NASSAU, Bahamas —Vice President Kamala Harris traveled to The Bahamas for the U.S.-Caribbean Leaders Meeting on June 8, marking her first visit to the Caribbean since being in office.
During the Vice President’s historic trip, several announcements were made, including a $100 million investment in the Caribbean region by the Biden-Harris Administration to crack down on weapons trafficking, expand humanitarian assistance and combat climate change.
Dozens of people, including school children, greeted Harris when she landed at the airport, and the Royal Bahamas Police Force Band, dressed in their black, red, and white uniforms, gave her a musical welcome. People also lined the streets of Nassau to see the motorcade pass by as the VP made her way to Atlantis Paradise Island for the high-level meeting.
The trip was historic as VP Harris is the highest-ranking official from the United States to visit The Bahamas since its independence in 1973. Before this year, the last high-level White House visit to The Bahamas was made by U.S. President John F. Kennedy in 1962 when the island nation– which celebrates celebrate its 50th independence in July– was still a British territory.
The visit also coincided with the annual celebration of National Caribbean-American Heritage Month in the United States. It was also symbolic as Harris is the first Black and Caribbean-American Vice President of the United States.
In her remarks, Harris highlighted the administration’s commitment and plans for bolstering the U.S.- Caribbean relationship. “Strengthening the U.S.-Caribbean relationship is a priority for me, as it is for President Joe Biden,” said Harris, who is of Jamaican descent, during the meeting. “Our partnership, we strongly believe, is essential to our mutual security and prosperity,” she added.
Harris co-hosted the meeting with Bahamas Prime Minister Phillip Davis and leaders of the 15-member Caribbean Community known as CARICOM. “The agenda is ambitious – reflecting the urgency of addressing these challenges and the real opportunity we see to make progress,” said Davis who is the current chairman of CARICOM.
The U.S.-Caribbean Partnership to Address the Climate Crisis 2030 initiatives and the climate crisis were the main topics of discussion during the multilateral meeting. Her team stated that among the actions already taken is the facilitation of programs for technical support, climate adaptation, and the development of renewable energy infrastructure.
Additionally, the White House issued $15 million to support and strengthen emergency response efforts by the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency known as CEDEMA. The United States will also expand its diplomatic presence in the Eastern Caribbean and it has created a new position at the U.S. Department of Justice to help combat the illicit trafficking of U.S. weapons into the Caribbean.
“The implementation of these reforms will have a major impact on countries in the Caribbean, and we aim to achieve these key reforms by the G20 meeting this fall,” said Harris.
The Bahamas meeting builds on the Vice President’s previous meetings with Caribbean leaders in April 2022, the June 2022 Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles, and the meeting held in September 2022.
“We are neighbors in the Western Hemisphere,” said Harris, “and the security and prosperity of this region require the type of collaboration and partnership that we have developed and continued to grow.”