US Secretary of State Antony Blinken attended the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) heads of government meeting in Trinidad and Tobago last month to explore ways to improve US relations with member countries countries, foster greater financing opportunities for Caribbean nations, and address the deteriorating security situation in Haiti.
At the meeting, which coincided with CARICOM’s 50th anniversary, Blinken stressed the United States’ commitment to ensuring that Caribbean countries will have “expanded access to international finance,” which would include the World Bank offering “debt deferment clauses” in its loans by 2025, as well as expanded financing available for climate- and disaster-related issues.
Photo: Secretary of State Antony Blinken participates in the CARICOM Plenary and Caucus in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, on July 5, 2023. (Credit: State Department / Ron Przysucha)
Blinken also acknowledged the need for “inclusive economic opportunity” in the region, ranging from micro-loans to financing infrastructure, to avoid the Caribbean region becoming stuck in what he calls the “middle-income trap.”
“These investments are not just necessary to protect against threats,” said Blinken. “They are a once-in-a-generation opportunity to create good-paying jobs in communities across the region. We profoundly see not just the imperative of acting on the threat, but also the opportunity.”
During the CARICOM event, Blinken also met with Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry to discuss the increasing security and humanitarian crisis happening in the country. His public speech during the event reaffirmed the United States support for a multinational peacekeeping force to be deployed within the country.
“The United States shares the commitment felt throughout the region to help Haitian people shape their future, restore the country’s democratic order through free and fair elections,” said Blinken. “Haitians cannot achieve these critical goals without security. That’s why we’ve been and remain the largest donor to Haiti’s national police, why we support the Haitian Government’s call for a multinational force to help its police restore security.”
Before the event, Barbara Feinstein, deputy assistant secretary of state for Caribbean affairs and Haiti, said that the meeting with Henry will be focused on creating “a political path forward that returns Haiti to democratic order.”
Henry and many of the leaders in the Caribbean community has been supportive of a multinational peacekeeping force for Haiti since 2021, when the country’s previous leader, President Jovenel Moïse, was assassinated and kickstarted the current crisis in the country.
Representatives from across the region also focused on climate change during the meeting, including discussions surrounding the U.S.‑Caribbean Partnership to Address the Climate Crisis 2030 (PACC 2030), an initiative that aims to create cleaner and more resilient energy systems within the region.