On April 4, the Latin America Initiative at Brookings hosted the Honorable Kamla Persad-Bissessar, prime minister of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, for a discussion of the current and future role of the Caribbean in enhancing hemispheric relations. Persad-Bissessar specifically addressed issues such as the importance of securing both traditional and alternative sources of renewable energy in her country; the impact of the economic downturn on tourism and remittances for Trinidad and Tobago; and Caribbean coordination in response to the economic crisis and the exacerbated levels of violence in the region.
Kamla Persad-Bissessar was sworn in as the first woman to hold the office of prime minister of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago on May 26, 2010. Persad-Bissessar began her political career in 1986 and has held the positions of attorney general, minister of legal affairs, and minister of education. She became the first appointed female leader of the opposition in 2006. Vice President Martin Indyk, director of Foreign Policy at Brookings, introduced the prime minister. Senior Fellow Mauricio Cárdenas, director of the Latin America Initiative, moderated the discussion.
After the program, the prime minister took audience questions.
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"You have to play the long game. It’s fine to add money, but when the commitment is volatile and your funding goes up and down constantly, you can end up creating more harm than good."
"We have been in Central America for a long time. It’s not just money that has made us effective in the region — there is a lot of hard-earned experience, trial and error, and institution building that is slowly reaping results. The worst thing that could happen now is to go back to zero."