HAPPY BIRTHDAY OECS
OECS Day 35th Anniversary Speech by Director General Dr. Didacus Jules
Facing the future
As small vulnerable states we face a world that is unsentimental and brutal in its competitiveness. To survive we must learn to cooperate as intensely as we have competed and we must make the most of whatever we have that is deemed of value in today’s world. We must find our niche and occupy that niche so securely that it would be difficult to dislodge us from it.
While the record of accomplishment of the OECS in these past 35 years has been outstanding, it is important to understand that there is no time to rest on our laurels. What worked for us in these past years can no longer work today nor will it succeed tomorrow. We need to find new approaches that empower us to accelerate the pace of change if we are to get ahead of the global tide.
Our best opportunity to survive and thrive in today’s world is make a reality of the single space – to unify the chain of islands from the Virgin Islands in the North, to Grenada in the South inclusive of the French and the Dutch-speaking islands in between. Already the entry of Martinique has opened many new windows of wider cooperation in health, education, community tourismand trade. The new President of the Territorial Collectivity of Martinique Hon. Alfred Marie-Jeanne has already proposed a concrete program of accelerated cooperation between Martinique and the other Member States. The creation of this single space in the Eastern Caribbean archipelago is being pursued in a manner that is also consistent with the wider regional integration agenda.
The democratic process is alive and well in the OECS and we have seen a free exercise of the sovereign will of the people. The outcome of this has been to bring new faces and fresh perspectives to the governance bodies of the OECS. We draw on the historical inspiration of 1981 when OECS leaders shaped singular purpose despite wide and deep differences and we pray that the simple aspiration of Caribbean people to move, work, play and create sustainable livelihoods freely across these islands will be realized.
Even as we celebrate the accomplishments of the past 35 years, let us commit to achieving more in less time. Let us emphasize the things that unite us rather than punctuate the differences that divide us. Let us resolve in the words of the Black Stalin to:
“… push one common intention
Is for a better life in de region
For we woman, and we children
Dat must be de ambition of de Caribbean man”