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VP Harris announces new initiatives at historic U.S.- Caribbean Leaders Meeting in The Bahamas
June 15, 2023

Vice President (VP) Harris traveled to Nassau on Thursday, June 8, for the U.S.-Caribbean Leaders Meeting, marking her first visit to the Caribbean since joining the White House.  The historic visit coincided with the United States commemoration of Caribbean-American Heritage month and was just one month before the United States and The Bahamas celebrate 50 years of diplomatic relations.  VP Harris is the highest-ranking U.S. government official to visit The Bahamas since its Independence.  Prior to this year, 2023, U.S. President John F. Kennedy’s 1962 trip was the last high-level White House visit to The Bahamas.

Shortly after noon, U.S. Embassy Chargé d’Affaires Usha Pitts, Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Public Service Fred Mitchell, Minister of Education and Technical & Vocational Training Glenys Hanna-Martin, Minister of State for the Public Service Pia Glover-Rolle and members of the Royal Bahamas Police and Defence Forces officially received VP Harris as she descended from Air Force 2 at Odyssey Aviation.

A 200-member military Honor Guard provided a full protocol welcome.   After VP Harris inspected the troops, she greeted representatives from organizations advancing human rights and empowering marginalized groups including Pride Bahamas, Zonta Bahamas, Rise Bahamas, Happy Tots Academy, the Bahamas National Trust and representatives from the LGBTQI+ community.

The U.S. Embassy continues to collaborate with the aforementioned organizations on key Biden Administration priorities;

  • Pride Bahamas commemorates the trials faced by the LGBTQI+ community and celebrates the triumphs of trailblazing individuals who continue to fight for equality.
  • Zonta Bahamas supports the United Nations’ annual support for “16 Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence”.
  • Rise Bahamas promotes equal access to opportunities for Bahamian women.
  • Happy Tots Academy which fills educational gaps and provides essential services to vulnerable communities, including stateless people.

For student leaders from private and public schools, getting up close with the Vice President was a once in a lifetime experience.  “To be less than five feet away from such a powerful woman, and a Black woman at that, was really great and definitely a life-lasting memory,” said the head girl at St John’s College, Caiya Ramsey.

After leaving the airport Vice President Harris’ convoy made its way to the Atlantis Resort on Paradise Island. Locals and tourists lined Bay Street – the main downtown thoroughfare – to get a glimpse of her motorcade.

Once at the resort, the Vice President held a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Davis, individually greeted the fourteen Caribbean representatives, and memorialized the moment with a group photo.

Afterwards, VP Harris and Prime Minster Philip Davis, current chair of the Caribbean Community, (CARICOM) co-hosted a U.S.-Caribbean Leaders Meeting.  The meeting brought together leaders from around the Caribbean including CARICOM Secretary-General, Dr. Carla Natalie Barnett and representatives from Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, the Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, St. Lucia, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago.  The meeting advanced efforts to combat climate change, strengthen security relations, and address the Haiti humanitarian crisis.

Vice President Harris announced several new initiatives to strengthen the U.S-Caribbean partnership, including $53.7 million for the people of Haiti in response to the country’s humanitarian crisis and another $15 million to support disaster risk reduction, emergency response capacity strengthening, and resilience building across the Caribbean.  She also revealed an initial $20 million investment to help USAID provide financial, technical assistance, and business development services to enterprises deploying technologies in renewable energy, energy efficiency, and climate adaptation.

On the security front, Vice President Harris foreshadowed the creation of a high-level post within the U.S. Department of Justice to coordinate Caribbean firearms prosecutions.  “The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to disrupting firearms trafficking in the Caribbean by interdicting illicit shipments of firearms and ammunition, and by holding offenders accountable and bringing them to justice. To bolster these efforts, the Department of Justice (DOJ) will name a Coordinator for Caribbean Firearms Prosecutions who will be an experienced DOJ prosecutor,” she pledged.

“In response to longstanding requests from our Caribbean partners” Vice President Harris announced, “an expanded diplomatic presence in the Eastern Caribbean, including two new embassies.”

After spending the day devoted to advancing the United States’ relationship with The Bahamas and the greater Caribbean, Vice President Harris was bid farewell by Charge Pitts, Foreign Minister Mitchell and the Royal Bahamas Defence and Police Forces.

Remarks by Vice President Harris at U.S.-Caribbean Leaders Meeting | The White House