PORT-AU-PRINCE: Haiti’s President Michel Martelly has begun a six-month stint as chairman of the 15-member Caribbean Community (CARICOM) grouping with a pledge to help CARICOM unite and overcome its economic problems as well as improve the socio-economic well-being of the region’s population.
“In my capacity as Chairman of the Community, I resolutely commit myself and my country to this noble and urgent necessity,” said Martelly.
He said that during his term, which coincides with celebrations marking CARICOM’s 40th anniversary, he will seek to unite the region so that it can “overcome serious economic, environmental, and social challenges affecting it”.
“I therefore invite Member States to converge their efforts in order to achieve the necessary structural changes to increase the well-being of our people,” said Martelly, noting that Haiti is also observing its 209th anniversary as an independent country under the theme “Freedom and Unity”.
Martelly, who has in the past called on CARICOM to adopt French as an official language of the grouping, said he intends to build upon the work of his predecessor, Dr. Kenny Anthony of St. Lucia and also utilize the services of the members of the CARICOM Bureau.
“As CARICOM celebrates its 40th year of existence, there is ample evidence that the Community constitutes a useful mechanism to facilitate integration within the region,” said Martelly. “As small vulnerable states in a competitive economic environment, our task is to ensure that CARICOM constitutes a bulwark that will protect its Member States in this formidable global environment.”
He said Haiti must accelerate its integration into CARICOM and is committed to contributing to “CARICOM’s strengthening and to improve Haiti’s integration during Haiti’s tenure as Chairman of CARICOM”.
“It is in that spirit that I will welcome Heads of State and Government to Haiti next February to discuss the future of the Community at the XXIVth Inter-sessional Meeting of the Conference of Heads of State and Government of CARICOM,” said Martelly.