President of Guyana Addresses Congress at Council's 3rd Annual Congressional Dinner with the Caribbean Community

Washington -- On Wednesday September 28, 2005, H.E. Bharrat Jagdeo the President of the Co-operative Republic of Guyana, delivered the keynote address to the bi-partisan Congressional Caribbean Caucus, CARICOM Ministers, and key business leaders at the Council's Annual Congressional Dinner with the Caribbean Community.

Now in its 3rd consecutive year, the meetings have offered an opportunity for an ongoing dialogue between the U.S. Congress and the Caribbean Political leadership. "We are fully committed to working in partnership with Members of the Congressional Caribbean Caucus and Caribbean Governments to identify and resolve issues of concern amongst our countries and we will continue to work to strengthen U.S./CARICOM relations," said Council President and CEO Barry Featherman. Amongst the issues discussed were Trade and Economic Development, Financial Services, Tourism, Security including the struggle against Terrorism, Criminal Deportees and the importance of the Caribbean Basin Trade Enhancement Act of 2005.

President Jagdeo, who was recently elected to the Chairmanship of the Board of Governors of the IMF and World Bank expressed his sympathy and understanding for the victims of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita adding that Guyana too had experienced difficulties from a flood earlier this year. He noted the solidarity that the Caribbean has with the United State's efforts to combat terrorism and terrorists abroad stating that, "Guyana and CARICOM are solid allies in efforts to contain these menaces." "We have it within our grasp to better cooperate in the interest of enhanced security and for the betterment of our countries and peoples," he stated.

President Jagdeo, however, did elude to some difficulties with the U.S. In particular, the U.S. State Department's Annual Trafficking in Persons Report which since 2000 has sited foreign governments' efforts in combating human trafficking. Although Guyana had now been moved from category Tier 3 to category Tier 2 in the 2005 Report, President Jagdeo expressed his concern with the difficulty in obtaining verifiable documentation from the U.S. State Department used as criteria for its report.

Congressional Caribbean Caucus Representatives concurred that the Government of Guyana is entitled to an explanation and offered to help the Guyanese Government obtain an explanation if it so requested. They concluded that there needs to be verifiable criteria for when a country is trafficking in persons.

The President also expressed his concern for the issue of criminal deportees pointing out that the number of deportees sent back to Guayana in the last three years was equivalent to the total number of persons serving in the Guayanese Police Force.

The Secretary General of the Organization of American States, H.E. Jose Miguel Insulza also addressed the guests at the U.S. Capitol. He began by thanking the Inter-American Economic Council for fostering a forum for continued dialogue between the Caribbean Leadership and Members of the U.S. Congress. He was pleased to once again address them both having recalled that he had previously addressed a large group of U.S. Members of Congress and Carribean Foreign Ministers earlier in the summer at the Council's IV Annual Business and Investment Roundtable during the XXXV Regular Session of the OAS General Assembly in Florida.

About the Council and the Caribbean Caucus
The Congressional Caribbean Caucus was established as a follow up to two Council sponsored historic visits by Members of Congress to Antigua and Barbuda and Barbados in January of 2003, a visit to St. Lucia in 2004 and the First OAS Private Sector Forum at the OAS General Assembly Meetings under the Auspices of the Government of Barbados in 2002. In January 2005, the Council organized the largest delegation of Members of Congress in history to the Dominican Republic for meetings with the President and Cabinet. Since its establishment, the Congressional Caribbean Caucus has had an important impact on the region including one hundred million dollars of increased assistance in the wake of devastating hurricanes that struck the Caribbean last year; tax and tariff relief for countries in the Eastern Caribbean, assistance in the new port security regulations, and advocacy for fair treatment for the Caribbean on the implementation of the new passport requirements.

The Inter-American Economic Council ["Council"] was founded in 1999 as a non-profit association based in Washington, D.C. In 2000, the Council signed a co-operative agreement with the Organization of American States (OAS) that designated the Council as the association providing the private sector input to the OAS proceedings and outcomes. To meet this agreement and our mission "to bridge the existing gap between the private and public sectors," in 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2005, the Council has had successful Business Roundtables as part of the OAS General Assembly Meetings. And each year, the Council has its benefit Winter Gala at which is recognized a corporate leader who has done the most to promote public-private sector co-operation for economic growth and development in the Western Hemisphere. The Business Roundtables and Annual Winter Gala are now the Council's signature events.

PICTURES: 3rd Congressional Caribbean Dinner

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