Diaspora to discuss US-Caribbean relations this week

…during meeting with White House officials

An alliance of the Caribbean Diaspora community, religious and business leaders assembled by the Institute of Caribbean Studies (ICS) will meet with officials of the Donald Trump Administration this week to provide input into the construct of future US-Caribbean relations and the role of the Diaspora in contributing to the process.

These consultations follow up on meetings held last month to identify a mechanism to provide for ongoing consultations between the Administration and the Caribbean Diaspora in the United States.

At the centre of the discussions is the United States-Caribbean Strategic Engagement Act of 2016, which was signed last December by former President Barack Obama and which provides for the identification and implementation of specific initiatives and programmes to enhance America’s relations with the Caribbean at both the multilateral and bilateral levels.

The Act identifies nine broad areas which the US State Department and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) are mandated to address and to provide recommendations and a proposed plan of action to the US Congress by June this year. The Caribbean Diaspora Alliance has prepared a white paper, which it submitted to the State Department Friday and which is expected to form the basis for Wednesday’s consultations.

The paper addresses the nine issues and received input from Diaspora leaders across the US representing organisations whose membership are made up of Caribbean Americans from every Caribbean nation. Input for the white paper was also garnered from consultations with organisations in the Caribbean Region, including Private Sector organisations and the Caricom Secretariat.

Wednesday’s consultations will address issues under three broad themes –diplomacy and security; economic development; and education and health. A US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State will lead the US discussion with an overview of current US engagement with the Caribbean, while Guyana’s Ambassador to the US, Dr Riyad Insanally, who is also the current chair of the Caribbean Caucus of Ambassadors, will deliver opening remarks.

The Diaspora discussion on diplomacy and security will be led by Wesley Kirton and Herbert Nelson; economic development by Alland Leandre and Oscar Spencer and education and health by Eric Walcott and Roxanne Valies.