Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretary-General Irwin LaRocque Wednesday said that the regional grouping remains committed to providing support “where necessary” to Jamaica, Haiti and Cuba following the passage of Hurricane Sandy late last month.
The hurricane has been blamed for nearly 100 deaths in the Caribbean as well as millions of dollars in damage to the infrastructure of several countries. In messages to the respective governments, LaRocque extended his sympathies and noted “with distress the tragic loss of life and extensive damage wrought to key sectors such as agriculture and tourism”.
“The Community acknowledges that the effects of Hurricane Sandy long term with serious implications … as tourism and agriculture are at the centre of economic activities in the affected areas of St. Mary, Trelawny, St. James, Westmoreland, St. Elizabeth, Manchester, St. Catherine and St. Andrew,” LaRocque said in a message to Jamaica’s Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller.
He said that “this latest bout of devastation is also particularly disheartening” because it would definitely affect Jamaica’s efforts to address the economic challenges brought about by the global and financial meltdown.
But LaRocque expressed confidence that the courage and resilience of the Jamaican people would fortify them as they continue to rebuild.
In his message to Haiti’s President Michel Martelly, the CARICOM Secretary General said the regional community is “acutely aware that in the past two years, Haiti had suffered more than its share of natural disasters”, and that Sandy’s passage would impact the progress already made after the earthquake of January 2010.
“The Caribbean Community stands ready to provide support to the People and Government of Haiti as the process of recovery continues despite this latest setback, strong in the assurance that Haiti will move forward, pressing onward to its highest development aspirations as families, communities and as a nation,” he said.
LaRocque told Cuban President Raul Castro that “tragedies of this enormity only serve to accentuate the importance of our continued regional efforts to collaborate in critical areas of disaster mitigation and preparedness”.
He gave his commitment to providing support where necessary to Cuba, noting that the road towards reconstruction and redevelopment would require united efforts.
LaRocque also sent a message to the United States where Hurricane Sandy caused billions of dollars in damages and the deaths of more than 100 people.
He said that despite the challenges, he was confident that the resilience and “can-do” attitude of the American people, and members of the Caribbean Diaspora, would make it possible for a quick and full recovery.