News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Fri. May 26, 2023: The US’ first Black Caribbean American Vice President, Kamala Harris, is set to embark on her first official trip to the Caribbean since taking office in Caribbean American Heritage Month, the Miami Herald is reporting.
She is set to focus on crucial issues such as climate change, energy, food security, and economic prosperity in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic during a visit to The Bahamas, scheduled for June 8th. There the daughter of a Jamaican immigrant father will co-host a gathering of leaders from the Dominican Republic and the Caribbean Community, aka CARICOM, alongside Bahamas Prime Minister Philip Davis, the current chairman if the bloc.
CARICOM Chairman Davis has been actively engaged in strengthening foreign relations between the Caribbean and the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. The upcoming meeting in The Bahamas will build upon Harris’s previous interactions with Caribbean leaders, including discussions at last year’s Ninth Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles. President Joe Biden’s promise to “intensify” relations between the United States and the Caribbean during the summit delighted the presidents and prime ministers who had expressed concerns about strained relations in recent years.
During the summit, Harris took the lead in introducing the “Caribbean Climate Partnership,” an initiative aimed at addressing climate change and the region’s energy crisis. The partnership aims to assist Caribbean governments in obtaining financing for climate and clean-energy projects while acknowledging the region’s oil and natural gas reserves, particularly in Trinidad, Suriname, and Guyana, which currently contribute to their energy sources.
Following the in-person gathering at the Summit of the Americas, high-level teams from the United States and the Caribbean have been diligently working on strategies to tackle energy and food security crises in the region. Harris convened a meeting at Blair House in Washington, D.C., where Caribbean leaders reviewed progress and determined the next steps. These discussions will be continued and expanded upon during the upcoming meeting in The Bahamas.
Harris’s trip follows in the footsteps of President Biden, who, as vice president under Barack Obama, visited Trinidad and Tobago and the Dominican Republic. The issues of energy security and crime, which were part of Biden’s agenda during his visits, will also be addressed by Harris. Brian A. Nichols, the U.S. assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere Affairs, praised Harris’s personal leadership and commitment to the Caribbean regional bloc, expressing optimism about positive announcements during her visit.
While the discussions on climate change and energy will be prominent, other pressing concerns will be on the table for Caribbean leaders. These include the region’s economic recovery from the pandemic, which has caused slowed growth and increased debt, the crisis in Haiti, as well as the escalating issue of illegal arms trafficking. The Caribbean region has seen a rise in gun-related homicides, and several countries, including The Bahamas, Antigua and Barbuda, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Jamaica, and Trinidad and Tobago, have supported Mexico’s lawsuit against gun manufacturers in the United States. U.S. lawmakers have also requested an investigation into the consequences of firearms trafficked from the U.S. to the Caribbean.
Additionally, the US remains concerned over China’s growing expansion in the region.