Among the persons whose arrival was delayed was Organisation of American States (OAS) Assistant Secretary-General Albert Ramdin who was scheduled to open a Young Business of Americas Trust (YABT) meeting at the Ambassador Hotel in St James at 9 am yesterday.
The YABT meeting did not begin until 9.30 am, with OAS Director (Trinidad) Riyad Insanally forced to deputise for Ramdin. He apologised for Ramdin’s inability to attend the meeting and said this was due to “a change in flight schedule.”
“I am not the OAS Assistant Secretary General,” Insanally told his audience. “Perhaps one day,” one participant noted causing other members to laugh.
Insanally said the YABT “effectively kicks off Summit of the Americas week.”
“I believe that it is a wonderful coincidence that we are beginning what promises to be an exciting week with the focus on young people,” he declared.
YABT organisers said Finance Minister Karen Nunez-Tesheira and Foreign Affairs Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon were invited to attend but neither minister was present.
While this was happening at the Ambassador, the Inaugural Assembly of Caribbean Youth began more than an hour after its 9 am scheduled start at the La Joya Auditorium in St Joseph. An organiser at the event, which is expected to continue until tomorrow, apologised for the late beginning. She explained that several delegates only got into the country yesterday morning, with others expected to arrive late yesterday evening and this morning.
Speaking with reporters outside the Old Fire Station on Hart Street in Port-of-Spain, Trade and Industry Minister Mariano Browne said Ramdin’s inability to attend the YABT meeting was not a result of any problems at Piarco International Airport where media personnel and summit delegates were arriving throughout the course of the day.
“No. That’s not related to anything that we have to do. I don’t think he was coming on Caribbean Airlines,” Browne stated. Caribbean Airlines is one of 20 commercial airlines who are bringing in persons who will be attending the summit.
The first major pre-summit event, the civil society forum, will be officially opened by Prime Minister Patrick Manning aboard the Carnival Victory cruise ship today at 6 .30 pm. This forum continues aboard the Victory until Thursday. The private sector and youth fora will be opened simultaneously on board the Caribbean Princess cruise liner tomorrow at 9 am. Manning and OAS Secretary General Jose Miguel Insulza will open the private sector forum at which some of the leading political and economic figures in the hemisphere will assemble to address issues such as the world financial crisis and energy matters.
The inaugural summit ceremony takes place at the Hyatt Regency Hotel on Friday at 5 pm. This will be followed by bilateral meetings between the leaders and three plenary sessions on Saturday. The summit concludes on Sunday with a leaders’ retreat at the Prime Minister’s Diplomatic Centre in St Ann’s, the signing of the Declaration of Commitment of Port-of-Spain and a final news conference.