Serge Letchimy—who is a member of the National Assembly of France, former mayor of Fort de France from 2001 to 2010 (succeeding Aimé Césaire), and presently, the President of the Regional Council of Martinique—proposed an ERASMUS-Caraïbe (ERASMUS-Caribbean) to promote openness, cultural exchange, and a reduction of linguistic inequality. He said that the Caribbean ERASMUS would be similar to the European exchange program. He also underlined the importance of tourism, improving transportation services, and addressing issues related to the island’s rich biodiversity and climate change. Here are excerpts from my translation of the original; to access the full article in French, click on link below:
“We had the idea of an ERASMUS Caribbean, a concept shared by the Minister of Overseas Departments, to allow young Mexican students to come to Martinique, and Martinican students to go to Mexico, for language acquisition in the form of long-term immersion.”
Three major challenges: tourism, transport and biodiversity
President Letchimy reminded people of Martinique’s involvement with the development of Caribbean tourism, including the creation of a Commission for Sustainable Tourism. “Tourism is a vital sector for the wider Caribbean region because it is an undeniable niche for economic development. We are aesthetically rich, with magnificent landscapes, with a heritage and cultural richness that we must value. But to show it is not enough, it is important to use tourism exchanges towards a true dynamic for development and internal growth to enhance our culture and production.”
Transportation problems were also among the major issues discussed. The President of the Region stressed the fundamental nature of air and maritime connections in the Caribbean and also with South America.
“Without connectivity or even inter-connectivity, it is extremely difficult to speak of exchange in the fields of trade and economic in areas as exploited as the islands of the Caribbean. […] If we focus on the subject of maritime transport, it is even worse. If we want to reduce costs and have good competitiveness in the area of transport, we absolutely must connect the Caribbean to South America in better conditions.”
Other key points discussed were biodiversity and climate change. Letchimy stressed that their impacts are particularly damaging when it concerns such an exposed environment as the Caribbean basin. Hence the importance of joint initiatives for the prevention of major risks and the development of solidarity among the countries of the Caribbean.
The heads of state of member countries welcomed the presence of Martinique at the summit and emphasized the importance of its integration in one of the landmark organizations of the Greater Caribbean. “Without Martinique and Guadeloupe, the Greater Caribbean was incomplete. We welcome you, brothers and sisters,” concluded the Secretary General of the ACS [AEC in French] His Excellency Alfonso Munera.
For original article in French, see http://www.region-martinique.mq/blog/conclusions-du-sommet-de-laec-au-mexique/