Opening Statement by The Most Honourable Portia Simpson Miller, ON, MP Prime Minister of Jamaica, CARICOM-USA Summit
The Government and people of Jamaica are deeply honoured to host this CARICOM-USA Summit, in Kingston, and to again extend a warm Jamaican welcome to The Honourable Barack Obama, President of the United States of America, and to my colleague Heads of State and Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), and their delegations.
Mr. President, the Heads of Government of CARICOM attach great significance to this CARICOM-USA Summit.
This is indeed a special occasion, as we seek to strengthen the bonds of friendship and cooperation, which for centuries, have been an integral part of the constructive official engagement and people-to-people connections between the United States and the countries of the Caribbean.
We deeply appreciate the decision of President Obama to engage with Caribbean leaders on regional and international issues of interest to both sides.
Mr. President, People across the CARICOM region followed both your election campaigns with heightened interest, particularly the 2008 election.
Your slogan “Yes we can” was repeated at every opportunity. Souvenirs were secured. Your photograph has pride of place in living rooms. Your victories have been ours. Mr President,
I am going to request that you indulge me and carefully reflect on how you would like to continue to inspire the people of this region and particularly our youth. You have already broken new ground in US/Cuba relations.
You are, I believe, the first US President to engage our regional body now on three separate occasions. This is part of your legacy.
Mr. President, Colleague Heads, The young people of our respective nations remain the driving force behind increased cultural contacts in the hemisphere, reminding us that through advancement in information and communication technology, our vast world has now become a global village.
Contacts between our people and governments have grown significantly over the years. The Caribbean Diaspora in the USA fully embraces the USA as home, while at the same time, maintain their cultural and other connections to their respective Caribbean homelands. The United States and the countries of the Caribbean Community are uniquely positioned as strategic hemispheric partners.
We are united by fundamental values, our interdependence and the desire to address common concerns, including the threats to the security and well-being of our citizens.
Trade and economic relations remain vital to the sustainable development of our region. Equally important is our joint action on the environment, including climate change.
Our dialogue today reaffirms our strong partnership and also signals our desire to take CARICOM-USA relations to a higher level, capitalizing on the gains of the past and exploring new opportunities for the future.
Within this context, we fully embrace the recent positive developments in USA-Cuba relations.
We commend you Mr. President and President Raul Castro for this bold and courageous move to renew USA-Cuba bilateral relations for the common good of all the people of both countries.
We are encouraged by your engagement and dialogue.
Mr. President, My colleague CARICOM Heads and I remain committed to our partnership with the United States.
We anticipate fruitful and productive exchanges at our meeting today to move the development process forward in the Caribbean region and the hemisphere of the Americas.