Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller has called on the United States and other countries responsible for deporting thousands of persons to Jamaica and other Caribbean countries in recent years, to cooperate with the country and the region in implementing measures to cut off the flow of guns to Caribbean countries, and in devising programmes for the rehabilitation, reintegration and monitoring of deportees. During an address on Tuesday, June 19, the first day of a three-day Conference on the Caribbean at the World Bank in Washington DC, the Prime Minister said the request was a fair one as crime and violence had grave implications not only for Caribbean societies, for the security of developed countries as well.
In support of her call, the Jamaican Prime Minister, who was speaking in her capacity as Chairman of the CARICOM Prime Ministerial Subcommittee on External Negotiations, noted that in a global environment crime required an international response. She pointed out that Jamaica and the rest of the CARICOM countries do not manufacture guns, but were nevertheless, being flooded with guns and ammunition. “While the Caribbean appreciates the cooperation we have received in this area in the past, a case must be made that this is an area which demands further action,” she added.
The Prime Minister also noted that in many cases the persons being deported left the Caribbean mainly for the USA, Canada and the United Kingdom when they were babies and therefore were not socialized in Caribbean societies, and on deportation to the region, they are without family links and often end up homeless.
Speaking on the theme, “The External Environment, CARICOM’s Growth and Development in the Current and Future Global System,” Mrs. Simpson Miller emphasized that the region’s participation in the global trading and financial system must be with the aim of lifting its people out of poverty and providing them with a decent standard of living. She noted however, that in many Caribbean societies crime was being fuelled by poverty. “There is a crucial link between international trade, economic openness and democratic freedoms and peace,” she said, adding: “Economic independence and the freedom from economic want are critically important. Without that freedom, civil liberties mean very little and are always under threat. Without that freedom the war on terror can never be effectively fought. Poverty, injustice, inequality and uneven development are threats to security, both national and international.”
Making the case for special world trade considerations to be given to CARICOM, the members of which are small, vulnerable states, Prime Minister Simpson Miller noted that such preferences would have no significant negative affect on the global trading system. “The total trade in goods and services of CARICOM states accounts for less than zero point one per cent (0.1%) of total global trade. This is a miniscule figure, which indicates that any concessions granted to us would not cause any disruption to world trade,” she disclosed.
The CARICOM External Negotiations Subcommittee chairman said the global environment of uneven and unequal trade and the erosion of preferences, challenges CARICOM to forge new approaches to secure development for its people.
She pointed to the case of Dominica, where the removal of preferences on banana exports to the European Union has resulted in a more than 50 per cent decline in employments in the banana industry, which now accounts for 12 per cent of the island’s Gross Domestic Product compared to nearly 23 per cent in 1995. “The future demands transformation of our economies and a significant injection of resources needed to create the environment for decent jobs,” she suggested.
Reiterating that the United States was the region’s main trading partner, the Prime Minister noted that the Caribbean and the US are more than geographic neighbours. “Over many years we have maintained an intense desire to cooperate and collaborate, recognizing that our futures are inextricably linked. The countries, governments and people of the Caribbean Community remain committed to pursuing with America, common interests, sharing as we do a common geographic and cultural space.”