The Grenada Revolution Online

Bishop Speech - For Greater Caribbean
Community Integration
[29 June 1980]

Opening and Welcome Address at the Sixth Meeting of the Standing Committee of Ministers Responsible for Foreign Affairs [CARICOM] held in Grenada.

Mr. Secretary–General,

Honourable Ministers,

Your Excellencies,

Members of Delegations,

Sisters and Brothers,

In the name of the People’s Revolutionary Government, and in the name of the people of Grenada, I extend a most cordial and warm welcome to our distinguished friends and colleagues from the sister states of CARICOM to Grenada.

Today you are our esteemed guests and we are happy to have you because your presence here underlines once again, the historic, permanent and on–going ties which exist between our countries and our peoples.

Your presence is also historic because it is the very first time that our country is hosting a meeting of the Standing Committee of CARICOM Ministers responsible for Foreign Affairs.

Certainly we are glad for this opportunity to emphasize once again Grenada’s firm and abiding commitment to Caribbean regionalism; to the Caribbean integration process and to CARICOM as our region’s foremost integration institution.

Mr. Secretary–General, only a few weeks ago our regional integration movement lost is stalwart - Dr. Eric Williams, who had been an early proponent of the cause of regional unity and cooperation.

We all share this loss.

His passing [29 March 1981] places on our shoulders an even greater responsibility to press on to achieve the noble cause of cooperation and integration in our region.

I ask Mr. Secretary–General, that we pay tribute to the memory of Dr. Williams by observing a minute’s silence.

This Sixth Meeting of the Standing Committee of Ministers responsible for Foreign Affairs takes place amidst a very complex and tense international situation of both political and economic dimensions.

Just next door in the neighbouring Central American country of El Salvador there exists a focal point of tension and insecurity.

Though based on false premises which have now been fully exposed and discredited, the realization of the threat of direct foreign intervention in El Salvador could plunge the Central American and Caribbean area into a stats of open conflict in a vain attempt to frustrate the legitimate aspiration of that heroic people.

Historically, our Caribbean community has always struggled on the side of peace.

Today, as these on–going and new dangers confront us we cannot shirk our historic responsibility, but instead must employ all our resources, however limited they might be in the noble pursuit of peace.

All of our diplomatic and foreign policy work must be geared towards working along with those who are calling for just and lasting political situation of this bloody conflict so close to home; and toward the overall accomplishment of the lofty and vital objectives of peace, justice and freedom internationally.

This Committee must note with deep satisfaction that only three days ago the Organization of African Unity [OAU] meeting in Nairobi, Kenya, unanimously adopted a resolution which strongly condemned Western support for South Africa’s illegal hold on Namibia.

In a historic demonstration of unity and collective political will all fifty Heads of States or Government denounced the unholy alliance between Pretoria and Washington, and condemned what they described as “sinister moves” by the Reagan Administration to circumvent efforts being made to bring about elections under United Nations supervision.

In reiterating our own principled support for the liberation struggles and the call for justice, equality and self–determination in the Southern African region, this Committee will certainly wish to take note of the firm, principled and most recent stand by these distinguished representatives of the people of Africa; a people with whom we in the Caribbean share unbreakable ties of blood, history and solidarity.

With regard to the Middle East, we cannot afford to continue to ignore the continuing tensions and conflicts generated and perpetuated by territorial injustice.

Israel’s latest act of aggression against the sovereign and independent Arab State of Iraq aggravates Middle East tensions.

The bombing of the Iraqi Nuclear Installation [7 June 1981] constitutes a flagrant breach of international law and a gross violation of the national sovereignty and territorial integrity of Iraq.

We must place on record our condemnation of Israel’s act of premeditated aggression that was vulgarly timed to gain cheap electoral advantage.

We must demand that Israel refrain from such acts in the future and insist that Iraq be fully compensated for the material damage and loss of life suffered.

Mr. Secretary–General, two issues of particular concern to all Commonwealth countries are the issues of apartheid in sports and the recent U.K. Nationality Bill.

Because these are matters which, in one way or another, greatly touch and concern our people, this Committee will need to analyse them, assess their full implications and impact and take firm and principled positions which will ensure that the legitimate interests and concerns of our people and other Commonwealth and Third World citizens are fully respected and upheld.

Certain divisive and exploitative forces are attempting to push our countries into a situation of Cold War alignment.

To us, this is an area in which relations in and out of the region must be founded on the principles of cooperation, peaceful coexistence, mutual respect, non–interference in the internal affairs of other States and the practice of ideological pluralism.

Policies of confrontations, Cold Way rhetoric and military buildup threaten to erode the gains won in the period of the 1960’s and 1970’s under the guidance of the Non–Aligned Movement.

It is in the interest of the Caribbean Community of nations to struggle for harmonious relations in the region.

