The past year, Carrington said, was one of “great difficulty” for the Community. The year began tragically with the earthquake in Haiti, and recorded the death of Prime Minister of Barbados, David Thompson, and death and destruction in Saint Lucia after the passage of Hurricane Tomas.
“That January 12 earthquake cast a giant shadow over the Community in 2010… There was need for response to Haiti from that time. The situation was compounded by the cholera of the last six weeks or so. So it is understandable that the Community has had to be preoccupied with the situation in Haiti … which demonstrates the true value of membership of the Community that when one partner is damaged, all turn to its aid,” Carrington said.
Nevertheless, there was some good coming out of adversity in that the Community demonstrated its strength by its response to the earthquake which flattened Port au Prince, left more than 200 000 dead and more than a million homeless.
Carrington pointed to the preparation for the establishment of a medical clinic to serve Fonds Verette and Thomazeau in Haiti; the role of the special representative of the heads of government to Haiti, Percival Patterson, who has been “a most formidable advocate” of the Haitian cause in hemispheric and international fora; and the University of the West Indies which has also been involved in the process through the provision of places at the three campuses for Haitian University students, who were displaced due to the destruction of their Universities by the earthquake.
“Our own Assistant Secretary-General Foreign and Community Relations Ambassador, Colin Granderson has been integrally involved in the Haitian situation and over the last two months or so has been domiciled in Haiti as head of the Joint Electoral Observer Mission of the OAS and CARICOM. As you all are aware there are still issues to be resolved in respect of the polls of 28 November and as such Ambassador Granderson remains in Haiti,” Secretary-General Carrington told the media.
Natural disaster was also the cause of collective grief and again, an outpouring of support, after Hurricane Tomas hit St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Saint Lucia late in October and caused flooding in particular in Barbados and Jamaica. Saint Lucia bore the brunt of the storm with fatalities and a decimated agriculture sector.
Pointing to one of the positive aspects of the year, the secretary-general said the young people – the future of the Community – at a special summit on youth held in Paramaribo, Suriname, in January, demonstrated in no uncertain terms their commitment to the integration process, their determination to contribute and to see the process move forward at a much more accelerated pace.
Developments were also recorded in health where the Community persuaded the United Nations to adopt a resolution calling for a Special Session of the General Assembly on chronic Non-Communicable Diseases. Significant advances were also made with regard to the establishment of the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) which has gained support from a number of CARICOM’s International Development Partners.
The secretary-general also pointed to advances made in agriculture, in particular the endorsement of the regional food and nutrition security policy.
Meanwhile, in his charge to representatives of the media at the end of the press conference, Carrington urged them, as stakeholders in the regional integration project, to reflect reality “as much as you can” and boost their contribution to developing the Community.
“You must better prepare for questioning of my successor/s to get to the very root and branch of what we have embarked on,” the secretary-general said at the press conference via videoconferencing anchored at the CARICOM Secretariat, Georgetown, Guyana.
Without the media, he pointed out, all the Community’s efforts would go to nought.
“One can never afford to forget the importance of the role of the media in what is happening in the community,” he said.