The leader of the opposition led a party delegation of four, including party chairman Clarence Selver, Goldray Ewing and Josephine Connolly, in a two-hour session with Caribbean Community (CARICOM) officials last Tuesday.
PDM and opposition leader Sharlene Cartwright-Robinson
The opposition Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM) welcomed the delegation and expressed its appreciation for the visit to the Turks and Caicos Islands in consultation for a five-year strategic plan. Believing that this would raise awareness about the Community, opposition leader Sharlene Cartwright Robinson said that she felt that it aided also in the encouragement of greater participation among member states, as there can arise a sense of ownership because of the process taken.
The opposition expressed its disappointment in the lack of involvement on the part the Community when member states experience unusual and great difficulty. Citing as examples, the hesitance of CARICOM to make a statement or to take real action or make stronger statements when TCI's constitution was suspended and, currently, in its handling of the ongoing Haitian/Dominican Republic dispute in the context of the violence shown and now brewing. The opposition told the six-person delegation that it is in such situations it believes that CARICOM must show itself strong, even though it appreciates that there is a delicate balance between respecting a country's sovereignty and the intervening core representative role of CARICOM.
The opposition shared its vision for CARICOM and cited various areas as key priorities while stressing the important role of governments in carrying out CARICOM's mission. Among its priorities ought to be a "living presence" in the member states and better communication. The opposition believes that among the critical priorities is Caribbean oneness, education, health, food security, tourism, crime and security, environment, climate change, energy security, trade, economy, immigration, archive support and more interaction on all levels in the member states.
Cartwright Robinson shared her personal thoughts and vision for CARICOM and said, "The Turks and Caicos Islands has been an associate member since 1991 and has benefited in many ways from the Community but there is much that can be achieved together and the opposition supports a more proactive, supportive, recognized and respected CARICOM voice. In order for CARICOM to achieve this, there is a need for a stronger presence in the region and a greater level of support from governments, oppositions and civil society alike."