The Jefferson Cumberbatch Column – Déjà vu All Over Again?

Jeff Cumberbatch – Chairman of the FTC and Deputy Dean, Law Faculty, UWI, Cave Hill

The title of today’s essay is usually credited to the US baseball player, Yogi Berra, a sportsman more celebrated perhaps for the quirkiness of his expressions than for his exploits on the field, even though he was certainly no slouch there, winning more World Series rings than any other player in history. It was he who left us assertions such as, “It ain’t over till it’s over”, “You can observe a lot by just watching” and the perspicuous “A dime ain’t worth a nickel anymore”. In any event, he is reputed to have once claimed in his defence, “I never said most of the things I said”.

My borrowing of Mr Berra’s alleged tautology on this occasion emanates from my ongoing study of the Golding Report, as it will doubtless come to be called; the report of the CARICOM Review Commission appointed by Prime Minister Holness of Jamaica in July 2016 and chaired by Mr Bruce Golding, the former Prime Minister of Jamaica, 2007-2011.

I suppose that it is only natural that after an individual or country has been a member of an organization for a number of years, a sort of ennui sets in and he, she or it should feel the need to assess and review the benefits of that membership. And in his letter of appointment of the Commission, the Prime Minister made this clear when he referred to “the need for an in-depth examination of those aspects of our regional relationships within CARICOM that are not fully meeting their intended objectives”.

I was too young then to have appreciated the regional Federation experiment of the early 1960s, but I have supported, perhaps instinctually, its renaissance in the CARICOM idea. Indeed, as the Right Excellent Errol Barrow once intoned, I, as many others, have experienced and continue to experience regional integration in my daily existence. My profession requires me to be familiar with the laws of each jurisdiction in the region in the courses that I teach and research, I am married to an individual who was not born in this country, my work frequently requires me to enter the other member states and I enjoy immensely the various dishes prepared in the region. I have even served, albeit for a brief while as a justice of appeal in the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court system. Moreover, my period of service on the Regional Judicial and Legal Services Commission has further endeared me to the notion of regional unity from the legal perspective. In sum, I am a quintessential Caribbean man.

None of this blinds me however to the actuality that the progress of our regional experiment has been one of “hold-and-nudge” so far rather than the fluent integration that would have been hoped for by its original architects. This might be owed to the inherent impracticability of the experiment itself, a mutual mistrust among the constituents or selfish and misplaced notions of sovereignty on the part of those responsible for implementing the decisions that may lead to deeper integration. I do not know for sure and a serious examination of the issue as happened with the appointment of the Golding Commission in Jamaica should also be conducted elsewhere in the region.

It may be that some are apprehensive of what such an intensive examination may reveal and are prepared rather to content themselves with face-saving platitudes as to the significance of each the few achievements and of the relative solidarity and comparatively brief existence of the experiment as against those of the European one.

Given the importance of the issue and the voluminousness of the Report, it is clear that a single essay in this space will scarcely suffice to do it justice, so that its adequate analysis may require at least a three-part essay. Today, I propose to examine briefly the Terms of Reference of the Commission and some aspects of its Executive Summary.

Of note among the eight terms of reference is that while these are focused understandably on the assessment of the value of Jamaica’s membership of the Community, they also engage the broader issues of the nature of the organization itself and its functionality.

So that while it was enjoined to “evaluate the effects that Jamaica’s participation in CARICOM has had on its economic growth and development with particular reference to trade in goods and services, investment, international competitiveness and employment”, and to “assess the benefits that Jamaica has derived through functional co-operation within CARICOM institutions and its framework”, it was also commissioned to “analyze CARICOM’s performance against the goals and objectives enunciated in the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas and to identify the causes of the shortcomings” (sic) and to “consider the question of the enlargement of the membership of CARICOM”. The arguably central issue of Jamaica’s relationship with the Caribbean Court of Justice beyond its original jurisdiction (viz. the appellate jurisdiction) was, according to the Report, was specifically excluded from the Commission’s mandate in light of the government’s intention for that to be determined by way of referendum.

It would appear that the Commission consulted widely with a distinguished group of regional personalities and also engaged populist opinion in the country with focus group studies in eight parishes across Jamaica.

