May 21, 2004
OECS and Puerto Rico strengthen ties

Over the next three years, 60 citizens from the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States will be exposed to Puerto Rican and Spanish culture.
This is as a result of improved cooperation between the OECS and Puerto Rico. A Memorandum of Understanding between the two bodies was signed last Wednesday.
Puerto Rico’s Secretary of State Jose Miguel Izquierdo-Encaracion endorsed the agreement at the Peace Memorial Hall. {{more}}
Izquierdo-Encarnacion described the signing as a new period in the history of the two bodies, and he noted that in the new economic and international climate’ “it is a significant opportunity for all us.”
And the Puerto Rican Secretary of State expressed the view that the signature will promote a favourable climate for this kind of economic cooperation.
For Izquerido-Encarcion, “regional integration is indeed a must for Caribbean economic growth.” And to drive home the necessity for regional cooperation, he added: “The small economies of our region will only be able to compete world wide if we unite to act as a major economy,”.
Puerto Rico is ensuring that it reaches out to its Caribbean neighbours and it sees the OECS as a pivotal link.
“When it comes to thinking about future relations with the Caribbean region, and the world at large, Puerto Rico has two options: either stay isolated within its neighbourhood, or rather develop an autonomous foreign policy that will transform our country into an active participant and associate of the region,” Izquierdo-Encarnacion added.
The Puerto Rican is keen to open his country to the rest of the world, and he looks at the Caribbean as a first step to that process.
He noted Puerto Rico as an important hub for air transport in the region, and projected on it soon becoming one of maritime transportation.
Izquierdo-Encarcion spoke of greater links with the OECS and spoke of setting up a commercial agenda.
A website, and publication on economic incentives available in each country, and ‘how to do business’ orientation in manufacturing and services will be established.
OECS nationals will benefit from the University of Puerto Rico.
“This will be a great opportunity to get closer to our country and the OECS shall have the responsibility of choosing 20 OECS citizens per year for these purposes,” Izquierdo-Encarcion said.
The Puerto Rican then signed the Memorandum of Understanding followed by Antigua and Barbuda’s Baldwin Spencer, Dominica’s Foreign Affairs Minister Osborne Riviere, Montserrat’s Chief Minister John Osborne, St. Kitts/Nevis’ Prime Minister Dr. Denzil Douglas, St. Lucia’s Dr. Kenny Anthony, BVI’s Otto Oneal, Anguilla’s Osborne Flemming, and Vincentian Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves.
OECS director general Dr. Len Ishmael witnessed the signing. The ceremony was part of the official opening ceremony. The 39th Meeting of the OECS Authority winds up today May 21.