Call for founding fathers of CARICOM to receive region’s highest award

May 1, 2023  -The chairman of the Dr Eric Williams Memorial Committee, Reginald Vidale, is calling for the founding fathers of the regional integration movement, CARICOM to be awarded the Caribbean highest award, posthumously as the region celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Treaty of Chaguaramas.

The Order of the Caribbean Community (OCC) is an award given to “Caribbean nationals whose legacy in the economic, political, social and cultural metamorphoses of Caribbean society is phenomenal”

The award was initiated at the Eighth Conference of Heads of State and Governments of CARICOM in 1987 and began bestowal in 1992.

Addressing a wreath laying ceremony marking the 42nd anniversary of the death of Trinidad and Tobago’s first prime minister, Vidale said that the award should also be given to the former leaders of Barbados, Guyana and Jamaica.

He said they were the reasons why CARICOM came into being and that they should be recognized throughout the Caribbean.

“They deserve it. They laid a pillar in this Caribbean for Caribbean unity and Caribbean purpose and as the founding fathers they must be given due respect and I am not asking to give it to Dr Williams only because he was one of the founding fathers, I am asking that they all receive the Order of CARICOM posthumously,” he said.

CARICOM came into being on July 4, 1973 with the signing of the Treaty of Chaguaramas by Prime Ministers Errol Barrow for Barbados, Forbes Burnham for Guyana, Michael Manley for Jamaica and Eric Williams for Trinidad and Tobago.

CARICOM came into effect on August 1, 1973, and subsequently the other eight Caribbean territories joint CARICOM. The Bahamas became the 13th Member State of the Community on July 4, 1983, but not a member of the Common Market.

Suriname became the 14th Member State of the Caribbean Community on July 4, 1995.  Haiti secured provisional membership on 4 July 1998 and on 03 July 2002 was the first French-speaking Caribbean State to become a full Member of CARICOM.

Reginald Vidale said the recently held regional symposium on crime which was attended here by several Caribbean leaders underscored the founding fathers vision for unity in dealing with matters affecting the Caribbean.

He said this is what they would have wanted for the Caribbean integration movement “that CARICOM leaders come together when there is a problem to solve it collectively.”

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley has called for Trinidad and Tobago to become a full member of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) that was established in 2001 to replace the London-based Privy Council as the region’s final court.

“Other Caribbean countries are one by one joining the CCJ because even some who are apprehensive have seen the value but we believe that is because a few well-monied people can go to the Privy Council once in a while on matters that they choose, but we have to wait until the Englishman tells us that something is good before it is good,” Rowley told a “Family Day” event of the ruling People’s National Movement (PNM) in Toco, north east of here on Sunday.

Despite being headquartered in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago has only joined the Original Jurisdiction of the CCJ that also acts as an international tribunal interpreting the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas.

Barbados, Dominica, Guyana and Belize are the only four CARICOM countries that are full members of the CCJ that has both an Original and Appellate Jurisdiction.

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