By Krystel Rolle-Brownry
Nassau Guardian Staff Reporter
NASSAU, Bahamas -- Bahamas Prime Minister Perry Christie on Monday called on Caribbean Community (CARICOM) nations to engage in the “art of leveraging” to continue to push for additional assistance from the United States and other developed nations, particularly in the area of crime.
Prime Minister Perry Christie
Christie made the appeal as he addressed the University of the West Indies, St Augustine Campus in Trinidad, on the “Role of The Bahamas in CARICOM”.
He said the region’s proximity to the United States attracts some of the security vulnerabilities, which the region is currently facing.
“The issues of drugs, illegal migration, guns and gun violence which plague our societies are, at least in substantial part, a direct result of that proximity,” he said.
“The ills which we suffer in our economies are the direct result of the proximity to the United States. The policies of that country affect the well-being of our citizens, whether it is immigration, the export of deportees, the raid on our talent or brain drain, gun ownership, the inability to control the appetite for dangerous drugs and the peculiar vulnerability of the United States to terrorism.”
Christie added that given the very serious challenges that continue to threaten the region, Caribbean leaders must continue to urge the Americans to expand their range of assistance.
“In that vein, I continue to insist that the greatest form of security for any state is the education and development of its people,” he said.
“Poverty and underdevelopment is the source for instability, unrest and insecurity.
“Yet too many developed countries take this region for granted until it is time for us to vote for some cause or other. Then when we do not perform according to the preordained script, we are castigated for being uncooperative.
“That is why I think the region must engage. The region must leverage what it has in numbers and use its collective voice to make sure that the world understands the stake it has in the region, and what the expectations of the region are.”
Christie said security of the Caribbean nations is just one area where help is needed.
“What is important to us, however, is economic growth and development,” he said, “the development and nurturing of the skills through the education of our people; the support for our cultural heritage and the facilitation of our business people as they travel the world.
“Our collective voice must be heard in foreign affairs.”
Christie said it just makes sense for the region to come together on these issues.
He said CARICOM must always use its full weight in the international community to make its point of view known.
This is not the first time that Christie made the call for CARICOM to unite for the mutual benefit of the region.
At last year’s CARICOM heads of government meeting in Trinidad, Christie used his address to push the United States and other developed countries to do more to help the region fight crime.
In fact, he said the United States and others have a “moral obligation” to give back to The Bahamas and to the countries in the region.
Christie’s address yesterday came amid widespread concerns over the high rate of crime in The Bahamas.
According to The Nassau Guardian’s records, murders increased by 36 percent between January 1 and April 5 compared to the same period in 2013.
Republished with permission of the Nassau Guardian