May 28, 2022

Local leaders ready for Caribbean Legislative Week

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From Caribbean National Weekly

pjimage-7Members of the Diaspora from across the U.S. will head to D.C. for the annual Caribbean-American Legislative Week, set for June 19 to 24. Hosted by the Institute of Caribbean Studies (ICS) in honor of Caribbean American Heritage Month, the week-long events will include a special White House Briefing and the Legislative Forum on Capitol Hill. The South Florida region will be represented by ICS board member Roxanne Valies and local businessman and former Guyanese diplomat, Wesley Kirton, among others.

This year’s delegation will focus on multiple concerns related to the community, including the recent closing of “correspondent relations between Caribbean commercial and U.S. banks,” says Kirton. “[This] is an issue that has serious implications for the region’s economy.”

Another campaign issue is the removal of barriers to trade, especially the export of Caribbean food products to the U.S.

“This has special significance, for Florida as the state has some protectionist policies that impact even the trans-shipment of certain food products destined for other U.S. states,” says Kirton. Other trade issues include the security of shipments to and from the Caribbean against contamination by illicit drugs and illegal arms.

There will also be discussions during the week with institutions such as the Inter-American Development Bank, regarding the development of Caribbean-American youth.

“We need to craft policies and programs to ensure that Caribbean-American youth channel their energies in productive activity and take full advantage of educational and other opportunities available to them in America,” says Kirton.

Delegate member Valies expressed high hopes for this year’s session, as “each year Legislative Week takes on more significant. It has become one of the premier occasions for Caribbean-Americans, the U.S. government, [and] private and public institution representatives to pragmatically deliberate on issues of mutual interest.”

Since Caribbean History Month was officially proclaimed by President George W. Bush in 2006, a delegation of Caribbean and Caribbean-American public and private officials have visited Washington for Legislative Week, representing the interest of the region and the Caribbean-American community, and lobby for U.S. legislators to deliberate and pass laws relevant to Caribbean-Americans.

IMAGE: Wesley Kirton and Roxanne Valies

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