WASHINGTON USA -- The Permanent Council of the Organization of American States (OAS) on Friday received the prime minister of Grenada, Keith Mitchell, in a protocolary meeting in which he who spoke about his country’s efforts to strengthen its economy and promote an agenda for recovery, growth and transformation.
Prime Minister of Grenada, Keith Mitchell. OAS photo
Mitchell was welcomed by the OAS secretary general, José Miguel Insulza, the chair of the Permanent Council, Ambassador Walter Alban, and the OAS assistant secretary general, Albert Ramdin.
Mitchell, who is visiting Washington as part of the annual meeting of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, said that in the nearly 40 years since his country became independent, important lessons have been learned.
“During the darkest hours it was not enough for us to focus only on our challenges, we needed to also focus on the opportunities. Hope is an immeasurable source of energy that can help convene people, forge consensus and deal with the challenges of the day while seizing opportunities for a better tomorrow,” he said.
With respect to the challenges, the prime minister of Grenada mentioned the initiatives undertaken to rebuild the country, to promote a clean and green economy disconnected from energy production monopolies, and to promote a health and wellness industry based on education. He also spoke of efforts to promote tourism, trade and agriculture in Grenada and the idea of a constitutional reform with the support and assistance of regional partners such as the OAS.
In analyzing the renewal agenda, Mitchell alluded to the transformation of the OAS and the importance of considering the new communication technologies and social media that have transformed security, democracy and human rights, and placed special emphasis on the need to provide opportunities for innovation, competitiveness and investment for new generations.
In his speech, the Grenada leader reiterated his country's active commitment to dialogue within the OAS, which is built around the idea of forging a "renewed and revitalized Organization."
"We do not believe that it is enough for this body to focus only on our fears, in defining a new OAS we must give hope to the youth, hope to the private sector and hope to governments like mine that are seeking a deeper engagement with the region and seeking new sources of competitiveness and growth," he said.
In his welcoming remarks, the OAS secretary general said the presence of the prime minister of Grenada at the OAS "is confirmation of your commitment to the Inter-American system and Grenada’s strong support for regional integration, a support that goes beyond the OAS and is reflected in the country’s activism and leadership within the Americas."
He also stressed the commitment of Mitchell to the promotion of science and technology innovation as tools for the advancement of the region’s development and his leadership in the formulation and development of the Caribbean Knowledge Learning Network.
“Grenada is a valued member of the OAS and a country with which we have had a long and close partnership. It was the first of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) countries to join the OAS in 1975 and also the first CARICOM country to host a Regular Meeting of our General Assembly in 1977. This partnership has grown and now successfully embraces activities and initiatives within the four main pillars of the OAS- democracy, development, security and human rights,” he said.
The leader of the hemispheric Organization recalled that the OAS has supported the government of Grenada in the strengthening its electoral institutions and processes, with Electoral Observation Missions dating back to 1984, and also mentioned initiatives related to trade, tourism, sustainable development and security.
“Our work to modernize the country’s civil registry system has been successful, with 100 per cent of birth records now digitized,” he said, and added that he expected this progress “would help strengthen governance, especially the delivery of services to citizens.”
Insulza recognized the many challenges that Grenada has faced in recent years, including the devastating effects of Hurricane Ivan in 2004 and the impact of the recent global economic recession. In this regard he highlighted the leadership of Mitchell in the efforts to rebuild the country, as well as the determination and commitment of the governments and people of Grenada.
“I want to assure you that the OAS will continue to accompany Grenada as it seeks solutions to these and other problems,” he said, and cited as an example the regional conference on debt management in the Caribbean that will be organized jointly by the OAS, the government of Grenada and the Bertelsmann Foundation in November.
The chair of the Permanent Council and Representative of Peru to the OAS, Ambassador Walter Alban, introduced Mitchell, alluding to his "enviable and long trajectory" in the service of his country and his people.
"You represent a country in which the different cultures are the most important component of its human potential. The condition of a pluralistic and harmonious culture of your country enriches the gathering of the member states, and the considerations and deliberations of this Organization," he concluded.