Remarks by Chargé d’Affaires at USAID/CARICOM Portfolio Review

Remarks as prepared
Chargé d’Affaires Mark W. Cullinane
USAID/CARICOM Portfolio review
October 21, 2021

Secretary General of CARICOM, Dr. Carla Barnett,
Ambassador Colin Granderson, Assistant Secretary-General, Foreign Community Relations
USAID Regional Representative, Clinton White,
Distinguished guests,
Online audiences,
Ladies and gentlemen,

It is my great pleasure to speak with you this morning on this auspicious occasion. I’m proud to be a part of the first review since the release of USAID’s new regional strategy for the Eastern and Southern Caribbean. Until at least 2025, the partnership between USAID and CARICOM is interlinked and aimed at promoting a safe, prosperous, resilient Caribbean region that supports its vulnerable populations, withstands external shocks, and promotes accountable institutions, economic development, and private sector-led growth. This review speaks to the level of importance that the United States holds for CARICOM as a key regional actor in partnering with the people of the Caribbean. We hope that this is the first of many initiatives in the years to come.

When we talk about safety and prosperity across the region, the reality of COVID-19 and its devastation around the region, not just for the lives lost, but for the lives deeply affected by the economic devastation, even here in generally resilient Guyana. The U.S. is committed to helping its partners around the world build back from COVID-19. Recently, global heads of state and leaders from international organizations, the private sector, philanthropies, non-government organizations, and other partners, joined as President Biden convened a first-of-its-kind Global COVID-19 Summit: “Ending the Pandemic and Building Back Better.” The September 22 virtual Summit was intended to spur ambitious action around the goals of Vaccinating the World, Saving Lives Now, and Building Back Better to prevent future pandemics. Notably, the Summit was used as a platform for many U.S. commitments toward this agenda, including the plan to donate another half billion doses of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines worldwide, bringing the total contribution of doses by the U.S. to over 1.1 billion.

To that point, I am honored to announce today an additional 2.5 million U.S. dollars in assistance from the historic American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, that builds on the previous COVID-19 support provided to Eastern and Southern Caribbean countries. This assistance will provide support for the operational costs of COVID-19 vaccination campaigns, outreach activities to reduce vaccine hesitancy in collaboration with local influencers and celebrities, vaccine hesitancy surveys, and equipment procurement to support the development of COVID-19 vaccine information systems, laboratory detection and vaccine storage. The U.S. will work proudly alongside our regional partners, PAHO, UNICEF, CARPHA and CARICOM in efforts to mitigate and eliminate the effects of the pandemic in Guyana and the wider Caribbean.

This assistance will help CARICOM countries move further along in their COVID-19 response, respond to the problem of vaccine hesitancy and help get more jabs in arms to lessen the economic and health burden of COVID-19.

USAID has provided nearly $63 million in COVID-19 assistance to the Caribbean, including nearly $7.45 million to the Eastern and Southern Caribbean, since the beginning of the pandemic to address the health, humanitarian, and economic impacts of COVID-19. We want to continue that partnership, and we look forward to the continued collaboration through CARICOM.

Thank you.