Earlier Persad-Bissessar had asked the hemisphere’s countries to help the Caribbean, hit by Hurricane Tomas and by recession, in her address to the Organisation of American States (OAS) in Washington DC, and to fight crime by combatting the trafficking of guns and drugs in the region.
“We stand ready; let us know if you need any help,” Clinton told Persad-Bissessar. “We are offering to help Trinidad and Tobago, St. Lucia and the rest of the region.”
Clinton also said the US was working toward assisting the Caribbean region in the struggle with the dangerous threat of small arms shipment and security generally. She said this was a “significant challenge.”
Clinton said she would love to accept Persad-Bissessar’s offer to visit Trinidad and Tobago, saying she had followed the May 24 general election.
Persad-Bissessar said that all of Trinidad and Tobago took an interest in the US presidential election, to which Clinton quipped, “It was quite a contest! Everywhere I go in the world, people followed the election. They tell me things I forgot.” Clinton told Persad-Bissessar, “I look forward to working with you.” Earlier, Persad-Bissessar told the OAS not all the hemisphere’s countries have recovered from the world’s worst recession in 70 years, especially Central America and the Caribbean. Of the latter, she added, “Hurricane Tomas wrought considerable damage in St Vincent and the Grenadines, St Lucia and, sadly once again dealt Haiti another blow. I accompanied Prime Minister Stephenson King on a tour of St Lucia last Friday and truly, the devastation was widespread, the plight and distress of the people heart-wrenching.”
She urged the OAS to bring relief to people in Kingstown, Castries and Port-au-Prince, as Trinidad and Tobago will continue doing.
Persad-Bissessar said her government will find a balance between the country’s interests and giving aid. “Side by side with the emergence of new BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) economies has been a perceived change in the importance of the Caribbean economies, in particular to the developed countries. This is unfortunate.”
Most Caribbean countries won’t advance unless their debt position is improved, said Persad-Bissessar. “The average indebtedness of Caribbean nations reached approximately 50% of GDP in 2009 and in some cases it is even higher, such as 83% and 93% in two CARICOM countries.” The Prime Minister returns home this morning.