Building a Strong Caribbean in 2017

Submitted by the Mahogany Coconut Group

Caribbean“What then is the future of the Caribbean?

Given its past history, the future of the Caribbean can only be meaningfully discussed in terms of the possibilities for the emergence of an identity of the Caribbean peoples. The whole history of the Caribbean so far can be viewed as a conspiracy to block the emergence of a Caribbean identity-in politics, in its institutions, in economics, in its culture and values. Viewed in its historical perspective, the future way forward for the peoples of the Caribbean must be one which would impel them to start making their own history, to be the subjects rather than the objects of history, to stop being the playthings of other people. In this respect, the Caribbean has so far been the “outsider” of the New World.” Eric Williams from Columbus to Castro page 504

“Once there is true integration among all units of the Caribbean (excluding Puerto Rico for reasons mentioned above), and once all vestiges of political, economic, cultural and psychological dependence and racism have been removed from the Caribbean, then and only then can the Caribbean takes its true place in Latin America and the New World and put an end to the international wars and inter-regional squabbles which, from Columbus to Castro, have marked the disposition of Adam’s will.” Eric Williams from Columbus to Castro page 515.

We at Mahogany Coconut are not overly pessimistic of the year in review. Suffice it to say that we expected the declining fortunes of the Caribbean region to continue. Our optimism springs from our deep belief, that the Caribbean people can and will eventually emerge from this period, triumphant and better equipped to face the new world economy. If we lose this optimism, we see no way forward.

2016 ends with all the economies in the region, fighting for survival and making efforts to hold their heads above water as the world economy, moves toward automation and increased technological efficiencies. We are at present incapable of widely influencing global trends and while we accept this major disadvantage, it should not lead us to despair and hopelessness. Having survived slavery and still n trying to remove and overcome the remnants of a colonial past, we should be aware that is due to our resilience that we have not been knocked out.

We must therefore utilize our profound ability to survive and look inward for solutions. While we respect those who spout isms and meticulously dissect our problems, we fear that sometimes, we lose sight of our historical mission which is to complete the liberation of the region from the past that continues to cause us psychological weakness. Unless we educate our youth about our historical journey and the importance of realizing that the struggle is not yet won, we would continue to look for solutions that are unworkable and problems that should really be molehills would continue to turn into mountains.

We therefore believe that the quotes at the beginning of this comment are instructive. Eric Williams and others have long identified our strengths and weaknesses. It is for us to recognize both and continue to build on the historical mission of One Caribbean Nation.

We wish all a very all the best for 2017 and thank you for your support. We especially wish our Barbados Underground family and all contributors to BU all the best going forward.

William Skinner Mahogany Coconut Group 12/31/16

109 comments

  • @ David,
    ” We are for functional cooperation; a more pragmatic and realistic approach. This One Caribbean unity is pie in the sky stuff.”

    What you need to grasp is that functional cooperation is the first step. We already have functional cooperation in many formal and informal areas. It has already been firmly established that this can be enhanced by going to the next step of One Caribbean Nation. Of course, it will take visionary leaders and thinkers to continue on this path.
    Anybody who differs on this is really dealing in “pie- in- the sky”. Not realists who know that the next step is the only hope for true progress.
    If you think these islands can seriously influence the world by being scattered “independent” units, trying to avoid imperialistic obliteration by foreign super powers, you probably know something that progressive forces in the region have no idea of.
    For your information many said that CARIFTA could not work and that has evolved into CARICOM. Many said that we could never replace the privy council and we are on our way to doing that and at the very beginning independence was scorned by many.
    You see, you are on the wrong side of history – a side that always supposes that change is pie-in-the- sky until it happens.
    My dear friend, there are many who never saw a black president ever being elected in the USA, especially with a name like Barak Obama.
    We could not even see a Usain Bolt coming. Before Bolt nobody saw a Garfield Sobers coming and I could go on and on. So you can continue to call us :ideologues, dreamers, holders of false hope and all of those epithets that you find so useful.

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  • “Bush Tea January 7, 2017 at 9:26 AM #

    @ charles skeete
    You argument about Cuba and scientific research does not hold water. The fact that early pioneers did excellent work does NOT diminish the current outstanding situation.”

