CARICOM Under Threat
It is ironic that it is the Prime Minister of Jamaica Bruce Golding who has been reported to say ‘there are a number of things that are happening now that are destabilising and threatening the existence of Caricom,” Golding said at Monday evening’s launch of Export Week at the Knutsford Court Hotel in Kingston. The political integration that is being pursued by Trinidad and a number of countries in the Eastern Caribbean may very well be commendable, but I believe that it is at the detriment to the deepening and strengthening of Caricom’ how very ironic indeed.
It is just over 47 years that Jamaica along with Trinidad and Tobago would have been at the centre of the controversy which gave rise to the subtraction, 1 from 10 leave 0. Prime Minister Golding promised Jamaicans that he will be pushing to have a definitive position enunciated by CARICOM at the next Heads of Government meeting to be held in Guyana to paint a more vivid picture of the status of the regional movement.
What has become singularly evident in recent months has been the dearth of leadership on display within the CARICOM union. The antics of several CARICOM members on issues of immigration and trade especially demonstrates the concern many have for the future of the movement. Thirty five years later the vision for Caribbean integration movement needs to be reinvigorated, some say dismantled!
The initiative Prime Minister Patrick Manning of Trinidad and Tobago to forge a union with the OECS, on the face of the decision undermines CARICOM and reflects BU belief that there is a dearth of leadership. The explanation of by Prime Minister Dr. Denzil Douglas’ about the rise of the union is instructive. He suggests that the proposed T&T and OECS union can be used as a model for CARICOM to follow if it is successful. Implied in his statement is the resignation that the CARICOM movement has become paralyzed and many hurdles exist which appear insurmountable at this time.
Whatever the spin our leaders, academics and intellectuals make of the situation, it is evident to some that the Trinidad and OECS alliance is being given birth out of severe birth pains from deep within the womb of CARICOM.
Further evidence of the labour pains being experienced by CARICOM is the willingness of St. Vincent, St. Kitts and Dominica to join ALBA, a grouping dedicated to furthering the ideals of South and Central American companies. We could also reference the disparate foreign policy practiced by some CARICOM members to recognize Iran and Taiwan which is at odds with the majority in the group. This fragmented foreign policy of CARICOM countries is a glaring example of the immaturity of the movement despite 35 years of trying.
What is the way forward?
Text book thinking suggests that the pooling of resources which exist in the region to facilitate economies of scale maybe the way to go. Commonsense suggests that the challenges fuelled by insularity and naked political ambitions may yet proved to be significant hurdles to overcome,