St. John’s Antigua- Since reading an editorial in the Jamaica Gleaner dated Sunday July 4, 2010 regarding Caricom, the subject of Jamaica’s attitude to the regional body has been on our mind. The editorial was headlined “We may just have to dump Caricom.”
We well remember at the time the sow with her piglets cartoon which emanated from Jamaica and which depicted the stark realities at that time in Jamaica and other larger territories of the Caribbean that culminated in the breakup of the West Indies Federation.
This whole idea reared its head again recently when Jamaican Member of Parliament Gregory Mair stopped just short of suggesting that Jamaica cease being a member of Caricom.
Clearly things have not changed; if one listens to rumblings from the more developed English-speaking Caribbean countries today, one can easily conclude that they are not ready yet to handle the system that has to be developed in order to accommodate the wishes and desires of our people. That system has to do with sacrifice, dedication, hard work and cooperation. Without these features we are doomed to wallow in the trough of despair.
The Gleaner editorial and more recently rumblings make it clear that Jamaica feels it is getting a raw deal from its Caricom partners and should pull out of the organisation in view of the need for “serious leadership” which it says is lacking. In the absence of this leadership the newspaper feels that “the next step is obvious: disband the community and allow its 15 members to find their own way in the world. Or, if they desire, form alliances with alternative trade and economic organisations.”
The paper further acknowledged that the idea of Caricom makes sense but our leaders are just not up to the task of implementing it. Here is what they had to say on the subject:
“As a concept and treaty, Caricom was, and remains, an excellent idea – as a single market, to be transformed into a seamless economy and as a functional cooperation and economic grouping. It has had some successes, mainly on the political front.
But in its 36 years, Caricom has failed to plan, contrive, or achieve an economic breakthrough. In those countries that have enjoyed relative success, it has had little to do with their membership of Caricom. And as the Vincentian Prime Minister, Dr Ralph Gonsalves, has observed, it has been primarily a failure of leadership.”
In short, we are once again suffering from the infighting amongst the allegedly more developed territories. Jamaica, being one of them, is once more being advised to “dump” the other islands.
Today we are hearing praises from the International Community for the functioning of the OECS and its Institutions such as the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank located in St Kitts and the administrative offices of the Organisation of East Caribbean States located in St Lucia. The East Caribbean dollar is among the strongest currencies in the region.
Let us not forget that we are grouped as the Less Developed Countries (LDCs). Cooperating with each other evidently comes more naturally to the smaller and less developed countries than their counterparts in the more developed countries of the region. Perhaps we should be the ones to “dump” the larger territories.
We in the OECS have no gold or diamonds or any other minerals that anyone knows of but we are blessed with beautiful weather and wonderful beaches which are unsurpassed by any other region in the world although we fall directly in the path of the hurricanes which pass through the Caribbean between June and November every year. Unfortunately, we also have a penchant for destruction as demonstrated in the care and husbandry we extend to the natural surroundings given us by the Almighty.
The only other asset we have is our trustworthy, beautiful and capable people, an asset which appears to the older generation to be wasted, as recognition of the tried and tested old standards of accountability, honesty, integrity and morality appear to be losing their appeal under the onslaught of the politicians and a perverted morality. The senior generation sees Caribbean people, who have fought for Independence for over 100 years, are now nations in a Caribbean sea of corruption, floundering without a charted navigable course, compass, or rudder and unable to find the safe harbour called INDEPENDENCE.
Personal self worth of today is so different from the standards of yesteryear. The emphasis before was on thrift and prudent organising of one’s life. Today, seniors see our society intent on spending what we do not have and cannot afford in order to fool ourselves into believing that we can enjoy the same materialistic standards and desires of our North American neighbours.
Yet the OECS with meagre resources have managed to provide an economy which supports our people and provide succour to many from our sister islands. If you need proof of this visit the Immigration Department in St John’s on any day and you will see a quantity of persons attempting to regularise their status in the country. The interesting thing is that the majority of those persons are from the larger territories.
Perhaps there is better leadership in the smaller territories than the larger ones. If that be the case, then heaven help the larger territories because we here in the smaller nations are unhappy with those we have placed in power. But we soldier on in the eternal hope of finding and implementing the answers. Something the Gleaner sees as a waste of time.