An interesting news item this week centred around Prime Minister Mia Mottley who continues to loom large on the local, regional and dare twe suggest the international stage? Mottley has attracted the ire of some in the legal community for suggestions made at the recent Regional Symposium: Violence As a Public Health Issue organized by CARICOM.
We need to start rotating judges and magistrates in the region to ensure that there is not the familiarity with counsel and other circumstances and things that people take for granted.
Who better than Mottley to understand some of the challenges our legal system continues to pose. She has been immersed in the moribund system for all of her life and if caught in an informal conversation after a stiff drink and a ‘smoke’ may admit she has been a contributor to the flawed system over the years.
Please find attached an English translation of a recent statement from a number of Haitian civil society organisations on the looming threat of a Canadian invasion of that country. I hope you will be able to publicise this statement as it gives the people of the wider Caribbean an opportunity to hear what people in Haiti think about this planned invasion.
Thanking you in advance for your support.
Submitted by Tee White with the above cover note:
The Caribbean must not remain the sounding board of former colonial powers and slaveholders that have now become imperialist powers
Honourable Heads of Government of the following States:
Antigua & Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, St Kitts & Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent & The Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad & Tobago, Turks & Caicos,
We, the signatory Haitian organisations, have learned that the 44th Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) will be held in Nassau, Bahamas, on February 15 and 16. This Conference will be marked by the presence of the Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, as a special guest and that of Ariel Henry, the much maligned de facto Prime Minister imposed on the Haitian people by the Core Group*.
Nassau The Bahamas – Political Leader and Activist Lincoln Bain and other peaceful protesters were arrested by the government yesterday 15 th February, 2023, as they attempted to protest the Illegal Immigration situation in the Country during CARICOM.
Bain along with the other protesters are being held illegally without charges until the CARICOM meeting that is being held in the Bahamas from 15 th to the 17 th February 2023 at the Baha Mar Resort, Cable Beach is concluded.
Protesters were blocked from entering the area of the hotel and directed to an area further away, where they were then followed by the officers, who commenced to harass and then arrest and assault the women in the crowd, punching some in the face and slamming and stomping another to the ground.
The indefatigable social commentator @KammieHolder tagged the blogmaster recently on a Facebook comment to highlight an issue he was having at the time with intra regional travel. The following interesting article written by @BrianSamuel posted to Caribbean Journal severl years ago was the result. The content is as relevant today as it was when it was written – Blogmaster
There’s no cheap travel within the Caribbean. Unlike Greece and other island archipelagos, virtually all travel within the Caribbean is by air. And as we all know, travelling by air within the Caribbean is, to put it mildly, “challenging”. For starters it costs a fortune to fly. As at mid-2014, average LIAT air fares were more than four times higher than intra-European air fares, on a per-mile basis. It often costs more to fly to a neighbouring Caribbean island than to New York.
Between 2010 and 2014, LIAT’s average fares increased by about 40 percent. It would be tempting to put this increase down to higher fuel prices; but sadly, this is not the case. Although global oil prices did increase over this period; given that fuel generally accounts for no more than half of an airline’s operating costs; it is evident that “something else” has been driving up LIAT’s prices. Whatever the reason, it is the beleaguered Caribbean traveller that bears the cost.
Not only that – it takes forever. Last month I did six takeoffs and landings in one day, to get from Trinidad to Saint Thomas. This was a new world record, for me at any rate. Six flights by themselves wouldn’t be so bad but it’s all the palaver in between. You get off the plane, get strip searched in the transit lounge; then get back on the same plane. It’s enough of a hassle when things go right; not to mention when things go wrong. As it does. Often.
We don’t visit each other. Our politicians talk endlessly about Caribbean unity; yet at the border we’re given the third degree. Only a small percentage of intra-regional travellers are on holiday; most are flying because they have to. It’s therefore not surprising that intra-Caribbean travel has been declining: LIAT’s passenger numbers have shrunk from 1.1 million in 2008 to 850,000 in 2013. Despite this falloff in its revenue base, LIAT last year invested US$260 million in a complete replacement of its fleet, switching from the tried and trusted Dash-8 to ATRs. Would you invest US$260 million of your own money into such a failing airline? Congratulations; you just did; LIAT’’s loans are all guaranteed by its government shareholders.
Yet we’ve got plenty of reasons to visit each other. The Caribbean has no shortage of carnivals, festivals, regattas or dozens of other reasons to have a riproaringly wanton time for a few days – these are but a few:
CARIBBEAN FESTIVALS: WHEN Party Time Is All The Time
Trinidad Carnival – Feb/March
Dominica Carnival – Feb/March
Carriacou Maroon Festival – April
St Lucia Jazz Festival – May
St Kitts Music Festival – June
St Lucia Carnival – July
Barbados Cropover – Early August
Carriacou Regatta – Early August
Grenada Carnival – Mid-August
St Kitts Carnival – December
You cannot buy a seat for love nor money. During carnival time in the Caribbean (i.e. most of the time), air travel in the region becomes murderous; because heaven forbid that LIAT would do something as radical as putting on extra flights in response to regional demand spikes. Every year a Trinidadian ferry does a special charter for Grenada Carnival; and every year it’s filled to the gills. But for most of the year we do not travel – because we can’t afford to. This is when we are crying out for a ferry.
We talk about sports tourism; yet it is prohibitively expensive to send sporting teams on tour in the Caribbean. This year the English cricket team – and their fanatical followers the Barmy Army – will descend on the Caribbean. And all the games are being played in the Eastern Caribbean. Can you imagine a creatively packaged ferry tour, catering to boisterous English cricket fans, following their team around the Caribbean? They would love it! Instead, we deliver them into the arms of LIAT – and say a prayer. This is when we are crying out for a ferry.
There are dozens of regional events, where attendance would undoubtedly be much greater, were it not for the high travel costs involved. Church groups, youth groups, community groups – just about any group of Caribbean people love to go on an “outing”. We used to go on outings to neighbouring islands, by inter-island schooners. We don’t do that anymore; nowadays we fly. Or rather we don’t fly; because it costs too much. There are family connections between all the islands of the Eastern Caribbean; everyone has that that they have not seen for too long. Repeat: this is when we are crying out for a ferry.
But wait, we DO have ferries. Indeed, there are 11 ferry companies currently operating in the Eastern Caribbean, running a total of 21 boats. These range from modern fast roll-on roll-off (Ro-Ro) ships that accommodate passengers, cars and trucks; to rusty old cargo “schooners” So, the question has to be asked: If there is this crying need for inter-island ferry services, why don’t more ferry companies offer cross-border services?
“It’s a nightmare!” say the ferry operators; with regard to the bureaucracy, cost and time involved in taking a vessel from one island to another. Only one company, L’Express des Iles out of Martinique, operates across international borders. All the other ferries stick within their national boundaries: Trinidad to Tobago; Grenada to Carriacou; St. Vincent to the Grenadines, etc.
The problem stems from the archaic, cumbersome rules regulating international marine trading in the Caribbean. These rules desperately need to be simplified and harmonized, so that all regional jurisdictions will be reading from the same book – literally.
Ferries are cheaper than flying. The average fare charged by the 11 ferry companies in the Eastern Caribbean works out to US$1.06 per mile. This is about 65 percent of the average cost per mile of LIAT fares, as at mid-2014.
Speed is expensive. One of the main determinants of ferry fares is the speed of the vessel. Fares charged by the region’s fast ferry operators are almost twice as high as the traditional slow boats. Sailing time between Trinidad and Grenada is 6 hours at 15 knots, and 4.5 hours at 20 knots. However, that additional 5 knots would result in a doubling of the fare – speed is expensive in boats.
Ferries are for short distances. Realistically, ferry voyages should be no more than about 4 to 5 hours duration; unless they are overnight trips. You have to take account of sea conditions. Hence, it is not feasible to consider a ferry route from Trinidad to Barbados; otherwise the boat would earn the same nickname as one particularly uncomfortable regional ferry: the vomit comet!
Don’t forget the tourists. In a survey conducted in 2014 among the UK’s leading tour operators; 75 percent of respondents felt that many of their clients (10 percent or more) would be interested in using a ferry service in the Eastern Caribbean. In 2013, the Eastern Caribbean received 1.3 million tourists; 10 percent of that is 130,000 potential ferry customers. That’s a pretty good base to start with.
Potential ferry routes: Based on established linkages among the sub-regions of the Eastern Caribbean, possible ferry routes include:
Northern Caribbean: Historically there are close links among the islands of the Northern Caribbean; where people move freely, seemingly immune from visa and other restrictions. The sub-region is served by ferries from Antigua to Barbuda, and from St. Kitts to Nevis; but there is no regular regional service.
Barbados-Saint Lucia: Both islands are major regional tourist destinations; however they offer vastly different products. Tour operators report that although their clients are interested in multi-destination holidays; they don’t like to fly – particularly on LIAT. A fast, safe ferry between both islands, where the journey becomes a scenic attraction in itself, would be popular among tourists. And, importantly, Saint. Lucia is the easiest point from which to sail to Barbados, where the Atlantic waters can sometimes be “a bit frisky”.
The Grenadines: The quintessential island-hopping experience; including the world famous Tobago Cays. There is a great deal of inter-island movement among the Southern Grenadines, most of which occurs in small informal boats and goes completely unrecorded. There is no scheduled ferry service between Carriacou (Grenada) and Union Island (Saint Vincent); you have to charter a private boat to cross this short stretch of water, from whence you can pick up a ferry to the rest of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.
Trinidad-Grenada: “Scratch a Trini; you find a Grenadian.” There are strong linkages between Trinidad and Grenada. Successive administrations from both countries have tried to launch ferry projects – all without success. Between LIAT and CAL there are about 5 direct flights per day; plus connections via Saint Vincent and Barbados. For low-cost travel, many people sail on the cargo vessels plying the Grenada-Trinidad trade; which are limited to 12 passengers per trip, and are far from comfortable. There is no doubt that a ferry service, charging fares significantly lower than air fares, could double the size of the travelling public between Trinidad and Grenada – or more.
If a ferry service is so badly needed; why hasn’t it happened up to now? Caribbean Rose, Bedy Lines Limited, Fast Caribbean Ltd: just three of the failed project initiatives within living memory – there are many, many more. There are many reasons why these projects failed to launch, including:
Most of them originated from unsolicited proposals submitted to one government; there has been no coordinated regional ferry project involving all the regional governments.
The economics of Caribbean fast ferry projects are often marginal, with untried routes, high operating costs and limited ability to pay on the part of the travelling public.
None of the participating governments have thus far been willing to commit subsidy funds to a regional ferry project.
Some of the vessels proposed by investors were not suitable for the intended purpose.
Is a regional ferry viable? I do not know; but I suspect that it could be. With the right structure and support; and given enough time for the concept of inter-island travel by ferry to catch on (again); I believe that a regional ferry service could become a self-sustaining commercial enterprise. It would probably require a subsidy, at least (hopefully only!) in the early years.
The key is low fares. People will not go through the extra travel time, unless there are substantial dollar savings to be made. Although a ferry would be expected to take away some demand from air travel; the real benefit of a ferry would be to expand the market, by making regional more affordable than at present.
You need lots of bodies. Let’s look at for example the Trinidad to Grenada route. Based on my own back of envelope calculations; a ferry would require about 120 passengers to break even on a Trinidad to Grenada voyage. This is based on current regional prices for diesel fuel.
Let’s drive. How difficult can it be, for the governments in the region to get together and do away with the cumbersome rules currently regulating the temporary movement of motor vehicles across Caribbean borders? There are plenty of international precedents to learn from. Apparently, the simple is impossible. But allowing the inter-island movement of vehicles would be a game-changer for intra-Caribbean travel; just look at Europe.
Public or private? After our grim experiences of government-run airlines throughout the Caribbean, the last thing we need is a “LIAT-on-sea”. Although governments of the region would play a critical role in launching and regulating the regional ferry; governments should leave the business of business where it belongs: in the private sector.
Donors support is essential. Undoubtedly, some international organization will have to take a leading role, in order to shepherd this regional project from concept to reality. The World Bank is ideally placed to lead the effort, but let us not forget our home-grown development institutions: CARICOM, CDB and the OECS.
The best way to get the best deal is to bid it out. Project preparation is an extremely expensive business; and someone has to make that “leap of faith” to take the project forward. In other words: spend money – a lot of it. Once we have this project champion/benefactor; we can then get on with the hard work of structuring and bidding out a regional ferry operation.
Just do it. This is a project that’s been dying to happen, for a long time. With the right support from regional governments and development institutions, this long-awaited, much-needed project can finally become a reality.
This article grew out of a consulting assignment Samuel undertook for the World Bank in preparing a paper entitled: “Improving Eastern Caribbean States’ Regional Competitiveness Through Tourism.”
S. Brian Samuel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Note: the opinions expressed in Caribbean Journal Op-Eds are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Caribbean Journal.
There is the popular expression credited to Sir Winston Churchill ‘never let a good crisis go to waste’. It is believed Churchill’s reference had to do with an alliance formed after World War II between himself (UK), Stalin (Soviet Union) and Roosevelt (USA) which resulted in the formation of the United Nations. It is possible that out of chaos can come order to quote another.
It is ironic the world is again witnessing a crisis that if left unchecked could escalate to nuclear war. The battle between Russia – successor to the Soviet Union – and the Ukraine – former member of the Soviet Union – is another indictment of mankind. What cannot be denied is that the conflict will continue to negatively impact the global economy because Russia and Ukraine are major suppliers of wheat, oil and other commodities. There is also the collateral effect of speculators who influence price in the global financial markets.
What an epoch unfolding!
The conflict in Eastern Europe lest we forget is occurring at a time the global community is waging another ‘battle’ against the Covid 19 pandemic. It is a time we are reminded by members of the nonsecular fraternity that “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in heavenly places” – Ephesians 6:12. To pragmatists the opportunity to create opportunities arising from crises is the goal while others remain anchored to being idealistic with perennial talk of end times. Truth be told for the blogmaster’s life and parents before this has been the refrain – soon come.
Conscious of the need to promote in the Community the highest level of efficiency in the production of goods and services especially with a view to maximising foreign exchange earnings on the basis of international competitiveness, attaining food security, achieving structural diversification and improving the standard of living of their peoples;
The conflict between Russia and Ukraine hopefully will galvanize a lazy political class to focus on food security for the region. Even if it is at the eleventh hour. Ever since the Treaty of Chaguaramas was established members have failed to exploit the resources of the region for collective benefit of citizens. The approach by leaders of CARICOM has been to feed inflated egos by luxuriating in the high offices of the land. Citizens of the region must hold themselves accountable by raising the decibel level on a dissenting voice, be as passionate to protest as is presently being demonstrated because of the Russia/Ukraine conflict.
The same can be hoped for regarding if we have learned from the Covid 19 pandemic. Are we satisfied our businesses have re-engineered storefronts to efficiently deliver products and services to the public if the pandemic escalates or another emerges? What about the public service – what is the status of the project to make it fit for purpose? Should another pandemic or event occur that requires a shutdown to face to face service, does it mean a large number of public servants sent home to suck indefinitely from the nipples of taxpayers?
It is two years and counting since the Covid 19 pandemic started and eight years the Russia/Ukraine conflict has been in the making with fighting in the Donbas regions. Are our leaders fiddling while CARICOM is burning?
Just over two months ago (10th August), I questioned the wisdom of granting four airlines either new to Barbados or restoring previous services, permission to operate inter-Caribbean routes, presumably to help soak up any loss created by the failure of LIAT (1974) Ltd.
What was even more surprising is that all four carriers responded positively to the invitation before the reduction in the current crippling airline taxes promised by our leaders many months ago.
With all three (Canada, United States and United Kingdom) of our major markets now considered high risk and a recent poll conducted in the UK at the end of September, indicating that only 11 per cent of adults who participated in the survey were planning to travel internationally in the next six months.
The question comes back to the same one posed before, why are we not at least targeting lower risk areas like the announced Caricom Caribbean Community Travel Bubble arrangement , that was slated to be in effect by 18th September?
With carefully crafted hotel/flight inclusive packages, this would at least give some hope to the beleaguered airlines, several of which are fighting for their mere existence.
The ‘Bubble’ was agreed to at an emergency session meeting of the Caricom heads of Government on11th September at which they acknowledged ‘that the past six months have been a very challenging period globally and regionally, as countries have struggled to cope with the effects of the novel coronavirus’.
Noting ‘that for Caricom, it had been particularly difficult, given the high dependence in most of the economies on the travel and tourism sectors’.
The Government heads originally agreed that travellers from countries within the Bubble will be allowed entry without being subjected to PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) testing prior to arrival and would also not have to undergo quarantine restrictions.
Sadly last week (10th October), the Daily Observer (reported that Antigua’s Minister of Information, Melford Nicholas had advised that this had been revised and ‘it was decided that a negative PCR test will nowhave to be presented’, creating further doubt and confusion.
Travellers may however be subjected to screening on arrival and on the condition and must confirm they did not transit or travel to a high-risk country, either 14 or 21 days preceding arrival, the duration depending on which advisory you read.
Are we back to the same old stumbling block, the inability to follow-through and implement cross regional policies, in anything approaching a timely manner?
The outcome is that already some of these enticed carriers are starting to cancel scheduled and advertised services, as there is simply not sufficient demand to sustain four additional airlines at this time.
Could that demand, at least partially, be created with innovative marketing strategies and more affordable airfares?
The average Black West Indian should be aware of the The Middle Passage. As a youngster the blogmaster recalls his effort to visualize Africans shackled and crammed into boat to be transported from Africa to the West Indies and sold into bondage. It case we forget there was a dark period in the history of the world Blacks were legally regarded as ‘chattel’, no better than a mule or donkey.
The lineage of Black people living in the Caribbean means there will always be an inextricable connection between the West Indies and Africa. It is unfortunate our people have allowed North American and Eurocentric influences to permeate our psyche to wreak havoc to our identity.
