PRESS RELEASE – This past week, Prime Minister Dr Kenny Anthony participated in the seventh Summit of the Americas, in Panama City, Panama.
The Summit of the Americas is a tradition that brings together the leaders of North and South America to discuss issues that impact the Americas.
Dr Anthony addressed the summit on April 11, with his speech titled: “A New Day for the Americas.”
Below is Dr Anthony’s full speech.
His Excellency Juan Carlos Varela Rodríguez, President of the Republic of Panama
Distinguished Heads of State and Government of the Americas
Honourable Ministers of Foreign Affairs
His Excellency José Miguel Insulza, Secretary General of the OAS
Excellencies of the Diplomatic Corps, Permanent Observers, Delegates, Invited Guests
Mr. President, may I congratulate you for hosting this historic meeting. I thank you too for the superb arrangements that have been made for our convenience and comfort.
At this time, our thoughts and prayers are with President Bachelet and the people of Chile as they cope with the ravages unleashed by the flood waters in Chile.
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, I think it is fitting that we meet here in Panama, in a country that is the gateway between Pacific and Atlantic, at a convergence point of trade routes from north, south, east and west.
As you were reminded, Mr. President, this is a country that has been shaped by its great canal, constructed in part by the labour, sweat and sacrifices of Caribbean peoples. Today, our presence salutes their descendants.
It is also our hope, no doubt, that there shall be convergence of thoughts, ideas, principles and plans to lead to progressive action for our hemisphere and our world.
WE CAN UNITE
Seventy years ago this year, World War II ended and the United Nations was born. This year, all countries of the world look forward to a post-2015 future, and despite the turbulence and carnage unleashed by wars in other lands, we cling to the hope that a more equitable, peaceful and prosperous millennium still awaits us.
In our hemisphere, it has taken us long to get to this historic juncture.
It has been bitter. It has been acrimonious.
Now our continent and archipelagos are showing signs that once again, we can unite if the cause is right and just.
RESPECTED THROUGHOUT THE AMERICAS
And so, finally, this Summit of the Americas can today proclaim that it is truly representing all the independent states of the Americas.
Today belongs to all of us, not just to the United States and the Republic of Cuba.
The Presidents of the United States and Cuba must be applauded for refusing to be chained by the history which they have inherited.
Saint Lucia salutes the distinguished delegation representing the Government and people of Cuba, a country loved, admired and respected throughout the Caribbean and the Americas. We are stronger by Cuba´s presence in our midst.
I confess that I was touched by Raul’s statement earlier today. His was a statement of passion, deep emotion, courage and humility.
From the early days of our independence, the Commonwealth Caribbean States recognised and supported Cuba as a member of our hemispheric family of nations.
The United States and Cuba have taken a giant step towards easing tensions among us. However, we cannot resolve historical differences and then immediately proceed to create new tensions. The goodwill that brought the United States and Cuba together must now be used to resolve the differences between the United States and Venezuela.
My delegation hopes that the same generosity that led to the historic announcements by Cuba and the United States to establish diplomatic relations will prevail to secure agreement between Venezuela and the United States to end the tensions that now exist. If this fails, then in the same way that we fought for Cuba’s inclusion in our midst, and the end to its isolation, so too we must summon the will to express disappointment and displeasure over the Executive Order by the United States against Venezuela.
FREEDOM FOR OURSELVES
All our countries in the Americas have this in common: we have all faced colonialism; and we have all had populations,be it African or Amerindian, oppressed and abused by violence, force and fury.
And despite it all, we defeated these powers to create a new way in this New World.
Whether it was Toussaint L’Ouverture or George Washington or Simon Bolivar; whether Jose Marti or Bernardo O’Higgins, our people marched behind our leaders to secure hope and freedom for ourselves.
We understand the value of freedom from subjugation.
CURE POVERTY IN OUR REGION
Today, our nations of the Western Hemisphere must show leadership once more. And we must show unity of purpose. We have the opportunity to dismantle the colonial residues in our continent.
Jamaican Reggae Singer Bob Marley’s words, taken from Black Activist Marcus Mosiah Garvey, are still relevant to the struggle: “Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery.”
We cannot continue with a hemisphere where people are left poor because of their skin colour or their gender. Likewise, people should not be denied citizenship merely because they cannot show proof of their birth or identity or existence.
AGENDA FOR GROWTH AND PROSPERITY
And to do that, to cure poverty in our region, the words of Saint Lucian Nobel Prize winning economist, Sir Arthur Lewis must resonate: “the fundamental cure to poverty is not money, but knowledge.”
