SAN JUAN – Former US President Bill Clinton said on Tuesday that the challenge of rebuilding the Caribbean in the aftermath of the September 2017 hurricanes will continue and that his foundation will continue to provide aid to the affected countries.
“The challenges involved in reconstruction are not solved in a day or two,” he said during his inaugural speech at the first meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) in San Juan, which discusses the island’s recovery from the hurricanes that devastated Puerto Rico and other parts of the Caribbean in 2017.
The San Juan meeting is the third meeting of CGI’s Action Network on Post-Disaster Recovery and seeks to focus on recovery needs, especially in the territories of Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, Dominica and the twin-island of Antigua and Barbuda.
“I’m happy to go where we’ve gone,” Clinton said of the aid offered, which he said has been achieved through the collaboration of multiple organizations.
Regarding Puerto Rico, Clinton said that much remains to be done and that if there is one thing Hurricane Maria made clear, it is that there is a need for more reliable sources of energy.
Clinton’s keynote address was followed by a panel moderated by the former president in which several personalities spoke about recovery in the Caribbean after Hurricane Maria.
The founder of the organization World Central Kitchen, Spanish cook Jose Andres, who supports the initiative “Living Earth Harvest” in eastern Puerto Rico by supporting the development of small, local farms, recalled how he moved to the Caribbean island to help soon after hurricane Maria.
Patricia Scotland, Secretary-General of the Commonwealth of Nations, said that the countries that are part of that organization are very committed to combating climate change since many of those territories are islands and very affected by natural disasters.
Francine Baron, Minister of Foreign and CARICOM Affairs of the Commonwealth of Dominica, stressed that her country is still in the process of reconstruction after the devastation caused by the hurricanes of September 2017.
“As a measure we set in motion an agenda to make Dominica more resistant to this type of phenomena,” she said, after recalling that Maria caused the destruction of nearly 90 percent of homes in this small Caribbean territory.
The panel also included the participation of the CEO of the Internet travel agency Expedia, Mark Okerstrom, who stressed that the organization he leads does everything it can to help promote the Caribbean region.