US lawmakers have agreed to move forward with legislation to boost U.S. Caribbean relations, that would provide energy security to the region as well as address safety issues.
The bill is being championed by U.S. Congressman Eliot Engel, a Bronx and Westchester County Democrat.
The majority of Republicans and Democrats in the House of Representatives have approved the United States-Caribbean Strategic Engagement Act, H.R. 4939.
The emerging initiative places considerable emphasis on energy security, countering violence, economic diversification, financial assistance and an expanded diplomatic presence by the U.S. in the Eastern Caribbean.
“We spend a great deal of time focusing on challenges and opportunities in faraway places,” Engel told lawmakers in a speech on the floor of the House.
“Indeed, we should be working to strengthen our ties with countries in the Caribbean. That’s the aim of this bill, which would prioritize U.S. Caribbean relations for years to come.”
The bill requires the U.S. State Department to:
* Pinpoint how Washington plans to work alongside Caribbean nations to make people feel safer in their homes and on the streets while slashing drug trafficking.
* Set out the steps it intends to take to “broaden outreach” to the Caribbean Diaspora in the U.S.
* Establish a comprehensive multi-year strategy that would improve energy security and expand “access to diverse, reliable, affordable and sustain power” across the Caribbean sub region of the Western Hemisphere.
* Devise a plan that would, when implemented, assist Caribbean countries in diversifying their economies beyond tourism, financial services and other traditional sectors.
* Outline details of an approach that would improve diplomatic engagement with Caribbean government.
Congressman Engel has visited several Caribbean countries, conferring with their governments, such as those of Antigua & Barbuda and Trinidad and Tobago.
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