By Kadeem Joseph
As Antigua and Barbuda and other countries in the region continue to mobilise support for St Vincent and the Grenadines, which continues to be battered by volcanic eruptions, the Foreign Affairs minister is stressing the need for greater cooperation between Caricom member states.
Many have been questioning the viability of the sub-regional grouping with rifts developing over regional carrier LIAT, among other issues, in recent years.
Minister EP Chet Greene posited there is value in working together as a sub-region, given each country’s vulnerabilities, but he hastened to add that cooperation should extend outside of occurrences of natural disasters.
“It should not just be when a volcano erupts in St Vincent that we [come together], it should not be just when we have a hurricane affecting some country, that we show that level of solidarity. We have to find a way for us as a people to become more conscientious, more aware of who we are and the challenges we face on a daily basis,” added.
The minister said that often, the struggles that each island face are not unique to them, including that of accessing vaccines, and should serve as “more reason for us to work together”.
Greene is hopeful that the region will shift focus to the development of both economic and human resource capacity to satisfy emerging demands.
There have been increased discussions on the use of resources in the region in recent months, as the scarcity of some health supplies and vaccines persists globally.
Among other avenues for greater collaboration are the boosting of inter-island trade, and enhancing educational opportunities provided by the University of the West Indies.
He is also optimistic that there will be greater intra-regional travel with a focus on the resuscitation of LIAT, which remains in administration.
Greene added that he hopes that those who have seen the ailing carrier as “a corpse” in the past will see the importance of the carrier.
Prime Minister Gaston Browne, in pledging support for St Vincent and the Grenadines, had indicated LIAT could be made available for evacuation efforts should the need arise.