The Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community and Mexico gathered in Belize City, Belize, to hold the Fourth Mexico-CARICOM Summit earlier this week. The participating countries voiced their commitment to strengthening ties between CARICOM and Mexico and their dedication to integrated regional development and economic prosperity.
The President of Mexico, Enrique Peña Nieto, reiterated Mexico’s commitment to continue strengthening the development cooperation efforts with CARICOM nations, as well as to support the commercial and economic growth and integration of the Greater Caribbean. Additionally, he stressed that the countries achieved a Joint Declaration to further promote cooperation on topics such as the teaching of Spanish as a second language, statistics, information and communication technologies, financial inclusion, agriculture and the health sector.
However, the main focus of the Summit was the recent natural disasters that devastated the region in September, including hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Jose and Maria, as well as the earthquakes that struck Mexico. In that respect, the President presented the Mexico-CARICOM Comprehensive Disaster Management Strategy, focusing on three lines of action:
First: Mexico will increase its support of CARICOM, including training to gather information, create a risk zone atlas, and develop disaster prevention and response mechanisms. Mexico will also implement the Yucatán Fund to expedite access to resources for nations with contingencies.
Second: The collaboration of the Mexican agencies involved in risk management will be increased. This will include training for countries in areas such as civil protection, statistical and geospatial information management, work with public-private partnerships, the rehabilitation of strategic infrastructure and indicator development.
Third: Actions will be taken to place the challenges, needs and proposed solutions for the Caribbean regarding risks and natural disasters on the international agenda.
Finally, President Peña Nieto invited CARICOM members to jointly approve a budget increase by the OAS for this mechanism, as well as higher voluntary contributions from member countries and observers.
The Summit was a great opportunity to further the dialogue and identify the next steps in the relation between Mexico and the CARICOM countries, and we expect that the outcomes will provide needed assistance for the region in fundamental areas of development.
Mexico began its relations with CARICOM a few months after it was created in 1974 and has acted as an Observer country ever since.