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Statement by Prime Minister of Saint Kitts and Nevis the Honourable Dr. Terrance Drew at the VIII Summit of CELAC Heads of State and Government

Published 5 March 2024

Buckie Got It, St. Kitts and Nevis News Source

Statement by Prime Minister of Saint Kitts and Nevis
The Honourable Dr. Terrance Drew
at the VIII Summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC)
March 1, 2024
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Prime Minister the Honourable Dr. Terrance Drew Delivering his Statement at VII Summit of CELAC

Mr. President, Excellencies, colleagues,

Let me first congratulate you, Mr. President, on your country’s productive and successful term as Pro-Tempore President of our Community, and as the first CARICOM country to hold the presidency of the CELAC.

This regional community of ours does not exist in a vacuum but in a global space with many challenges that continue to evolve. And we must find collective proactive responses to the reality of multidimensional crises that for many of us are not of our own making. Confronting the economic woes that plague us, the climate crisis, food insecurity, and the effects of the wars that are raging across the globe requires committed, principled, and pragmatic leadership, as that within our mechanism, to find solutions if we are to survive and thrive.

Excellencies, I need not go into the nitty gritty of climate change, we all know what we face as a result of this existential threat – the erosion of beaches, the plague of sargassum, severe and unusual weather patterns, and persistent droughts are only a few of them. The adaptation to these challenges alone costs trillions of dollars and the available financial resources are scarce.

Colleagues, we all recently came from COP28 where many decisions were made, however, these are decisions and promises that have been made year after year and are slow to be fulfilled, if they are fulfilled at all. In the meantime, the most vulnerable countries are being disproportionately affected and are suffering under the weight of a burden they did not create.

For example, in St. Kitts and Nevis, the smallest independent country in the Western Hemisphere, we are seeing the worst droughts of our lifetime, now having to invest limited resources in desalination. The adaptation cost is eating away at our budget like cancer to the body.

However, we are not standing by with our hands in our pockets. We are responding bravely, and we have come up with the sustainable island state model to deal with the question of adaptation and development. This plan makes the bold statement that we are not seeking sympathy, we are seeking partnerships because we are well aware that we cannot go it alone. We are not seeking pity; we are seeking justice. We are not seeking handouts; we are seeking fair and meaningful solutions. That is why this community, and its actions are critical and will remain relevant. We have what it takes, but do we have the political will?

Excellencies, we cannot achieve our individual national goals with the existing international financial structure that is designed to work against us. For this reason, we continue to support our sister Mia’s Bridgetown Initiative which seeks to address the disadvantages that developing states face and to create a just system for us to thrive.

Critical to further achieving our individual and collective goals is that this region remains a zone of peace. To this end, I call for our community to be a practical part of the solution to help resolve the border and territorial disputes specifically as it relates to Belize-Guatemala and Guyana-Venezuela. And I must commend comrade Prime Minister Gonsalves for his leadership which enabled the Argyle Declaration.

The issue of Haiti remains one of the most pressing. The situation has now deteriorated beyond anything we could have imagined. A destabilized Haiti creates a destabilized region which compounds the many challenges that we already face. But moreover, we cannot idly sit by and continue to watch the suffering of the Haitian people. It is distressing to witness the first free black republic in the world yet again in a fight for its survival.

(IN SPANISH) Excelencias, aprovecho también esta oportunidad para pedir el fin del embargo económico, comercial y financiero a Cuba. ¿Cuál es el propósito? ¿Qué logra? Cuba sigue siendo un querido amigo y un socio comprometido. Recientemente nuestro país necesitó algunos especialistas médicos y Cuba respondió rápidamente. No se pueden contar las innumerables vidas que han salvado los profesionales de la salud cubanos. A pesar de las limitaciones impuestas a Cuba, ha logrado grandes cosas. Imaginemos lo que Cuba podría lograr si se le diera el espacio para hacerlo. Ya es hora de levantar este embargo injusto.

(IN ENGLISH) Excellencies, I also take this opportunity to call for an end to the economic, commercial, and financial embargo on Cuba. What is the purpose? What does it achieve? Cuba continues to be a dear friend and a committed partner. Just recently our country needed a few medical specialists, and Cuba quickly responded.The countless lives that Cuban healthcare professionals have saved cannot be counted. Despite the limitations imposed on Cuba, it has accomplished great things. Let us imagine what Cuba could accomplish if given the space to do so. It is past time to lift this unjust embargo.

There are many agreements that will be reached on many areas of importance and concern. And we will have a Summit declaration by day’s end. Of course, these things are important, but let us be sure that they are worth more than the paper they are written on.

Excellencies, the CELAC cannot afford to be inactive, nor can it afford to be reactive. We know the issues. and we know that the time to act is now.

Thank you, Mr. President. I continue to wish our meeting a success. 

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