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DELEGATE: PRESERVE THE CARIBBEAN DIASPORA

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March 17, 2002 – Calling the topic "relevant and overdue" Delegate to Congress Donna Christian Christensen told a gathering of Caribbean business and political leaders meeting on the role of the Caribbean diaspora, that the "loss of some of our best minds, must be reversed or compensated for in some way" if the region is to achieve its goals.
Christensen said that her focus this year will be on assisting the region to meet needs arising from the September 11, to include the impact on its tourism-dependent economies and the increasing costs of security. "My continued focus on health includes the HIV/AIDS epidemic for which the Caribbean is second only to Sub-Saharan Africa in the incidence of infection and disease." She also spoke of the need to beef up the public health infrastructure in light of the threats posed by bioterrorism.
Christensen spoke at the Center for Strategic and International Studies Caribbean global policy briefing Thursday in Washington, D.C., where the high-level think tank on Caribbean issues discussed the role of the diaspora in the affairs of their home countries, a release stated.
"All of us who are a part of the diaspora or who care about and work to champion the cause of the Caribbean in Washington and elsewhere, interact with the sons and daughters of the Caribbean who live here," Christensen said. "We know of many who are eager and have the wherewithal to make significant contributions, but face barriers that can be overcome, at least in part by the support groups assembled here," she told the group.
Christensen's speech outlined how she, as the representative of a U.S. territory in the Caribbean, has made Caribbean affairs a major part of her agenda in the Congress. She joined with her colleagues in bi-partisan endeavors to advance the region's issues as it relates to bananas, the OECD listings, the extension of NAFTA parity, and the protection of the rum industry.
She told them that with her colleague Congressman Chaka Fattah, she had re-established the Friends of the Caribbean Caucus to serve as a vehicle for advancing the legislative and policy agenda of the Caribbean.

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