Any agenda for growth and prosperity must be committed to expanding education in terms of quality and access, from early childhood development to higher learning and skills development, so that all our people can live productive, purposeful lives.
Any agenda for growth and prosperity must liberate people from the multidimensional poverties. Not just the poverty of material want, but the poverties driven by ignorance, by ill health, by violence, and by lack of voice.
Any agenda for growth and prosperity must unlock access to clean energy and broadband data. It must place technology-sharing on the front burner, not in the usual passing references it usually gets in our agreements because it is fashionable to do so.
Any agenda for growth must ensure that our region is not merely seen as a place for profiteering, but it can show that our people are afforded human rights, dignity, respect and honour.
Any agenda for growth and prosperity must be driven by cooperation among nations, not enmity over ideologies.
Our checkered histories have left some of our countries poorer than others, more vulnerable than others, more violent than others.
Cooperation across the hemisphere is the best way to growth and prosperity.
EVERYBODY HAS A STAKE
US President Obama recently said in Louisville, Kentucky, “Our economy works best when everybody has a stake, and everybody is getting ahead.”
These words are true for the hemisphere, not just for the US. And so, no one wants to see a return to colonialism, or neo-colonialism.
We want to see a change to greater cooperation and collaboration in our hemisphere.
The Caribbean has been very grateful for much of the development assistance given to it by a number of other nations in our hemisphere, even those who give when they have major challenges themselves.
We single out Cuba, Venezuela and Mexico, for these countries have changed the quality of life in our small nations. Had it not been for this support, many of our countries would not have survived the global economic crisis.
Cuba has been exceedingly generous with assistance with scholarships and training, with assistance in boosting our healthcare systems. From eye surgeries for thousands, to doctors at our hospitals, Cuba has never held back.
Venezuela continues to be extremely generous through its arrangements under PETROCARIBE and ALBA and has allowed many in the Caribbean the opportunity to invest in the development of our people.
Only recently Mexico approved support for a major water project in one of the poorest regions of my country. We salute the Government of Mexico.
Many countries in the region are showing that development cooperation is not a bad thing; that providing a helping hand does not equate to dependency or mendicancy.
The Organisation of the Eastern Caribbean States, is in particular, very keen to pursue further cooperation for our islands in the areas of education, energy, food and agriculture, infrastructure and housing.
It is therefore fitting that we are seeking to realign the OAS to be an even better conduit for cooperation.
I commend the 47th Special General Assembly for its adoption of the Draft Resolution, “Guidelines and Objectives of the Strategic Vision.”
In so doing, we are restoring our commitment to advancing the four pillars of the OAS, and to appropriate management and institution-building.
I wish to commend Secretary General Insulza for his efforts and explanation of the need for this strategic realignment as “reaffirming the ties between the strategic objectives of this Organisation, the values shared as a hemispheric political organization, and the way we organize, fund, and manage our activities.”
It is thus our hope that we will remain just as committed to the underlying context of poverty reduction and sustainable development and to ensuring that these feature in every effort and action as they emanate from the updated priorities that this comprehensive Strategic Plan will reveal.
It is also opportune for me to express my country’s appreciation to Secretary General Insulza and Assistant Secretary General Ramdin for their stewardship of the OAS over the last ten years.
As I bid them farewell I also wish them well in their future endeavours.
To the new team of Ambassador Luis Almagro Lemes, from Uruguay and Ambassador Nestor Mendez from Belize, Saint Lucia welcomes you with great anticipation and expectations as you are now charged with the urgent task of improving the relevance of this institution, of which we are all proud members.
A BETTER, MORE EQUITABLE HEMISPHERE
As I close I would like to identify with Secretary General Insulza as I borrow a quote from his recent address to a group of students at Princeton University:
“If there is one truth that we have learned about Latin America and the Caribbean it is that our political and economic development has never followed a straight line. Rather, it has been full of surprises, successes, and setbacks…”
Today, ladies and gentlemen, we are at the convergence point. Let us learn from the setbacks, the surprises, and work together for our Hemisphere to ascend and succeed.
Let us resolve again to ensure that everyone has a stake in prosperity, everyone has a stake in that ascent.
Let us bury the axes, the warheads, the suspicion and the disagreements and look towards a better, more equitable hemisphere where our people can exist at peace and in harmony with each other.
I thank you.