Fri | Mar 23, 2018

CARICOM 38 | Venezuela’s shadow follows Holness to Grenada

Published:Tuesday | July 4, 2017 | 12:00 AM
Prime Minister Andrew Holness

Prime Minister Andrew Holness is now in St George's, Grenada, for the 38th Regular Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of CARICOM, with the issue of the different positions adopted by regional states on Venezuela casting a shadow over the gathering.

The conference provides a forum for heads of government to engage in discussions on issues of critical importance to the region, with many observers expecting Venezuela to be close to the top of that list.

But CARICOM Secretary General Irwin LaRocque said yesterday that the unfolding political situation in Venezuela is not on the agenda. He, however, acknowledged during a news conference that it could be added when the agenda is adopted tomorrow morning.


Venezuela divide


As he left the island yesterday, Holness outlined Jamaica's expectations going into the conference, with no mention of the Venezuelan crisis, which has opened a sharp divide among regional states.

Instead, Holness said Jamaica's participation in the conference will allow it to underscore the country's commitment to strengthening the regional integration process, especially the implementation of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME), and to provide a platform from which to address the conference on specific issues of national importance.

Among the issues highlighted by Holness were:

- Preparations for the hosting of the World Conference on Tourism, which is scheduled to be held in Montego Bay in November.

- Outcome of the CARIFORUM Ministerial Meeting to examine CARIFORUM within the EU-CELAC partnership and the future of the ACP/EU post-Cotonou relationship, which was held in Kingston from March 29-30 this year.

- Outcome of the 'Caribbean Action 2030: Regional Conference on the Sustainable Development Goals', which was held from June 28-30 in Kingston.

The prime minister's delegation to the conference includes Senator Kamina Johnson Smith, minister of foreign affairs and foreign trade, along with officials from the ministry, as well as Naomi Francis, press secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister.

During the prime minister's absence, Dr Horace Chang, minister without portfolio in the Office of the Prime Minister, will be in charge of the Government.

The prime minister returns to the island on Friday.