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By Tusika MartinThe Most Honourable, Percival J Patterson The outcome of the ongoing 30th Regular meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community will determine the turning point for the region.This is according to former Jamaican Prime Minister, Percival J. Patterson, who was given the Order of the Caribbean Community (OCC),China Jerseys Free Shipping, the highest Caricom award, on Thursday, at the opening ceremony of the meeting.In his charge to the Heads of Government, Patterson pointed out that CARICOM is like a ‘growing plant’, which must be nurtured since ‘unless we tend to the tree,Wholesale Jerseys USA, it will wither and eventually die.’The distinguished son of the Caribbean told the leaders of the region that he is aware that the challenges that face every member of the community today are vastly different and far more daunting than those which existed at its inception.He noted that the special trading regimes and protective arrangements for sugar and bananas are no more, noting that the region is gradually being squeezed out from those areas of opportunity, which globalisation and liberation were purported to allow.Instead, globalisation now ‘threatens’ to overwhelm us all with a worldwide recession.No State, no Government, no society within the Region is immune from the risk of economic disaster, he said.“But let us not blame CARICOM for this, nor believe the prescription lies in retreating to insularity or parochial responses.  Let us instead unleash the strengths that bind our people and thereby fuel the process of economic integration through which we can enlarge the productive capacities of our entire Region.”In a very impressive presentation, the President and Spokesman of the ACP Ministerial Council, said that the Caribbean has grown accustomed to ‘weather any storm and all calamities.’He said that leaders should look beyond the global crisis and seize this as the region’s defining moment to identify those areas where the Caribbean can increase its productive capacity to provide greater food security, additional processing of agricultural raw materials,Cheap Adidas NHL Jerseys, energy and mineral resources,Wholesale Nike NFL Jerseys, information technology, tourism and its linkages with sports,Cheap Adidas NHL Jerseys, entertainment, culture and the growing services sector.He called for the region to explore new and dynamic relationships with nations such as Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.Patterson said that it is time that leaders deal with the long outstanding implementation of making the Single Market a living reality as work is being done towards the Single Economy.“Unless you settle such issues as competition policy, investment and government procurement, there is the danger of undertaking obligations or conferring rights on external groupings which do not exist between us.”Another area is advancing the protocol on the Contingent Rights of Skilled CARICOM Nationals so that there can be greater freedom on the movement of CARICOM citizens within the Region.The nod should be given for the Caribbean Court of Justice to do all the work it was established to do, and is so well equipped to undertake in providing Justice for the people as the Court of final jurisdiction.In the Rose Hall Declaration of 2003, it was reaffirmed that CARICOM is a Community of Sovereign States, but recognised that within this framework it was both legitimate and feasible for a group or groups of community member states to forge such closer links among themselves as they collectively consider appropriate.The collapse or disintegration of CARICOM, Patterson said, is not an option.The Community will lose its way unless the leaders, Patterson said, serve as devoted Trustees to improve the lives of the Caribbean people.“Who is prepared to care for CARICOM?  Who dares to stand up and be counted so that our Caribbean space can provide both food and shelter for us all?”The former Jamaican Prime Minister was awarded the Order of the Caribbean Community for his recognition of outstanding contribution in the area of the Region’s External Trade Relations and in fostering relations with the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group (ACP) especially in its formative years.Patterson, familiarly known as P.J, Patterson, was born on April 10, 1935 in St.  Andrew, Jamaica. He was the longest serving Prime Minister of this CARICOM Member State, serving from the period 1992- 2006.Mr. Patterson’s political career was built on a solid base in the legal profession, having studied law and being called to the Bar in England.His outstanding career as political leader, integrationist, trade unionist and advocate for social reform has been rewarded with several high honours including the Order of Merit of Jamaica, the United Nations Gold Medal for his advocacy against apartheid, and the Joliot Curie Peace Award of the World Peace Council.Upon becoming the Prime Minister of Jamaica in 1992, Patterson was invested with the Order of the Nation, allowing him to be known as ‘The Most Honourable’ and to use the post-nominal letters ‘O.N.’In 2006, he was invested with the Order of Excellence of Guyana, allowing him to use the post nominal letters ‘O.E.’
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