Colombia takes lead to foster Caribbean integration

Colombia took on the temporary presidency of the Association of Caribbean States (ACS) that gathers 25 member states in the Caribbean and seven associates. Colombia Foreign Minister Luis Gilberto Murillo announced during the ACS meeting in Paramaribo, Suriname that in his presidency he would seek to implement new policies in the region and foster integration with the English-speaking Caricom membership. Murillo also announced Colombia will seek to become an associate member with Caricom. Colombia has a Caribbean coast.

The announcements may bring increased exchanges among the multi-language and cultural region.
The ACS represents the Greater Caribbean and currently has 25 member states, 10 associate members, 28 observer countries as well as observer organizations, founding observers, social actors and other collaborative organizations. Caricom is mainly the English-speaking Caribbean.

Colombia will host the 10th Summit of Heads of State and Government and the 30th Ministerial Meeting of the Greater Caribbean in 2025,” announced Murillo.

Colombia has observer status in Caricom. If accepted as an associate member, Colombia could be the only Hispanic country in the position. The DR is also seeking for the third time to be accepted as an associate member.

The Dominican Republic has a free trade agreement with Caricom. The Dominican Republic also had observer status and sought to be admitted as a Caricom associate member. But in November 2013, Caricom announced suspending consideration of the request by the Dominican Republic for membership of the Caribbean Community arguing a Dominican court ruling had revoked citizenship of descendants from migrants from Haiti.

Haiti is a full member of Caricom but the Caricom members do not honor the free mobility clauses of the Caricom treaty when applied to Haiti, with frequent major deportations of Haitians from nearby The Bahamas and Turks & Caicos.

Now Minister of Foreign Relations of Colombia, Luis Gilberto Murillo says that he will lead the organization to strive for better connectivity through regional trade. He said that the Caribbean is a market of 300 million people. He says Colombia takes on the challenges to lead the region to new connectivity. He said also on his agenda is working to mitigate the impacts of climate change and work for improved food security in the region.

ASC members are Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Venezuela.

Interestingly, the Association of Caribbean States (ACS) was created upon the signing of the Convention Establishing the ACS on 24 July 1994 in Cartagena, Colombia. The ACS was created as an organization for consultation, cooperation and concerted action among its 25 member states and three associate members of the Greater Caribbean region. Eight other non-independent Caribbean countries are eligible for associate membership.

The Minister of Foreign Relations of Colombia explains that the Association of Caribbean States is a priority space for Colombia due to the potential it offers to strengthen dialogue and cooperation with the countries of the Greater Caribbean and as a space for international projection in this region.

The objectives of the ASC are to strengthen regional cooperation and the integration process, with the purpose of creating an expanded economic space in the region; the preservation of the environmental integrity of the Caribbean Sea, considered the common heritage of the peoples of the region, and the promotion of sustainable development of the Greater Caribbean.

Caricom was established in 1973, replacing the Caribbean Free Exchange Association (Carifta), with 15 member countries: Antigua & Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Montserrat, Saint Lucia, Saint Kitts & Nevis, Saint Vincent & Grenadines, Suriname and Trinidad & Tobago. In addition, Anguilla, Bermuda, the Cayman Islands, the Turks and Caicos Islands, and the British Virgin Islands also have joined Caricom as associate members.

Caricom is based in Georgetown, Guyana and is now under the leadership of President of Guyana Mohamed Irfaan Ali who is also fostering stronger ties with the Dominican Republic. In February 2024, Irfaan Ali would announce the DR had requested to be recognized as an associate member in Caricom.
The Association of Caribbean States headquarters is in Port of Spain, Trinidad.

Colombia has had a partial agreement on trade, economic and technical cooperation since 1994 with the organization of mainly English-speaking Caribbean islands.

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Ministry of Foreign Relations of Colombia
Ministry of Foreign Relations of Colombia

Ministry of Foreign Relations of Colombia
Diario Libre

13 May 2024