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Forum to address US-Caribbean Strategic Engagement Act

Monday, June 19, 2017

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WASHINGTON, United States (CMC) — The Washington-based Institute of Caribbean Studies (ICS) says the United States-Caribbean Strategic Engagement Act of 2016 (HR 4939), which was signed into law by President Barack Obama in December 2016, will form the backdrop of the 19th Annual Caribbean American Legislative Forum.

On Saturday, ICS said the two-day forum, which starts here on Wednesday on Capitol Hill, takes place under the auspices of Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio on the Senate side on June 21st, and Congresswoman Barbara Lee, Yvette Clarke and Stacey Plaskett on the House of Representatives' side on June 22nd.

The law, Public Law 114-291, prioritises the United States-Caribbean relationship and requires the secretary of state and the administrator of the US Agency for International Development (USAID) to submit to Congress a multi-year strategy focused on outreach to the countries of the Caribbean and diaspora communities in the US, improving energy security, countering violence, ramping up diplomacy and other priority areas, ICS said.

“This law is an opportunity for us of Caribbean Diaspora to take hold with both hands,” said Jennifer Carroll, former Florida Lieutenant Governor, who will be a featured speaker at the forum.

“This is the first time that a Bill has linked US-Caribbean policy to the Caribbean Diaspora, and it signals a great opportunity for Caribbean Diaspora leaders to engage with the Trump Administration,” she added.

Campaign chair for National Caribbean American Heritage Month, Jamaican Dr Claire Nelson, who is also ICS founder and president, said that, since 1999, “a small, but determined band of us have been gathering on Capitol Hill to advance the interests of US-Caribbean policy, out of duty and love.

“This law represents the dividends on our investments over the years,” she said.

In March, Nelson said ICS partnered with the US State Department to organise a 'Listening Session' with the diaspora to provide input to the State Department's Position Paper, which must be presented to the Trump Administration and the Congress before the end of June 2017.

Nelson said ICS will present the Diaspora White Paper on implementation of Public Law 114-291 during the forum.

Other speakers slated to address the Forum include: Jerry Butler, executive director of the Inter-American Development Bank; Capt Francis Forbes, executive director, Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Implementation Agency for Crime and Security (IMPACS); and Sally Yearwood of the Caribbean Central American Action.

Nelson considers ICS as “the premiere Caribbean American Think/Do Tank,” which “seeks to address development problems facing Caribbean peoples, and to adopt a thorough, systematic and coordinated long-term perspective towards their resolution”.

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