Born in Guyana, RAYMOND CHICKRIE was a teacher in the New York City public school system, New York, currently teaching in the Middle East.
Guyana and Suriname leaders to attend Arab South America Summit
- By Raymond Chickrie
- Published 01/23/2011
The Peruvian news agency, ANDINA is confirming that all South American heads of state, including the Presidents of Guyana and Suriname, Bharrat Jagdeo and Desi Bouterse and 10 Arab leaders will attend the Arab South American Summit, the brainchild of former Brazilian President Lula da Silva to be held in Lima, Peru on February 13 – 16. Brazil's new President, Dilma Rousseff will be in Lima to continue the Lula Middle East Initiative that began in 2005 when President Lula Da Silva hosted the first Arab South American Summit in Brazil. Among the ten Arab heads of state confirming attendance, are the Emirs of Qatar and Kuwait, the Kings of Jordan and Morocco, the Presidents of Algeria, Lebanon, Palestine, Syria, and Tunisia,
Guyana's President, Bharrat Jagdeo, current Chairman of the Union of South American States (UNASUR), will be an active participant at the summit. The Guyanese leader holds the Pro Tempore Presidency of UNASUR. Jagdeo attended the first Arab South America Summit in 2005 in Brazil, and in route to attend the 2nd summit in Qatar in 2009, he received news of the death of Mrs. Jagan which abruptly took him back to Guyana. President Jagdeo will have yet another opportunity to showcase Guyana internationally and to attract foreign direct investment from Arab nations.
Suriname under the current Desi Bouterse government is looking to attract foreign direct investments from the Middle East. President Bouterse is an advocate of strong Suriname Middle East ties. It is widely believed that Bouterse yield a lot of power during the government of President Jules Wijdenbosh and was instrumental in Suriname joining the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) and the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB). More recently, Emarati companies have showed interest in investing in the oil, gold, timer, housing and sectors of Suriname. The Surinamese leader is expected to use the Arab South American Summit as a platform to market Suriname to Arab investors and strengthened bilateral ties with Arab countries.
Guyana has step up diplomatic ties with the Middle East with the opening of an embassy in the State of Kuwait, the appointment of a Honourary Consul in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and an impending visit by President Jagdeo to Abu Dhabi, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, most likely to coincide with the OIC Heads of Government Summit in Egypt in March. This move by Guyana will see the appointed of an ambassador to the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) states- Qatar, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Oman and Bahrain.
Guyana's strong ties with the Arab Islamic world dates back to the 1970 after that country gained independence from Britain in 1966. Guyana strongly aligned itself with Algeria, Iraq, Libya, Palestine and Syria. In June 1985 Guyana played host to the 11th United Nations Seminar on the Question of Palestine. Guyana also established its first Middle East embassy in Iraq which was closed in 1980s. Egypt, Iraq and Libya also set up embassies in Guyana. Most recently, President Jagdeo visited the Middle East on three occasions, and the Prime Minister of Kuwait, Mohammed Al-Ahmed Al-Sabah visited Guyana in 2010. Libya still maintains an embassy in Suriname.
Today, South America Arab trade has risen to 21 billion in volume. Chilean fruits and vegetables are readily available in supermarkets in the UAE, Kuwait or Qatar. Brazilian frozen food and meats are in demand in the Gulf, and are found in supermarkets there. Moreover, Gulf Arab demand for more food and especially meat from South America is increasing. With about 18 million South Americans of Arab decent, the two regions are closely linked. Commercially, the two regions are connected by several airlines such as, Emirates, Royal Air Maroc, Qatar Airways, and Turkish Airways with daily flights transporting people and cargoes.