It was reported last week that 54 African countries signed a letter asking the United Nations Human Rights Council to schedule a debate on police brutality against Black people around the world. It is a matter of record the killing of George Floyd in the USA has triggered a Black Lives Movement reminiscent of the 50s and 60s when MLK, Malcolm X, Marcus Garvey and others were at the forefront of the fight for civil and political rights of our people.
…In a letter written on behalf of 54 African countries, Burkina Faso’s ambassador to the UN in Geneva asked the UN’s top rights body for an “urgent debate” on “racially inspired human rights violations, police brutality against people of African descent and the violence against the peaceful protests that call for these injustices to stop…
As a proud Black man the blogmaster must share his disappointment at the lack of a strident response to the killing of George Floyd by CARICOM. All reasonable people agree it is a manifestation of institutionalized racism in the USA and global citizens have been galvanized to protest the need for urgent reform.
A scan of the official website of Caricom.org reveals no adequate communications posted to capture the prevailing sentiment of the people living in the region. Our Caricom leaders under the current chairmanship of Mia Mottley have failed us at a pivotal moment in the history of the world. Our nexus to Africa created the opportunity to add our voice to those of the 54 African countries who represent the Mother Country. How are we expected to forge and improve relations with African countries but are miles apart on how to correctly react to the matter of the Black Lives Movement? This has nothing to do with jumping on any bandwagon. Again the idea of cognitive dissonance keeps recurring. What message are our leaders sending to the masses?
It is no wonder we have to tolerate individuals who lack the understanding of the moment by insisting we should let the USA fight this matter alone. Why are White people protesting around the globe? Some of us have family residing in the USA. Some of us have relatives studying in the USA. Some of us may have reason to travel to the USA. Most of us are Black. Most important, a strike against humanity is simply that and should evoke the same response in humans everywhere.
Even the Germans are protesting for crissakes!
The poor response by Caricom to describe it mildly is a disappointment and although the perfect scenario is to strike when hot, it is not too late to offer redress. Now is not the time to be apolitical. Now is not the time to engage in racial distancing.
As the Caribbean region diligently turns to what is hopefully the “new norm” or the post COVID-19 era, we note the tentative baby steps, in what will be a giant undertaking. Caribbean social and political culture is steeped in the “creep before you can walk” philosophy, and from all indications, this gradualism or “old norm”, will continue, as we confront the “new norm”. It seems almost like a cautionary tale affliction.
The MCG understands this approach because the indelible scars of a people still caught in defeating the psychological remnants of brutal slavery and now persistent post slave and post-colonial eras , cannot be expected , to be exceptionally capable or aggressively confident of understanding or even capturing and developing their true worth. We therefore always seem to be taking baby steps in socio economic development.
From the Federation experiment to the present post-independence period, we seem to be creeping forever. This almost pathetic reality has frustrated progressive forces since the mid-sixties. The failure of the Grenada Revolution was almost the final nail in the coffin of radicalism, but we persevere.
The COVID-19 has exposed this frightening and self-defeating reality. When will we, the mighty people we are, RISE as was instructed by Marcus Garvey, so many decades ago?
Communications Officer MCG
The following blog reflects concern about food security in a Trinidad and Tobago context, however, the message rings true for the majority of countries in the region including Barbados. It raises the perennial concern that Caricom has not been able to implement solutions to address concerns about the need for food security for its member. Thanks to Tee White sharing the link with the blogmaster.
Yesterday the Prime Minister announced that all restaurants and food vendors will be ordered to cease the sale of food until the COVID-19 virus is under control in T&T. Rowley’s announcement seemed to have inspired a civil war as many have been led to believe that this decision was the result of pressure from disgruntled doubles vendors. However while the country is locked in a senseless argument about whether KFC is “essential” or not, a larger, more pressing issue that has haunted our country for our entire history looms larger than ever. That is, the question of food sovereignity.
As a small island nation with a dormant manufacturing sector, almost every item that is consumed- from clothes, to electronics and especially food- is imported from abroad. But as the COVID infection continues to rip throughout the world without abating, entire industries are being forced to shut down due to concerns about the safety of workers and the wider population. If this virus isn’t brought under control, there is the very real possibility of our nation having to forgo imported goods for as long as the world needs for this virus to relent.
This is a frightening possibility, especially given the fact that our agriculture industry isn’t even a major industry anymore. What would the future hold for the 1.3 million people who live here with our source of sustainance gone? “Too late, too late!” shall be the cry as we would finally understand how important it would have been for our nation to feed itself.
What can the government do (perhaps more poignantly- what would an MSJ government do) in order to revive agriculture in a way that can save us from impending disaster?
It begins with incentivising agriculture. At this point, this is where defenders of past and present agri-policy would interject and list the various incentives that exist for farmers locally. However, none of these incentives address a fundamental problem affecting farmers- the purchasing of agricultural produce.
By importing cheap food that has been mass produced on industrial farms in other countries, we have flooded our own nation with cheap produce which has made it difficult for local farmers to compete. The higher cost of local goods have discouraged both retailers and consumers from buying local. As a result, farmers continue to struggle despite the numerous incentives that are available. However these incentives mean nothing if farmers can’t even get their produce sold.
Therefore it is important that the purchase of local goods are guaranteed by law. Under the MSJ, all supermarkets and other retailers must first purchase products from local farmers before turning to outside sources to fill their shelves. In doing so not only would we provide a stable and steady source of income for local farmers but we would also cut down on the loss of foreign exchange- the shortage of which has triggered yet another crisis in T&T. In addition to mandating the purchase of local food products, the cost of these items will be offset through government subsidies. Why has this not been done before? This oversight can be easily attributed to apathy and nonchalance, but we see something more sinister. The retailers and traders locally have amassed great fortunes through the buying and re-selling of imported goods. From supermarkets to fast food restaurants, the business elite have been able to influence government policy for their benefit and theirs alone. Funds generated from this un-innovative business model have been used to fund political parties and keep politicians in their pockets- hence the lack of interest by both major parties to develop agriculture.
There are other reasons to avoid foreign food products. Last year, the world was horrified as we witnessed the destruction of the Amazon rainforest at the hands of the Brazilian government. The Amazon is being destroyed because the president of Brazil has practically sold large swaths of the forest to agribusinessmen, who are turning the Lungs of the Earth into mega-farms. Many meat, vegetable and beverage products are imported from Brazil into T&T every year. By turning to Brazil for food we are indirectly contributing to the ongoing destruction of the Amazon and the genocide of indigenous people living there. It should also be mentioned here that this will no doubt contribute to climate change, something that can seriously affect our lives as Caribbean people.
Another hindrance to local agriculture has been the habit of both government and opposition parties alike to use fertile farmland for conscruction sites. This is because housing continues to be used as a political tool and not the human right that it is. A separate article about the state of housing will be written in due time; but to address the the topic of agriculture, rest assured that not a single inch of farmland would ever be used for construction projects under an MSJ government. Arable land is a limited resource, especially on an island as small as ours. Every effort must be taken to ensure that such land is protected and utilised in the manner that it ought to be used in.
The establishment of community-based cooperatives will also be encouraged. Beginning at a local government level, each Borough Corporation will establish a number of community farms in order to meet the demands of the population. It should be highlighted that some local government districts (especially those in the built-up, urbanised areas) may not have access to land. This is where indoor and vertical farming can be introduced to ensure that every district can feed its people despite the lack of available land space.
We hope with all our hearts that this COVID-19 crisis passes by without any major fallout for T&T. However even when that happens, we are still far from being out of the woods. For there will be many long battles to fight in the very near future. Because with climate change comes the possibility of droughts, hurricanes and flash floods- things that will no doubt put a strain on our national resources and especially our food supply. One of the ways China was able to contain the COVID-19 virus was due in part to their stockpiling of food supplies for the population. During the course of its long history, the Chinese have had to endure many calamities- natural disasters, disease, war, etc. So it is no wonder that they have figured out that the best way to ensure survival for everyone is to begin by simply making it possible for each person to have a plate of food. We ought to take a page out of China’s book in this regard and turn to our farmers for our survival as a nation.
The blogmaster has been observing the blowback to the visit by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to Jamaica where a few countries in the region were invited to participate. Prime Minister Mia Mottley’s triggered the exchanges when she announced what any sensible person in the region should support.
I am conscious that if this country does not stand for something, then it will fall for anything,” she said. “As chairman of Caricom, it is impossible for me to agree that my foreign minister should attend a meeting with anyone to which members of Caricom are not invited.
Prime Minister of Barbados – Mia Mottley
Prime Minister Holness of Jamaica gave a flowery and empty explanation in response to Prime Minister Mottley and other countries in the region that took exception to the snub by Jamaica and the USA to CARICOM. Jamaica has the right as a sovereign nation to pursue bilateral initiatives with another country – why did Holness feel compelled to state an obvious point? The issue Mr. Prime Minister Holness is that Jamaica is a member of CARICOM. What is CARICOM you may ask? Here is a snippet to serve as a reminder:
…CARICOM rests on four main pillars: economic integration; foreign policy coordination;human and social development; and security. These pillars underpin the stated objectives of our Community –
to improve standards of living and work;
the full employment of labor and other factors of production;
accelerated, coordinated and sustained economic development and convergence;
expansion of trade and economic relations with Third States;
enhanced levels of international competitiveness;
organization for increased production and productivity;
achievement of a greater measure of economic leverage;
effectiveness of Member States in dealing with Third States, groups of States and entities of any description;and
the enhanced coordination of Member States’ foreign and foreign economic policies and enhanced functional cooperation…
The post meeting briefing was littered with references to CARICOM which confirm matters pertaining to the regional movement were discussed. This supports Mottley’s position that Caricom should have been FORMALLY accorded an invitation and at ‘minimum’ Mottley as Chair represent members in the spirit of enhancing coordination of Member States’ foreign and foreign economic policies and enhanced functional cooperation…
The quote from the St. Kitts and Nevis representative Foreign Affairs Minister Mark Brantley sums up the current state of Caricom for the blogmaster:-
I think we would have been foolish to pass up on that opportunity. The US has been a good friend to the region, and I think it is a relationship that matters,” he said, while acknowledging that St Kitts and Nevis was not at the table for earlier talks between US President Donald Trump and a select regional group in Mar-a-Lago, Florida, centred on trade and security.
Submitted by Kemar J. D Stuart, President of The Young Democrats
Foreign Policy discussion has not been a strong pillar of discussion within the political environment as it is perceived the voting public may not be too keen on engaging political parties on their foreign policy positions during campaigning or debate time. However after last May 24th 2018 general election an ethos of international relations came into the limelight where the Barbados Prime Minister’s engagement of the African Continent has brought an interest to understanding foreign affairs and the reason for frequent travel to foreign nations.
Through a CARICOM initiative a joint diplomatic mission in Kenya was opened in December 2019 on behalf of member countries of CARICOM governments. This diplomatic mission is the first of its kind on the African continent for Barbados and other CARICOM member states. Such an initiative under the Treaty of Chaguaramas, would be undertaken by the Council for Foreign and Community relations however picturesque discussion of information surrounding impending trade agreements would be more substantial.
While Barbados and individual CARICOM states may have individual nation to nation relationships with African countries there is currently no trade agreement between CARICOM and any African countries. What exist are bilateral arrangements and double taxation agreements which are limited in exploration i.e. Barbados and its planned High Commission to Ghana, the removal of Visa requirements for nationals from eight African countries. Citizens must differentiate the difference between collective CARICOM Foreign policy and Barbados individual Foreign policy. Given reluctance to debate a clear Foreign Policy position before committing Barbados to such, the Barbadian public learns of its Foreign policy position in overseas press conferences at the signing of unknown agreements by the country’s Foreign Minister.
The future of Caribbean diplomats must not only be in a position to exercise their functions as representatives of their Governments but should also have a thorough understanding of trade, finance, investment and technology in order to promote exports, tourism and investment including the opening up of traditional and emerging markets for commerce and business . Given that the Cotonou Agreement between the European Union (EU) and African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of states is coming to an end the thrust of foreign policy must be deeper than cultural links and the commonality of being ‘black’. Barbados and the Caribbean currently transmit more cultural impulses to African than it receives from the Continent so the premise of negotiatons must be to derive benefits for the Caribbean in the industries listed above. 2020 is an interesting year to hear the policy position of CARICOM and Africa and the policy position of Barbados and Africa at a bilateral level within an economic development space.
More than 1/3 of West Indians live abroad, as a foreign policy position Barbados and CARICOM states should consider CARIcities within metropolitan states. CARIcities involves establishing collective commercial facilities, legal advisory services, West Indian Banks, outreach and research centers from the UWI and other institutions of collective representation of West Indian ideals. However, we gatherin 2020.
One of the noticeable marks Prime Minister of Barbados Mia Mottley has been making early in her tenure is on the regional front. By contrast former Prime Minister Freundel Stuart was silent and usurped the leadership role Barbados has played historically in the region. Prime Minister Mia Mottley at the 2019 Caribbean Forum on Regional Transformation for Inclusive and Sustainable Growth recommitted Barbados to the CSME project. She stressed managed migration a la Canada and greater communication must be the focus to deepen regional integration. Following in the footsteps of her BLP predecessor Owen Arthur there is an intent by Mottley- who has lead for CSME- to expand the fiscal and financial space to the benefit of tiny Barbados.
An example: initially the blogmaster was critical of Senator Alphea Wiggins’ appointment as Special Envoy with a mandate to develop a strategic partnership with Suriname. With a large gathering in parliament why not appoint a member of parliament? Feedback in this space proffered that the resume of Wiggins the diplomat is ideally suited to the task at hand. Time will tell.
Barbadians have been told by Wiggins about land donated to Barbados by Suriname – in a government to government deal – to be utilized on a pilot basis by local farmers. Although Wiggins has expressed disappointment at the weak response to the opportunity provided to local farmers and private sector there is hope the mindset of our local actors will change from being inwardly focus. In 2013 resident billionaire Sir Kyffin Simpson was reported to have significantly invested in an agriculture project in Guyana.
The farm, located in Santa Fe in the Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo region some 231 miles (or 371 km) south-west of Georgetown, will be producing rice, corn, soya, cow beans, guar and eventually moso bamboo trees primarily for export. Already 10 000 acres are being prepared for cultivation and this will be extended by another 30 000 acres as production is steadily increased. Sir Kyffin has the option of tripling this acreage if the venture proves successful – Sir Kyffin Simpson Shows Leadership Investing in Agriculture
Last week at a business forum to promote trading opportunities in Suriname and Guyana was held in Barbados – opportunities identified agriculture, agro-processing, construction, renewable energy, tourism, education, and services. To add impetus to the message being championed by government, Minister Sandra Husbands with responsibility for foreign trade could have co-opted support from Sir Kyffin or designate to update on his investment in Guyana. Local private sector actors sitting on the fence needs to be persuaded to shed a risk averse mindset.
The blogmaster supports the renewed effort to deepen regional integration. All sensible people will agree small islands in Caricom must do better to improve avenues for functional cooperation. It should be obvious to those with an average level of discernment that both Jamaica and Bahamas in the North share no great appetite for CSME – maybe just for the movement of the unskilled. The alternative approach by Barbados to create opportunities with our neighbours in the South is a countervailing strategy to salvage the CSME initiative.
The idea to have Barbadian capital and technical resources combined with Guyanese and Suriname significant land and natural resources to the benefit of both countries in large scale agriculture and other opportunities is an approach which keeps hope alive.
After trying to avoid the subject intentionally for many years, is it now the time to focus all our attention that any change in the proposed majority beneficial ownership in LIAT (1974) Ltd could bring?
Following a whole pile of forays into competing with LIAT over the past couple of decades, which included Carib Express, RedJet, Caribbean Star and Sun, is now an opportune time to tempt other private sector airlines into our marketplace, to finally give some real competition and drive down fares?
To our south, the discovery and exploitation of substantial oil deposits off the coast of Guyana is already dramatically changing accommodation offerings and basic infrastructure. Additional airlift is already in place and this will only grow over the next few years.
Time will tell, if the Government of Guyana will plan for long term benefit of its citizens and channel some of this vast revenue into a sovereign wealth fund, like Norway did, which is now the largest of its kind in the world.
To the north, privately owned airlines like InterCaribbean Airways are continuing to expand and are currently pushing south as far as St. Lucia. Their aircraft fleet include eight 30-seat Embraer 120’s, two 19 seat Twin Otters, one 9 seat Britten Norman Islander and a Citation Jet which is used for executive charters. The airline presently operate to 22 cities in 13 countries, many of which do not have existing direct or one-stop connections to the south of the region.
The Embraer 120* has a range of 1,750 kilometers or 1,088 miles, with a cruise speed of 298 knots or 343 miles per hour, so ideally suited for mid-distance Caribbean routes. *source Wikipedia.
The St. Maarten based Winair airline, while Government owned, has previously expressed an interest in operating to more southern Caribbean destinations including Barbados. Their fleet includes ATR 42 – 300/320 aircraft with 48 seats which are wet-leased from Air Antilles*.
Air Antilles, the French West Indian carrier, already operates to Barbados, and like Winair, has some existing code sharing flight partnerships, but could they be encouraged to step-up capacity, especially if that helps feed additional French metropolitan and continental European visitors.
The biggest fly in the ointment might be the past record of various Governments and politicians who have interfered in the granting of route rights to airlines, interested in starting services.
A recent example is the Civil Aviation Minister of St. Lucia, Guy Joseph, pointing out to the media, that a number of airlines were seeking to operate in and out of that island but encountering difficulties acquiring the requisite licenses.
He went on to add, St. Lucia has hinted at the possibility of leaving the Eastern Caribbean Civil Aviation Authority (ECCAA) claiming that the Antigua-based organization was hampering the development of the airline industry there.
I think all our policymakers have to be reminded that across the Caribbean, our hotels only managed an average annual occupancy of 63 per cent in 2018.
Of course, it doesn’t stop there.
