Prime Minister Harris assumed the six-month chairmanship of CARICOM on January 1st, 2019 – and since then hit the ground running during an exceptionally busy and high-profile tenure as Chairman that solidified his reputation as a strong leader.
This week’s meeting will take place at the Sandals Grande St. Lucian Hotel from July 3rd to 5th, 2019 under the chairmanship of the Prime Minister of St. Lucia, the Honourable Allen Chastanet. Prime Minister Chastanet’s six-month term as CARICOM’s Chairman will end on December 31st, 2019.
Over the past six months, Prime Minister Harris, the outgoing Chairman, worked the phones and travelled on diplomatic missions, as he capably led efforts by CARICOM – along with his Colleague Heads of Government, and in particular Dr. the Honourable Keith Rowley of Trinidad and Tobago and the Honourable Mia Mottley of Barbados, as well as CARICOM’s Secretary-General, Ambassador His Excellency Irwin LaRocque – to advance dialogue and negotiations for the benefit of the Venezuelan people.
The Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis headed high-level CARICOM delegations to the United Nations, Uruguay, Ecuador and Costa Rica, where he engaged in skillful shuttle diplomacy.
Notably, the outgoing Chairman and CARICOM’s Secretary-General have had productive discussions with the International Contact Group (ICG) on Venezuela, which was established by the European Union (EU) in January in response to the political crisis in Venezuela. The ICG comprises the EU, eight of its Member States and several Latin American countries including Costa Rica, Ecuador and Uruguay.
At a breakfast meeting with the ICG in Costa Rica in May, Prime Minister Harris held the attention of the room as he reaffirmed CARICOM’s guiding principles of non-interference and non-intervention in the affairs of states, respect for sovereignty, adherence to the rule of law, and respect for the constitutional order and democracy. “We really want to be an honest broker in the crisis,” he said back then, adding: “The CARICOM group is neither pro-Maduro nor pro-Guaidó. That determination is for the people of Venezuela alone.”
Prime Minister Harris continued: “We have also found comfort in a mechanism [the Montevideo Mechanism] that would assist us in working within the broad frame of the principles that I have outlined, which says we have to engage in dialogue as we are now doing. From the dialogue, we should have a framework of negotiation; those negotiations should lead to commitments on both sides.”