Vice President Kamala Harris (left) with Bahamas Prime Minister Philip E. Davis (Courtesy photo)
Vice President Kamala Harris (left) with Bahamas Prime Minister Philip E. Davis (Courtesy photo)

Vice President Kamala Harris’ trip to The Bahamas on Thursday marked a significant step in the United States’ relationship with the Caribbean as it was both historic and consequential.

“She is the highest-ranking White House official to visit the Caribbean nation since John F. Kennedy in 1962,” said a White House senior official during a press call on background for Harris’ daylong trip.

The vice president’s visit, which included a meeting with Caribbean leaders, was accompanied by a string of announcements from the Biden-Harris administration, including more than $100 million in new assistance for the region for needs like getting access to banking and combating the climate crisis. The financial commitments are in direct response to needs communicated by Caribbean leaders to the U.S. in previous meetings hosted by Harris over the past year.

“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 Thursday’s U.S.-Caribbean Leaders Meeting, co-hosted by Bahamas Prime Minister Philip Davis.

The Biden-Harris administration used Harris’ historic trip to announce $20 million toward the Caribbean Climate Investment Program to “incentivize” the private sector to develop clean energy technologies in the region. Additionally, the White House issued $15 million to support and strengthen emergency response efforts by the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency.

The vice president announced she is also working with the World Bank to help Caribbean nations get more access to increased banking services, including low-cost concessional financing. Harris met with the World Bank’s new president, Ajay Banga, this week and helped coordinate his virtual attendance at Thursday’s meeting with Caribbean leaders.

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