The relationship between the United States and much of the Caribbean has long been cordial.
Now that the U.S. now has a new presidential administration, some some Caribbean Diaspora leaders have voiced the need to strategize, enhance and expand on the current relationship.
The motive, they believe, is the substantive growth and participation of the Caribbean Diaspora in the United States.
For these reasons Dr. Claire A. Nelson, president of the Institute of Caribbean Studies (ICS), who spearheaded a consultation meeting in Washington D.C. recently, said: “We have to address these concerns and what input the Caribbean Diaspora community should undertake when it comes to dealing with the United States.”
Nelson further explained why U.S.Caribbean relations have to be tightened and recommended that additional agreements, both bilateral and multilateral, should be discussed to maximize participation from the Diaspora.
The Diaspora, Nelson suggested, will have to establish “a body of interest and create a network to engage the U.S. State Department.”
In expressing the importance of establishing these U.S.-Caribbean relations, Nelson asked that other Caribbean community leaders become a part of the process for future planning and dialogues relating to the Caribbean Diaspora.
“While hoping to accomplish goals and implementing strategies, the Diaspora must implement strategies that can be presented to the U.S. State Department for revision,” Nelson added.
Almost 40 Caribbean Diaspora leaders from across the United States were in attendance, along with some officials from the U.S. State Department. Nelson said the matters discussed at the meeting were primarily security, economic development, diplomacy, education and health.
The Diaspora leaders attending were given opportunities to present their views to the forum on areas of concerns relating to their respective programs.
The meeting was also convened to further evaluate legislation tabled in the United States Congress last year, sponsored by Rep. Eliot Engle (D-NY) and Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, (R-FL). The bill, labeled the United States-Caribbean Strategic Engagement Act of 2016, aims to provide a better platform for Caribbean Diaspora leaders to participate in dialogues with the U.S. State Department on issues relating to the Caribbean Diaspora and the Caribbean Region.
The Institute of Caribbean Studies is based in Washington D.C. and is headed by Dr. Claire A. Nelson, a Jamaican.