WASHINGTON, DC MARCH 13: Organization of American
States (OAS) secretary general, Jose Miguel Insulza, has lauded Prime Minister P J Patterson for his work, over the years,
to promote the cause of marginalised and economically challenged countries within the hemisphere.
Secretary General Insulza, who was speaking at a
special protocolary session of the Permanent Council of the OAS in Washington, DC, said that Patterson had dedicated his public
life to championing causes such as the alleviation of poverty, increasing access to education and providing employment and
economic opportunity for those who are less competitive.
He also praised the prime minister, who, in a matter
of weeks, will demit office as head of government, for his efforts "to make Jamaica a better place for its people, where they
(can) feel a greater sense of self-esteem and ownership in their country's future and are empowered so as to benefit from
The special OAS session was held in honour of Patterson's
decades of service within the Caribbean Community (Caricom), as well as his broad contribution on the hemispheric political
Ambassador Marina Valere, permanent representative
of Trinidad and Tobago to the OAS, chaired the session, which was attended by diplomatic representatives of the 34 member
states of the organisation, United States government officials and congressional representatives, as well as officials from
the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), European Union, China and Nigeria.
Speaking to JIS News prior to the OAS session, Jamaica's
ambassador to the United States and permanent representative to the OAS, Professor Gordon Shirley, said the secretary general's
invitation to Patterson was "a recognition of the tremendous contribution the prime minister Patterson had made to the quest
for democracy and social progress, not only in the Caribbean, but in the hemisphere at large".
Said Shirley: "His resolute and consistent advocacy
for human rights and economic empowerment has been instrumental in putting social justice issues at the very forefront of
the Inter-American agenda and constitutes a lasting and important legacy for the region and indeed the hemisphere as a whole."