This meeting will be followed by the United National General Assembly which opens in New York in September.

Coordinated positions and issues of importance to this Committee must therefore be ironed our before we face the rest of the international community.

Of great significance are the up–coming Mexico Summit, the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Australia and the 11th General Assembly of the Organization of American States, which will once again be held in the Caribbean, this time in the sister state of St. Lucia in early December.

This meeting should be a useful context for caucusing Caribbean positions regarding the several critical issues which will need close Caribbean collaboration at these extremely important meetings.

Mr. Secretary–General, Sisters and Brothers, as we review the international political situation we cannot disregard the international economic situation.

There is no doubt that the world is facing a serious economic crisis.

This crisis begins in the Western industrialised countries and inevitably spread to the economies of the dependent developing countries.

However, although the origin, the basic roots of the crisis rests beyond the border of the developing countries, our subordinate and vulnerable position in the world economic system means that we suffer the most severe effects of the crisis.

This reveals the unjust, inequitable and anarchronistic [sic] nature of the present world economic system.

As noted elsewhere this international economic crisis of grave proportions which is unfolding is having a severe impact on our region.

Tourism has taken a sharp downward decline for the region as a whole.

The prices of most of our major export commodities are declining.

The price of basic imports - fuel, food, medicines, machinery are escalating at a rate that spells danger, if not disaster for our small, open independent economies.

If is against this background, and from the point of view that we observe international economic justice, that the Caribbean Community must continue to wage militant struggle for the establishment of a new international economic order first proposed by the developing nations and later endorsed by fair–minded groups from the industrial community such as the [unclear] New International Economic Order [NIEO], must be deployed to guarantee better and more stable prices for our exports - better terms of trade.

It must democratize the international monetary system, it must terminate domination and manipulation of the international economic system by a few big countries and their multi–national corporations.

It must increase the transfer of resources, both economic and technological from the developed to the developing countries.

In short, the New International Economic Order can and should make a contribution to alleviating the existing exploitative World Order.

Clearly, also, better commodity prices will give our region, indeed the developing world in general purchasing power which can then be used for the purchase of more industrial products.

In this way the developing countries will also assist in the recovery of the stagnating industrial economies.

It is fundamentally regrettable that agreement on the launching of the round of global negotiations on international economic cooperation was not reached at the 11th Special Session  of the United Nations General Assembly in 1980.

The responsibility for this failure must be placed squarely at the door of the three Western industrialised countries which assume a very uncooperative and irrational position at the two sessions.

We must devote maximum effort and energy to have these countries change their position and implement the programme of action on the establishment of the New International Economic Order.

This Committee will therefore want to put particular attention to the upcoming Mexico Summit which could well represent  the last real chance to energize vital discussions around the need for a New International Economic Order.

Mr. Secretary–General we must also demand that the tremendous resources employed in the creation of unproductive and dangerous armaments be gainfully utilized in the interest of the developing countries and toiling humanity.

This more efficient use of the world’s resources will also serve to consolidate international peace and security.

This colossal waste of the world’s resources could be of tremendous economic benefit to developing countries, and more particularly to the more disadvantaged and small island developing states such as most of us are.

These states are characterized by a variety of features considered normal for poor, underdeveloped countries.

These features include a very low and generally technological development as well as a lack of institutions and organizations designed for modern production.

In addition, small island states obviously have small physical sizes and small resource bases.

The limitations of such small island base are many, including the need of a much stricter, economic and social use of the limited land available.

Land use polities are therefore often indispensable to orderly housing, agriculture, recreational and other developmental needs.

The other features and unique limitations of small island states have been elaborated elsewhere.

Grenada, an no doubt, other sister states, has not spared any opportunity in the international arena to discuss this issue gaining both understanding and support of the inherent structural difficulties faced in our developmental efforts.

The Caribbean Community though relatively small, cannot afford to be isolated from international and regional peace, security, justice, progress and development.

Hence the significance of the Agenda before us which should be examined with due consideration given both to the past and future work of the Committee.

Before going further Mr. Secretary–General, I wish to call attention to the recent formation on the 18th of this month of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States [OECS] as an encouraging and significant development for our sub–region and region in general.

The closer co–ordination in fields such as economic and foreign policy which the Treaty of Basseterre seeks will help to further consolidate the integration process started by those seven [7] countries as far back as 1967.

This is a positive and correct response to the international situation which demands the closest co–operation among States, since most of today’s problems and issues recognize no borders, and in fact transcend national frontiers.

The OECS Treaty, in the light of the relatively weak position of the Lesser Developed Countries of CARICOM can bolster CARICOM itself, and in this regard is a highly positive actor in the present regional situation.

