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Former Jamaica Prime Minister receives Caribbean Bar Association distinguished award in South Florida

HOLLYWOOD – Former Prime Minister, Hon. P.J. Patterson was the recently honored by the Caribbean Bar Association (CBA) South Florida Chapter at their annual scholarship and awards banquet, held last Saturday (Sept. 29) in Hollywood.

Mr. Patterson received the CBA’s first ever distinguished Government Service Award for his outstanding contribution as Prime Minister of Jamaica, to the Caribbean American Community as well as his work in the development of CARICOM and the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME).

Addressing the audience of nearly 500 persons from the South Florida legal fraternity and friends at the Westin Diplomat Hotel, Mr. Patterson who was also the guest speaker spoke of the accomplishments of the 15-member CARICOM community which he described as ‘undoubtedly significant.’ However, he continued that additional steps are required for the creation of the Regional Development Fund and its machinery for assessment, response and financial capacity.

So far, he mentioned increased functional cooperation in the areas of air transportation, disaster mitigation, HIV/AIDS, crime and drug trafficking.

According to Mr. Patterson, the implementation of the single economy, set for 2015 is essential but will entail the harmonization and formulation of common fiscal and monetary policies, taxation laws and establishment of a single currency.

Reiterating the aim of one single economic bloc, to the enable the pooling of human, economic and natural resources, the former Prime Minister said that all families of Caribbean origin, wherever they reside were integral members of the Caribbean community.

While Florida and the Caribbean continue to enjoy a special relationship, although not always harmonious, Mr. Patterson continued that Caribbean markets provide a significant source of trade and are now becoming major investors in Florida economy.

Referring to the lack of attention given to the Caribbean by successive American administrations, Mr. Patterson reminded his audience that it should “not be forgotten that more than 200 of our own Caribbean citizens perished in the terrorist attacks of 9/11.” He continued that “we…. should not be remembered and should not be remembered only at those critical moments when the security of America’s third border, the Caribbean, becomes cause for immediate concern,” dispelling the notion that the Caribbean is no more than American backyard.

Mentioning that the Caribbean also had vital interest in security as well as transnational organized crime, the illicit drug trade and trafficking in weapons and arms, Mr. Patterson also noted that both areas shared common goals of democracy, human rights and rule of law.

As Mr. Patterson expressed his appreciation to the Caribbean Bar Association, he also commended them for their contributions to the legal profession.

Florida’s Governor, Charlie Crist was also a recipient of the Government Award while the Community Service Awards were presented to Commissioner Winston Barnes of the City of Miramar and the Reverend Horace Ward of the Holy Family Episcopal Church in North Miami. Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale was honored for its continued support and contribution to the Caribbean community.

Making the presentations was the outgoing President, Ms. Pamela Gordon.

Jamaica’s Consul General and also Chairman of the CARICOM Consular Corps in the Southern USA, Ricardo Allicock, also commended the 11-year-old organization for their efforts in heightening the collective awareness of the Caribbean community here in topical issues. He also lauded the nearly 200 members of “the CBA for honing itself into a useful lobbying concern which continues to improve upon its skill and tactics.”

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