CASTRIES, Saint Lucia, September 19, 2021:– Saint Lucia’s new Prime Minister, Philip J. Pierre, is keeping a busy international schedule as his administration seeks global assistance for its fight against the COVID-19 pandemic at home.
The PM is due back home today from the sixth summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) held in Mexico on Saturday.
The meeting, chaired by Mexico and attended by representatives of 31 member-states, discussed the COVID pandemic’s effects on member-states and adopted a 44-point agenda for cooperation to fight the regional menace.
The CELAC summit also allocated US $15 million to the creation of a regional health regulatory agency to combat the COVID-19 pandemic and future regional health emergencies.
The PM’s fourth summit in six weeks followed a Caribbean Community (CARICOM) summit last Monday (September 13) that also addressed the region’s COVID crisis.
The virtual summit agreed to approach the UN’s COVAX Facility to allow its vaccines to be reallocated among member-states.
The Caribbean leaders also met representatives of the UK and USA — and made special requests for assistance.
They asked Washington to fast-track delivery of its next batch of free Pfizer vaccines top the region; and for field hospitals to help ease the squeeze on current national facilities.
They also notified London of the negative impacts on regional tourism of the new Traffic Light system determining requirements for re-entry into the UK.
PM Pierre on September 7 participated in the first African Union-Caribbean Community (AU-CARICOM) Summit, which also discussed combating COVID-19 on the continent and in the region.
He’d also earlier met fellow Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) leaders in early August, days after being sworn-in on July 28.
PM Pierre is expected to chair Monday’s weekly Cabinet meeting, but even so, he’ll also have to continue preparing for his biggest summit since taking office — the week-long 2021 United Nations General Assembly in New York.
The annual assembly of world leaders started September 14 and continues until September 21 and Foreign Affairs Minister Alva Baptiste is already in New York.
When PM Pierre attends next week, he’ll make his inaugural presentation as Saint Lucia’s new leader.
He’ll also attend a US-sponsored Global COVID-19 Summit being held alongside the General Assembly, where Caribbean and Latin American leaders will continue to advocate for vaccine equity and access, financing and debt sustainability.
The Saint Lucia administration is fighting a ‘fourth COVID wave’ inherited following a brief 21-day General Elections campaign during which policing COVID protocols seemed to have been placed on hold.
Pierre’s administration has adjusted the state’s approach to the COVID fight by toughening lockdowns, loosening criminalization of protocol violations and decreasing direct police contact with citizens by introducing a ticketing system for violators.
But the rate of the spread and the ever-growing number of casualties is also forcing the administration to seek as much external assistance as it can secure.