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Exploring The Caribbean: The Institute Of Caribbean Studies

Rep. Charles B. Rangel

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Mr. Speaker, I rise today to bring to the attention of my colleagues the significant work of the Institute of Caribbean Studies (ICS), a magnificent organization that highlights and explores the linkages between the Caribbean and the United States. Today, Representative Barbara Lee, Representative Donna Christensen, and I hosted a meeting of the Institute of Caribbean Studies in the Rayburn Building. I thank these wonderful congresswomen for joining me in our effort to raise the awareness and provide an opportunity for this Congress to explore the dynamics of the Caribbean economy, culture, and global appeal.

The Institute of Caribbean Studies works to find common links between the American public and the people of the Caribbean. It explores different avenues of change and development that are common to our two regions and seeks opportunities to nurture those developments to our collective best interests. This group is working to build a stronger economic, social, and cultural bond between two important regions of the world.

At their legislative forum today, the panels addressed the growing importance of the border security, economic development, disaster assistance, and human security. Panelists such as Foreign Minister of the Bahamas Fred Mitchell, the Jamaican Ambassador Gordon Shirley, the St. Lucian Ambassador Sonia Johnny, and the Grenadian Ambassador Denis Antonie examined various causes, effects, and responses to the challenges of linking the Caribbean and the United States. Their discussion and assessments provided important insight into the solutions and opportunities for advancement in the region.

I thank the panelists and participants for their thoughts, opinions, and wisdom on developing and encouraging a stronger linkage between our two parts of the world. I particularly would like to thank Dr. Claire Nelson, the President and Founder of the Institute, for her leadership and direction in the activities of the Institute of Caribbean Studies. I am sure that under her continued helm the organization will become a valuable resource for Congress and its deliberations on improved international relations.

I submit for the Record a copy of the mission statement and goals of the organization. I hope my colleagues will put this organization to use in developing responsible policies toward the Caribbean.

The Institute of Caribbean Studies (ICS) is a non-partisan, non-profit 501(c)(3) organization established in 1993 and dedicated to research, policy analysis, and education with a focus on issues that impact the Caribbean and Caribbean Diaspora. The purpose of the Institute is to provide a forum for scholars, the private sector, the non-government organization community and others interested in promoting a dialogue on Caribbean issues. The Institute seeks to address economic development problems facing Caribbean society, and to adopt a thorough, systematic and coordinated long-term perspective towards their resolution. Since its inception, ICS has been on the forefront of the challenge to bring attention to the issues of critical importance to the Caribbean American community, which numbers over 3 million. ICS represents an important role in history as the first Caribbean-American community organization in the Washington, DC area devoted to the successful inclusion of Caribbean-Americans in U.S. policy making, and the economic development of the Caribbean region. ICS has built up a unique network of knowledgeable and committed individuals with expertise in a variety of sectors. ICS's location in Washington, DC makes it an ideal interlocutor, advocate and intermediary between the U.S. government, multilateral agencies, the private sector, Caribbean-American communities, and Caribbean governments, communities, and organizations in the region. ICS enjoys the respect of a significant proportion of the Caribbean-American community, as well as the Caribbean diplomatic corps. ICS has established and will continue to develop partnerships and collaborative relationships with local and national organizations in the United States and the Caribbean, such as the Caribbean American Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Global Rights Law Group, National Minority Suppliers Development Council, World Bank/IMF Caribbean Staff Association, Caribbean Research Center, and the Caribbean Policy Development Center to meet its objectives, particularly those in the area of economic development and policy making. ICS is dedicated to building bridges between Caribbean Americans and the U.S. population at large and advocating for the economic welfare of the Caribbean American community. Together with partner organizations with industry, government and civil society, we have built the foundation to make the Institute of Caribbean Studies, the leading Caribbean American organization in Washington, DC. Our mission is to provide our partners with solutions to the challenges they face, that will enable their survival, growth, and prosperity in the ever changing global marketplace, by providing world class research and action that supports their missions. The organizational structure of the ICS provides an established framework within which `Caribbeanists' can be mobilized to address issues of concern and implement research and/or program initiatives. This includes a Private Sector Council and a Research Council. ICS program areas are designed to: To promote the increased participation of Caribbean Americans in the U.S. economic and policy agenda. To facilitate increased educational exchanges between Caribbean and American peoples. To foster increased cooperation between the Caribbean and other developing country regions, such as Latin America and Africa, as well as the developed countries of Canada and Europe. To facilitate the participation of, and discussion with, the Caribbean Diaspora around the world on issues pertaining to Caribbean development. In keeping with its holistic philosophy of development, the Institute develops and supports programs which serve a multiplicity of interests--the community leader, the business person, the policy-maker, and the scholar, across various sectors. The program areas include: Economic Development, Science & Technology, Education & Health, and Sociology & Culture. Our goal for economic development is to increase the participation of Caribbean Americans in the U.S. business sector, to promote increased trade and investment between the U.S. and the Caribbean, and to support entrepreneurial development and micro-enterprise development in the Caribbean. Our work includes creating linkages between U.S. small and disadvantaged businesses and Caribbean businesses, entrepreneurial development and skills training for youth with particular reference to, and acting as an interlocutor and facilitator for creating partnerships between U.S. transnational corporations and the Caribbean American community. Our goal in the area of science and technology is improve the level and quality of technical assistance provided to the Caribbean region, to support improvements in the access, development and use of science and technology across all sectors, and the increased access of disadvantaged communities in the Caribbean to information technology. Our current agenda is the support of Computer centers in disadvantaged centers in the Caribbean and the development of exchange and linkages programs to support science education in the Caribbean such as support for the establishment of children's science centers. Our goals in education and health include increasing transfer of technology to the Caribbean region; ensuring Caribbean Americans equity in health care; and supporting the provision of increased educational opportunities to disadvantaged populations in the Caribbean. This includes assisting in the establishment of linkage programs between historically Black colleges and universities. Our goal in sociology and culture include: assisting the Caribbean-American community to participate in U.S. democratic processes; promoting the conservation and development of Caribbean arts and culture, and promoting an understanding of Caribbean culture in the U.S. Our current focus in this area is the establishment of June as Caribbean Heritage Month in the Washington, DC metropolitan region and the production of the DC Caribbean Film Festival.