    Bushie I never sought to diminish neither Cuba’s outstanding contribution in scientific research neither past or present I am adamant that Cuba’s health care system is no better than ours. We have our faults and they have theirs. I will leave it there.

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  • “William Skinner January 7, 2017 at 12:35 PM #

    @ charles skeete,
    I guess, in your way of thinking, if you are not given a seat on a “board” , you are not to be taken seriously. I guess that all those who spend their time on BU, who do not sit on boards, wear afro jacks and shirt jacks, and walk about with sticks are a useless bunch. All those on BU , who have not published books, that are being used in schools, should also be quickly dismissed.”

    Definitely not and I do not know how you can draw that conclusion having read my submission in totality. I was speaking of persons with international recognition for their literary works like Mr Kamau Brathwathe and Mr George Lamming and Mr Austin Clarke if he can be placed in their category. Apart from having brought personal glory and adulation to themselves by publishing what some regard as outstanding literary works what contribution have they made to their island homes. Al right den. Let me play devil’s advocate. Do you believe that these revered literary giants have made a more outstanding contribution to Barbados than for example Gladstone Holder or Frank Collymore or Louis Lynch or William Rudder who were responsible if truth be told for moulding the minds of thousands of students enabling them to become productive citizens of Barbados.

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  • David
    A Federal form of government is an ideal but it will have to be forced upon Caricom.The big players,in particular the US,will determine when that will be done.Unless unity is mandatory crapeau smoke your pipe;it will remain a pipe dream.The Westminster model gave too much power and authority to one individual and not one of them want that changed.

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  • Do not split hairs William, it is about deepening functional cooperation. Of course it exist on some scale already. Do we have a common airspace? Do we share resources in foreign countries as far as diplomatic missions go? Do we market as a common tourist destination? This is the kind of functional cooperation that will allow us to maximize resources. These small islands will always prefer to be big fishes in a small pond.

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  • @ charles skeete,

    “Do you believe that these revered literary giants have made a more outstanding contribution to Barbados than for example Gladstone Holder or Frank Collymore or Louis Lynch or William Rudder who were responsible if truth be told for moulding the minds of thousands of students enabling them to become productive citizens of Barbados.”

    Collymore influenced Lamming and i know that Lamming has influenced others as well. Lynch Rudder etc all influenced us as well. Lamming’s success along with Tom Clarke’s have influenced countless Barbadian writers and cultural workers. Holder was a great teacher and he also influenced us. I really don’t know what you are using to gauge their individual influences on others. They have all contributed.

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  • @ David,

    “Do we have a common airspace? Do we share resources in foreign countries as far as diplomatic missions go? Do we market as a common tourist destination? This is the kind of functional cooperation that will allow us to maximize resources.”
    The above is exactly why we need One Caribbean Nation.

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  • “Lamming’s success along with Tom Clarke’s have influenced countless Barbadian writers and cultural workers.”

    Obviously they would have influenced or should i say impressed one or two people like yourself but “countless” no way; not in my lifetime and I am in the departure lounge.

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  • Dompey very likely has influenced some people too….

    Such general arguments are not helpful. If we want to speak objectively about the successful performance of persons or organisations, then some more specific performance criteria would need to be defined.
    Anyone who thinks that the Barbados health care system is on par with Cuba’s, certainly have their criteria confused.
    Better how…?
    ..More efficient amputations?
    ..More comfortable waiting arrangements?
    ..Better for private doctors who utilise state facilities for private work?
    ..Better at enticing assistance from foreign nurses and doctors from Africa and China?

    Would you not think that the ability to respond on a grand scale to assist others in medical crises should be a criterion for performance? – but then,… that is community-centric thinking.

    Albino-centric thinking leads us to think that ACQUIRING cheap labour from outsiders is a major asset.

    Don’t you think that preventative strategies to keep citizens healthy is a MUCH more advanced methodology to be employed by government – rather than looking to fund REACTIVE strategies like free drugs and quick amputations?

    Cuba has employed some community-centric social policies that no doubt pisses the albino fans off…..
    — Things like very flat salary structures – where state educated professionals don’t get to lord it over those who paid to put them there…
    … Things like health care that does not depend on your social and financial status
    Those kinds of policies go against the instincts of many – and no doubt such persons will run off to Miami, …or think that the policies are flawed.

    Oil and water do not mix….. nor do community-centric and albino-centric leanings.

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