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Oct 25, 2017

Mexico and CARICOM Meet in Belize

Belize today played host to the fourth gathering of the heads of government of the Caribbean and Mexico. Mexico is one of the most populous nations surpassing by far the combined population of the Caribbean islands, but there is plenty that the two sub-regions share. Most recently, natural disasters impacted the two so that the summit held here between President Enrique Peña Nieto and his Caribbean counterparts had a sense of urgency and relevance to issues associated with disaster management. At the opening day, both sides acknowledged the importance of strengthening cooperation against natural disasters and other areas. News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.

 

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

The arrival of regional heads of government in Belize began as early as Monday, with prime ministers and other high-ranking state officials disembarking at the Phillip Goldson International Airport.  Those appearances continued to this morning with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto touching down by private charter in Ladyville, before making his way to Belize City to meet with Prime Minister Dean Barrow.  The occasion of their visit is the Fourth CARICOM/Mexico Summit where issues related to climate change, disaster management and development cooperation are the focus of interest.

 

Dean Barrow

Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“Belize is honored to host this coming together between Mexico, perhaps the greatest friend to which our country is bound by blood and history and CARICOM, undoubtedly Belize’s first family.  It is wonderful to be able to use our special geographic location to facilitate such an important meeting of two sub regions, different in size and culture but both equally vested in the common enterprise of progress and advance; both determined to take advantage of the particular opportunities available to our people at this juncture of history; and both resolute in confronting and bending to our benefit the local and global challenges that are always the other side of the Janus coin of international affairs.”

 

CARICOM Secretary General Irwin LaRocque, in his address, pointed out the forty-three-year history that Mexico has with the Caribbean, including the many areas of bilateral cooperation.  This partnership, says LaRocque, endures, despite the different stages of development between Mexico and its counterparts.

 

Irwin LaRocque

Irwin LaRocque, Secretary General, CARICOM

“It was in 1974 that Mexico became the pioneer as the first country to establish a joint commission with CARICOM.  This heralded the beginning of a mutual relationship which demonstrated the value of relationship .  Though at different stages of development our co-existence in the same hemisphere where share the same Caribbean Sea has created a deeper understanding of each other’s interests and challenges.  It is this understanding that has guided CARICOM and Mexico towards the areas in which we have undertaken cooperation.  This includes agriculture, transportation, trade and investment and tourism, human resource development, disaster management and climate change, to name a few.”

 

The centerpiece of the summit is undoubtedly climate change and disaster management, both live issues that affect the region in the wake of natural disasters; a pair of devastating earthquakes in Mexico and super hurricanes across the Caribbean.

 

Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“Of course, all the world knows that recent weeks have visited horrific natural disasters on both Mexico and CARICOM.  In Mexico, people and government pulled together in that special blend of nationalism and resourcefulness that is so peculiarly and world-famously Mexican.  And in CARICOM native resilience has already expressed itself in ingenious concrete plans for cooperation with international partners that will not only fund reconstruction but begin a new march to climate resilience and a green Caribbean.  Your presence today is testament to the importance you give to cooperation within the mark of this summit; the importance of the joint effort to protect and strengthen against vulnerabilities; and the importance of demonstrating to all the world that in our parts of North America and the Caribbean, the will for survival, revival and progress is inexhaustible.”

 

While it is President Pena Nieto’s maiden visit to Belize, it is not just about formalities, a point that he was sure to make when calling on Prime Minister Barrow earlier today, during a private bilateral meeting.   Taking the podium at the opening of the summit, the Mexican President also spoke of the longstanding relationship with the wider Caribbean.

 

Enrique Peña Nieto

Enrique Peña Nieto, President of Mexico

“I would like to thank the people and Government of Belize for their hospitality during this fourth CARICOM-Mexico Summit. I appreciate the show of support that my country received after the earthquakes that affected us last September. Likewise, I express my condolences to those island countries affected by hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Jose and Maria. Our nations are situated in regions that are subject to forces of nature. The CARICOM nations, between 1990 and 2017, have suffered two hundred and eight natural disasters that have caused the death of over two hundred and thirty thousand people and over nineteen million dollars in material damages. During September, we experienced the dangers of natural phenomena that once more tested our strength. Hurricanes caused deaths and damages in many island countries as well as in some states of my country.”

 

Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

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