Another positive factor in which this Committee must take satisfaction is the ever growing acceptance of, and study devoted to the concept of the Caribbean as a zone of peace.

This concept first endorsed at the Latin American and Caribbean level by the Hemispheric Organization of American States at its 9th General Assembly in La Paz, Bolivia, in 1979 was, and remains a collection response to the stepped–up military activities initiated in the Caribbean by forces which seek to perpetuate the syndrome of dependency and exploitation.

Some of the substantive requirements to be satisfied in order to have our Caribbean effectively become a zone of peace includes the following:-

(1) Prohibition of nuclear weapons in the region.

(2) An end to all aggressive military manoeuvres in the region.

(3) The dismantling of all foreign military bases in the region.

(4) The decolonisation of all of our territories and the establishment of machinery to end all forms of aggression, including assassinations, mercenary invasions, propaganda interventions and diplomatic and economic pressures.

When these conditions are fulfilled he most vital prerequisite for progressive development and peace will characterize our Caribbean community.

Certainly, our sister state of Belize now so close to independence, yet still beset with a web of issues which threaten to further delay her legitimate attainment of independence with full territorial integrity, stands to benefit from this declaration.

I am certain that this Committee will wish once again to pledge our fullest support for and solidarity with, the Government and people of Belize.

Equally important is our region’s deep and continuing concern with the constant threat of mercenary invasions.

The cause of peace in the Caribbean can e further reinforced and strengthened if metropolitan countries take urgent and active steps to prohibit the recruitment, financing, training, transit, assembly and use of mercenaries in violation of established International Law.

The declaration and practice of the Caribbean as a zone of peace would also undoubtedly help to enhance the security of all Caribbean States.

Mr. Secretary–General, distinguished delegates, this in brief summarizes the nature of the International and Regional situation.

It is a very grave one and we face many dangers.

To improve the existing situation in the region and in the Caribbean Community in particular and to deal effectively with the several problems and issues affecting the regional and integration process, a CARICOM Heads of Government meeting seems the next logical step in community activities.

The CARICOM Heads of Government have not met since 1975.

This is a fundamentally unfortunate reality as many events have occurred which necessitates a meeting of the highest organ of CARICOM.

A CARICOM Heads of Government meeting will also serve to strengthen CARICOM and will constitute a useful forum in which to exchange views and work out common approaches in light of the complex and tense world and regional situation.

We in Grenada and no doubt other countries in the region would like to see this Sixth Meeting of the Standing Committee responsible for Foreign Affairs recommend strongly a meeting of CARICOM Heads of Government.

Mr. Secretary–General, almost 150 years after the abolition of slavery, after nearly two decades of formal independence for several countries of our region - we ask ourselves where are we as a people?

What is the state of our housing; our health facilities, our educational institutions, our physical infrastructure, how developed is our agriculture?

Our industrial base and our intra–regional institutions for co–operation and development?

The truth is that despite progress on some levels, CARICOM countries are still dependent and vulnerable, vulnerable to hurricanes and as vulnerable to international political pressures and economic fluctuations.

In an effort to deepen the integration process started eight [8] years ago, my Government issues a strong call for unity, solidarity and further integration among all members of the Caribbean Community.

Let us face the world as one united region conscious of our collective strength and our individual frailty.

As a people we are building a genuine process of fraternal relations based on respect and co–operation.

We respect sister countries of the region and expect them to take independent decisions and to pursue, if they so wish, independent paths.

But with your kind indulgence, Mr. Secretary–General, I want to stress that Grenada is obviously not opposed to our sister States receiving assistance from whatever source they wish to receive from them.

Indeed, we urge all donors, potential donors to make positive and substantial contributions to the region’s poor.

However, what Grenada take exception to will continue to reject is the manipulative and divisive use of funds geared towards compromising our institutions, our solidarity among us and our people’s integrity.

Grenada will always condemn neo-colonialist and imperialist tactics whether they are disguised, dressed up or naked.

For our part, Mr. Secretary–General, i pledge Grenada Government’s willingness to continue to work in a spirit of fraternal and sisterly co–operation for greater Caribbean community integration.

Our record is clear.

We are fully committed to even greater and greater unity among us in the region, even greater and greater practical co–operation.

These in fact are among our guiding principles!

In the spirit of the region’s true pioneer integrationist and in the memory of the outstanding Caribbean statesman, we once again welcome all of you to Grenada.

Mr. Secretary–General, sisters and brothers, I declare open the 6th meeting of the Standing Committee of Ministers responsible for Foreign Affairs, and wish that our deliberations be constructive, fruitful and help to advance the process of brining more benefits to the people of our region and objective that must always underline all of our efforts.

Grenada, Mr. Secretary–General, pledges to continue to work towards a stronger, brighter and more united Caribbean.

Thank you very much.

 


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