Prime Minister Gaston Browne (R) with the President of Venezuela Nicholas Maduro
QUITO, Ecuador -- During a plenary debate on Wednesday at the fourth summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) in Ecuador, Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne highlighted to his colleague heads of government the clear and present danger associated with the decline in correspondent banking relations among Caribbean countries.
“The system is pernicious, destructive and callous,” Browne said. “If Caribbean financial institutions lose correspondent banking relations, the following will take place: first, remittances from our diaspora, which are important to the foreign exchange earnings and the welfare of the poor in our society, will be adversely affected. Second, businesses will not be able to pay for goods and services they import, which are necessary for human existence. And third, the tourism industry, upon which we depend, will be fatally injured when payments cannot be made and revenues received.”
“Participation in CELAC puts us in a group that has international weight and influence,” he said, “and it is therefore an excellent vehicle for bringing our concerns and issues to the attention of global decision-makers.”
Browne also commended the burgeoning integration arrangements among the CELAC member states and the support being provided by China through the US$35 billion China-CELAC Fund.
The opening session of the summit was addressed by the president of Ecuador, Rafael Correa, which was followed by a retreat of the heads of state and government, during which they engaged one another in a restricted caucus.
At the close of the debate, the CELAC summit issued a political declaration, the 2016 CELAC action plan and a series of special declarations.