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Punta Cana, Dominican Republic – (January 24, 2017) Advancing economic relations and the development of trade between states, ensuring the security of Small Island Developing States (SIDS), maintaining the Latin America and Caribbean as a zone of peace and the creation mechanisms to support the resolution of conflicts between States are some of the key areas of focus for President David Granger as he attends the the Fifth Summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), which is being held in the Dominican Republic.

Speaking during a brief interview just before attending the Inaugural Session of the 5th Summit of the Heads of State and Government of CELAC this evening, the Head of State said that the body must begin to move beyond issuing declarations to establishing the mechanisms that can be used to deal with the concrete issues facing the Region such as security, poverty and the treatment of citizens. “I am looking for progress that takes us away from mere declarations to a demonstration of determination to deal with the concrete issues facing the region. And those issues are about security and poverty and the way that we treat our citizens,” the Head of State said.

With the both Guyana and Venezuela being members of CELAC, the President noted that the body can potentially support the resolution of controversies such as the one, which exists between those two countries. He added that the United Nations’ Charter allows for regional mechanisms and that it is through such a mechanism that CELAC can be integrally important to Guyana.

Attending his first regional summit as the Chairman of the Caribbean Community, (CARICOM), President said that the deepening of regional integration, between Latin America and the Caribbean is in important for their development and security.

“It is an organisation that is committed to the strengthening of the integration process in Latin America and the Caribbean and also to the solution of problems among these member states; the 33 member states… and as Chairman of the Caribbean Community, I am concerned with the issues affecting Small Island Development States. It is important to note that many of the larger states are Latin and many of the smaller states are Caribbean, so my intention is to ensure that the interests of the community, as a whole, are served by ensuring that the relationships between the larger states and the smaller states, between the Latin States and the Anglophone states remain on even keel and work towards the benefits of all our peoples,” He said.

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Speaking specifically about the importance of participation in CELAC for Guyana and other CARICOM States, President Granger said that these states are vulnerable to international and transnational crimes as well as global economic shocks and must rely on regional bodies to help strengthen their resilience. “We not only have the Headquarters of the Caribbean Community but we are actively pursuing the strengthening of other institutions such as the CSME [Caribbean Single Market and Economy], the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative, so this is a step in the right direction. The average citizen in Guyana should feel that his country is going to be safer or that he or she is going to be safer and the region would be more secure as a result of the progress that has been made by CELAC,” he said.

CELAC is a regional bloc of 33 Latin American and Caribbean states that was formed at the Unity Summit in Mexico on February 23, 2010. It aims to unite all of the Latin American and Caribbean states in order to strengthen the political, social and cultural integration of the region, improve its quality of life, stimulate its economic growth and advance the well-being of all of its people.

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