Tue | Sep 25, 2018

Let's get to work - Obama

Published:Friday | April 10, 2015 | 12:00 AMGary Spaulding
US President Barack Obama listens to opening remarks by Jamaican Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller at the start of the summit with Caribbean Community (CARICOM) leaders, yesterday, in St Andrew. Also listening is Prime Minister of The Bahamas Perry G. Christie (centre).

"Let's get to work" came the advice of United States President Barack Obama in response to impassioned entreaties from Jamaica Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller and CARICOM Chairman Perry Christie, prime minister of The Bahamas.

In presentations ahead of a meeting at the Regional Head-quarters of the University of the West Indies yesterday, the two regional leaders appealed to Obama to use his influence to assist in forging a more uplifting path for the region's youth.

There were also impassioned calls from Simpson Miller and Christie for Obama's help in crime-fighting, trade, the economy and environment matters, after the host formally met with CARICOM heads of government.

Obama expressed agreement that the issues identified by the two regional leaders were critical and warranted immediate attention. It was to these requests that he urged regional leaders to move full speed ahead with the meeting.

Simpson Miller described the impending talks as the most significant of the three so far involving Obama and regional leaders. She noted that he was the first US president to engage CARICOM leaders on three separate occasions.

Christie stressed that the mission was a great opportunity to review timely, important issues.

"The three themes of today's meeting - competitiveness, security and energy - could not be more relevant," the Bahamas prime minister said on behalf of the 15 Caribbean leaders at yesterday's meeting.




Christie suggested that at the core of the mission was the development of the people of the region, to make their lives better, free from crime and violence, with incomes that support a good living for themselves and their families, and to ensure a bright future for the youth.

"I, therefore, come to speak today for our young people. They are the future of this region," he said. "I speak on behalf of us all when I say there is no more compelling mission that we have today than to help to secure their future, to dispel their sense of hopelessness, to fix the joblessness, to ensure that they get a good education, to help them become a part of the formal economies of our countries."

He stressed that leaders were not in a position to surrender the young to the negative forces of crime and war in far-flung climes.

"If this meeting produces anything today, it must be [to secure] the future of our young people," said Christie. "If we fail in that mission, we do so at our peril."