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Barbados’ Prime Minister and Chairman of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), Mia Mottley, has described the effects of the coronavirus on this island and the region as “the most destabilizing event”, probably since World War II.
And she has called for global leadership similar to that which obtained after that second world war.
Mottley’s comments came as she spoke with renowned international journalist Christiane Amanpour on CNN International (CNNI) yesterday about the impact of COVID-19 across the Caribbean and the strategies being implemented to mitigate against its effects.
With regard to the pandemic’s deleterious effects on the region, Mottley added that the nations of the Caribbean occupied a unique position, and were subject to a number of risks, since they could be seen as the most highly indebted, travel and trade dependent nations in the world, with almost half of GDP coming directly and indirectly from tourism.
Against this backdrop, she stated that Barbados, other Caribbean islands and those in the Pacific were particularly vulnerable at this stage as a result of the virus and stressed that global leadership was needed now more than ever if recovery and economic stability were to be realized.
“If there is one thing that I’d like to see coming out of this is a global leadership initiative,” the Barbadian leader said.
“Look, 75 years ago the United Nations was formed…. We used the opportunity of post-World War II to create a number of vital institutions to be able to bring countries together to protect the most vulnerable (and) the weakest among us. We also used it to create the Bretton Woods institutions which we’re relying on, but we need to repurpose these organizations and in having a global leadership initiative, make sure that we are really reacting to what is real.”
“We need global leadership, similar to what we had post-World War II, to be able to recognize that we need a plan that protects not just the strongest among us, but also the most vulnerable.”
Concerning the question of what would happen to Barbados and other islands of the region if the pandemic continued, the Prime Minister pointed out that healthcare systems in the region had been repurposed in order to effectively deal with the crisis and “to stay ahead of the curve”, but she described having to shut down the country as “quite traumatic economically”.
“To have a hotel with no revenue coming in; to have no airplanes landing from Jamaica and The Bahamas in the north, right down to Barbados and Trinidad to the south; these things are having a devastating impact, particularly on the smaller islands in the eastern Caribbean and to a lesser extent Barbados. So, we have now to see how we can hold our people up because if you don’t have a successful neighborhood all of us are at risk in terms of public health; all of us are at risk in terms of lack of security; all of us are at risk in terms of migration.
“So, that we really, really need to be able to understand that this is about lives and livelihoods; this is about staving off the pandemic, but it is also about keeping people fed and keeping people being able to live,” she stressed.
Mottley noted that Barbados had 80 cases, with about seven deaths, and just under 40 persons recorded as having recovered from the virus.
During the 10-minute interview, which was conducted via Skype, issues highlighted included climate change and women as global leaders. Footage of Barbadians practising social distancing was also shown.