our relationship and my family history

Brian A. Nichols is the Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs at the United States Department of State. It is fitting that the United States is hosting the 9th Summit of the Americas in the month of June as we celebrate Caribbean American Heritage Month.

Coincidentally, the Summit of the Americas coincided with my long -planned family reunion in Barbados. This encounter of events made me think about my history and the generations of ancestors that brought me to the Los Angeles Summit. My paternal grandfather, Charles Nichols, was born in Saint George, Barbados in 1877. He worked on the Panama Canal with other workers from the Caribbean; especially the 75,000 Bajans, the largest group of nationalities to work on this major engineering project. Through this job, he earned enough money to immigrate to the United States with his wife, Julia King, and their children. My father was born in Brooklyn, the youngest in the family with eleven children, and the second born in America. As the youngest child of a younger son, myself, I am proud that my backgrounds connect me so well to the Caribbean.

Events like the Summit of the Americas highlight the relationships that unite our hemisphere, and I feel honored to reflect on the values ​​and heritage we share with our Caribbean neighbors. I consider myself a member of the Caribbean diaspora that helped build the United States. Our country continues to benefit from the many contributions of this community. We will rely on this support, this wisdom and this energy to fulfill the promises of this Summit. We are committed to supporting our loved ones and neighbors in the Caribbean and to fulfilling the ambitious goals that President Biden and Vice President Harris have set for us. We have already started this work and it will continue in the coming weeks and months.

During the Summit, the President and Vice President jointly hosted their Caribbean counterparts for an in-depth and substantive meeting that would further strengthen our partnership in the region. Our Caribbean neighbors report on the economic challenges they face, which are the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, the impact of climate change, food and energy insecurity and lack of access to short financial costs. Faced with these challenges, President Biden and Vice President Harris pledged to work with the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), and the Dominican Republic to form three high-level committees to develop immediate and concrete, joint and short term.

The first of these committees, of which I co-chair for the United States, addressed the important issue of food security. Food and nutrition insecurity is on the rise in the Caribbean, with an estimated 67.5% of the population experiencing moderate or severe food insecurity. To address these challenges, the United States and CARICOM will launch a plan called Caribbean Zero Hunger (Caribbean Zero Hunger Plan), to improve food security and nutrition in the Caribbean. President Biden also announced that the United States will provide $ 28 million for new food security assistance to Caribbean countries.

The White House has also decided to strengthen our commitment to energy and climate change. Establishing the meeting held between Vice President Harris and Caribbean leaders on April 29, 2022, the United States launched the United States-Caribbean Partnership to Address the 2030 Climate Crisis (PACC 2030), to facilitate the development of renewable energy infrastructure , including increasing access to finance, and building resilience in the region to climate-related natural disasters.

Leaders stressed the need to strengthen cooperation and security engagement, including combating small arms trafficking. The United States and Caribbean countries will build the long -standing Caribbean Basin Security Initiative (CBSI) through broader engagement in the fight against human trafficking, cybersecurity and cybercrime. The United States, Dominican Republic, and CARICOM member states support the development of national action plans to combat arms trafficking. These national action plans will help the United States more effectively tailor our support to CBSI member countries to prevent the sale of illegal firearms and assault weapons throughout the region. We also agree on the importance of compliance with the San José Treaty (Treaty of San José), regarding prohibited maritime and air traffic of narcotics. This agreement provides states with a valuable legal mechanism that facilitates international cooperation to disrupt illegal maritime traffic and transnational criminal organizations in the Caribbean. We encourage Caribbean countries that have not yet joined the Treaty to consider doing so.

It doesn’t matter that Vice President Harris, a young woman of Caribbean heritage, co-chaired this meeting with the President of the United States. As a child of Caribbean heritage myself, this historic moment makes me very proud. Our countries have values, culture, history and family relationships. As governments, we will work with civil society and the private sector to ensure that democracy benefits all of our people and builds societies that are safe, inclusive, prosperous, equitable and resilient to climate change.

Brian A.Nichols

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