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State Department to host panel on Caribbean

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The U.S. Department of State plans to talk Caribbean issues concluding a week of Caribbean celebrations.

In a partnership, the U.S. Department of State and Medgar Evers college, will host a panel, “Caribbean-USA Diaspora Priorities & Convergence” at the college on Sept 8., to address the sociopolitical issues affecting the Caribbean region and Caribbean-Americans.

The State Department wants to reach out to the local Caribbean community to engage and gain insight on issues important to the Diaspora and their families abroad, according to one of the panelists and organizers.

“This is going to be a series of days to celebrate the Caribbean Diaspora and all kinds of its origins, and what better place to celebrate their influence than in Brooklyn,” said Juan Gonzalez, deputy assistant secretary of U.S. Department of State.

“We want to get together to talk about what and where the bridge is, and how the Diaspora here and in the Caribbean can bring closer ties.”

The discussion will be led by four panelists including Gonzalez, as well as Lowell Hawthorne, president of Golden Krust, Dr. Sheilah Marion Paul, a dean at the college, and Tony Best, NY Carib News editor, who will moderate the panel. Each panelist has a quality that will benefit the conversation said Gonzalez, which he also says will encourage more challenging questions from guests taking part in the discussion.

“We wanted to make sure we had a good cross section of individuals,” said Gonzalez.

“It’s not going be policy–heavy. It’s going to be more of an exchange on how the Diaspora community can work better together — it’s going to be interesting to see what are their top priorities.”

The panel will be open to the public and guests who attend will be able to ask questions on issues pertaining to them and the status of relations of any country in the Caribbean. Gonzalez expects to discuss this with students and the community.

“I’m looking forward to hearing from the student body and what we can do better,” said Gonzalez. “Nowadays we’re not talking about what we can do for the region, but where we can partner.”

Natural disaster, corruption, and strengthened relationships, are among the top issues concerning citizens and leaders from the Caribbean, according to Gonzalez.

“When we talk to Trinidadians there is a need to advance on anti-corruption, and with the Bahamas — they’re so close to the U.S., yet we struggle to find ways to cooperate,” said Gonzalez. “We want to see how Caribbean people see their relationship with the U.S., and we would really love to hear from them and what are their priorities.”

Organizers of the panel are aiming for a community-engaged conversation following a week where the U.S. Department of State will make their debut at the West Indian American day parade on Labor Day. It will be the first time the department will appear at the annual carnival.

“Caribbean-USA Diaspora Priorities & Convergence” at Medgar Evers College Founders Auditorium [1650 Bedford Ave bet. Montgomery and Crown streets in Crown Heights] Sept. 8, 5:30–7:15 pm. Free.

Reach reporter Alexandra Simon at (718) 260–8310 or e-mail her at asimon@cnglocal.com.
Updated 3:06 pm, September 2, 2016
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