Every other tourism related business is negatively affected by those empty rooms and massive employment opportunities lost, with its profound economic consequence across the Caribbean.
A few weeks ago, I conjectured in this space as to who precisely could be “the enemy” in a charge levelled against a member of one branch of the local Defence Force for communicating with the enemy. I wrote then, “I am almost certain that there may be such an offence, but I am still in wonder as to who or what constitutes an enemy of Barbados and why and what would a soldier be communicating with and to such an entity. There has been no further clarification up to the time of writing this. Are we no longer “friends of all, satellites of none” as we so proudly boasted on attaining sovereign statehood in 1966?”
The court martial began last weekand is still sub judice, thus constraining any detailed comment thereon from this quarter. However, I discovered that there is indeed a statutory definition of what comprises the enemy and that in this matter the enemy is reputed to be an either alleged or well-known drug trafficker, according to newspaper reports. The statutory definition is to be found in the interpretation section of the Defence Act, Cap 159, that provides as follows-
(a) persons engaged in armed operations against the Barbados Defence Force or any force co-operating therewith, and
(b) armed mutineers, armed rebels, armed rioters and pirates…”
Indeed, the Defence Act itself, I have discovered, makes for quite interesting reading, providing in section 35 for a sentence of death upon conviction by a court martial of the offence of aiding the enemy; and imprisonment for such military offences as cowardice (s. 37); what I choose to call the utterance of discouraging words (s. 38); and becoming a prisoner of war through disobedience or wilful neglect, and failure to rejoin forces(s. 39). Indeed, for its singularity, the text of section 39 (2) merits reproduction-
Any person who, being subject to military law under this Act, having been captured by the enemy, fails to take, or prevents or discourages any other person being subject to service law who has been captured by the enemy from taking, any reasonable steps available to him or that other person, as the case may be, to rejoin the Barbados Defence Force or any force co-operating therewith, is guilty of an offence.
But I digress. Today, I want to comment on the guidance provided by the Caribbean Court of Justice [CCJ] in its original jurisdiction in two recent decisions as to the entitlement to and the nature and extent of the freedom of movement of CARICOM nationals within the region
It may be recalled that in Shanique Myrie v Barbados in 2013, the CCJ had determined that there had been created on the Member States to the Treaty “a binding obligation to allow all CARICOM nationals hassle-free entry and an automatic stay of six months upon arrival into their respective territories subject only to two exceptions: the right of Member States to refuse entry to ‘undesirable persons’ and their right ‘to prevent persons from becoming a charge on public funds’.”
In the recent matter of Tamika Gilbert et al. v Barbados, it was suggested that this freedom had been infringed by Barbados when on an allegation by a Bridgetown store owner, the two claimants were taken into custody and, according to their evidence, subjected to “humiliating and degrading” strip searches by the police.
The Court, which possesses exclusive jurisdiction over the interpretation of the constituent Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas [RTOC], held that freedom of movement under the RTOC does not immunize CARICOM nationals from the operation of law enforcement agencies in the receiving State and, in the absence of any claim that they had been discriminated against by virtue of their nationality in that they were subjected to treatment that is worse or less favourable than is accorded to a person similarly situated, (except for the fact that he or she is of a different nationality), they could not establish an infringement of their Treaty right of freedom of movement. As I have commented elsewhere, though it may be argued by some that some discrimination on the basis of nationality might have emanated from the store-owner(would a local have been similarly accused?), the discrimination needs to be effected on the part of the state or its official agencies and not merely by its nationals.
And last week, in Bain v Trinidad & Tobago, the CCJ had cause to opine on what constitutes sufficient proof of entitlement to the treaty rights of a Caribbean national. Here, Mr Bain, an alleged Grenadian national, claimed that he was denied his freedom of movement under the Revised Treaty by the Trinidad & Tobago authorities when the immigration officials refused him entry and sent him back to Grenada on an early flight.
As evidence of his citizenship, Mr. Bain had produced his Grenadian driver’s licence, which stated that he was a Grenadian citizen. He also showed his Grenadian voter’s identification card that stated that he was born in Grenada. In addition, his USA passport also listed Grenada as his country of birth. These documents, Mr. Bain argued, should be enough to invoke his right of freedom of movement, as explained by the CCJ in Shanique Myrie v Barbados.
In its judgment, the Court determined that, while there was no doubt that Mr. Bain is a Grenadian citizen, he did not present sufficient documentation to prove it to the immigration officers. The presentation of the Grenadian driver’s licence and voter’s identification card was not sufficient. Unlike the Grenadian passport, neither document was meant to serve as evidence of citizenship. In addition, they were neither machine- readable nor designed to be stamped by immigration officials.
The Court also rejected the argument that the notation in Mr Bain’s US passport that he was born in Grenada, conclusively proved citizenship. It was noted that it was possible that Mr. Bain could have renounced his citizenship, or have it stripped away by the Grenadian government, while mere birth in a country does not always automatically evidence citizenship.
It is difficult to fault the judgment of the Court in this case. There is no disputing the fact that the best evidence of CARICOM nationality and thus entitlement to the Treaty freedom of movement regionally is that the applicant is the holder of either (i) a passport and who was born in the state issuing the passport or in another qualifying Caribbean Community state; or (ii) some other form of identification issued by the state of his birth or by another qualifying Caribbean Community state of which he is a national, as expressed in the local legislation pertaining to the movement of skilled nationals.
In addition, the CCJ heard submissions from the Caribbean Community that the “appropriate travel document to invoke the right of freedom of movement is the CARICOM passport or a passport issued by a CARICOM Member State”. My only quibble is with the Court’s raising of the “possible” as opposed to “probable” events that could have occurred to cost him his Grenadian citizenship and while I agree that mere birth in a country does not always automatically evidence citizenship, there was no allegation that this was not the case in Grenada.
Yet, one is compelled by force of reasoning to agree with the judgment that “the function of an immigration officer is to be a gate-keeper, taking only a short time to open the gate to those who clearly qualify to be admitted, and not to be a private detective involved, at the expense of himself or his employer, in investigations of law and fact to determine whether or not there is some reason that can or cannot be found to help the potential entrant justify being admitted through the gate, and that it is up to the entrant, who is in the best position to resolve matters, to help himself.
The following article is reproduced from the Canadian press at the request of Money Brain. Is China as altruistic as some would have us believe?
Across the globe, especially in the great motherland Africa, there are horror stories being recorded about this new marauding. What insights are there to be learned by impoverished states of the Caribbean? Besides fueling our greed for ‘things’ what other factors determine regional foreign policy with China?
When it comes to defending Canada from the menace posed by the People’s Republic of China, it is now a matter of public record, and should be a matter of some embarrassment to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, if not shame, that the course his government embarked upon almost four years ago was dangerously naive, if not recklessly thoughtless.
It’s a tragedy that it took the Chinese Ministry of State Security’s kidnapping of former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig and cultural entrepreneur Michael Spavor to prove that the Beijing regime was not the “win-win, golden decade” friend and trade partner Trudeau had incessantly harped about. Robert Schellenberg, dubiously convicted on drug-smuggling charges in the first place, had his 15-year jail sentence upgraded to a cell on death row. Canada’s canola exporters are stuck with $2.7 billion in export contracts that Beijing has ripped up. Threats of further punishment hang in the air.
It’s all because Canada detained Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou last December on a U.S. Justice Department extradition warrant. Meng is sought by the U.S. to face charges of fraud and dodging sanctions on Iran. Beijing needed to throw somebody up against a wall and slap him around, so President Xi Jinping chose Justin Trudeau.
Beijing’s complex campaigns of subversion, threats, influence-buying, bullying and espionage in Canada stretch back much farther than last December, of course. So does the sleazy tendency of Canadian politicians to look the other way, or rush to Beijing’s defence whenever anyone in the intelligence community publicly notices the obvious, or throw the director of the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service under the bus for pointing it out.
Beijing needed to throw somebody up against a wall and slap him around, so President Xi Jinping chose Justin Trudeau.
When CSIS director Richard Fadden had the temerity to point out nearly a decade ago that there were provincial cabinet ministers and other elected officials in Canada who had fallen under Beijing’s general influence, several Liberal and NDP MPs demanded his resignation.
hen-CSIS director Richard Fadden testifying at the House Public Safety committee in 2010.ANDRE FORGET / QMI
So it was refreshing to see that Tuesday’s first-ever annual report from the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians (NSICOP) made no bones about it. China is a threat to Canada’s national security, the committee found.
Terrorism, espionage and foreign influence, cyber threats, major organized crime and weapons of mass destruction were all listed in the NSICOP report among the top threats to Canada. China figures in the report’s findings under espionage and foreign influence, and under cyber threats as well.
Russia is right up there, too, and although the report is redacted in several places, other unnamed governments were reported to be busy with the same dirty work. But it was the novelty of China being singled out for once, in a high-level federal government intelligence report, that’s worth noticing. Usually, Ottawa lets China get away with anything.
“China is known globally for its efforts to influence Chinese communities and the politics of other countries. The Chinese government has a number of official organizations that try to influence Chinese communities and politicians to adopt pro-China positions, most prominently the United Front Work Department,” the report states, referring directly to Fadden’s whistleblowing in 2010.
The report also notes a 2017 warning from David Mulroney, a former ambassador to China, about Beijing’s influence-peddling efforts in Canada. To get what it wants, Beijing mobilizes student groups, diaspora groups, “and people who have an economic stake in China, to work behind the scenes.” The report also notes the unsavoury business of lavish political donations on offer from Chinese businessmen with close links to China’s Communist Party leadership.
China is known globally for its efforts to influence Chinese communities and the politics of other countries
Report by the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians
Two years ago, the Financial Times obtained the United Front Work Department’s training manual, which boasts about the electoral successes of 10 pro-Beijing politicians in Ontario. “We should aim to work with those individuals and groups that are at a relatively high level, operate within the mainstream of society and have prospects for advancement,” the manual states.
t was all smiles back then: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau meets Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing, China on Dec. 5, 2017.SEAN KILPATRICK / THE CANADIAN PRESS
The reason for the public’s relative inattention to influence-and-espionage threats posed by such foreign powers as China and Russia is that the federal government tends to avoid addressing the issue publicly. “As it stands now, an interested Canadian would have to search a number of government websites to understand the most significant threats to Canada,” the committee found.
“For some threats, such as terrorism, information is readily available and regularly updated . … For other threats, such as organized crime or interference in Canadian politics, information is often limited, scattered among different sources or incomplete. The committee believes that Canadians would be equally well served if more information about threats were readily available.”
That information is available, of course. It just hasn’t been coming from the federal government. In his just-published book, Claws of the Panda: Beijing’s Campaign of Influence and Intimidation in Canada, veteran foreign-affairs reporter Jonathan Manthorpe painstakingly enumerates the breadth and scope of the United Front Work Department’s organizations in Canada, and Beijing’s intimate links throughout Canada’s business class. Manthorpe relied solely on the public record, showing that Beijing’s strong-arming, its inducements and its subtle and not-so-subtle intimidation have been carried out in plain sight for years.
Last year, a coalition of diaspora groups led by Amnesty International provided CSIS with an exhaustive account of Beijing’s intensive campaign of bullying, threats and harassment targeting Canadian diaspora organizations devoted to Chinese democracy, the Falun Gong spiritual movement, Tibetan sovereignty, and the Uighurs. A Muslim ethnic minority in Xinjiang, the Uighur people are currently being subjected to an overwhelming tyranny of concentration camps, religious persecution, “re-education,” family separation and round-the-clock, pervasive surveillance. “Canada has become a battleground on which the Chinese Communist Party seeks to terrorize, humiliate and neuter its opponents,” says Manthorpe.
Canada has become a battleground on which the Chinese Communist Party seeks to terrorize, humiliate and neuter its opponents
Authur Jonathan Manthorpe
That kind of subversion usually occurs behind the scenes. But for years, Confucius Institutes have operated openly in dozens of Canadian universities, colleges and high schools. “In most cases,” Manthorpe contends, “they are espionage outstations for Chinese embassies and consulates through which they control Chinese students, gather information on perceived enemies and intimidate dissidents.”
Because its mandate covers more than a dozen institutions and agencies, NSICOP — first proposed 15 years ago, but only now getting off the ground — had a lot of ground to cover. More than half of the report’s 121 pages are devoted to a review of the intelligence functions of the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces. But it’s subversion by foreign governments that seems to have caught the Parliamentary committee’s attention — CSIS told NSICOP the foreign-influence threat is becoming more acute, and countering it will call for “a more significant response” in the coming years.
With that in mind, the committee is already working on a followup review of the mandate, priority and resources Ottawa provides Canada’s intelligence community to monitor and counter the foreign-influence threat. The committee’s report is expected to be released before the October federal election, but it won’t be focused on the foreign cyber threats Ottawa is already preparing to monitor and expose during the election campaign.
“We’re going to outline the primary-threat actors, we’re going to be examining the threat those actors pose to our institutions and, to a certain extent, our ethno-cultural communities,” NSICOP chair David McGuinty told reporters in Ottawa on Tuesday. “We’re working feverishly to get it done.”
“You are not to wrong or oppress an alien, because you were aliens in the land of Egypt. –Exodus 22:21 (ISV)
There appears to be an irrefutable presumption in the collective mind of governing administrations in Barbados that a substantial majority of our citizens are firmly in favour of the ongoing regional project in all its iterations. Hence, there is no need to consult the populace on any measure proposed by that project to which the State might be inclined to accede.
However, if I am to judge from certain views expressed in various quarters over the years, I am not so sure that this presumption might not be seriously flawed. Of course, our Constitution does not mandate the holding of a referendum in order to ascertain the public sentiment with regard to these or, indeed, any treaty matters. These are solely within the executive prerogative so officialdom is nonetheless entitled to base its international relations on this presumption without fear of legal recrimination.
We saw the application of this presumption with regard to our accession to the appellate jurisdiction of the Caribbean Court of Justice and we are now witnessing it anew with the recent enactment of legislation, the Caribbean Community (Amendment) Act 2019, intended to give municipal effect to our regional obligations under the Protocol on Contingent Rights to which the Honourable Prime Minister affixed her signature on Barbados’s behalf on July 6 2018 in Montego Bay, Jamaica.
To my mind, the presumption is founded on the popular anecdotal expression that for the people of the region, true integration is a daily-lived experience ever frustrated by the actions of the political leaders who care not one whit for any cession of their sovereignty in their several bailiwicks. The first part of this opinion was echoed by the Right Excellent Errol Barrow, sometime Prime Minister of Barbados in his speech at the 1986 CARICOM Heads of Government Conference where he declaimed, “If we have sometimes failed to comprehend the essence of the regional integration movement, the truth is that thousands of ordinary Caribbean people do, in fact, live that reality every day. In Barbados, our families are no longer exclusively Barbadian by island origin. We have Barbadian children of Jamaican mothers, Barbadian children of Antiguan and St. Lucian fathers. We are a family of islands.”
As Mr Barrow appeared to be, I, too, am a committed regionalist. Yet, it may be argued and is submitted that the reality of which he spoke is experienced by only a few in the region, and that there are numerous CARICOM nationals that have had or will have no contact with the other states in the region or their inhabitants. For these people locally, Barbados is their oyster, the self proclaimed “gem of the Caribbean” whose imagined pristine environment of low crime, harmonious race relations, and general law and order would only be sullied by an invasion of foreigners from other regional jurisdictions.
His Right Excellency would have been referring to those of us who, whether by marriage, romantic relationship, occupation, trade or otherwise are compelled to be Caribbean men and women. But there are also significant numbers who, as a caller to David Ellis last week, have never even visited a neighbouring island and whose experience of other CARICOM nationals is either based on generalized hearsay (“the violent Jamaican”, “the smart-man Guyanese”, “the poor small- islander”, or “the party-minded Trinidadian”) or on some random adverse encounter with one such person. And then there are the unrepentant xenophobes or latter-day “nationalists” who will brook no strangers at all within their gates.
As for the legislation itself, I have perused a copy of this from the Barbados Parliament website –Bills before the Senate- <https://www.barbadosparliament.com/site> (last accessed March 9 2019). My first comment is the rather esoteric one of dissatisfaction with its form. The language of treaties is ordinarily less rigorously crafted than that of public statutes, thereby permitting the ratifying jurisdiction to fashion its complying law in accordance with its perceived national interest while still respecting the intendment of the international obligation. However, on this occasion, the state has taken the “easy “ way out by simply appending the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas [RTC] and the relevant Protocols thereto as Schedules to the body of the Act that does not itself make any substantive provision. It has been done elsewhere before, it must be conceded, and I am unaware at the time of writing of any revision to the electronic document.
The Protocol on Contingent Rights, the Third Schedule to the Act, is the only one reproduced on the electronic copy referred to above and it repays reading. What is immediately striking is that certain jurisdictions are not signatories to the original document so that if the rights and obligations under the Protocol are intended to be reciprocal, these jurisdictions are not privy to them. Indeed, I have learnt subsequently that some of these jurisdictions have asked for a deferral of their accession to the Protocol for varying reasons.
According to the Recitals to the Protocol, the States Parties to the RTC that establishes the Caribbean Community, including the CSME, declare themselves “convinced that the primary rights accorded by Member States to nationals of the Caribbean Community in respect of the CSME must be supported by other enforceable rights operating to render them exercisable and effective. Interestingly, while they acknowledge“the differential institutional and resource capabilities of Member States of the Caribbean Community in ensuring the enjoyment by their nationals of internationally recognised (sic) rights” and, at the same time, “the importance of equality in the grant of Contingent Rights among the Member States”; they nevertheless are “committed to conferring the contingent rights as set out in this Protocol…” [Emphasis added]
I suspect that it is these italicized passages more than anything else that is the source of phthisic for most Barbadians opposed to the measure. After all, they reason, parties enter into agreements in order to secure mutual benefits and if the parties are not equally resourced, then the benefits (and the burdens) are likely to be disproportionate. So that while Barbados is able to provide social benefits such as taxpayer-funded bus transportation for schoolchildren, I am not aware of any regional jurisdiction that does this. It is similar with regard to undergraduate tertiary education.
