Saturday, September 13, 2008
Open letter from the Caribbean Conference of Churches
Open letter to the Bureau of Heads-CARIFORUM-EU-EPA
The Honourable W. Baldwin Spencer
Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda and
Chairman of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM)
Cordial greetings once again from the General Secretariat of the Caribbean Conference of Churches (CCC)!
We write further to our letter of August 25, 2008 in which concern was expressed at the potentially detrimental impact on the wider Caribbean citizenry particularly the most vulnerable, of the conclusion of the CARIFORUM-EC Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) in its current form.
As the date approaches for the special meeting of the Heads of Government of CARICOM on the EPA, we wish once more to express our hope that due consideration will be given to the several issues of concern that have been raised throughout the region, and especially those raised by our distinguished academics and practitioners, notably Sir Shridath Ramphal and Professors Havelock Brewster, Norman Girvan, Vaughn Lewis and Clive Thomas. In our view, it simply cannot be the case that, in a matter as crucial as the one at hand, such voices will not be afforded the hearing that befits them.
We also wish to welcome the outcome of the consultations on the EPA held in Guyana on September 5, 2008 and share the view that the position taken by President Bharrat Jagdeo to sign an agreement confined at this time to ‘goods only’, serves as an example of what is possible in the circumstances. We want to commend this intelligent and courageous stance. It is our hope that it will be supported at the upcoming meeting of Heads of Government and that every effort will be made to obtain consensus with respect to collective action on the way forward.
While it has been asserted that failure to conclude the agreement within the timeframe dictated by the E.C. would threaten Caribbean exports to Europe, we feel that our leaders should not be constrained to pursue a course of action which could prove to be adverse to our people in the long run.
The Caribbean Conference of Churches reiterates its call for you together with the other Heads of Government of CARICOM to consider the long-term good and welfare of the people of the region whom you serve and to exercise the leadership that is urgently needed at this time.
We would kindly ask that, through the good office of the Secretary General, copies of this letter be shared with all the CARICOM Heads of Government.
We thank you for your kind attention to this matter.
Please accept the assurances of my highest consideration.
Gerard A. J. Granado
CARIBBEAN CONFERENCE OF CHURCHES