Mon | Aug 20, 2018

We need a united and effective CARICOM

Published:Tuesday | July 12, 2016 | 12:00 AM


Well, thank God that the prime ministers of Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago have seen the value and wisdom of face-to-face dialogue rather than engage in the type of jingoistic rhetoric which has characterised dialogue emanating for those who with their narrow agendas will seek to drive a wedge between the two proud nations.

This is an interesting time when current events allow us to look at history for guidance.

The leave decision which we are witnessing with the Brexit vote will ensure that 100 years from now the Europeans will hate the British who they will associate with the potential destruction of the EU. Resentment can run for generations if not centuries.

Small wonder, therefore, that the Jamaican people do no recognise that just 54 years after the break up of the Federation, there is still deep resentment for actions by Jamaica then. Trinidad has hopefully seen that a dramatic change over oil prices globally can cause a cataclysmic result at home. Trinidad must approach the region with humility. Things change rapidly.

Contextually, 54 years ago Jamaica was the big brother to the north and King of the Caribbean who enjoyed a very lavish lifestyle and showed scant regard for their poor siblings to the south. The Jamaican Dollar was then more valuable than the US dollar, the North Coast was the playground of the wealthy Americans, even at the expense of the local black community who was denied access to that playground.

The shoe is now on the other foot. Instead, however, of approaching the region with some humility, the Jamaican approach among a small but vocal individuals has been one of arrogance and a sense of entitlement hiding behind the same Treaty of Chaguaramas that they have given limited support to previously.

This is the time to praise the wisdom of the leaders such as Norman Manley, Eric Williams, Forbes Burnham, Errol Barrow, just to name a few, for their foresightedness long before the EU even contemplated such a move.

What the region needs now more than ever is a united and effective CARICOM, where all member states demonstrate their unequivocal commitment without the threat of any island agitating to pick up it marbles and go when things don't go their way on a specific issue. It requires the burying of egos throughout the region. In a region where we have approximately seven million people in the English speaking CARICOM, we have 14 prime ministers. That is one prime minister for every 500,000 people. To add to this, we have six currencies (US, JA, T&T, Barbados, EC, Guyana), four airlines, etc. We are possibly the most over governed region in the world.

In the words of Ben Franklin, "Gentlemen, if we don't hang together, we will certainly hang alone".


The Caribbean Man