By the same token though, Barbados, with its comparatively high cost of living and levels of taxation might not be that alluring to many individual wage earners, as assumed.
Essentially, the contingent rights to be afforded to the principal beneficiary –a national of a Member State exercising one or more primary rights under the RTC-; his or her spouse and their dependants as both these terms are defined in the Protocol, are detailed under Article II (a) to (f). These rights are minima only and Article IV permits a Member State to confer even more extensive rights than those in the Protocol, subject to Articles VII and VIII. In addition, there is, in Article III (a) to (g), a built-in agenda of potential rights that “shall only be recognised and applied as contingent rights at such time and upon such terms and conditions as the Conference may determine”.
The 30th Inter-sessional CARICOM Heads of Government Conference ended in St. Kitts last Wednesday – the 27thof February 2019 – with the staging of a Press Conference. And guess what was the very first question posed to the head table comprising Prime Minister Timothy Harris, CARICOM Secretary General Irwin La Roche, and Jamaican Foreign Minister Kamina Johnson Smith by the assembled Press Corps ?
Well, if you guessed that it was a question about the deadly military confrontation that is currently taking place between India and Pakistan in the skies above the disputed Asian region of Kashmir you would have guessed correctly! The journalist who was first off the mark wanted to know whether our CARICOM Heads of Government had discussed the dangerous breach of the peace that had occurred in Kashmir that very day, and whether CARICOM was going to issue a statement on the matter!
As you would imagine, this question caught the CARICOM trio by surprise, but I would wish to advise them – and all other CARICOM leaders and officials – to expect to have many such questions posed to them in the future.
You see, ever since our CARICOM Heads of Government not only issued their 24thof January 2019 Statement on the crisis in Venezuela (declaring that the Caribbean is a Zone of Peace and insisting that a process aimed at a peaceful settlement of the dispute must be pursued) , but also followed up the Statement by enunciating these peace-seeking principles at meetings of the United Nations Security Council and with the UN Secretary General, people all over the world have started to associate CARICOM with a “diplomacy of Peace” and to see CARICOM as the champion of a “Zone of Peace” concept in international affairs.
I don’t think it is an exaggeration to say that in a contemporary era characterized by conflict, tension, egregious breaches of International Law and order, and the easy recourse to unilateral attack and military aggression, that the recent bold and courageous CARICOM championing of the principles of Peace and dialogue has made many governments, institutions and people sit up and take notice.
Indeed, since the publication of my recent article declaring that our Heads of Governments’ statements and actions in relation to the crisis in Venezuela constitute “CARICOM’s finest hour”, I have actually received letters making the case for the conferring of a Nobel Peace Prize on CARICOM!
No doubt such a sentiment is a bit pre-mature, but if our Caribbean Community (CARICOM) is able to maintain its unity and courage and to so continue to champion the concept of a “diplomacy of dialogue” and the notion of the Caribbean being a “Zone of Peace” that it is able to facilitate a peaceful and negotiated settlement of the crisis in Venezuela, why shouldn’t such an achievement attract the highest international plaudits?
It is against this background therefore that I would like to draw to the attention of my fellow CARICOM citizens that this notion of a “Zone of Peace” is an International Law concept that Caribbean leaders – both secular and religious – have helped to develop and champion over an extensive period of time, and that it is therefore a concept and a philosophy that we Caribbean people could justly lay claim to.
So, let us embark on a brief examination of the history of the International Law concept of a “Zone of Peace”.
The roots of the term “Zone of Peace” are to be found in two 1971 international instruments that constituted efforts to extricate two regions of the world from entanglement in big power rivalries during the Cold War – the 1971 UN General Assembly Declaration decreeing the Indian Ocean as a Zone of Peace and the 1971 Declaration of Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand declaring their intention to “keep South East Asia free from any form of interference by outside powers”.
However, the term was given a more universal applicability when in 1978, the United Nations General Assembly held a Special Session devoted to disarmament and resolved to establish “zones of peace in various regions of the world under appropriate conditions to be clearly defined and determined freely by the States concerned in the zones, taking into account the characteristics of the zone and the principles of the Charter of the United Nations.”
And to their credit, it was the political leaders of the Caribbean who immediately took hold of this newly established general legal concept and engaged in a process of giving it concrete and specific content and applying it directly to our Caribbean region.
In October 1979, for example, at the Ninth Regular Session of the General Assembly of the Organization of American States, Grenada (under the leadership of late Prime Minister Maurice Bishop) co-sponsored a Resolution that called on all states to recognize the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace “and to devote all their efforts in appropriate regional and international forums, to the advancement of this concept.”
Subsequently, the Committee of CARICOM Ministers of Foreign Affairs— at their sixth Meeting held in Grenada in June 1981– reaffirmed their intention to have the Caribbean declared a Zone of Peace and established a Working Group to formulate measures to give effect to the Zone of Peace concept.
The Caribbean Conference of Churches (CCC) then got into the act, and in April 1982 they too adopted a Resolution which urged our CARICOM Heads of Government to establish a Zone of Peace in the Caribbean, “including the ratification of any treaties which may be necessary to ensure this.”
Furthermore, with the return to power of Prime Minister Errol Barrow of Barbados in 1986, the drive towards the confirmation of the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace was given a tremendous boost when, in his July 1986 speech to the opening ceremony of the CARICOM Heads of Government conference in Guyana, the Barbadian national hero stated as follows:-
“My position remains clear that the Caribbean must be recognized and respected as a Zone of Peace…I have said, and I repeat that while I am Prime Minister of Barbados our territory will not be used to intimidate any of our neighbours: be that neighbour Cuba or the USA. And I do not believe that size is necessarily the only criterion for determining these matters. It is important to let people know where you stand…in what is a moral commitment to peace in our region.”
And finally in the year 2014 our CARICOM member states joined together with other sister states of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) to issue the “Havana Declaration” definitively declaring our region a “Zone of Peace” in which the core principles of self-determination, non-intervention in the internal affairs of states, and a commitment to resolve disputes peacefully through dialogue and negotiation would be rigorously upheld , and in which a “Culture of Peace” would be assiduously cultivated.
To the credit of the current cohort of CARICOM Heads of Government, it is precisely these core “Zone of Peace” principles that they have advocated in their Statements on the Venezuela crisis and in the “Montevideo Mechanism” that they have proffered as a procedure for negotiating a peaceful and lawful end to the crisis.
Stay the course CARICOM ! A grateful World will ultimately commend you for preserving the very foundations of the system of International Law, and for championing the indispensable value of Peace.
Several countries including the USA and and Canada have recently supported the claim of Juan Guaido as the president of Venezuela. We already know who Russia backs, do we have another Syria in the making only this time within the Caribbean region?
CARACAS, Venezuela — A group of soldiers turned against the government and declared allegiance to the opposition. Foreign officials say the government could soon run out of money to meet bare-bones needs. And countries across the region have called the president an illegitimate dictator.
Conditions in Venezuela have deteriorated to a point where the opposition — gutted by the jailing and exiling of many of its leaders and discredited after several failed efforts to oust President Nicolás Maduro — is seeing an opportunity. Leading them is a virtually unheard-of 35-year-old, Juan Guaidó.
His debut as opposition leader and head of the National Assembly this month has captured the attention of those within the country and outside of it — mainly for his striking claim that Mr. Maduro is not a legitimate ruler and his willingness to take charge of a transitional government.
“The relationship between Venezuela and its state today is one of terror,” Mr. Guaidó said in an interview. “When this happens, the voices and hopes of the world, their messages, are the encouragement for the daily struggle to resist — to dream of democracy, and for a better country.”
I have previously written an article about the need to have a Federal Government in the Caribbean. CARICOM is but an economic union and was never intended to resolve political and social problems of the region. The reasons to revisit this topic are varied and the single most import that strike home today is that Barbados is experiencing a crisis of gun related crime. In addition to this, there is an unprecedented level of corruption that has been increasing since independence. Despite laws, rules and regulations, there is no body with the authority for oversight and implementation of action against the previous administration in Barbados. The notion that the political class may not have the desire to out each other is also a current reality. The underlying fact is that these island states are too small; everyone knows each other or their family; our court system is in shambles, files go missing, so does evidence and the length of time that it takes to pursue action in some instances signifies that justice being denied.
So where did we go wrong?
It was our failure to implement the WI Federation. It was four long years of struggle from 1958 to 1962 that ended up with the then leaders of the Federation walking away from a project that held the best intentions for the region. That action that led to Eric William’s famous words “one from ten leaves zero,” is currently responsible for 80% of the region’s social and political problems. Short sightedness and the struggle for power way back then set us up for failure. The failure of oversight to halt the actions of corrupt politicians, the failure to address the present crisis with action on gun related crime, the failure to have laws to address unique cases like land disputes, fraud and the recall of politicians.
From around the region there are a few cases that come to mind that makes one wonder if we had a federal government if such outrage would have occurred without punishment or redress. One was the Yugee Farrell case in St Vincent, where a young woman’s quality of life was at the mercy of political action; there is a mortgage crisis in Barbados which no one seems to be addressing; Scotiabank leaving the region, having sold its mortgages to a foreign entity that does not reside in the CARICOM and only the Antiguan Prime Minister Gaston Browne is fighting on his own; treasonous acts by the speaker of the house in Guyana; there is a politician in St Lucia whom the people wanted to recall; the callous acts of corruption of the last Administration in Barbados; businessmen who are mysteriously awarded overpriced contracts and bribery; and the allegation of land fraud which seem to have found a home on the Barbadian landscape. In addition, we have gun related crime in islands that do not manufacture or import guns, yet they are not only available on the street but are daily committing murder.
Despite holding jurisdiction local police forces are simply not equipped to combat these types of crimes. In the USA, while each state has its own government and police force, there is also a federal government for the entire country which has its own policing force known as the Federal Bureau of Investigation or the FBI. The FBI steps in and takes over various types of cases where a local violation fits into a category for which it holds jurisdiction.
This is what is required for CARICOM states, a Federal government with its own police force and a Federal Court system. There would be a local court system and a federal court in each jurisdiction. Recruits from across the region would be utilized effectively by having them serve where they are not domiciled, and persons moved periodically to prevent contamination of the system.
Putting the Task Force on the streets in affected areas in Barbados will not resolve the problem. When they are gone the guns will re appear as they have year after year. Although his presence among the affected is welcomed, the Attorney General’s pictures giving golden handshakes and smiles no longer cuts it. These are just knee-jerk reactions. None of these are a short- term plans. It should have been announced by the Attorney General that he is going after the importers of the guns and the persons who let them bring the guns into the country, with the intent to prosecute them. The source of the problem is not being addressed. One must ask themselves how many times we must come back to this cross road and go away knowing that nothing will change. We are currently using the same old methods to resolve crime and expect to obtain different results.
Putting the Task Force on the streets in affected areas in Barbados will not resolve the problem. When they are gone the guns will re appear as they have year after year. Although his presence among the affected is welcomed, the Attorney General’s pictures giving golden handshakes and smiles no longer cuts it. These are just knee-jerk reactions. However, finally he has announced that he is going after the importers of the guns and by extension this should include the persons who let them bring the guns into the country. One must ask themselves how many times we must come back to this cross road and in the pass nothing has been done to effect change. We cannot use the same old methods to resolve crime and expect to obtain different results.
We may have missed that boat fifty-seven years ago but that does not mean that a new attempt of implementing a Federal Government will not work. The region will always be constrained by its size and must work to together to overcome its challenges. Now that we know of the source of the problems and their long-term effects, the challenge is to put in place an effective institution to effect remedy. The challenge will also include the heads of Government of all the islands realizing that there are facing the same old problems but needing new solutions; and not to be focused on insularity. Just as they believe that the islands are one economic union and some utilize the Caribbean Court of Justice as their Appellate Court, they must overcome the fear of becoming a political union.
It is time to move on to a higher level of regional integration with an aim to resolve the political and social problems by creating the institutions that are meant to do this. We cannot go back to 1962 and make the then batch of leaders change their minds of putting four years to waste. We have a current crop of leaders who have new ideas about the development of this region and its people and with new ideas come opportunities.
Herein lies an opportunity. The simple requirement is to have a heavy weight champion for this cause not to resuscitate the old but to create a Federal Government for CARICOM states. A Federal Government that will as part of its mandate, maintain a police force and a court system to investigate and redress a range of violations for which it will have jurisdiction. The only person that comes to mind is our own trail blazer. Despite the fact of a 30 to 0 victory being a great achievement, the icing on the cake would be for our Prime Minister, The Honourable Mia Amor Mottley to not only create and implement a Federal Government of individual States of CARICOM but to also become its first head. It would truly define her legacy, as the vision of ‘Building The Best Barbados Together’ can translate into building the best political union of the CARICOM states together.
This coming Monday, the 21st of January 2019, is the 99th anniversary of the birth of Barbadian national hero Right Excellent Errol Walton Barrow, and will be celebrated in Barbados as “Errol Barrow Day” – a national public holiday.
In light of the recent happenings in the Organization of American States (OAS) when, on having to deal with a Resolution that purported to delegitimize the inauguration of Nicolas Maduro as President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, our CARICOM member states found themselves divided on the issue, with some of them voting for the Resolution, others voting against, and some abstaining, I would like to focus this tribute to Mr Barrow on his role as an architect of the concept of a collective CARICOM foreign policy.
It was at the historic Seventh Commonwealth Caribbean Heads of Government Conference held at Chaguaramas in Trinidad that the idea of converting the Caribbean Free Trade Association (CARIFTA) into a Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM), as well as the idea equipping the new CARICOM with a collective foreign policy were born.
The date was October 1972, and at that time there were only four independent Commonwealth Caribbean nations : namely, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, and Barbados, and these newly independent states were led by Michael Manley, Eric Williams, Forbes Burnham, and Errol Barrow respectively.
It was a time of great tension in the affairs of the world – the United States of America (USA) was ablaze with anti-Vietnam war protests; the Black Power and anti-colonial challenges to national and international structures of domination were going strong; and the so-called “Cold War” between the USA and the Soviet Union was still at a dangerous peak.
Indeed, by 1972, the Caribbean had come to be regarded as one of the primary theatres of the “Cold War”, with the USA making every conceivable effort to isolate and subvert the revolutionary Fidel Castro-led government of Cuba.
We need to recall that when—in 1959—the Cuban Revolution triumphed, that the new revolutionary Cuban government entered a Western hemisphere environment that was organized around the OAS—a multi-lateral organization dominated by the USA and dedicated to a USA inspired anti-Communist mission.
Indeed, in 1954, at the instigation of a USA steeped in Mc Carthy era anti-Communism, the OAS had issued the “Declaration of Caracas” which declared that all Marxist revolutionary ideology was intrinsically alien to the Western Hemisphere, and that Marxist revolutionary movements were to be treated as foreign invasions of the Hemisphere.
It was not surprising therefore that as early as June 1959, the USA began pressing the OAS to take punitive actions against Cuba—a founder member of the OAS, but now led by a revolutionary socialist Government.
In August 1960, the USA not only orchestrated a condemnation of Cuba at the OAS on the ground of Cuba’s acceptance of economic assistance from the Soviet Union, but also urged Latin American states to break off diplomatic relations with Cuba – an urging that Venezuela and Colombia adhered to in 1961.
And then the “coup de grace” came in January 1962 when, at the 8th Consultative Meeting of OAS Foreign Ministers in Uruguay, the OAS suspended Cuba’s membership, thereby effectively expelling Cuba from the OAS!
This was then followed by the US compiling a so-called “black list” of all countries still trading with Cuba and threatening to cut off US economic and military assistance to them.
But even this was seemingly not enough for the anti-Cuba forces, and during the 9th Consultative Meeting of Foreign Ministers held in Washington DC in July 1964, a resolution was passed urging all governments of the Western Hemisphere to break diplomatic relations with Cuba.
And—sad to say—in the following years, every single Western Hemisphere nation except Mexico and Canada fell in line with the OAS stipulation and either broke diplomatic relations with Cuba or refused to recognize the revolutionary Republic of Cuba!
This then was the scenario facing the four independent Commonwealth Caribbean countries—all newly installed members of the OAS—in October 1972!
And, needless-to-say, the leadership of the OAS was insisting that the four new Caribbean member states must adhere to the by then well established, USA supported, policy of non-recognition and isolation of revolutionary Cuba.
The magnificent response of the Right Excellent Errol Barrow and his fellow Commonwealth Caribbean leaders—Manley, Williams and Burnham—was to issue the following historic Declaration:-
“The Prime Ministers of Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica, and Trinidad and Tobago, meeting together during the Heads of Government Conference at Chaguaramas, have considered the state of their relations with the Government of Cuba and the obligations which the OAS has sought to impose upon its members in regard to relations with that Government; and make the following statement:
(1) The independent English-speaking Caribbean states, exercising their sovereign right to enter into relations with any other sovereign state and pursuing their determination to seek regional solidarity and to achieve meaningful and comprehensive economic cooperation amongst all Caribbean countries will seek the early establishment of relations with Cuba, whether economic, diplomatic or both.
(2) To this end, the independent English-speaking Caribbean states will act together on the basis of agreed principles.”
Here then were the four smallest and youngest states of the entire Western hemisphere standing on principle; courageously speaking “truth to power”; and setting a noble and principled example for all the other nations of the hemisphere to follow!
Indeed, six months later—in April 1973 – Mr Barrow gave an address to the Empire Club of Toronto, Canada, and explained the significance of the unified Caribbean stance on Cuba as follows:-
“……we have managed in our four countries, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana and Barbados to sustain our independence to the extent that we were considered to have committed an act of defiance in October last year when we took a lead in the western hemisphere in deciding to open diplomatic relations with the Republic of Cuba, much to the chagrin of our neighbours to the north.