Future contributions will treat the text of the report and its principal recommendations, but noteworthy in the Executive Summary is the Commission’s identification of the root causes of CARICOM’s lack of advancement as the “implementation deficit” so prevalent in regional existence. We talk big. It is a different story, however when we have to action our stated intentions. It is as if we are afraid of what we might achieve. The poet Kamau Brathwaite long ago identified a similar timidity in our cricket;

But is always the trouble wid we;

Too ‘fraid and too frighten.

Is all very well when it rosy and sweet

But leh murder start and bruggalungdung

You can’t find a man to hole up di side…

Jamaica has been bold enough in this case at least to ask the question.

To be continued…

24 comments

  • CARICOM must suffer from the “implementation deficit” if all of its members suffer from it. Performance does not matter. Hence, there is no need to set out “SMART” objectives and hold our leaders accountable for achieving those objectives.

    For example, in Barbados, I’m not aware of any political party setting out any “SMART” objectives, e.g. a maximum waiting time at the QEH or clinic by 2022; or a 90% punctuality target for the bus service by 2022. Even if a 75% punctuality target was achieved by 2022 – the Government may say that it improved the punctuality of the bus service, e.g. from 60% in 2018. And argue that it needs another term in Government in order to achieve its 90% punctuality target.

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  • Bernard Codrington

    It is good to have ideals. It gives man the determination to reach these goals even if we achieve 50 % of them. The mere effort of working together on them is edifying and is progress towards unity.

    Implementation deficit may be a phrase clouding the fact that some things are unimplementable , not urgent ,or unnecessary to achieving the real underlying objectives.

    Most of the objectives for which the West Indies Federation was set up were achieved as micro-states in a very loose economic and political constructs ,arrangements and contrivances.

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  • Bernard Codrington

    It is necessary for countries to review Political and Economic arrangements with a view towards ascertaining they being still fit for purpose. We all do this in our professions and social life. It is more necessary for sovereign states in the changing geopolitics.

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  • pieceuhderockyeahright

    Say what you like about the “white man”, the Jews, the Chinese or whatever other competent and efficient race, it is evident that their albinocentricism has one denominator – implementation

    De ole man, being slow and slothful of thought, started to read the Golding Report to see if this highfalluting subject matter that Mr. Jeff Cumberbatch was speaking about could be remotely comprehended by the ole man.

    I decided that given my impediment, my strategy to read the 60 nuff pages would first be to read the Executive Summary and then use its index to focus on topics which jumped out as being its highlights (repagination of the pdf makes the document over 144 pages)

    In short, de ole man only able to unnerstan de pictures.

    The first 20 pages are a harsh indictment of Caricom countries that, of themselves, represent failed, or failing, economies, present countries ruled by visionless leaders, and mout giants, for the most part, which operate under outdated, inflexible political systems, further compromised by inefficient supporting administrations and, to top it all off, have limited natural resources.

    A careful examination of intraregional trade presents a macrocosm? of the snow cone cart proliferation that attends the local mentality namely when one fellow mekking money with snow Cones, EVERYBODY WANT TO BUY A SNOW CONE MACHINE OR MINIBUS

    The report is replete with statistics of the stupidity of duplication of the same products being manufactured within this constrained enclave and the ensuing difficulties for there being meaningful trade among its member states

    The report embodies “a pretend Swiss manufactured watch” insofar as on its surface, Caricom seeks to approximate the reputation and efficiency of other symbiotic unions, but has failed, because, internally, one notes how its constituent cogs and gears either DO NOT EXIST OR WHERE THEY DO EXIST, DO SO IN SCARCE QUANTITIES OR the gears’interfaces do not work harmoniously.

    Take for example the Caribbean Export example where its management is purported to be campaigning to transfer the entity back to Jamaica from Barbados.

    Similar insular, myopic nepotisms abound, from line ministries to country level.

    The nepotism is so engrained that it manifests itself in visceral forms e.g. during the SVG incarceration of Yugge Farrell, a commentator can say “dem small island Vincentians deserve whu Gonzales doing to dem”

    Yet that is no different to “dem Bajans feel dem great” or “banner, dem Guyanese injuns dis and dat …”

    Caricom is an amalgamation of its constituent parts and its is clear that its appendages are infected and that notwithstanding all the years that have elapsed we have not dealt with these niggling issues that have and continue to divide us

    “Implantation” can only follow in an ecosystem where there is a currency of volition

    such cannot auto combust in and among a nation of “lost people” without individual purpose and certainly no national, nor collective psyche.

