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Antigua and Barbuda: PM Gaston Browne to attend 9th Summit of Americas

Prime Minister Gaston Browne left for Los Angeles, California, in the USA for the 9th Summit of the Americas on Tuesday, June 7, 2022.

Antigua and Barbuda: Prime Minister Gaston Browne left for Los Angeles, California, in the USA for the 9th Summit of the Americas on Tuesday, June 7, 2022. The Summit will be held from June 6 to June 10, 2022. Prime Minister will be accompanied by his wife, Maria Browne, who will attend forums for First Ladies and wives attending the Summit.

Various Western Hemisphere leaders will attend the Americas Summit and will discuss building a sustainable and resilient future along with democracy, technology and pandemic resilience.

Prime Minister Browne, who had initially indicated that he would not be attending the Summit due to the Summit organizers’ unwillingness to invite the leadership of Cuba and Venezuela, said that CARICOM held a special caucus on the issue and decided that they should attend due to the United States softening position towards Cuba and Venezuela. 

“We felt that, in good faith, at least, the United States has softened its position, so we should attend,” PM Browne said.

“We continue to advocate for additional changes. The United States would have said certain things to us in confidence. And we believe that on that basis, we could participate while at the same time agitating for additional changes – additional concessions for Cuba and Venezuela in particular. Senator Christopher Dodd and others would have spoken to me and encouraged me to participate. I would have said to him and others in the U.S. government that Antigua and Barbuda is not fighting an ideological war. We felt that we had a moral obligation to stand with our hemispheric partners in terms of ensuring participation and ensuring that there is no ostracism,” Prime Minister Browne stated.

Prime Minister Browne stated that Caribbean leaders would use the opportunity to defend the Caribbean’s position noting that the United States has shown some interest in the Caribbean during the COVID pandemic by providing vaccines and PPEs. 

“I think they ought to go further. And when you look at the fact that COVID is going to be endemic, there is going to be further economic damage to countries in the Caribbean. The United States should be helping us to put together a ‘post-COVID’ Marshall Plan to salvage our economies.”

The country’s leader pointed out that the Caribbean needs real, practical solutions to their problems and therefore believes that this is an opportunity for them to advocate on behalf of the Caribbean people for increased collaboration and support from the United States.

“In terms of the supply of vaccines for the Caribbean region, recognizing that COVID will be endemic, the United States should be able to help us put a sustainable COVID strategy in place. We have had problems accessing vaccines on a timely basis, and purchasing vaccines has been prohibitive. I don’t see why they can’t help us to establish a vaccine manufacturing facility. We can have great accessibility to vaccines and vaccines that are more affordable. These are the kind of collaboration that we need,” PM Browne said.

The country’s leader said that one of the aims of his government at the Summit would be to encourage President Biden to change the aggressive policy towards Cuba in particular and Venezuela. He said that there is a need for hemispheric solidarity and not policies driven by any state in the United States, where a large percentage of Cubans reside.

“An American president must stand and bell the cat and not be dictated by some in Florida. You are telling me that because they want to win that seat, they are going to make the lives of tens of millions of people in Cuba and Venezuela miserable. That kind of geopolitics is backwards-looking,” he said.

He noted that he wants to see President Biden, who will be more empathetic, noting that he must make the best of his term and make positive and impactful decisions to change the policies on Cuba and on Venezuela. “Let’s get a truly integrated and united hemisphere. This would be a great legacy and a better legacy than winning the state of Florida. So I hope we can have some of those frank discussions at the Summit, and clearly boycotting is not going to achieve that,” Prime Minister Browne stated.

The country’s leader said that the Summit is expected to discuss various matters such as clean energy and the climate crisis and how effectively the public and private sectors can work together, which will help to solve large environmental problems. He noted that the commitments made at the Summit are expected to transform the hemisphere and the lives of its inhabitants.

Here are major topics that could be featured at the Summit: 

  • A green future and clean energy;
  • Fostering youth participation in politics;
  • Economic prosperity;
  • Democratic governance;
  • COVID-19 recovery and pandemic resilience;
  • Migration, and
  • Transforming the Western Hemisphere’s digital infrastructure.

Antigua and Barbuda’s delegation to the Summit will also include the Ambassador to the United States and the OAS, Sir Ronald Sanders and Joy-Dee Davis Lake, Antigua and Barbuda’s Alternate Representative to the Organisation of American States.

 

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Anglina Byron

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