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Latin American Center Launches ‘Groundbreaking’ Caribbean Initiative To Fight COVID-19 With The U.S.

WASHINGTON —The Atlantic Council’s Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center on Wednesday launched a groundbreaking Caribbean initiative focused on accelerating the region’s strategic importance as a key partner for the United States.

This new body of work will bring increased recognition to the importance of the Caribbean amid vast hemispheric and global challenges.

Establishment of the Caribbean initiative comes at an historic, defining moment for the region as it battles the effects of the global COVID-19 pandemic.

With a spotlight on how regional and global trends play out in the Caribbean—and why their impacts cannot be overlooked—this newly launched initiative will address, among other things, the implications for island economies of the COVID-19 pandemic; growing links between China and Caribbean islands; security cooperation and the flow of illicit activities; sustainable energy transition; cooperation to fight climate change; continued repercussions of the Venezuela crisis; and the implications of inequality. 

The concept for the initiative, and its focus on the global issues facing the Caribbean, stems from a strategic vision defined by Atlantic Council Board Member Melanie Chen, who currently serves as the only member of the board of Caribbean origin.  

“It is my goal for this new Caribbean initiative to improve upon the dialogue that has always existed between Caribbean nations and the United States as well as other global partners,” said Chen. “Sustained attention to the Caribbean is fundamental to achieving prosperity in the years ahead.”

The Atlantic Council’s Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center was founded in 2013 to reshape understanding of the region’s global relevance and to accelerate policy solutions and cross-border ties that will advance regional prosperity. It has achieved demonstrable success refocusing the global conversation around Latin America’s role in the world, and it will apply its proven model to shining a light on the needs of the Caribbean region.

“The future of the Caribbean is so intertwined with the future of the United States and the rest of Latin America. I am delighted that the Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center will now fully incorporate Caribbean issues into its work,” added Adrienne Arsht, Atlantic Council executive vice chair and Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center founder. 

Jason Marczak, director of the Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center, announced the initiative will be led by Vicki Assevero, who brings years of experience innovating around Caribbean issues and US-Caribbean ties. Dividing her time between Trinidad and Tobago and New York City, Assevero is a current fellow of Berkeley College at Yale University and founder of Trinidad and Tobago’s first sustainable farmers market. She is a Harvard-educated international lawyer with extensive experience globally, including in advancing the Caribbean Basin Initiative, and has an LL.M. degree in sustainable development diplomacy from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. Her experience will ensure the initiative highlights the many benefits of deeper ties with the United States, closer economic cooperation, and new partnerships to jointly address hemispheric and global issues that reverberate across the Caribbean. Assevero will hold the title of Senior Caribbean Fellow.

The Caribbean initiative launched at a virtual event from 4:00 to 5:00 pm EDT Wednesday, featuring Dr. Carissa Etienne, director of the Pan-American Health Organization and a native of Dominica, Senator Kamina Johnson-Smith, minister of foreign affairs and foreign trade of Jamaica, as well as a leading panel of experts from the region.

Click here to learn more about the Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center’s programing around UN General Assembly Week.

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