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  • pieceuhderockyeahright

    *implementation not implantation

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  • de pedantic Dribbler

    Dean Jeff, how apropos is your Yogism “A dime ain’t worth a nickel anymore”. Was it ever, really!

    There is talk of Bajan devaluation but were we ever worth half of a US buck…Yogi’s concept was quite ‘perspicuous’ there surely.

    Was the Federation ever really viable led as it was by the minnow down south when the maguffy Jamaica differed (or dithered maybe) and Trinidad protested. More nickel and diming.

    What has evolved now is probably as natural as was ever to be. Trinidad n Tobago dominate our corporate landscape with Jamaica also a very dominate corporate player and in other regional spheres their voice and influence is strong.

    Surely as you suggest, if 10 cents is not worth five cents these days then there should be an automatic review by regional organizations of their effectiveness and a natural ordering of dissolution or amalgamation where necessary in appreciation of that natural devaluation.

    The Holding report is timely and useful undoubtedly but generally these things seems like another Yogism (in context): Baseball (POLITICS) is 90% mental and the other half is physical (REPORTS AND MONEY).

    And the aborted Federation experiment with our region in a morass of drugs, guns and corruption suggests that “[y]ou’ve got to be very careful if you don’t know where you are going, because you might not get there.

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  • @PUDRYR

    Have a read of today’s Sunday Sun front page. Golding has recommended Jamaica leave CSME in five years if there is not more activity to achieve the aims of CARICOM. Has Jamaica done enough to move the integration movement along.

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  • de pedantic Dribbler

    David, has Jamica done enough to move Jamaica along? Or TNT their country, Bajans ours and the Guyanese et al theirs ?

    We can’t talk of moving Caricom along if the constituent countries are locked in their own internal petty squabbles as Pieces noted and can’t also overcome the insular BS that also bubbles up.

    Frankly how different is PM Holness’ attitude to that of his predecessors Manley Sr and Bustamante…Can’t Dr Rowley adopt a similiar stance to reflect Dr Williams’ infamously wry remark that reflected the prowess Jamaica had then and to this day remains of its impact to any Caribbean-wide success.

    We can cuss the Jamaicans all we want (that nasty ‘local call’ hell joke on the net is quite nasty) but they were indignant in ’61 and frankly no reason for them not to be so now also.

    They has done some awesome things even as they have faltered with that political violence and criminal problems so we can’t only blame Caricom failures on their ‘1 from 10 equals zero’ attitude.

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  • pieceuhderockyeahright

    @The Honourable Blogmaster

    That is the final recommendation in theGolding Report.

    Page xiv to xviii gives the recommendations which read like a Truth Commission.

    As simplistic as this will seem the ultimatum that Golding submits has its merits.

    It will force some sort of action for an organization that has been in stasis from the uterus

    “Together we stand, divided we fall…”

    It has been the confirmed history of enslaved people that they, rather, WE only act when forc3d by the whip of oppression and subjugation

    Our performance is proportional to the depth that the whip tears into our skin

    At 2018, the global bullpistle is tearing cartilage and consequently we can expect enforced benefits

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  • @PUDRYR

    The point is that Jamaica has done nothing material to encourage the CSME project to work. It is ironic Jamaica finds itself forcing an ultimatum. BU doubts Jamaica is committed to the CSME project and favours the Bahamas path. Notwithstanding what you have posited.

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  • PM Thompson said something that a lot of us overlooked but its true to what is happening. I cant remember word for word but he said something like CSME seems to be stalling not because people dont want it to work, but because the electorate was responsible for the winds of political change from around that period 2006-2008. So you have different heads of government that wasnt involved to the creation of the CSME and its forward movement.

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  • Golding and the Bustamante infected insular looking Jamaica Labour Party will never be forgiven by pragmatic Regionalists, who know the value of a United West Indies,for scuppering the Federal Government.The UK government must take some of the blame for that failure because it should have been cast in concreted language that there was to be no one state opting out of the Union without some very stringent clauses like what Theresa May is now understanding which god she is serving.We are mindful that Kingston voted to remain like London voted to remain.There can be no meaningful CSME without a sea and air transport link and some serious inter regional trade in goods and services.What Jamaica is benefitting from is the ability of some of its citizens to move within the Region at will and ply their ganja and flesh trades.Jamaica need to find work for its people and stop their forced emigration toTrinidad, Guyana,Barbados,Antigua,Bahamas,Cayman,Turks and East Caribbean states.
    Finally,any relook at the CSME should have been the remit of a group made up of UWI and other Regional Institutions and not a one man show by a failed politician who made some serious miscalculations during his in incumbency.One day Mr Monroe will come visiting all yuh ass.

