 years service to the Community. 

The Bureau hopes that the fortitude, which has been a feature of ASG Blake's service to the Community, supports him and his family in this time of sorrow.

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