But it demonstrates that the developing countries can take a lead in conditioning the minds of people who should know better…………And I have no doubt that the other countries which are mightier and more powerful than the four small independent countries in the Caribbean will soon shamefacedly or not, have to follow suit……
And we cannot sit down in the Caribbean and wait for our strategy to be dictated or governed by the political or other economic or social prejudices of people in other countries because to entertain such a belief would be an abandonment of the sovereignty that we believe in and we have never subscribed to the doctrine of limited sovereignty. And I have been, myself, very firm right from the beginning of Barbados’ independence that we would be friends of all and satellites of none.”
Happy Errol Barrow Day to all my Barbadian and Caribbean brothers and sisters! Long may the spirit of Errol Barrow live in our beautiful sovereign Caribbean homeland!
I suspect that the primary reason why the people of Grenada and Antigua & Barbuda voted on 6th November 2018 not to accept the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) as their highest national Court of Appeal is because – fundamentally – most of our people do not really know much about the Caribbean Court of Justice!
And the truth is that we Caribbean people do not really know very much about the CCJ simply because the institutions and officials that should have been consistently informing and educating us about the CCJ and our other significant regional institutions over the years have not done enough.
It is important that we fully grasp the fact that the CCJ is our organization! The Caribbean Court of Justice was established by the fifteen member nations of our Caribbean Community (CARICOM) – inclusive of the said Grenada and Antigua & Barbuda – and is therefore an “institution” of CARICOM.
Indeed, the CCJ is one of the twenty odd institutions of CARICOM – a group of institutions that includes the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI), and the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) among others.
Many of these CARICOM institutions are outstanding organizations, but if I was challenged to select THE very best and most excellent CARICOM institution of them all, I would have to go with the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ)!
And let me now list the many reasons why – in my opinion – the CCJ stands head and shoulders above not only every other CARICOM institution, but also way above the British Privy Council:-
First of all, the finances of the CCJ are as secure as the proverbial “Fort Knox”! You see, the CCJ is financed out of the income generated by a permanent US$100 Million Trust Fund that is administered by a highly professional Board of Trustees drawn from or including the Heads of the Insurance Associations of the Caribbean, the Caribbean Institute of Chartered Accountants, the Association of Indigenous Banks of the Caribbean, the Organisation of Commonwealth Caribbean Bar Associations, the Caribbean Congress of Labour, the Caribbean Association of Industry and Commerce, the University of the West Indies and the CARICOM Secretariat. This excellent state of affairs is a tribute to the collective foresight of the CARICOM Secretariat, then Barbados Attorney-General, Mia Amor Mottley, and former St. Lucia Prime Minister, Dr. Kenny Anthony, who undertook responsibility for setting up the Trust Fund at the time of the establishment of the CCJ.
This fulsome and secure funding explains why the CCJ has been able to establish and maintain a first class, modern, state-of-the-art headquarters and Court in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad & Tobago and – unlike the Privy Council – to also institute the modus operandi of an itinerant Court, travelling and taking its services to Caribbean citizens in Barbados, Jamaica, Belize, Guyana and other CARICOM nations.
The CCJ also employs and maintains a panel of absolutely first class, experienced, and highly professional judges who – to date – have been drawn from the nations of Trinidad & Tobago, St. Kitts & Nevis, Jamaica, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, the United Kingdom, Barbados, the Netherland Antilles, Guyana and Belize. Indeed the Presidents of the Court have been such outstanding legal luminaries as Hon. Michael de la Bastide of Trinidad & Tobago, Sir Dennis Byron of St. Kitts & Nevis, and Hon. Adrian Saunders of St. Vincent & the Grenadines.
The CCJ judges are all appointed by a broad-based non-political “Regional Judicial and Legal Services Commission” (RJLSC), comprised of selectees or representatives of the Council of Legal Education, the University of the West Indies and University of Guyana Law Faculties, the private sector Bar Associations of the CARICOM nations, the OECS Bar Association, the Organization of Commonwealth Caribbean Bar Associations, one CARICOM Public Service Commission and one Judicial Services Commission, and the Secretaries General of CARICOM and the OECS. You really cannot get more broad-based and politically independent that this!
The CCJ – unlike the Privy Council – is a final Court of Appeal for all types of civil and criminal cases – from the smallest civil claim of the average working-class Caribbean citizen to the high finance cases of the corporate elite. The British Privy Council, on the other hand, basically functions as an Appeal Court either for the murder appeals of persons on death row or for big civil cases. The Privy Council is not – in effect – a court that deals with the typical legal matters of ordinary Caribbean citizens!
And one of the reasons why the British Privy Council – unlike the CCJ – is not really a Court for the masses of Caribbean people, has to do with costs. In order for a Caribbean citizen to take a case before the Privy Council in London, England, he or she not only has to get permission to do so, but he/she also has to pay expensive filing costs; retain expensive UK based lawyers; and undertake the expensive venture of travelling to the United Kingdom. Indeed, legal experts estimate that a Caribbean citizen has to look for somewhere between US$57,000 and US$87,000 in order to pay for a civil appeal before the Privy Council! With the CCJ there is no such prohibitive cost. Furthermore, rather than the Caribbean citizen having to travel to the CCJ in Trinidad, the CCJ will often come to the citizen in his or her home territory, or permit the appeal to be heard via video conferencing!
Finally, unlike the Privy Council, the CCJ makes it a point of duty to “get on the case” of inefficient or dysfunctional national Courts of Law in our individual CARICOM member states – constantly subjecting them to constructive criticism, advice, and even training, in order to get them to improve their standards.
Clearly, the CCJ is one of the greatest accomplishments of our regional integration Movement! Moreover, it is an achievement that we collectively accomplished through the application of our own initiative and native intellect, and that our citizens and taxpayers have independently underwritten and financially supported. It therefore goes without saying that we should all feel very proud about this outstanding Caribbean success story.
At present, the CCJ serves 14 CARICOM member states as a Court of original jurisdiction with responsibility for interpreting and applying the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas, but it only serves four (4) CARICOM states as a final national Court of Appeal – Barbados, Guyana, Belize and Dominica.
Surely it is time for all of us in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) to make full use of this first class Caribbean institution!
In 1992 some Caribbean states in declaring the Caribbean area a zone of peace, objected to the passage through the Caribbean of ships carrying nuclear waste material. The heads of Government issued a statement vowing “to take all necessary steps to protect their people and the fragile ecology of the Caribbean Sea from this highly dangerous threat.
Now Russia plans to bring nuclear weapons to the Caribbean and we are silent.
The pristine reputation of the Caribbean took a hit when it was established that Trinidad and Tobago had the highest rate of ISIS recruits in the Western hemisphere per population size. The zone of peace the region has enjoyed is now under threat with the announcement that the Russians are coming.
Further, with Russia and Venezuela in bed the long running dispute between Venezuela and Guyana is brought into sharp focus. Does it matter if Ambassador of Caricom David Comissiong or Caricom respond given our lack of military and economic standing in the world?
Geopolitical analysts are of the view Putin is seizing the moment with the changing of the guard in the USA. It has not have gone unnoticed by the blogmaster Russia launched the Avangard missile yesterday which is reported to be a challenge to US detection systems.
Submitted by Caricom Ambassador DAVID COMISSIONG, Citizen of the Caribbean
WHEN THE CITIZENS of Antigua and Barbuda go to the polls on 6th November 2018 to vote in a referendum to determine whether they will permit their nation to remain under the judicial jurisdiction of the British Privy Council or whether they will embrace a judicial jurisdiction that is exclusively Antiguan/Barbudan and Caribbean, I hope that they make a choice that takes both Antigua and Barbuda and the Caribbean Community in the direction of fulfilling their historical journeys towards the goals of full national sovereignty and civilizational independence.
This is my fervent hope – and it is a hope based on an understanding of just how long and deeply rooted those journeys to national sovereignty and civilizational independence are, and how much blood, sweat, tears, struggle and hope have been invested in those journeys!
You see, if we are to fully appreciate the rootedness and sacredness of the Antiguan and Barbudan struggle for national sovereignty, we have to go way back to the middle of the 17th Century and to the heroic efforts of our enslaved African ancestors to escape the jurisdiction of the British slave plantations of Antigua and to establish free maroon-type communities in the primeval woods of the Shekerley range with its imposing Boggy Peak.
We would also need to recall that so determined were the British slave masters to reassert their plantocratic jurisdiction that most of those early Antiguan freedom fighters were brutally hunted down and executed! But, tellingly, this did not deter those heroic Antiguan ancestors from joining a growing tide of regional slave rebellions and developing even more advanced aspirations for the achievement of a free independent and sovereign black nation.
In fact, the year of destiny for Antigua was 1736! By that time, fellow enslaved Africans in such neighbouring British colonies as Barbados, St. Kitts and Jamaica had already demonstrated through slave plots, rebellions and maroon resistance that they intended to achieve black freedom and sovereignty. Furthermore, in the Danish colony of St. John – a mere 200 miles from Antigua – fellow enslaved Africans had risen up in 1733 and taken control of the entire island.
It was against this background that, in October of 1736, the British plantocracy of Antigua discovered – to their great consternation – that the leaders of the enslaved African people of Antigua had developed a master-plan to destroy the system of slavery; to take control of the island; and to establish an independent sovereign Asante-type kingdom. This, of course, was the famous King Court rebellion of 1736.
Tragically, the revolutionary plan was discovered by the British plantocratic authorities; the rebellion was crushed; and such heroes of Antigua and Barbuda as King Court (Tacky), Tomboy, Scipio, Hercules, Ned, Fortune and Secundi were brutally executed and made into national martyrs.
However, it is one thing to kill revolutionary leaders, but it is another thing altogether to kill revolutionary ideas of freedom, nationhood and sovereignty.
Needless to say, those aspirations towards freedom and nationhood remained very much alive among the black people of Antigua, Barbuda, Barbados, Jamaica, St. Kitts and all the other European colonies of the Caribbean, and, some two hundred years later – in the year 1945 – coalesced in the demands of Vere Bird and the other leaders of the Caribbean Labour Congress (CLC) for the transformation of the socially and racially oppressive West Indian colonies of the day into democratic, socially and economically just self-governing nations within the over-arching structure of a West Indian Federation.
Without a doubt, the most potent formulation of these historic demands took place at the founding conference of the CLC in Barbados between the 17th and 27th of September 1945. Antigua was represented not only by Vere Bird, but also by HaroldT. Wilson and J. Oliver Davis. Also in attendance were such political giants as Richard Hart (Jamaica), George McIntosh (St. Vincent), Grantley Adams, Hugh Springer and Frank Walcott (Barbados), T. A. Marryshow (Grenada), HurbertCrichlow and A. A. Thorne (Guyana), Albert Gomes (Trinidad and Tobago) and W. J.Lesperan (Suriname).
And when these historic demands were ultimately betrayed and subverted– largely through the combined duplicity of the British Colonial Office and the folly of Alexander Bustamante — culminating in the 1962 collapse of the West Indian Federation, it was the veteran leader, Vere Bird, who joined forces with the younger Errol Barrow of Barbados and Forbes Burnham of Guyana to retrieve the vision and re-engineer our people’s historic journey to full nationhood and sovereignty with the signing of the Caribbean Free Trade Association Agreement(CARIFTA) at Dickenson Bay, Antigua, on 15th December 1965.
CARIFTA was formally launched on 1st May 1968 – making this year of 2018 the 50th anniversary year of CARIFTA – and by 1973 had evolved into the more comprehensive and substantial Caribbean Community (CARICOM).
And it is CARICOM which – through functional co-operation – has supported and maintained such critical edifices of our national sovereignty and civilizational independence as the University of the West Indies and the Caribbean Development Bank, and that has established the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ).
Of the three visionary architect nations of CARIFTA, two have removed themselves from the judicial jurisdiction of the British Privy Council and have established the CCJ as their highest and final appellate court – Barbados and Guyana. But what of Antigua? How will Antigua decide?
Perhaps this 50th anniversary year of the effective launching of CARIFTA is symbolically and spititually the right time for the people of Antigua and Barbuda to – in this most tangible and meaningful of ways – reiterate their commitment to the completion of our people’s historic journey towards full national sovereignty and Caribbean civilizational independence.
I humbly ask the people of Antigua and Barbuda to reflect deeply on the sacrifices made by the King Courts and Tomboys of sacred memory, and on the outstanding lessons of self-respect and self-determination taught to us all by such outstanding Antiguan and Barbudan sons and daughters of our Caribbean Civilization as George Weston, Vere Bird, Tim Hector, Sir Vivian Richards, Jamaica Kincaid, Sir AndyRoberts, King Shortshirt, Paget Henry and so many others before casting their vote on the 6th of November.
“Since the CSME was inaugurated here in Jamaica 12 years ago, we all agree that much has been accomplished under its regimes. But we have not achieved as much as we should have by now. Major policy decisions and adoption of legal instruments take much too long to be negotiated. We must do more and do it more quickly. The success of the CSME is being judged, by the public, on the basis of our implementation of the measures agreed to, that allow our citizens and businesses to benefit.” (CARICOM Secretary General, Ambassador Irwin LaRocque, at Opening of 39th Meeting, Conference of Heads of Government of CARICOM, Jamaica, July 4th, 2018)
The Conference of the Heads of Government took centre stage in Montego Bay, Jamaica. Thousands of eyes were not only on the colourful setting, but on the flamboyant smile of Barbados’ newest leader and first female prime minister. Several important agenda items were discussed; commitments were made that are sure to have deeper implications for the Community’s secretariat and its member states. Ambassador LaRocque’s assessment prefacing this article is more than a mouthful; it seemed a call for urgent action.
Significant, was Barbados’ purposeful and energetic input that would summon other leaders to close the existing gaps between the people’s lived realities and the customary side-stepping. It is those types of posturing that have together produced the wide implementation deficit across the region, thereby denying citizens and businesses deserved benefits. Prime Minister Mia Mottley could hardly have stated truer words when in her unassuming way she charged that “political leadership must facilitate and shepherd, not control and stifle.” Straight out of the box, the leaders of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) were reminded that it is the region’s people who ought to matter most in policy formulation and delivery.
Within the context of integrated development and the mechanisms affecting the populations of these small countries, Prime Minister Mottley was able to let flow her love, her ideas, and her dedication for wanting to improve the livelihoods of people. While admitting leadership delinquency and tardiness, Miss Mottley suggested that not much had changed or had gone forward over the last 10 years, and that old territorial fears persisted.
Nonetheless, the freshness of Prime Minister Mottley’s speech, although reflective in some areas, channelled the memories of the pioneers of the Caribbean’s regional integration movement. The freedom to think and to explore possibilities that would enhance the region captured the imagination of the listening audience across the CARICOM. Surely, Miss Mottley’s speech could be summed up as a quest to fight for a regionalism in which freedom and opportunity would coexist as a practicality rather than as a convenient posture. This writer, while assessing Miss Mottley’s inaugural remarks to the Conference of CARICOM Heads, recalled Nelson Mandella – the former President of post-apartheid South Africa – contending that:“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”
Prime Minister Mottley, by invoking the name of one of Barbados’ National Heroes – the Right Excellent Errol Barrow also took to embracing the true vitality of the Caribbean region. PM Mottley ably asserted Barrow’s bold and undeniable claim that: “the regional integration movement is a fact of daily experience. It is a reality which is lived but which we have not yet been able to institutionalise.” What followed from that point of mindful linkage between formal policies and the formalities affecting people were Miss Mottley’s sharing of genuine will and determination to fix the slack that obtained under her predecessor regarding the Caribbean Single Market and Economy.
Indeed, and as if to inspire the leaders and to give credence to the voices of the people, PM Mottley challenged the Conference of Heads to “give our people the scope to express their natural inclination of togetherness and inclusion in ways that are productive and beneficial to the region.” Miss Mottley touched on the need for the region to increase on its wide and varying sectoral successes. She wittingly and excitedly went from the need for sharing information to building resources and resilience; she aptly spoke of the freedom to turn away from prohibitive regulation to embracing a facilitative regimen inclusive of capable transportation enhancements.
Additionally, the Barbadian leader was adamant on the essentiality of giving vital and productive expression to the region’s youth through the global and technological highways. Her insistence was for renewed vigour regarding investment flows and cross-border partnerships among Caribbean people and entities. Miss Mottley’s presence and intervention symbolised precisely the things for educating, informing, and motivating the region’s people.
Mia Mottley courted challenge confidently and put her intent into the open arena of CARICOM. She advocated for the expansion of opportunities for Caribbean people advising that it is responsible and prudent to address issues on the process to verify Certificates of Recognition of CARICOM Skills Qualification. Mottley bemoaned the length of time and the discouragement that became part of the process for accreditation and verification. She noted that in this contemporary age of technological advancements and digital communications, it is regrettable that the regional labour market should be saddled with mechanisms which were more handicap than optimal for the people. Miss Mottley advocated that “we must be able to do better at real-time communication, particularly as we go forward in the issuance of skills certificates and diplomas that will allow for more ease of verification.”
On the urging of things that would have occurred in Barbados, Miss Mottley was unafraid but forthright in putting the issue of contingent rights to be a matter deserving resolve. Questions still are being asked why is it that CARICOM citizens working and paying taxes like Barbadians in Barbados, and being allowed to vote, cannot access similar or certainly reasonable healthcare or other social services without attracting extra user fees? The fact is and has been documented by this writer, ‘without contingent rights, intra-regional migrant labour and the practicality of freedom of movement for categories of workers become hollow and discouraging’.
The fact that Miss Mottley is proactive after seeing the need to remove the discriminatory practice of less than satisfactory treatment to CARICOM’s immigrant workers and their dependants in Barbados, augurs well. The region can start being progressive in public policy while ironing out any difficulties that may exist in regional affairs. Thus, the following countries must be commended for their willingness to sign the protocol addressing the problematic feature of contingent rights. The countries are: Barbados, Grenada, Haiti, Jamaica, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, and Suriname.
