PANAMA/PHILIPSBURG–St. Maarten, in particular Government, should take full advantage and opportunity of access to Dutch embassies in Latin America and the Caribbean to forge more regional ties and to drum up business and investment for the country, said Member of Parliament (MP) Claret Connor.
The United People’s (UP) party MP recently returned from his first meetings of the Latin American Parliament Parlatino in Panama where he also reached out to contacts made with the Dutch Embassy there when he was director of St. Maarten Chamber of Commerce and Industry. His goal was to ensure St. Maarten is known and promoted in the very commerce driven country.
“St. Maarten can take advantage of these posts to promote St. Maarten in every imaginable way by having an understanding of how to effectively utilize political and economic diplomacy in the process of establishing sustainable development,” said Connor.
Attaining this, however, requires commitment from everyone – Parliament, Government, governmental and non-governmental organizations and the private sector, he said.
As questions still remain in the community about the value of St. Maarten’s membership in Parlatino, Connor said, “St. Maarten can benefit from the principles and objectives as outlined in the values of Parlatino via our unilateral access to our embassies and consulates established in almost all of the Parlatino member countries.”
The view was the motivation behind Connor’s invitation to the Dutch Ambassador to Panama to host the annual conference of the Kingdom ambassadors to Latin America and the Caribbean on St. Maarten in 2018.
Connor was a member of the Parliament’s delegation to the 33rd General Assembly of Parlatino held in Panama City, Panama. The theme of the General Assembly was Migration within Latin America and the Caribbean.
President of Parlatino, Senator Blanca Alcala said in her address the issue of migration affects over 28 million people within the region. She also highlighted the recent surge in discourse, in particular discriminatory, racist and xenophobic rhetoric in various parts of the world.
Connor was part of discussions on the migration of workers in the region. This discussion group was chaired by Deputy Jesús Enrique Jackson of Mexico. Members of the workgroup included MPs from, Aruba, Curaçao, Peru, Paraguay, and Uruguay; many of whom were attending Parlatino sessions for the first time.
At the various meetings, Connor said it was evident that each country within Latin America has been accommodating and facilitating the movement of immigrants. However, since the recent developments in the Americas regarding the shifting in US immigration policies, a number of persons have been stuck in Mexico in their efforts to enter the US.
Mexico is housing a large number of refugees who are predominantly of Haitian nationality. The point of departure that is undertaken by Latin America and the Caribbean is from a humanitarian perspective.
“During the general assembly a number of speakers and presentations were centred on the theme of accommodating and looking after our Caribbean brothers and sisters,” he said.
The fight to combat the exploitation of migrants, focusing on protecting the welfare of children and understanding the need to safe guard human rights should be placed high on the agenda of all countries, was the common theme throughout the discussions.