Caribbean continues to feel impact of global economic meltdown – GonsalvesListen /
NARRATOR: In the Caribbean region, the global economic and financial meltdown continues to be felt most acutely by the poor, the youth, the elderly and the vulnerable, who bear no responsibility for the rampant financial speculation and unregulated movement of capital that spurred the crisis.
That's what Prime-Minister Ralph Gonsalves of St. Vincent and the Grenadines told the General Assembly on Friday.
He said today, four years into an externally-imposed meltdown, which has produced negative or marginal growth across the Caribbean, the region is forced to contemplate the implications of a potential “lost decade” of development.
TAPE: Our region is not immune from the economic pressures and fissures that have turned other parts of the world into tinderboxes of social unrest and political upheaval.
Our citizens, who have nobly struggled under the weight of externally-sourced contraction, austerity and hardship, are not possessed of limitless patience or endurance. Our hard-won developmental gains are in jeopardy, our settled political stability is in possible peril. The international community cannot ignore our plight based on a distorted calculus of middle-class status and relative prosperity, or on simplistic, even offensive, stereotypes of Caribbean paradises. Small, highly-indebted middle-income developing countries, like those in the Caribbean, which are very vulnerable to natural disasters and international economic convulsions; have especial concerns which the international community is obliged to address properly in partnership with the people of our region.
NARRATOR: Prime Minister Gonsalves noted that closer to home, the developmental and political partnerships increasingly reflect a spirit of strengthened regional integration and greater South-South cooperation. He said St. Vincent and the Grenadines' deepening bonds of friendship, cooperation and integration within the Caribbean and Latin America are a fundamental manifestation of the States’ growing independence and political maturity.
TAPE: Saint Vincent and the Grenadines enjoys membership in a number of inter-connected circles of regional integration. The Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) is an economic union with a shared currency, judiciary and nascent representative assembly. The fifteen-member Caribbean Community (CARICOM) also furthers the cause of Caribbean integration with important implications for trade and the free movement of people. Our State is a proud member of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA), which has created bonds of socio-economic solidarity and cooperation among Caribbean, Central and South American States. CARIFORUM, the Association of Caribbean States and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) are also homegrown manifestations of our peoples’ desire to forge linkages and partnerships with our regional brothers and sisters.
NARRATOR: Dr. Gonsalves concluded that even as St. Vincent and the Grenadines strengthen linkages with its immediate neighbours, the state remains deeply committed to its historical ties and traditional friendships. He said the bonds that they share with friends in Europe, Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States are as strong as they are mutually beneficial.
This is Donn Bobb reporting.