On a final note, congratulations and best wishes are for attorney and political activist David Comissiong on his appointment by Prime Minister Mottley as Barbados’ Ambassador to CARICOM. Hardly anyone would deny Mr. Comissiong’s knowledge and activities that are supportive of Caribbean civilization and the need for deeper functional cooperation among CARICOM’s member states. Comissiong’s intent, however, has similarly been misconstrued based on perceptions of his ideology. Ambassador Comissiong’s rejection of hegemonic behaviour and his strong preference for resilience to the encroachment of foreign political and economic forces should help to reinforce the view that in the region, unity and survival are important for the type of integrated development which benefits the region’s people. Barbados can be a pivotal actor in making CARICOM work for the prosperity of all the Caribbean people.
(Dr George C. Brathwaite is a part-time lecturer at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, and a political consultant. Email: email@example.com).
Mottley has lead responsibility for the CARICOM Single Market and Economy and Reparations – Nation newspaper 05 July 2018
If the blogmaster had to chose a Barbados Man of the Year Ambassador David Comissiong would win in a no contest. His body of work makes him the ideal person to function in the role as Ambassador to Caricom – for sure compared to his predecessors Bobby Morris and Denis Kellman.
Prime Minister Mia Mottley this week at the HoGs in Montega Bay, Jamaica renewed Barbados’ commitment to the regional movement CARICOM. The blogmaster also heard the open challenge given to Prime Minister Mottley by Chairman Andrew Holness, Prime Minister of Jamaica in her role as lead Prime Minister for CSME matters.
Many in this forum will debate the usefulness of CARICOM. What is clear to the blogmaster is that to compete in today’s world, a level of cooperation between regions will have to occur. The Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) sub region serves as a measure of success for what the region should aspire. Despite challenges the region (CARICOM) boast of several regional entities and frameworks that continue to serve us well.
The blogmaster is confident that David Comissiong is the ideal man to carry the baton on this league of the regional integration/functional cooperation journey. The blogmaster is equally proud that two citizen advocates who have seen the benefit of using this forum to promote tseir messages- the other Senator Caswell Franklyn- have been called to public service.
“Not in numbers but in unity that our great strength lies.” – (Thomas Paine).
Traditional and non-traditional threats, in addition to the vulnerability and dependence of Barbados, and the geopolitical paltriness of most if not all Caribbean countries, are still matters that should grab our attention. All of these countries have been ‘cruelly exposed’ to the vagaries of stagnant or weak economic growth, declining terms of trade, insufficiently diversified economies, precariously perched foreign reserves combined with economic volatility, the need to borrow to cover public expenditure coupled with incidences of mountainous debt, wide fiscal deficits pre-empting forced structural adjustment and austerity measures, the gifting of extravagant concessions to transnational business magnates, potential minefields in tourism, high unemployment or vast underemployment, trajectories of declining social nets paralleled alongside increasing poverty and myriad forms of insecurity, glaring everyday exposure to climate change and other environmental hazards, and instability in several institutions that are badly in need of major reforms, and circumspect practices that undermine good democratic governance.
Against this host of problems afflicting and challenging Barbados and the region, there is still optimism born out of the resilience that characterises the region, and a sheer desire to survive. Indeed, recent occurrences in Grenada, Antigua & Barbuda, and now Barbados ushered in a renewed thrust to push back against the lethargy that lingered for too long in the region since the first decade of the twenty-first century. Deepening functional cooperation is once again topical; if only that Barbados and the regional entities comprising the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) are actively revisiting their ties and approaches to both safeguard and assure mutual survival.
Often, the region’s concept of its security or insecurities is contested. But clearly, Caribbean populations shape their security narratives to discursively enhance a shared sense of safety. Many of these small developing states declare or show a willingness to counter the devastating threats or looming dangers by relying on discourses of commonality and shared concerns. In one sense, Barbadians for example, talk in security terms as a set of attempts to impose order, stability, and to ensure well-being since failure is not an option for the nation or region.
Under the proactive leadership of Barbados’ first female prime minister, there are clear indications that her Barbados Labour Party (BLP) embraces and is committed to regionalism. Prime MinisterMia Mottley, in herverbal communication and hands-on decisions, already has demonstrated that her Cabinet is eager to offer researched, informed, and practical solutions to several perennial economic, social, environmental and logistical issues faced locally and throughout the region. The English playwright and poet, Alan A. Milne once contended that: “You can’t stay in your corner of the forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.”Barbados is taking the right posture and the Government stands poised to utilise both traditional and new ideas.
Barbados is again immersing itself in regional affairs at the leadership level via effective interactions and the engagements that are facilitative for fermenting tangible and intangible successes necessary for regional survival. For instance, while speaking in St. Lucia before the Heads of the OECS, PM Mottley alluded to the concerns faced by our regional people transiting through the region. Miss Mottley, who later received agreement from St. Lucia’s Prime Minister the Hon. Allen Chastanet, highlighted the plight of regional travellers who are in-transit. This category of travellers is precluded from leaving the airport and the sea port although a ‘wait’ can be of several hours duration. The Barbados leader surmised that the “inability to be able to clear Immigration … continues to be of major concern to many of our citizens” and this legalistic conundrum that is manifested throughout the region, need to be eliminated.
Indeed, PM Mottley insisted that the prohibitive practice “makes no sense because it limits the extent to which those who visit our shores are capable of adding to economic activity in our countries.” Hence, the Barbadian prime minister posed a rhetorical but questioning summation: “what are the legal obstacles preventing the movement of people who are within our jurisdiction?” Surely, Miss Mottley is correct that “the only way we [in the region] can move forward … is by recognising that our fragility requires of us [leaders and legislators] an effort and a commitment that goes beyond anything that we have seen thus far.”
To reinforce the earlier point of support for strengthening Caribbean integration, the newly elected Mia Mottley-led administration has abolished the visa requirement for Haitian nationals entering Barbados. Barbados has moved to abolish the ‘illegal’ provision because not only was it inconsistent with the ‘spirit’ of CARICOM, but in fact, it should not have been a requirement given that Haiti is a member of CARICOM. The Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas compellingly demands non-discrimination and equal treatment for CARICOM member states and their nationals. The substantive Minister responsible for Immigration in Barbados, the Hon. Edmund Hinkson queried how can you have … visa requirements on Haitians? Why do we do this to our own people?”
Early next month, CARICOM meets for its annual conference of CARICOM Heads of Government. This year’s meeting is potentially inspiring and should be sufficiently forthright that the leaders redouble their efforts for the implementation of decisions. The former prime minister of Jamaica, Bruce Golding contended that: “The implementation actions required of each member state are not in all cases simple matters; some are very complex, requiring far-reaching policy changes, legislative processes and executive action. Stakeholders have to be sensitized and persuaded to buy into the process. Many of our member states, too, are constrained by capacity and resource challenges. Yet, the list of matters that are yet to be actioned and which the report so helpfully identified on a country-by-country basis is distressing and embarrassing. Hardly any plausible excuse or explanation has been offered by any of these member states for its inaction. Indeed, hardly could any be proffered, given the length of time that has elapsed.”
Certainly, if integrated development is to benefit the region’s people, regional prime ministers must lead by adopting more cohesive approaches in their ‘Community’ discourses and in their social, political, and economic, interactions. Barbados’ plans of maritime expansionism should also encourage enthusiasm for other littoral interests in the Caribbean’s geospatial spheres. Additionally, it is crucial that the regional leaders discourage having a one-dimensional understanding of security and our common problems. Regional agreements and obligations must amount to meaningful actions.
Immediately coming to mind within the scope of transnationalism, are issues of regional transport and cross-border networks. LIAT, although being at the centre of deliberations, does not preclude the realisation of an ‘inter-island ferry’ service. Greater shared ownership ought to exist with LIAT and the proposed ferry service must consider the regional needs to gain overdue population currency. Therefore, the regional zeal to achieve must not be ‘inadequate’ if the Caribbean populations’ expectations of safety, hassle-free travel, and prosperity are to be fulfilled.
Furthermore, these small countries of the OECS and CARICOM are implanted within under-explored economic maritime zones. The message emerging from Barbados for example, presupposes that perennial lack of critical thought and sluggishness to action, must be replaced with innovations, technologies, and the political will to maximise such untapped elements as our maritime resources. The prioritisation of efforts, assuming the scholarship for gravitating to informed positions on policy and implementation, should enhance regional sustainability. The gravitas and spill-over effects can deepen functional cooperation in terms of both integrated development and national/regional security.
The practical demands of affective and efficient governance must regain cross-border significance. Already, Prime Minister Gaston Browne of Antigua and Barbuda has heralded the entry of Prime Minister Mottley. PM Browne assuredly says that Mia Mottley’s “reputation as a champion of Caribbean causes is renowned, as is her understanding of the value of the Caribbean’s unity in its global affairs.” Although not elusive to the many difficulties hampering the noble project of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy, PM Browne rests confidence in PM Mottley’s capacity to be “constructive, practical and visionary.” In several forums, PM Mottley has communicated that Barbados must work with its neighbours to create and help shape the felicity conditions for national and regional progress. She sees the sharing of information with colleague Caribbean leaders to be a vital communicative segment that can prove amenable as the region copes with similar challenges and options.
(Dr George C. Brathwaite is a part-time lecturer at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, and a political consultant. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
The independence of the CCJ and its fitness … should not be a matter in which there is any doubt. In assessing the independence of a court, one looks at the quality and the character of the judges of the court, the institutional arrangements for the selection of judges, focusing particularly on the absence of political involvement, as well as the independence and sustainability of the financial arrangements for the operation of the court. The CCJ meets these standards. – (Sir Dennis Byron, 2012).
Freundel Stuart of the Democratic Labour Party (DLP), in what will likely be his last days as the beleaguered Prime Minister of Barbados, has proven once more that on awaking from his slumber, he would rather shoot from the hip while aiming recklessly, than gather his bearings and pierce the intended target with any precision.
Last Friday night, in a desperate attempt to rally the dwindling numbers of DLP supporters and to capture and keep those willing to risk their futures with another term under the DLP administration, Stuart suggested that should the DLP be returned to office, Barbados will be withdrawing from the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) as its final Court of Appeal.
Prime Minister Stuart narrow-mindedly stated:
Barbados is not going back to the Privy Council because we are not going backward; life goes not backward or tarries with yesterday. But once the Democratic Labour Party is re-elected to office, I am determined, to put Barbados on the same level as every other CARICOM country by de-linking from the Caribbean Court of Justice in its appellate jurisdiction. We went in first and we can come out first.” Plainly, this statement by Barbados’ 67 year-old prime minister is arbitrary nonsense!
Several years ago, one of the main architects of the CCJ – Sir David Simmons the former Chief Justice of Barbados and eminent jurist – indicated that the CCJ’s setting up was “not the product of some sudden or knee-jerk reaction to recent decisions of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (JCPC)” but in fact was a conscious decision. Indeed, since 1947 there were forthright discussions on claiming political, and self-evidently the sovereign independence that accompanies such, within the context of the wider Caribbean. Barbados, like all other Caribbean countries, has systematically through processes of decolonization and quest for self-determination operated on a drive for the type of political independence which further implies the autonomy for its legislative and executive affairs.
In my doctoral thesis, I made the point that the discourse and many actions by leading “national actors do not conform to the stated desire of the member states for deeper regional integration and integrated development.” The negative political posturing that can sometimes happen, occurred in Barbados with the DLP’s victory in 2008.
Issues of intra-CARICOM migration and CARICOM citizens living – legally or undocumented – in Barbados consumed the popular discourse over the next couple years to no one’s benefit. Hardly anyone in the region would forget the notorious and inglorious statement by then Prime Minister David Thompson (DLP), when he stated: ‘ever so welcome, wait for a call’. Thompson and the DLP sought to rid Barbados of numerous CARICOM immigrants who were actively and welcomingly contributing to Barbados’ economy and national development. In response, Barbados was accused by Guyana and other member states of abandoning the ‘spirit of CARICOM’ as it related to Article 45 of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas.
This past weekend, the issue of Barbados attempting to walk away from the ‘spirit’ of integrated functionality in the Caribbean Community under the administrative guidance of the DLP is most staggering, particularly when measured against the episodes of a post-2009 era in which Barbados’ reputation became tarnished, and the exit of many CARICOM citizens put pressure on the availability of agricultural produce, other food items, and placed downward pressures on rising labour costs. Numerous households and businesses relying on the valuable input of CARICOM citizens living and working in Barbados were short-changed because of the exits and unnecessary deportations. Thousands of Barbadians were robbed of opportunities for enhancing localised commercial activities while cementing Barbados’ pivotal place in the regional integration movement.
Lest one forgets, it was none other than the Right Excellent Errol Barrow – one of ten Barbados National Heroes – that was a founding father and pioneer of formal integration relations in the region. Although Freundel Stuart prides himself in historical knowledge, it is a definite absurdity that this irksome leader should overlook the cautions of Errol Barrow who warned at his very last Heads of Government Conference of the Caribbean Community in 1986 that: “The promise of the regional integration movement … cannot be realised unless we [the national leaders] find new ways of communicating to the mass of our people the meaning and purpose of all our regional institutions.”
The CCJ came about in February 2001 and would not have become a reality in Barrow’s lifetime. However, and in Barbados, after the Caribbean Court of Justice Bill that was debated in 2003 in the House of Assembly and gained full consensus of the legislature, the CCJ became the final Court of Appeal for the island. The CCJ’s operational and juridical presence, both in its original and appellate jurisdictions, today points directly to bringing access and the ‘rule of law’ to the people of Barbados.
With the CCJ came the development of a Caribbean jurisprudence, providing nationals and foreign entities “the assurance fostered by the existence of an independent and efficient judiciary” together with the capacity to settle commercial disputes, to hear criminal and civil disputes at the appellate stage with the highest integrity and independence of the judiciary, and to lessen litigation costs.
Ironically but not surprisingly, Freundel Stuart is an attorney, and was the Attorney General of Barbados when Thompson made his offending statement and Barbados appeared to retreat from spearheading and upholding CARICOM’s Single Market and Economy (CSME). In these his dying days as primus inter pares and the legitimate Prime Minister of Barbados, Stuart’s statement about “not going to have Barbados disrespected by any politicians wearing robes’ amounts to taking a ‘potshot’ at the judges of the CCJ. Is it a deliberate ploy by Stuart to distract the local electorate from the burning issues of economic mismanagement, wastage and administrative malfeasance that happened under his tenure?
Surely, with mere days left before voters take to the ballot box, it seems unwise and non-strategic to be reckless and gladiatorial when one can prefer to appeal to the passivity of a Barbadian populace known to be relatively tolerant. Why did Stuart not extract the few achievements of the DLP, and expand on those with the hope that the voters would be willing to offer a modicum of a chance for re-election as the government?
The fact that in building a rationale for his unnecessary and unlikely withdrawal of Barbados from the CCJ and, knowing that a two-thirds majority in Parliament is needed to achieve such a caprice, Stuart revealed his character of untimely speech and out-of-touch demeanour with the people. Stuart’s saying that he does not “want to influence any decisions” and that he does not “care what they decide” is a ludicrous position to put oneself in, particularly when the court has exhibited the highest professional integrity in its judgements and general conduct. Stuart himself suggested that he was not commenting on the decisions of the CCJ, because he respects the decisions that courts make.
Yet, while Stuart may fuss and frustrate over the “attitude coming from Port of Spain,” that according to him, “leaves much to be desired in terms of how it is treating Barbados,” it is irresponsible and inflammatory for him to overlook the many long-standing problems being articulated in Barbados’ judicial system. From tardiness to unpreparedness, the CCJ has been justified in highlighting such problems.
In fact, and to draw on Sir David Simmons who used an extract from a contribution of a deceased Prime Minister and Queen’s Council Sir Harold ‘Bree’ St. John, who spoke years earlier indicating the essence of Barbadian complaints and criticisms of the judicial system, said that: “There can be no doubt about it now and it is an open secret all over Barbados that there is a level of dissatisfaction in the community in respect of certain areas of the administration of justice in Barbados. This dissatisfaction arises from the experiences of a number of people with the judicial process. Some people get frustrated by the delays, not only the hearing dates but in the process of hearing and, worst of all, in the process of decision-making after the hearing.”
Certainly, it may be because of the DLP’s paltry performances measured against broken promises and bad policies that may have led Freundel Stuart to grab at any straw. Stuart was at one and the same time being dismissive of the CCJ and vainglorious to Barbadians and regional counterparts despite numerous persons questioning why was the Myrie incident so badly handled at the diplomatic level? Why was the matter not kept away from the courts? Why was the Electoral Commission of Barbados so reticent to uphold the laws and customs of Barbados regarding Commonwealth citizens’ right to vote in the upcoming general elections?
It is therefore, quite okay for Prime Minister Freundel Stuart to say that he is “not going to have a situation where other countries in the Caribbean keep a safe, safe distance from that court while Barbados supports” its functionality and decisions. That seems to be fair ground; but would it not have preferable for him to be part of the formula encouraging member states to ‘close the circle of independence’ for this region?
However, it cannot be acceptable to have a prime minister jump from his slumber and go straight into a bout of political madness, outright clumsiness, or salivate with the drowsiness that comes from trying to implore an electorate to vote for your party out of sheer desperation. Stuart’s anti-CCJ statement takes shape exposing his excremental silliness at a time when Barbadians and the Caribbean region are looking for the transformational leadership that can deliver prosperity and justice for the populations whose very survival is reliant on functional cooperation. As Errol Barrow asserted, our “battle of communication in defence of the unity of the region … beyond the confines of conferences” must be effectively translated at home and in the region. Prime ministerial madness cannot be a part of the future for Barbados or the Caribbean.
(Dr George C. Brathwaite is a part-time lecturer at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, and a political consultant. Email: email@example.com )
Please find attached hereto a letter written on behalf of the Clement Payne Movement of Barbados, the Caribbean Chapter of the International Network in Defense of Humanity, and the Barbados-based Pan-African Coalition of Organizations (PACO) in relation the Campaign for Justice for the Windrush Generation.
