Committee on International Relations
U.S. House of Representatives
Henry J. Hyde, Chairman

CONTACT: Sam Stratman, (202) 226-7875, October 18, 2005

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Policy Overview of Caribbean Region
Schedules Wednesday Oversight Hearing

BACKGROUND:  The Caribbean, with nearly 34 million people and 16 independent nations, encompasses diverse ethnic, socio-political, and economic cultures. Politically, all Caribbean nations, with the exception of Cuba and Haiti, have democratically-elected governments, marked by regular free and fair elections. Despite long-standing democratic traditions, Caribbean nations are not immune from political instability. The U.S.-Caribbean relationship is strong and characterized by extensive economic linkages, cooperation in counternarcotics efforts and security, and a sizeable U.S. foreign assistance program supporting a variety of projects to strengthen democracy, promote economic growth and development, alleviate poverty, and combat the AIDS epidemic in the region. Many Caribbean nations experienced an economic slump in 2001-2002 due to downturns in the tourism and agriculture sectors, and some nations have seen a recent dramatic rise in violent crime and trafficking in persons. Countries that depend on tourism were hurt by the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States and the subsequent U.S. economic recession and sluggish recovery. Several Caribbean nations, especially Haiti, Grenada, Jamaica, and the Bahamas, were hard hit by devastating hurricanes in 2004. In 2005, Hurricane Dennis heavily damaged Cuba and Grenada, who were still picking up the pieces from Hurricane Ivan in September 2004. U.S. efforts are now focused on helping the region prepare for hemispheric free trade. The Administration describes the Caribbean as America’s “third border,” with events in the region having a direct impact on the homeland security of the United States. Administration officials believe that bolstering political and economic stability in the region decreases its vulnerability to drug trafficking, financial crimes and illegal immigration. 

WHAT:                             Oversight Hearing: Policy Overview of the Caribbean Region
                                           Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, U.S. Rep. Dan Burton (R-IN), Chairman

WHEN:                             10:30 a.m., Wednesday, October 19, 2005

WHERE:                           Room 2172 Rayburn House Office Building

WITNESS:                        Panel I:
                                           Adolfo A. Franco
                                           Assistant Administrator,
                                           Bureau for Latin America and the Caribbean,
                                           United States Agency for International Development;

                                           Dan Fisk
                                           Deputy Assistant Secretary,
                                           Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs,
                                           U.S. Department of State;

                                           Panel II:
                                           John Sanbrailo

                                           Executive Director,
Pan American Development Foundation; and

                                           Cheryl-Anne Hall,
                                           Vice President of Governmental and Corporate Affairs,
                                           Lutheran Family Health Centers.

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