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Heads of Government of SICA Complete 57th Summit

Jun 27, 2023

Heads of Government of SICA Complete 57th Summit

Heads of government of the Central American Integration System, SICA, have completed their fifty-seventh summit in Placencia. Tasked upon its receipt of the pro-tem presidency from the Dominican Republic six months ago to focus on economic and social integration, climate change, sustainable development, food security and migration, Belize’s Foreign Minister, Eamon Courtenay briefed the media after the summit of its success. News Five’s Marion Ali was there and filed the following report.

Marion Ali, Reporting

The delegation of heads of government and foreign ministers from across Central America had a healthy showing at the fifty-seventh Summit of Central America Integration System, SICA. With the exception of Guatemala’s President, Alejandro Giammattei, we didn’t note anyone else’s absence. The heads of government and their respective foreign ministers arrived at Umaya Resort and Adventures by boat and filed in to the second floor, where the summit was held. There, Prime Minister John Briceño stated that Belize’s tenure was a continuation of challenges which our predecessor faced.

Prime Minister John Briceño

John Briceño, Prime Minister

“The ongoing war in Ukraine, the consequential effects of geopolitical disturbances on our fragile economic recovery efforts, the concerns of increasing food and energy costs in a region already marred by growing inequality, poverty, and food insecurity, the constant exodus of our citizens heading north in search of better economic opportunities, the ever-present existential threat of climate change and indigenous to our own growth and development efforts, we spotlighted closer and lasting relations between our two sub-regions, CARICOM, and SICA For sure. We must add to this or Fidelity to strengthening our regional integration or commitment to the rule of law to multilateralism to peace, democracy and to the development of our people.”

Despite the challenges the Prime Minister referred to at the start of Belize’s tenure, Foreign Minister Eamon Courtenay informed at the end of the summit that the six-month term was successful.

Eamon Courtenay

Eamon Courtenay, Minister of Foreign Affairs

“The flows of people through Central America and through the Caribbean, indeed has increased significantly and we have got to work on the root causes of the movement of people. But in the meantime, we have to ensure that they are able to move respecting their rights, respecting their duties, and allowing them safe protection as they move through. And so we had a meeting of ministers dealing with the question of migration to share common experiences and try to devise new mechanisms to address this issue which we have. We also dealt with the question of climate change. And as you know, we have COP-28 coming up in the United Arab Emirates, and we have agreed that CARICOM and Central America are going to try to have a common position and a common voice.”

Courtenay said that regional leaders must send a strong message to major global greenhouse gas emitters that we need the yearly financial allocations that they promised to help our countries become climate resilient, but that has to be preceded by an important undertaking.

Eamon Courtenay

“We have to ensure that the major emitters, mostly in the global north, understand that we need the 100 billion per year that was promised for adaptation and mitigation, but we need the loss and damage facility to be operationalized and to be funded so that we can be compensated for the losses that we suffer.”

Foreign Minister for the Dominican Republic, Roberto Alvarez agreed that Belize’s tenure as pro-tem president of SICA has had marked successes, which he pointed to.

Roberto Alvarez, Foreign Minister, Dominican RepublicRoberto Alvarez

“Let me just highlight, for example, one of them, very briefly, but that will become an important factor for the promotion of business which is the digital signatures. We have established a protocol under the leadership of Belize for a common method of accepting the signatures in digital form. That may sound like a very small item, but it is huge for businesses. So that is one item. Another one, for example, in our meeting with the CARICOM countries, we are talking about, for example, how to achieve something that is already happening in the SICA area, which is a free roaming charges for the commonality of the SICA region. That is not the case with CARICOM yet. So we’re looking for ways to save people money.”

As climate change continues to affect the environment, regional leaders also spent a great deal of time discussing how they will address the sargassum problems that impact all coastal areas along this hemisphere. The leaders are calling for the creation of a permanent subcommittee under the Association of Caribbean States to tackle issues related to sargassum in order to find a solution as quickly as possible.

Marion Ali reporting for News Five.