CARICOM supports Belize against Guatemala at Heads of Government conference

By Marion Ali, Assistant Editor

Belize received unanimous support from leaders from throughout the Caribbean community (CARICOM) who attended the 38th Regular Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) in St George’s, Grenada last week.

The CARICOM leaders reiterated their support for the sovereignty, territorial integrity and security of Belize and urged that a protocol be developed for the Sarstoon. They also expressed hope that the referendum would be held at earliest convenience so that the matter might be settled at the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

The regional leaders also reviewed the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) with new gusto to accelerating its implementation to allow Caribbean nationals full benefit. Belize, led by Minister of Foreign Affairs Wilfred “Sedi” Elrington, stressed on the importance of the CSME for Belize’s sugar and called for policies to support intra-regional trade in sugar.

The conference also discussed the CARICOM Human Resource Development 2030 Strategy, a work plan for a Single ICT space, regional transportation, regional security and promoting regional tourism, and dealing with non-communicable diseases.

On the last topic, the leaders received a report that evaluated the implementation of the CARICOM Heads of Government Port of Spain Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) Summit Declaration. This report warned that the Caribbean had the highest mortality rate from NCDs in the Americas, and that more than 40 percent of those deaths are premature.

The leaders agreed there is a need to apply new efforts, through legislation and intensified public education campaigns, to reduce the ravages of diseases such as diabetes.

Accompanying Minister Elrington were Ambassador Pat Andrews, Chief Executive Officer in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Ayesha Borland, director of International Affairs.

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