Comrade at Cave Hill
Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves (right) embracing long-time friend Mighty Gabby on Tuesday night.()
BY: MIKE KING
PRIME Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves of St Vincent and the Grenadines wants a deepening of economic integration and greater functional cooperation across the Caribbean.
He made his appeal at the opening ceremony of the Fifth Assembly of Caribbean People at the University of the West Indies Cave Hill Campus on Tuesday night.
The Vincentian leader said such conferences were important to discuss some of the pressing issues in the Caribbean.
“We have got to see how much we can build a single Caribbean entity. I wouldn’t say a single Caribbean state because that would be talking about a political union, which is very far away, but to have a single entity which would deepen our economic integration, in short, to make the CARICOM agenda work.
“It hasn’t been working as well as it should. That doesn’t mean there haven’t been successes, but we need to go further than we have gone,” he said.
Before an audience that included celebrated novelist George Lamming, distinguished attorney Sir Richard Cheltenham, and calypso maestro Mighty Gabby, Gonsalves said he was disappointed he had gotten negative vibes in some quarters for attending the African Union Summit in Uganda.
“It’s a lack of understanding, really. People’s consciousness is not as high as it should be, [including] some leaders, some opinion-makers, but events like these would raise consciousness of the people,” he said.
Gonsalves reminded his Caribbean brothers they had just as significant a role as anyone else and should never feel they were second cousins to anyone else.
“We are not better than anyone else but nobody is better than us,” he said.
In relation to the earthquake that decimated Haiti in January, Gonsalves said that while the United States made the largest contribution in terms of dollar value, Cuba had contributed more per head.
Earlier in the night, chairman of the organising committee, Robert “Bobby” Clarke, called for a move away from party politics as well as an independent foreign policy, and Lamming gave a philosophical and incisive people-centred critique on who and where Caribbean people are.