The letter is addressed directly to you, but we would be grateful if you would be so kind as to also use your good offices to share it with our Caricom Heads of State.
23 April 2018
Ambassador Irwin La Rocque
I write to you on behalf of the Clement Payne Movement of Barbados, the Caribbean Chapter of the International Network In Defense of Humanity, and the Pan African Coalition of Organizations (PACO).
On Saturday 21st of April 2018 the three above-mentioned organizations staged a “Community Grounding” at the Clement Payne Cultural Centre situated at Crumpton Street, Bridgetown, Barbados on the issue of the systematic and racist infringement of the civil and human rights of the so-called “Windrush Generation” of British nationals of Caribbean origin by the current Conservative or Tory governmental administration of the United Kingdom (UK).
The said “Community Grounding” benefitted from the personal testimonies of a number of Barbadian and other Caribbean nationals who had resided and worked for extensive periods of time in the United Kingdom, and who are therefore extremely knowledgeable about the plight of our predominantly black brothers and sisters of Caribbean origin resident in the UK.
After comprehensive discussion of the issue it was unanimously resolved that the Clement Payne Movement, the Pan-African Coalition of Organizations, and the Caribbean Chapter of the International Network In Defense of Humanity would – acting on behalf of all participants in the Grounding – address a letter to the leadership of CARICOM, informing you of our findings, opinions, and recommendations as follows :-
1. All persons of Caribbean origin in the UK – whether or not they be British nationals or be entitled to British nationality – remain part and parcel of our Pan-Caribbean family, and are entitled to the interest, concern, solidarity and support of the Caribbean people and governments.
2.One of the core functions of CARICOM is to develop for the 15 Caribbean member states a collective foreign policy and a collective platform for dealing with the outside world and with powerful foreign governments such as the government of the United Kingdom (UK) in a unified manner.
3.In light of the foregoing, CARICOM is obligated to take a collective position in relation to the plight of the members of the so-called “Windrush Generation” who have been subjected in the UK to a systematic state-orchestrated racist campaign of unlawful deportations, detentions in custody, denial of medical and other social services, and denial of the right to gainful employment. (And it must be noted that there are several cases of the mental and physical stress generated by this racist campaign resulting not only in physical and mental illness but also in actual cases of death!)
4.The affected members of the Windrush Generation have suffered the type of racist group injury that requires the application to it of the concept and principles of Reparations: that is, the British government must be called upon to fully and unreservedly acknowledge the wrong that has been committed; to genuinely apologize to the victims; to immediately bring a halt to the injurious racist policies and practices; to put in place alternative and remedial policies and practices that are designed to genuinely assist the affected group with confirmation and certification of their legal status within the UK ; to immediately extend to deportees the right of return to the UK at the expense of the British government; and to financially compensate all victims for the injuries and damage suffered.
5.CARICOM is under a duty to seek justice for our UK based brothers and sisters, and to do so by speaking forthrightly to and engaging with the government of the UK in the terms outlined above.
The participants at the Community Grounding noted that there are a number of black grassroots activists organizations in the UK that are fighting for justice for the Windrush Generation, but it was the unanimous consensus that these organizations are up against a very powerful foe and will require the active solidarity and support of the Caribbean governments and of their collective regional organization – CARICOM – if the fight for justice is to be brought to a successful conclusion.
It is in this spirit, and with this understanding, that we address this letter to you, and through you to the political leadership of our CARICOM member states, and urge that CARICOM take up this matter with the Theresa May governmental administration of the UK in a very serious, determined and committed manner.
We would be grateful if we could receive a response from you giving us some indication of your proposed course of action.
cc: The General Secretary, Clement Payne Movement
cc: The Chairman, Pan-African Coalition of Organizations
cc: The Coordinator, Caribbean Chapter, International Network In Defense of Humanity
We know that we can’t speak for all of our fellow Caribbean citizens, but we would like to publicly declare that one of the major things that we hold on to as sons and daughters of the Caribbean to give ourselves a feeling of pride, accomplishment, and hope for the future, is our Caribbean Community (CARICOM)!
We Caribbean people currently live in an era that is filled with much disappointment and despondency. In many of our countries, several of our most important national institutions have precipitously declined and fallen into various states of crisis and dysfunction, and many of the most precious social gains that previous generations had fought for and won have slipped away from us.Truth be told, even our once mighty world championship West Indies cricket team has fallen from its exalted perch and is no longer the automatic and constant source of pride and accomplishment that it used to be.
But in the midst of such decline and disillusion we Caribbean people can still celebrate the fact that we have managed to keep our regional integration institution (CARIFTA / CARICOM) going for a solid half century now, without ever having any member state break away, or without falling victim to any crisis — financial or otherwise — that threatened the destruction of our splendid regional headquarters and Secretariat in Georgetown, Guyana.
And we say “a solid half century” because it was on “Labour Day” in the year 1968 that the CARIFTA agreement — the agreement that would morph into the 1973 CARICOM Treaty of Chaguaramas— came into effect.
So, this year of 2018 is the very very significant 50th anniversary year of our CARIFTA / CARICOM regional integration institution ! And we want to emphasize that it has been 50 years of accomplishment ! Not — admittedly — unrelentingly constant and ever increasing accomplishment, but accomplishment none the less.
Indeed, we would like us all to recognize that CARICOM constitutes the highest institutional expression of the Caribbean people’s historical struggle against enslavement, genocide, colonization, racial and social oppression, big power domination, exogenously imposed separation and division, poverty, and under-development.
CARICOM — properly understood — constitutes the zenith of a super-human effort on the part of our people to construct an autonomous Caribbean Civilization out of the detritus of centuries of colonialism — a Caribbean Civilization that is built upon and that exemplifies and upholds the principles of freedom, national sovereignty, self determination, anti- racism, anti-imperialism, people empowerment, and the inalienable right to human dignity and to personal and national development.
Let us recall, for example, that when the four major Caribbean political leaders of the decade of the 1970’s — Trinidad & Tobago’s Eric Williams, Barbados’ Errol Barrow, Guyana’s Forbes Burnham, and Jamaica’s Michael Manley — met at Chaguaramas in Trinidad in October 1972, that they not only decided to transform CARIFTA into a Caribbean Community (CARICOM), but that intrinsic to that process were their simultaneous decisions to commence the practice of coordinating the foreign policy of all CARICOM member states and presenting one unified CARICOM front to the outside world — commencing with such “outside” international organizations as the Organization of American States (OAS) and the European Economic Community (EEC) –and to defy the mighty United States of America (USA) and establish diplomatic relations with the revolutionary Republic of Cuba.
In other words, these historic leaders of the Caribbean were clearly and boldly establishing that at the very core of CARICOM would be a commitment to unity, self-determination, Third World solidarity, and a courageous willingness to speak truth to power and to stand up and champion important principles of International Law.
So that is our record! That is our heritage ! That is what we are entitled to celebrate!
But even as we celebrate our CARICOM in this 50th anniversary year, we would like to draw to the attention of our fellow Caribbean citizens some recent very disturbing happenings that should cause all of us to pause and take stock !
After some 45 years of our CARICOM functioning as THE solid and outstanding bloc of nations within the OAS, we suddenly learnt — a mere 7 months ago — that a rival bloc of nations had emerged in the OAS in the form of the so-called “Lima Groupof States”.
It was in August of 2017 that, on the invitation of one President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski of Peru — one of the most corrupt Heads of State in the world — some eleven OAS member states met in Lima, Peru and established the “Lima Group of States” and dedicated themselves to do the bidding of the Capitalist establishment of the USA by engaging in a hostile and illegal “regime change campaign” against the current Socialist government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.
To date, the most striking so-called “achievement”of the Lima Group has been its collusion with the corrupt President Kuczynski in withdrawing President Nicolas Maduro’s invitation to attend the 2018 “Summit of the Americas” that is scheduled to be held in Peru — a thoroughly illegitimate and despicable act, but the type of thing that the corrupt Kuczynski is known for. (Incidentally, it has since transpired that the president who definitely will NOT be attending the Summit of the Americas is the said Kuczynski himself : on the 21st of March 2018 Kuczynski was forced to resign from office in disgrace, in order to avoid impeachment on several charges of corruption! )
The tragedy for CARICOM in all of this is that two of our CARICOM member states — St. Lucia and Guyana — broke ranks with CARICOM and actually joined corrupt President (now former President) Kuczynski and his johnny-come-lately Lima Group of States, and no less than three other CARICOM member states have gone on record as being “supporters” of the Lima Group — Barbados, Jamaica and Grenada.
Surely and truly, Errol Barrow, Michael Manley, Forbes Burnham and Eric Williams must be turning in anguish in their graves!
How do we go from leading the entire Western Hemisphere in 1972 by breaking the USA’s diplomatic isolation of Cuba and extending recognition to the Fidel Castro-led government, to becoming sheepish followers of the likes of corrupt Kuczynski in a thoroughly unprincipled and cowardly attack on a socialist Third World government that is determined to wrest its people’s precious petroleum resources from the hands of greedy American multi-national corporations?
How do we justify or rationalize that type of supine, divisive, and myopic behavior in the 50th year of existence of our regional integration institution? How can we countenance an imperialistic big power like the USA using a lackey like Kuczynski to break up our precious “CARICOM Consensus” and employing a few errant CARICOM governments to do their dirty work?
If Prime Ministers Chastanet, Holness, Stuart and Mitchell, and President Granger don’t know any better, it is up to us — the masses of ordinary citizens of the Caribbean Community, the true heirs of Manley, Barrow, Williams and Burnham — to speak up and admonish them, and set them right in this 50th anniversary year of our CARIFTA / CARICOM regional institution.
And it is particularly important that we make this intervention now — approximately one month before the Summit of the Americas — if we are to ensure that all of our governments attend that important convocation solely and exclusively as members of our CARICOM bloc of nations, and equipped with ONE common and righteous CARICOM foreign policy position on Venezuela and on every other important international issue.
CARICOM is too important to us — too critical to our future — for us to sit back and allow it to be divided and brought into disrepute by a small group of unwise, neophyte, temporary politicians.
Let us ensure that we do not permit our still mighty and impressive CARICOM to go the same way that our ONCE mighty and impressive West Indies Cricket Team so unfortunately went !
Caribbean people wake up and protect your CARICOM !
INTERNATIONAL NETWORK IN DEFENSE OF HUMANITY
HOPE MC NISH
JAMAICA PEACE COUNCIL
CARIBBEAN MOVEMENT FOR PEACE AND INTEGRATION
ORGANIZATION FOR THE VICTORY OF THE PEOPLE (GUYANA)
David Comissiong, the following was posted to St. Lucia Online
All over the world today, the United States Department of State and the US’s billionaire Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (former CEO of the rapacious American multi-national oil corporation Exxon Mobil) are gleefully boasting about the coup that they pulled off in engineering the so-called “Lima Group of States” (inclusive of the CARICOM states of St Lucia and Guyana) into issuing an international Declaration that attacks and vilifies the socialist Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, as well as the success of Tillerson’s recent diplomatic effort to enlist Prime Minister Andrew Holness and the government of Jamaica in the USA’s ongoing crusade against Venezuela.
These recent happenings are all part and parcel of a well coordinated strategy on the part of the Donald Trump administration to cause maximum disruption and subversion in our sister Caribbean country of Venezuela in the lead up to Venezuela’s critical Presidential election of April 2018.
And so, one is forced to query why three of our Caribbean Community (CARICOM) member states — Jamaica, St. Lucia, and Guyana — would remove themselves from our collective CARICOM umbrella, and instead associate themselves with this sinister “big power” campaign of subversion against a fellow developing country that is trying desperately hard to keep its precious natural resources out of the dirty hands of greedy North American multi-national corporations.
The US Department of State website is telling us that St. Lucia and Guyana are members of something called “The Lima Group of states” !
The questions therefore arise:- Do the citizens of St. Lucia and Guyana know anything at all about this “Lima Group of States” that their governments have joined? Was any of this discussed with the people of St. Lucia and Guyana by Prime Minister Alan Chastanet and President David Granger respectively?
Is it the case that St. Lucia, Guyana, and Jamaica (under the relatively conservative, right-wing administrations that now govern those countries) have been transformed into myopic puppet states of Donald Trump’s USA? Have these three once proud pillars of Caribbean nationhood become the “three blind mice” of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) ?
Messers Chastanet, Holness, and Granger are all relative newcomers to Caribbean political leadership, but surely they must be aware that one of the fundamental objectives of our Caribbean Community (CARICOM), as enshrined in Article 4 of the Treaty of Chaguaramas, is the coordination and the collective articulation of the foreign policy of our 15 CARICOM member states, and “the achievement of a greater measure of……..effectiveness of Member States in dealing with third States, groups of States, and entities of any description”.
It is therefore inexcusable that these three conservative right-wing political leaders have snubbed and disregarded our Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and our forty year commitment to formulating and pursuing a collective foreign policy, for by so doing they have severely tarnished the international image of CARICOM, and have done serious damage to the morale, stability and effectiveness of our regional organization.
And what should be particularly distressing for the people of St. Lucia, Guyana, and Jamaica is that these three neophyte heads of government are seemingly unaware that each of their nations possess outstanding records as architects and champions of the CARICOM determination to formulate and articulate a collective foreign policy, and to adopt a unified CARICOM position in our dealings with the “great” powers of this world.
Who can forget the historic and critical role played by Guyana’s Forbes Burnham in crafting the Treaty of Chaguaramas and its commitment to a collective foreign policy?
Likewise,who can forget Michael Manley’s collaboration with the said Forbes Burnham in insisting that CARICOM formulate and deploy a common foreign policy in relation to such critical issues as support for the anti-apartheid /anti-imperialist movements of Southern Africa; the Caribbean’s engagement in negotiations at Lome for a new relationship with the then European Economic Community; and advocacy for the establishment of a New International Economic Order?
And who could fail to acknowledge that it was in the island of St. Lucia in July of 1974 that the heads of Government of the newly established CARICOM first enunciated the principle that our nations would embark on such wider hemispheric matters as crafting relationships with the Central American Common Market, the Andean Common Market, and the nation of Mexico, NOT as individual states, but on a collective, region-wide CARICOM basis !
In light of the foregoing, all right-thinking citizens of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) should rebuke these three errant heads of Government and deprecate the folly that they have engaged themselves in.
Our Caribbean has a proud tradition of standing up and courageously speaking truth to power. It was — after all — four small Caribbean states that — in 1972 — defied the mighty United States of America and broke the diplomatic isolation of the nation of Cuba. We took a stance based on PRINCIPLE, and the rest of the hemisphere followed us.
That is the type of Caribbean Community (CARICOM) that we must remain committed to being !
We must therefore NOT permit our unity as a regional community to be fractured, nor must we allow ourselves to be led down a path of unprincipled, self-seeking, and undignified behavior by any number of “blind mice”.
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.
The previous article set out my criticism of the CLF bailout situation in respect of the CARICOM claims and our nation’s treaty obligation to exercise non-discrimination in its policies. In that light I am sceptical of the position now being advanced by the CLF shareholders to highlight that group as being a black-controlled conglomerate. My scepticism was rooted in the apparent refusal or failure of either the CLF shareholders or the T&T State to accept responsibility to meet CARICOM claims arising from the 2009 collapse of CLF.
I am stating here what seem to be the four indispensable elements of an equitable settlement to this CLF bailout.
Settlement of non-T&T claims arising from the collapse of CLF –
I have been reliably informed that the Policyholders in one OECS Member State have sent Pre-Action Protocol letters to the Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago in pursuance of their CLF claim. This course of action followed after this OECS Member Government twice wrote to the Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago without having the benefit of a response. Clearly wholly unsatisfactory in terms of international diplomacy, particularly in the context of Trinidad and Tobago as a leading CARICOM State, More Developed Country (MDC) and the other CARICOM State, as a Less Developed Country (LDC) in the context of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas (RTC). Should matters attendant to the question of fair and equitable treatment between CARICOM Members proceed to litigation they will be expected to be heard by the CCJ which is the Court of Record for disputes arising within the ambit of the Revised Treat of Chaguaramas. If this were to proceed to the CCJ, it would be yet another layer of litigation to be resolved at public expense before the issue can be settled. Consider also that other CARICOM members have not yet litigated so there is a clear and present danger that those states whose citizens’ claims have not been satisfied could join into the entire lawsuit.
Submitted by David Comissiong, Coordinator, Caribbean Chapter, International Network In Defense of Humanity
DAVID COMISSIONG, CORDINATOR, INTERNATIONAL NETWORK IN DEFENSE OF HUMANITY (CARIBBEAN CHAPTER)
The Organization of American States (OAS) held a Foreign Ministers meeting on 19th to 21st June 2017 in Cancun, Mexico for the principal purpose of addressing “the situation in Venezuela”. However, on the eve of the said OAS meeting a most startling and unprecedented thing happened!
Every single United States Ambassador assigned to the nations of CARICOM secured the publication (in the newspapers of the country they are assigned to) of a newspaper article that was designed, inter alia : to circumvent the political leadership of CARICOM and to speak directly to the people of the CARICOM countries; to attack and slander Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and his Administration; and to cajole and persuade the people of the CARICOM nations to put pressure on their political leaders to support the USA at the said OAS meeting in order that the OAS might adopt a particular Resolution on Venezuela that the US favoured.
In Barbados , this article was attributed to US Ambassador Linda Taglialatela and it was published in ALL three national newspapers– the Nation, the Barbados Advocate, and Barbados Today !
The said article– with minor changes here and there– was similarly published right across the CARICOM region, and was attributed to a variety of US Ambassadors.
Now the critical question that arises is this :- Why would the US State Department engage in such a comprehensive and determined effort to secure the adoption of “their” Resolution at the said OAS meeting?
