CARICOM Caucus of Ambassadors meets with Washington DC Mayor Vincent Gray
WASHINGTON, USA -- On September 19, 2013, the CARICOM Caucus of Ambassadors in Washington, paid a courtesy visit on Vincent Gray, mayor of Washington, DC.
The caucus engaged in discussions with the mayor on a variety of topics including the Mayor’s Advisory Commission on Caribbean Affairs, increasing trade between businesses in Washington and in the Caribbean, cultural collaboration, higher education and opportunities for technical support and integral development.
The Caucus was represented by Dr Neil Parsan (chair, Trinidad and Tobago), Hubert Charles (ambassador, Dominica), John Beale (ambassador, Barbados), Subhas Mungra (ambassador, Suriname), Nestor Mendez (ambassador, Belize), Deborah Mae Lovell (ambassador, Antigua and Barbuda), Niermala Badrising (ambassador, permanent representative of Suriname to the Organization of American States) as well as Marsha Coore-Loban (deputy chief of mission, Jamaica) and William Exantus (deputy chief of mission, Haiti).
Secretary of the District of Columbia, Cynthia Brock-Smith and director of protocol of the Mayor’s Office Patricia Elwood also sat in on the meeting and provided advice in the areas of cultural collaboration, specifically in reference to participation in the annual Cherry Blossom Festival, an issue that was raised by Ambassador Lovell of Antigua and Barbuda.
On the topic of higher education, Ambassador Mendez (Belize) emphasized the importance of tertiary education to the region and mentioned that he was hopeful that there would be discussions on the possibility of co-operation between universities in the Caribbean and Washington, DC. Mendez also stated that he would like to start a conversation with the mayor on exploring the possibility of allowing Caribbean nationals to pay in-state tuition at universities in the District.
Ambassador Parsan addressed the topic of trade between Washington and the Caribbean and highlighted the success of the recent CARICOM-DC Business Forum, which attracted close to two hundred persons who were interested in doing business in the region. He also spoke about the Outreach for Business Promotion that the Caucus is scheduled to embark on from October 7-9. The Caucus will be visiting the cities of Baltimore, Richmond, Wilmington and Philadelphia to promote business and investment opportunities in the region.
Mayor Gray expressed his gratitude to the Caucus for providing him with the unique opportunity to meet with so many ambassadors at the same time. He revealed his support for many of the proposals that were put forward by the group and agreed to meet with his staff to discuss ways in which they could be implemented.
The 14 member CARICOM Caucus meets on a regular basis to discuss issues of importance to the region including matters related to the Organization of American States, CARICOM-US relations and Diaspora outreach. Ambassador Parsan serves as the current chair.