SECRETARY-GENERAL WISHES COMMUNITY A GOOD NEW YEAR
Georgetown, Guyana -- As the Region prepares to observe its 40th anniversary in 2013, Secretary-General of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), Ambassador Irwin LaRocque has extended greetings for a good new year to the region's citizens.
"Let me take the opportunity to wish all citizens of the Community a good new year ahead of us.
"I know our Community is going through some challenges. The economic situation globally is not the greatest one and of course, impacts upon us all, and we find ourselves generally in a challenging period; one which leads us to the conclusion that in such challenges we need each other more, and by working together as a Community we can achieve what we set out to do...," the Secretary-General said as the year wound down.
He was at the time reflecting on his tour of duty so far. He has been in office for just about a year and four months, following his inauguration in August 2011. During that time, his primary goal has been to put people back at the centre of the 40-year old integration movement and his quest to do so has been, at once, eye-opening and satisfying.
The Secretary-General has already visited most of the Community's 15 Member States, listening to stakeholders, getting a sense of their outlook, and providing answers and clarifications on myriad issues.
"...I deliberately set out initially to reach out to the people of the Community, to put a face to integration and to bring integration to them in terms of what we are doing; to put the people back at the centre of integration...," he said.
He has focused especially on the youth, making it a point to engage them, hear their concerns and incorporate their views, as far as possible, into the Community's thrust.
The Secretary-General said that he found the interactions with the various stakeholders "quite interesting, and while there are some legitimate question being asked, I found a great sense of commitment and hope; and an acknowledgement that if CARICOM did not exist today, we would have had to invent it."
He singled out the media for special attention also, and extended gratitude to those stakeholders, who he described as partners in the process, for their input to Community development and their efforts to keep the Diaspora informed. He pointed out that he had approached media houses as a partner in the integration process and has received "valuable insight" from them on how he should "reach out".