Aug. 24, 2003 — In an effort to create a role for the Virgin Islands in the political arena of the entire Caribbean, Sen. Louis Hill invited Dr. Len Ishmael, director general of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), to visit. Ishmael visited St. Thomas on Friday, the first time a representative of the organization has visited the territory.
Ishmael toured the island in the morning and spoke Friday afternoon on Leona Bryant's Radio One talk show, along with Hill, explaining what the OECS does, and answering questions from callers-in.
"We are exploring the possibility of obtaining observer status, or associate membership with OECS," Hill said. His aim, he said, is to include the Virgin Islands in the regional matters affecting the entire Caribbean.
"We cannot remove the factors of history, geography and culture of the Caribbean people which unify us," Hill said further, "and it is time for the Virgin Islands to play a role in these well-established organizations."
The senator has submitted draft legislation for a resolution that urges Secretary of State Colin Powell to grant the delegation of authority for the U.S. Virgin Islands to seek associate membership or other appropriate status in the OECS, as well as CARICOM, (the Caribbean Community) and the Association of Caribbean States (ACS).
"We have received expressions of support for inclusion in OECS, CARICOM and the ACS from the United Nations General Assembly, including the U. S., in the form of unanimous resolutions, the most recent of which was Resolution 57/138, Dec. 11, 2002," Hill said.
He said the visit by Ishmael "shows willingness on a regional level for active participation by the V. I. in matters affecting the collective economic success of the Caribbean, as well as its cultural and environmental preservation."
Ishmael, born in St Lucia, is the mother of two sons and has travelled extensively around the globe. A graduate of the University of the West Indies, Mona, she earned a master's at Columbia University and a doctoral degree from the University of Pennsylvania. She has been with the United Nations ECLAC (Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean} Subregional Headquarters for the Caribbean since 1997. Among other positions, she was for several years a professor at UWI, Cave Hill, Barbados, and the director of Leadership for Environment and Development (LEAD) International, an International Organization founded in 1991 by the Rockefeller Foundation to pursue changes in development policies and attitudes worldwide, according to a resume on the OAS Web site.
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