On the eve of the 100 day milestone of the Obama presidency,
A group of Caribbean networks met on Capitol Hill in Washington DC to network and access this young presidency. This was a reception hosted by the Virgin Islands Development Institute and the Caribbean Professional Network.
Invited guests included:
Members of the Caribbean diplomatic corps.
Members of the US Congress.
Members of the Caribbean Congressional Caucus.
Her Excellency, Glenda Morean-Phillips , Trinidad & Tobago’s US ambassador, and Ambassador Albert Ramdin, assistant Secretary General from the Organization of American States provided the perspective from the recently concluded summit of the Americas, hosted in Trinidad. They highlighted the successes of the summit:
Avoided confrontation and the rebuilding the partnership based on listening to each other.
$30M for Caribbean security improvement
$448M for micro financing to spur entrepreneurship
New energy and climate cooperation
Attention to the Haitian issues.
Follow up meeting of Caricom leaders in Washington
The US congressional perspective was provided by Honorable Yvette Clarke, congresswoman serving the 11th. district in new York. She has strong and deep Jamaican roots.
She was present at the summit of the Americas and shared that there will be an active congressional engagement on Caribbean related issues. She also noted how embracing folks from Caribbean islands were of Obama. She has introduced two key pieces of legislation that will have import to the Caribbean community. These are:
A Bill to protect those who have immigration troubles from mercenary fraud.
A bill to have folks of Caribbean origin be recognized and thus counted in the upcoming US census.
Finally, Dr. Ron Walters, professor of government and politics from the University of Maryland, shared the scholar’s perspective on the Obama 100 days. he noted the power of the Black vote in the recent elections which he translated into 100 electoral votes. His professional assessment was for us to pay attention to the second 100 days, as this is the time slice that most presidents make their mark.
The accomplishments he noted were the change of the US foreign policy, and the management of the multitude of crises, the economic one being chief. He also noted the power of the symbol of an intact Black family as a great model. He shared concern of the lack of an urban policy but noted that a new office is being created to address this vital issue.
He challenged us to keep a sharp eye on the stimulus monies flow, and he noted the need for increased unity between the African American community and the Caribbean community. Our week-ends and evenings need to have time invested in our local community engagement, not just crab grass battles was his final cry.