Vice President of the United States of America, Kamala Harris, and Prime Minister Hon. Philip Davis of The Commonwealth of The Bahamas co-hosted the U.S-Caribbean Leaders Meeting in Nassau, The Bahamas on June 8, 2023.
Prime Minister of Saint Kitts and Nevis, Hon. Dr. Terrance Drew, and Minister of Energy, Hon. Konris Maynard were part of the Caribbean Leaders delegation that met with the Vice President for the one-day meeting.
Vice President Harris in her opening remarks spoke to the significance of the meeting as a means of strengthening ties between the United States and the Caribbean region.
“Strengthening the U.S.-Caribbean relationship is a priority for me, as it is for President Joe Biden. And these meetings have proven — I believe, at a leader level, have proven to be very important and essential to the strength of these relationships”, said the Vice President.
Today’s announcements include more than US$100 million in new assistance for the Caribbean region. The Vice President made announcements on the U.S.–Caribbean Partnership to Address the Climate Crisis 2030 (PACC 2030); the need for an enhanced diplomatic presence in the eastern Caribbean; the crisis in Haiti; and matters of security and firearms trafficking.
Vice President Harris highlighted the existential threat of climate change and the efforts taken by the United States of America to assist the Caribbean through this potential crisis.
“We have discussed, for example, powerful storms that can wipe out economic progress, low-lying islands that face erosion, flooding, and deadly storm surge from rising seas. These discussions resulted in the launch of our U.S.-Caribbean Partnership to Address the Climate Crisis — or, as we call it, PACC 2030 — last year at the Summit of the Americas. PACC 2030 is designed to help accelerate the Caribbean’s transition to clean energy and to promote energy
security and climate resilience”, she added.
Following the June 2022 Summit in Los Angeles, the United States helped to facilitate several clean energy projects throughout the region. One of the projects includes assisting with developing commercial geothermal power projects in St. Kitts and Nevis.
Additionally, VP Harris also outlined new PACC 2030 investment initiatives to be introduced by the United States.
“One, specifically, a $20 million investment in the Caribbean Climate Investment Program to help incentivize the private sector to partner with Caribbean nations to develop more clean energy technologies, like microgrids and energy storage systems, and to help businesses become more energy efficient in their operations. And second, a $15 million investment to support emergency response efforts and strengthen the capacity of the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency” said VP Kamala Harris.
Discussions have also been had with the President of the World Bank, according to the Vice President, to commission “a diplomatic campaign on multilateral development bank reform”.
“We seek more available and — availability of low-cost concessional financing to nations in the Caribbean. And we believe addressing the climate crisis should be a critical part of the mission of the World Bank. More broadly, new debt must include disaster clauses to allow a pause on debt payments immediately following a natural disaster…Implementation of these reforms will have a major impact on countries in the Caribbean, and we aim to achieve these key reforms by the G20 meeting this fall,” VP Kamala Harris stated.
In another major announcement, Vice President Harris pledged the United States’ commitment to curtailing firearms trafficking in the Caribbean by prohibiting illegal shipments of firearms and ammunition, holding offenders accountable, and enforcing justice.
“And today, I am pleased to announce that the United States Department of Justice will create a new position, a Coordinator for Caribbean Firearms Prosecutions, which will help maximize information sharing between our countries to support the prosecution of traffickers. This effort will be aided by the bipartisan Safer Communities Act, which President Biden signed last year, and includes new federal criminal offenses for firearms trafficking and straw purchases”, Vice President Harris stated.
During her opening statement, VP Harris also emphasized the commitment of the Biden-Harris Administration to assisting Haiti during its time of crisis.
“And we will stand up a Haiti Transnational Criminal Investigative Unit in collaboration with the Haitian National Police to facilitate the investigation and prosecution of firearms and human trafficking, which affects the entire region. The United States supports the development of a multinational force in Haiti. And today I’m pleased to announce $53.7 million in new
humanitarian aid for Haiti. In addition, our administration will support the extension of HOPE-HELP trade preferences for Haiti, which are due for renewal in 2025″.
Haiti Transnational Criminal Investigative Unit (TCIU) will be established from a collaboration between the US Department of State and the Haitian National Police (HNP,). The initiative will facilitate investigations and prosecution of transnational crimes, including those with connections with the United States.
The TCIU will focus on crimes including firearms and ammunition smuggling, human trafficking, and transnational gang activity.
The 2023 U.S.-Caribbean Leaders Meeting is the fourth (4th) multilateral meeting the United States Vice President has hosted with the Caribbean leaders. Similar meetings were held in April, June, and September of 2022.
Main Photo: Prime Minister Hon. Dr. Terrance Drew and other Caribbean Leaders at the U.S.-Caribbean Leaders Meeting in Nassau, The Bahamas