“Caribbean-Americans have taken many different paths to our shores,” U.S. Deputy Secretary of State William Burns said at a Caribbean-American Heritage Event in Washington, DC on June 27, 2012. “What all have in common is that, once here, they and their children and their children’s children became part of the fabric of our communities and produced uniquely American success stories.”
This was true of Alexander Hamilton, one of the Founding Fathers and the first U.S. Secretary of Treasury; civil rights leader Malcolm X; the singer/activist Harry Belafonte; and former Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff and Secretary of State, Colin Powell.
“Caribbean-Americans have made a remarkably rich contribution to American life,” Deputy Secretary Burns said. “Caribbean art and music add spice to American culture. Caribbean flavors liven up American kitchens. And of course, Caribbean businessmen and women bring entrepreneurial energy to the U.S. economy.”
Diaspora communities play an important role in sparking development in their home countries and deepening economic, cultural, and diplomatic ties with the United States.
“The remittances that families and friends send home, the investments in business in your home countries - you have a reach that our diplomats and development experts can never hope to match,” Deputy Secretary Burns said to the Caribbean-Americans in the audience. “We look to you as partners in promoting development and building ties within our hemisphere.”
In partnership with Inter-American Development Bank, Canadian International Development Agency, and U.K. Department for International Development under the Compete Caribbean program, the United States has developed an initiative called the Caribbean Idea Marketplace (CIM), which connects Caribbean entrepreneurs with members of the diaspora to create jobs and economic opportunities. “This year, we are selecting ten projects that will each win a grant of U.S. $100,000,” Deputy Secretary Burns said. “We are also working to empower women entrepreneurs. ... From Trinidad and Tobago to Jamaica, women are developing businesses, and the success of these women is helping to sustain families, neighborhoods, and entire communities.”