Last Tuesday, the CARICOM (Caribbean Community) celebrated its 48th anniversary. Designed to address Caribbean collective efforts in economic integration, human and social development, and security of its member states, CARICOM was established in 1973.
CARICOM’s role in shaping and sustaining the region was celebrated with the unveiling of six wax figures of eminent Caribbean people last Monday, during a special ceremony to mark CARICOM Day, at the Caribbean Wax Museum in Norman Centre, Bridgetown.
The figures were of Barbados’ first female Governor-General, Dame Nita Barrow; winner of the Nobel Memorial Prize in economics, Sir Arthur Lewis of St Lucia; St Vincent and the Grenadines’ national hero, Joseph Chatoyer; Jamaican Olympic sprinter, Shelly-ann Fraser-Pryce; former Commonwealth Secretary-General, Sir Shridath Ramphal of Guyana, and Calypso Rose of Trinidad and Tobago.
In his remarks at the unveiling ceremony, Barbados’ Ambassador to CARICOM, David Comissiong, described the exhibition as one of “the most unique CARICOM Day celebrations there has ever been”, adding “ I don’t know if any member state has ever celebrated CARICOM Day with a wax statue exhibition”.
Giving his perspective of what was needed for the region’s growth, he said: “The future of CARICOM and our regional integration movement really belongs to our young people. It is very important that we celebrate CARICOM at this time. If we ever wondered whether the Caribbean people needed CARICOM, then we should have no doubt whatsoever after the events of the past year and a half.
“In fact, now more than ever do we need our Caribbean integration movement. It seems that we are receiving challenge after challenge…. The public health crisis of COVID 19; the economic crisis that it has brought, then recently we were faced with the [ash fall from the La] Soufriere volcano in St Vincent. A couple [of] weeks ago Barbados was hit by this freak storm, and then just yesterday (Friday), Hurricane Elsa.”
Echoing similar sentiments, Barbados’ CARICOM Youth Ambassador, Meghan Theobalds, pointed out that the region’s strength lies in its unity.
She explained that with more threats, such as climate change and others, it was imperative for CARICOM nations to “lean on one another, if we have a chance at all of overcoming them”.
She added: “We have a lot to be proud of and sharing our ideas, news and perspectives about the region is an excellent way to encourage our less enthusiastic friends and family to become more engaged. For CARICOM Day and the foreseeable future, my hope is that CARICOM occupies a greater part of our consciousness and becomes an integral part of our identity.”
Witnessing Monday’s ceremony were Barbados’ Special Envoy to Suriname, Senator Alphea Wiggins; Consultant on the CARICOM Single Market and Economy, Dr. George Brathwaite; Dr. Nicole Moore-Clarke of the Guyanese Association of Barbados, and Suaz Blair of the Jamaica Association of Barbados, among others.