Thursday Apr 26

US Senate passes new Caribbean engagement law


engel_ros-lehtinen.jpg
Ranking Member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY) (L), and Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL)

By Caribbean News Now contributor

WASHINGTON, USA -- New legislation to enhance US engagement with the Caribbean has now passed both the House and Senate and is headed to President Barack Obama for signature into law.

The new law, sponsored by Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY), ranking member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, and Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), a former chair of the Committee, calls for a new, long-term strategy to strengthen ties between the United States and its Caribbean neighbours.

“At a time when our friends in the Caribbean need us more than ever, this bill will prioritize our partnership with the sub-region for many years to come. It is long past time to have a multi-year strategy that will allow us to increase engagement with the Caribbean, especially when it comes to energy and security. The countries of the Caribbean are profoundly important to the United States, and particularly to the many Caribbean-American citizens in our country. I look forward to working with the Caribbean-American diaspora to ensure that they can provide input to the State Department and USAID on US relations with the Caribbean in the years ahead. With constant crises around the globe that demand US attention, we must not lose sight of our long-term interests close to home,” Engel said.

“I am honoured to work alongside my friend and colleague Eliot Engel in order to send this important legislation aimed at prioritizing our bilateral relationships with allies in the Caribbean to the president’s desk. We must strengthen our relationship with Caribbean nations so that they view the US as a reliable partner and push back against the negative influence of [Venezuela president] Maduro’s corrupt regime in the region. It is vital to work proactively and collaboratively with Caribbean nations to promote close cooperation in the areas of security, trade, illicit trafficking, and energy and I look forward to seeing this important legislation implemented in order to advance our own national security interests,” Ros-Lehtinen added.

The United States-Caribbean Strategic Engagement Act (HR 4939) will strengthen relations with the Caribbean by requiring the Secretary of State and the Administrator of the US Agency for International Development (USAID) to submit to Congress a multiyear strategy focused on enhancing engagement with the countries of the Caribbean.

The legislation puts particular emphasis on energy security, countering violence, expanding diplomacy and providing educational exchange opportunities for citizens of the Caribbean.

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