PR – Let me begin by thanking the Government of Mexico and the Foreign Minister for the excellent arrangements made for this meeting. It feels good to be back meeting with colleagues physically. Please convey to your president, our pleasure with his very inspiring words this morning. I hope it will be the subject of much discussion in the context of the way forward for the regional integration process.
On behalf of the Government and People of Grenada, on whose behalf I am privileged to address this meeting, I commend the Government and people of the Federal Republic of Mexico for the excellent work they are doing as the pro tempore president of CELAC.
The fact that we are having this meeting today in the midst of the many challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic is testimony to this. Regional cooperation is vital in combating the challenges we all face and CELAC provides a platform for our integration efforts in Latin America and the Caribbean. Grenada reaffirms its commitment to this mechanism and its processes.
For Grenada, the twin challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change presents a manifest predicament. CELAC provides a platform for dynamic engagement and regional cooperation vital in the combatting of these challenges.
This meeting is taking place at a critical juncture. The achievement of our Sustainable Development Goals is threatened by the disruption of our economies by the COVID-19 pandemic which also affects our ability to address the existential challenges faced by climate change. In this regard, we welcome the report by ECLAC on the economic impact of COVID-19 in Latin America and the Caribbean.
The creation of the CELAC Fund to provide immediate responses to natural disasters affecting us in the region is welcomed by Grenada. We have had the experience of natural disasters and the difficulties that emerge in their aftermath. We will continue to advocate for compliance with international climate commitments by those who contribute most to climate change, taking into account the principle of common but differentiated capacities.
Colleagues, devising a strategy that includes vaccine availability and financing recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic is of paramount importance in charting the path to economic recovery. That is why we absolutely support the Integral Health Self Sufficiency Plan developed by ECLAC which focuses on strengthening production and distribution capacities for vaccines and medicines in the region.
Vaccines are a key factor in the recovery process. In this regard, Grenada pays tribute to the Government and people of Cuba for their work in producing vaccines and their support throughout this pandemic by sending doctors, technicians and other medical personnel to assist several countries in the region and many other countries throughout the world. This was reminiscent of Cuba’s contribution to the fight against Ebola in Africa.
Today we reiterate our call on the United States administration to immediately end the embargo, an embargo that has a devastating effect on the ability of the Cuban people achieve their full potential.
We welcome the support of Venezuela, which, despite its own challenges, came to our assistance very early in the pandemic by providing much needed testing and other medical supplies.
Grenada welcomes and appreciates the offers from Argentina and Mexico for the supply of vaccines already distributed to several CELAC Member States. That is the manifestation of the vision of regional solidarity held by the founders who dreamed and then worked hard to create CELAC.
The international community must also be responsive to the health challenges we face. We therefore echo the call made by the United Nations General Assembly for these countries and multinational companies to allow for “fair, transparent, equitable, efficient and timely access to medicines, vaccines and medical supplies to address the COVID-19 pandemic”.
In the face of these challenges, Grenada is taking measures to advance the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which include those objectives related to agriculture, food and nutrition security. The Government of Grenada is promoting food and nutrition security as a national priority in its National Agriculture Plan 2015-2025 and its National Sustainable Development Plan 2020-2035.
We therefore support the implementation of the CELAC Plan for Food Security, Nutrition and Hunger Eradication 2025.
We take the opportunity to commend and express our gratitude to the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), which contributes to the COVID-19 response in agriculture and food security in the region, particularly where the vulnerable are concerned.
Before I conclude, let me use this opportunity to express our solidarity with the Government and people of Haiti during this very difficult moment. We express our deepest condolences to the family of President Moise and reiterate the call for calm in the face of these challenges.
In closing, I want to join the people of Mexico and the entire region in celebrating the anniversary of the birth of the liberator Simon Bolivar. His ideas and vision for our region continues to shine the path for us who dream of a free and prosperous Americas.
I thank you.