Why would the US State Department make this unprecedented coordinated effort, if the Resolution that was being proposed at the OAS meeting was the harmless creature that the Foreign Ministers of Barbados, Jamaica, St Lucia, the Bahamas, Belize and Guyana— the six CARICOM countries that supported the Resolution–made it out to be?
(And incidentally, why was virtually every single newspaper editor in the CARICOM region so willing to accommodate this US propaganda effort?)
Clearly the USA regarded the adoption of “their” Resolution by the OAS as being of the utmost importance to them, and considered it to be a critical part of their on-going “regime change” strategy against Venezuela.
Thank God that the political leadership of St Vincent and the Grenadines possessed the wisdom and political acumen to recognize the dangers inherent in having the OAS adopt the poisoned Resolution that six lost CARICOM member states were “carrying” on behalf of the purveyors of imperialism, and took decisive action to thwart this effort to impose a Trojan Horse Resolution on the Venezuela situation.
Also to be congratulated are the political leaders of St Kitts and Nevis, Haiti, Trinidad and Tobago, Suriname, Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada and Dominica for their wise and principled actions at the OAS meeting in Cancun.
DAVID COMISSIONG, COORDINATOR, INTERNATIONAL NETWORK IN DEFENSE OF HUMANITY (CARIBBEAN CHAPTER)
The resounding diplomatic and political victory that our Caribbean Community (CARICOM) nation states won against the powerful quintet of the United States of America (USA) , Canada, Mexico, Peru and Panama at the Organization of American States (OAS) meeting that was held in Washington D.C on Wednesday 31st May 2017 may be likened to the biblical triumph of the pure and principled David (the little shepherd boy) over Goliath, the mighty and power-drunk warrior!
The issue at stake was the fate of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, and both the David-like CARICOM states and the Goliath-like “quintet” of large and powerful states came to the meeting armed with a draft resolution.
The CARICOM draft resolution was based on an understanding that at the heart of the conflict in Venezuela is a determined effort by an economic elite to wrest political power and control over massive petroleum resources from the hands of a socialist Government that – for the first time in Venezuela’s history – has been sharing these resources with millions of impoverished citizens.
Our CARICOM Prime Ministers and Foreign Ministers are not naïve neophytes! And they are aware that the wealthy Opposition forces in Venezuela are pursuing a conscious policy of orchestrated violent street protests that are designed to produce personal injuries and loss of human life, that can in turn be magnified and used by the all-powerful Western media as a propaganda tool against the Government of Venezuela.
As a result, the CARICOM draft resolution radiated respect for the sovereignty of Venezuela and demanded an immediate cessation of violence, adherence to the rule of law and constitutional processes, absolute respect for human rights, and the implementation of a process of dialogue in the country.
This fair and principled draft Resolution effectively challenged the interventionist “might makes right” posture of the “Goliath quintet” and their draft Resolution, and led to a stalemate which was only broken when the CARICOM states proposed that the meeting be adjourned and that an effort be made to honestly discuss and negotiate a mutually acceptable draft Resolution.
The “Goliath quintet” – desperately seeking a way out of a humiliating diplomatic defeat by a group of micro states – accepted the CARICOM proposal!
This brilliant diplomatic triumph has showcased CARICOM at its very best – standing up for such critical international law principles as respect for national sovereignty and independence; courageously speaking truth to power; expressing solidarity with the universal struggle for social justice; and acting collectively and in unity.
And this is how it should be! This is how it always should be where the Caribbean people and their Governments are concerned.
Indeed, if there is one people on the face of this earth who possess both a right and a duty to stand up for the inter-linked principles of freedom, independence, social justice and human dignity it is us – the people of the Caribbean!
We, after all, are the descendants of a people who were subjected to the most horrendous forms of the denial of freedom, justice and human dignity.
Our history has therefore prepared us for and given us a great purpose and mission in this troubled world – and we must dutifully fulfill that purpose and mission.
We, who have never invaded any foreign country or ever committed any acts of assassination, genocide or other crimes against humanity, are uniquely qualified – morally and otherwise – to confront the big powers of this world and to speak up for principles that are critical to the survival of human civilization!
We must therefore humbly and modestly recognize and accept this as our duty– a duty that we perform in honour of our ancestors who suffered so much for the cause of freedom and human dignity. And we must therefore always be prepared to stand resolutely against all those who seek to deflect us from performing this sacred mission that our history has bequeathed to us.
It is against this background therefore that I now hereby call upon all Caribbean people to– with one voice— denounce the four former Central American Presidents who recently arrogantly and perversely publicly attacked our CARICOM Governments for the stance that they took at the May 31st OAS meeting.
The former Presidents in question – Felipe Calderon of Mexico, OscarArias of Costa Rica, Mireya Moscoso of Panama, and Alfredo Cristiani of El Salvador – are all multi-millionaire doctrinaire Capitalists who have been accused of or implicated in wrongs ranging from the massacre of students and intellectuals (Cristiani), extra-judicial killings in a so-called “drug war” (Calderon), corruption scandals (Moscoso), and constitutional abuses (Arias). Furthermore, three of them hail from nations with sordid records of genocide and crimes against humanity.
The “Open Letter” that they so arrogantly addressed to the political leaders of our CARICOM nations is a one-sided, extremist document that is riddled with half truths, distortions and outright lies. Every self-respecting citizen of the Caribbean should recognize it for what it is– an outrageous piece of right-wing propaganda, and reject it out of hand!
It is not often ordinary citizens get the opportunity to read communication meant for the eyes of the Heads of Government (HoGs). BU was able to secure a letter authored by Prime Minister Ralph Gonzales urging his colleagues to unite around the table at the Organization of American States (OAS) on the issue of Venezuela. Subsequent events at the OAS have revealed that several of the HoGs did not heed the request from Prime Minister Gonzales.
It has been a while in coming but today the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat announced in a press release that CARICOM and Cuba have finally agreed to expand the level of preferential access to each other’s markets as part of efforts to update the Cuba-CARICOM Trade and Economic Cooperation Agreement.
According to the Press Release, CARICOM and Cuba reached agreement at the end of the Tenth Meeting of the CARICOM-Cuba Joint Commission established pursuant to the trade and economic cooperation agreement. This meeting took place between January 30-31, 2017 at the CARICOM Secretariat in Georgetown, Guyana.
The following is an extract from a Yahoo T&T Group Forum BU is a member. It details a commentary on the rise across the Caribbean. In fact, a flavour of the commentary is playing out in the EU exacerbated by the refugee crisis. The old question is one the regionalist – and the ideologues – cannot ignore, the commitment by sovereigns to managing borders and ensuring quality of life for ‘locals’ by unbridled entry of people whether from the region or outside. It is unfortunate the most endowed economies in Caricom for example are responsible for exporting the most people to the other islands. Of concern is that many of the emigrants are unskilled and operate in the ‘exotic industry’. The Chinese have been effective in tagging Chinese labour to concessionary loans to beggar governments, the result, a growing local Chinese population.
Ordinarily people of the region should feel confident in the political leadership to guide our open societies through an uncertain period. It appears to BU we are currently being washed along in a current to nowhere. Those of us who express concern at the state of affairs are labelled as being xenophobic and jingoistic. Have we found those Nigerians who vanished a few years ago?
Apparently, only the Ministry of National Security and maybe some in government are not aware of the massive influx of Venezuelans and people of other nationalities into T&T (see Inshan’s FB post & Robin Montano’s blog post below). We all know of the Chinese invasion that continues unabated, with people who cannot speak English and with apparently no resources, who land here today and tomorrow they are up and running businesses, with their work permit, nationalization papers, and staff. CASH is king so they want Cash, no credit card and lynx etc, except in rare cases. Why? you really don’t know why? And, if not collecting taxes, VAT etc from them are not enough, there is tremendous leakage of forex for remittances to their families etc. All this cannot happen unless some in authority are on the take. Why is this allow to continue?
The government must immediately ramp up border patrols, interdiction, scanning at ports and points of entry, random patrols in coastal areas, and do all we can to stop the flow of drugs, guns, and people into T&T.
Crime is reaching astronomical levels, gangs are roaming everywhere, murders are on the rise, tens of thousands of illegals are swamping the systems and resources of T&T and we behave as if it is hunky dory and all is well. Things are getting worse in Venezuela with power cuts for much of the day in many areas, basic supplies running out and violence increasing. People are desperately trying to get out of that land or coming to T&T to trade, barters etc (what do you think they bring to barter & trade?). The easy availability of guns is the major reason for crime. Let’s tackle this problem, now, as a matter of national urgency. If the current Ministers of National Security cannot do the job then the Prime Minister has to step in, maybe take control of that Ministry, manage & supervise the Ministers… or get people who can do a better job there.
I would like to place on Public record that if Immigration don’t get off their backsides and do something to stem the flow of Illegal Immigrants from Guyana, Grenada, Jamaica, Nigeria, China, India, venezuela, Jamaica and other Countries we will reap the whirlwind.. In fact it has already started….I was told by inside sources that over 50,000 Venezuelans have already landed….The laws MUST be changed, anyone providing accommodation to an Illegal Immigrant must be held accountable and charged..$ 100,000 minimum.
The Community [CARICOM] calls on the Dominican Republic authorities” to adhere to the principles of protection of citizenship to Dominicans of Haitian descent, adding that those “persons shall not be rendered stateless – Fox News Latino
Senator Maxine McClean, Minister of Foreign Affairs
The loud silence by the government of Barbados, traditional media and other actors to the deportation (‘cleansing’) of Haitians from the Dominican Republic betrays why attempts at regional integration is a pipe dream. Yet again Haitians find themselves […] Continue reading →
There is a newly elected government in Guyana preceded by one in St. Kitts and there is the T&T general elections announced for 7 September 2015. It seems our governments (politicians) around the region have allowed themselves to be consumed by domestic issues and the idea […] Continue reading →
The ongoing ‘feud’ between the Knight of St. Andrew and he who is primus inter pares on Mount Olympus has sparked a robust debate about the lack of leadership in Barbados at a time when the country should have high expectations given its investment in education. It is ironic to observe while two of the country’s leading lights are engaged in puerile exchanges a bright son of the soil continues to be frustrated by the ‘ system’, his recent ‘crime’; the Court Registry misplaced his file.
For six long years David Weekes has been forced to fight the system for justice and so far to no avail. We can debate whether his action has merit or not, what CANNOT be debated is that under our system of jurisprudence Mr. David Weekes is entitled to trust the system to give him his day in court if he feels so aggrieved. This should be the inalienable right of a Barbadian under the system of democracy handed to us.
The Guyana Trades Union Congress (GTUC) rejects, outright, the CARICOM Council of Minsters’ statement on the prorogation of Guyana’s parliament. This statement was issued in Georgetown on 16th January at the Ministers’ meeting.
Where this nation’s highest decision-making arm, which represents the collective determination of the people has been thrown to the wayside by the PPP administration, the Council’s response to this situation smacks at contempt for the citizens and their institutions. Their reaction to this grave matter of national, regional and international import confirms the cynicism of the region’s citizens as to the quality of leadership their governments are prepared to deliver.
For the ministers to speak about non-interference of and diplomatic proprieties by nations with whom Guyana and CARICOM countries have signed charters, even as they are intimating to Guyanese that we must accept a situation where our elected representatives are denied the opportunity to function in Parliament on our behalf, is hypocritical, self-serving and reeks of double standards.
As is customary, we join with other commentators, that review the year and what gains, if any, the region would have made. As much as it distresses us, we are forced to conclude that 2014 brought nothing new to the region and that 2015 portends little. We are reaching the end of 2014 with most economies still reeling from a world recession that occasionally fools us that it is over.
Within the region, our strongest economy, Trinidad and Tobago, appears to be facing unexpected challenges because of falling oil prices. This reality has forced the Central Bank to review growth predictions downward. Coupled with widespread state corruption and an election that will reveal the ugliest use of the dollar bill to buy votes; it is sadly obvious that T&T seems set for more malfeasance and stupidity in its governance.
In Guyana the President has created a constitutional crisis by attempting to run the country while ignoring parliament, for his glaringly nefarious political objectives. We are aware and have warned that the longer race continues to dominate Guyana’s politics, the longer it would take for this potentially great country to confront and eradicate its socio-economic problems.
New York Caribbean Democracy Body Slams Caricom Chairman, Prime Minister Gaston Brown of Antigua & Barbuda, for “uninformed and vacuous” Comments On Political Crisis In Guyana
(L-to-R) Prime Minister Gaston Browne, CGID-President Rickford-Burke & Guyana’s President Donald Ramotar
NEW YORK: The New York based Caribbean Guyana Institute for Democracy (CGID) has said the assertion by Caricom Chairman, Prime Minister Gaston Browne of Antigua & Barbuda, that Caricom “respects the right of Guyana’s President Donald Ramotar to prorogue Parliament and is not “too concerned,” are “repugnant to the constitution and people of Guyana, and incongruous with democratic values.”
CGID President Rickord Burke in a statement Saturday slammed Brown’s comments as “uninformed and vacuous.” He accused Caricom of demonstrating partiality towards the ruling People’s Progressive Party (PPP). “Mr. Brown’s comments evince tacit support for the PPP’s repression of the elected representatives of the people,” the statement added.
Ramotar on November 10th abruptly suspended the nation’s Parliament to prevent the passage of a no-confidence motion against his government. The edict came as Members of Parliament (MP) assembled to debate the motion by the opposition Alliance for Change (AFC).
The Ebola issue playing out in the United States of America (and the world) makes for interesting study. The expectation that individuals fleeing an Ebola infected Africa will 100% comply to ticking the appropriate box on an Entry and Departure form (ED) trivialises the safety of the global population.
An irony, and injustice, for those who are aware is the sad reality that a Barbadian has been frustrated in his attempt to patent a technology that would efficiently manage cross border travel at borders by relevant departments. Challenging the implementation of such a process is the unwillingness of the ‘system’ – read DLP and BLP governments – to give a Barbadian his day in court.
We have to listen to Minister Donville spouting his rhetoric about improving business facilitation, we listen to Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite expressing frustration at our clogged court system and we moan for our country.
Statement Issued by the Guyana Trades Union Congress
Acting Foreign Affairs Minister Ms. Pryia Manickchand attacks USA Ambassador Brent Hardt
The Guyana Trades Union Congress (GTUC) having followed the differences between the Government of Guyana through acting Foreign Affairs Minister, Ms. Pryia Manickchand and the USA through Ambassador Brent Hardt sees this as another mark in the degenerating quality of governance the society has been witnessing from the PPP. The ambassador has dealt with the issue and the Government of Guyana has made its position known. The GTUC is encouraged by those who sought to distance themselves from the Government’s conduct.
Going forward the People of Guyana are urged to resist the temptation to view the USA/Guyana experience as a one-shot incident requiring outrage only to revert into apathy on holding the government accountable to act in the manner that holds proud the values, aspirations and institutions of this beautiful country and its people. It is said a people get the government they deserve. Less this society forget the relationship with the PPP and USA has over the years been frosty, influenced by the PPP’s desire for political power and not necessarily the interest of the people and nation state. The PPP still holds in acrimony the USA for what they think is the denial of their ‘right’ to govern for years, even as they sought the USA intervention to influence a change in the country’s electoral policy that saw their return to the seat of government.
One hundred and seventy six (176) years after the formal emancipation of African slaves in the British colonies and one hundred and forty-nine (149) years after the current Anglo-American empire was able to follow suit, Caribbean elites are again seeking to disrespect our African ancestors by selling out their descendant and sullying their sacred memory. Other White imperial nation have other time lines. The Portuguese, as the initiators of global chattel slavery as a viable business model, had slaving outposts on the west coast of Africa and had developed trading activities along the coastal area long before all others. The involvement of the other nations, which we today see as justice-seeking people, proceeded with no less determination. Countries like Norway and Sweden played significant roles in the global business for the purposeful destruction of African peoples. These are the people who today are confident enough to issue ‘peace prizes’ and otherwise project themselves as advance civilizations as African peoples continue to suffer from their crimes against humanity.
The ‘Jewish’ people gave entrepreneurial ‘leadership’ to the global African enslavement project. Christopher Columbus, himself, was an Italian Jew. When we study the histories of this period, the establishment of synagogues in Barbados and Brazil, the two oldest in the Western hemisphere and a wider number of kinds of evidence, it is still starling how this central truism could be airbrushed from the historiographies. Nobody wants to say why these so-called places of worship were built and the wider purposes they served. And if this is written about, it largely remains out the popular narratives. Indeed, we have had professional historians, not only at the University of the West Indies (UWI), but globally, who have conspired and continue to conspire to avoid this obvious conclusion, that whether it was the Dutch, the Portuguese, the British, the Spanish, the Nordics, the Arab nations, it was the Jews who developed and financially anchored this global holocaust of African peoples as a commercial project.
The premature death of Professor Norman Girvan has robbed the Caribbean of one of its genuine intellectuals and, in particular, of the leading theorist of the regional union, Caricom. I had the misfortune of not knowing Professor Girvan personally, but feel as if I did: we have a regular email correspondence and have been guests together on a couple radio phone-in programmes. What makes this virtual friendship more real is that a very good friend and mentor, the woman I can thank for most of my political education, Selma James, the widow of the late CLR James, would often remind me that I should make contact with ‘Norman’, as she addressed him.
After the failure of the West Indies Federation in 1962, the most practicable attempt at regional unity since then has been Caricom. But, as I have said on a number of occasions here and elsewhere, although the intention is laudable, the reality has been sadly flawed. Ignoring for the time being the ill-thought out idea of a free movement of people – in a public debate in London some time ago I raised the issue of the Barbados legislation being specific about free movement for those who have graduated from the University of the West Indies and the University of Guyana, but other graduates enjoying the same benefit with the minister’s ‘discretion’. Someone once tried to persuade me that this ‘discretion’ will only be a formality, but can you imagine some small-minded minister having this weapon in his/her hands and not using it, especially if it is someone they have political objections to?