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  • Piece Uh De Rock Yeah Right

    @ The Honourable Blogmaster

    While much truth lies in the historical perspective and seeming current inclination of Jamaica to leave the CSME, I would still posit that what Golding is doing MAY present an unintentional “going south to end up north” scenario

    It is the single blatant pronouncement of the Golding Report that they propose to leave the CSME.

    De ole man humbly suggests that IT IS NOT UNTIL the individual and collective governments that will remain assess the nature of the threat to the international Piggy Bank that feeds the CARICOM member states, this will cause the quadriplegic community to try to do something.

    When the parasites at CARICOM start to realize that their per diems and shopping trips and airport transfers that have been paid for over 50 years WITHOUT ANY ACCOUNTABILITY will dry up, you can bet that they will pretend that they are doing something

    One from ten leaves zero

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  • Making the rounds on Facebook is the following, BU’s read of the situation is that this is a position taken by the government twice a year under both administration.

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  • ” February 13, 2018

    “The economy is on the mend, with the Statistical Institute’s measure of the unemployment rate dipping in October to a nine-year low and down sharply from July. Labor market improvements were most marked for women, with female employment surging year-on-year. In addition, tourism numbers rose at a robust pace in 2017 thanks to a greater number of U.S. visitors.”

    https://www.focus-economics.com/countries/jamaica

    It is possible that Jamaica is looking to future prosperity.

    @ Piece Uh De Rock Yeah Right, I am still in the Diaspora Corner with a more Grace ful

    less intense distraction. lol

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  • Piece Uh De Rock Yeah Right

    @ Hants

    For everything under the sun there is a time and a season.

    She sings really well, some people are truly blessed with a voice

    Notwithstanding ….. and you dun know that those dots of continuum still intimate de ole man affinity for ….

    Speaking of said topic…. the subject matter triggered a thought on anatomy and caused me to wondering what has become of the Walther PPK?

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  • Having not had the time to listen to the debate in the House last week, I was using a little of my relaxation time this evening to listen to the speeches on you tube………..I could not believe the bad manners of Donville Inniss along with gruff voice John Boyce………..you call that ragging?

    The man spoke over George Payne for his full half hour and the deputy speaker only at the end asked that the member be heard.

    What a disgrace………….what a wild boy! unmannerly……….and we wonder why the young people are the way they are……….one would think that he would be in a more sombre mode with the death of his brother………smh.

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  • @Prodigal Son

    John Boyce’ brother is dead?

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  • @David

    Donville Inniss’

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  • The one who is was the teacher?

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  • The obituary said he was employed by Marshall Trading and the Psychiatric Hospital.

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  • @ Piece Uh De Rock Yeah Right,

    I am doing a little reading so as to understand how CSME works.

    https://caricom.org/caricom-single-market-and-economy

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  • @ Brother Hants

    You mean “is supposed to work” surely?

    Withing the Development Community the respective annual reports of these Regional and National Agencies are referred to as Caribbean Fairy Tales.

    Or Reading to Cure Insomnia

    As a region we are not taken seriously, you know that you are taken seriously when you find yourself among the list of countries that the Orange Orangutan or his predecessors clamour to visit.

    In fact I have mispoken, you know that you are a serious contender when senior Chinese and Japanese officials throng to visit you, then the Orangutan and his administration follows.

    Visits by Prince Harry dont count or only categorize you as places within the commonwealth which qualify by virtue of an incontrovertible birthdate of some longevity which the docorum of the colonizers necessitates that a visit be made.

    We ent really ready Brother Hants.

    We jes “finessing” as per the slang of the young peeples

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  • Largely on the basis of this identification, Mr. Gatling’s lawyers persuaded him to plead guilty — in the middle of his trial. After all, he faced the possibility of being sent to the electric chair. So Mr. Gatling pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 30 years to life in prison. (Ne w York Times)

    This is what plea bargaining does. This will have a pernicious effect on our criminal justice system. Will UPP, Solutions Barbados or a future BLP government remove the plea bargaining legislation?

    Like

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