Eyewitness: Dead end…

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…on Caricom?

A veteran European analyst, writing on the Caribbean in another newspaper, was pretty bleak about Caricom’s fortunes in the days ahead. In a word, he concluded that “CariCom was moribund” …as in “expiring”, “at death’s door”, or “dead in the water”!! And said that he had to “conclude, reluctantly but objectively, that significant further progress on integration now seems unlikely.” Your Eyewitness couldn’t agree more!!

Now, this isn’t to say that Caricom hasn’t done anything useful in its 48 years of existence…CXC comes to mind! It also saved us from another round of rigged elections by the PNC last year. But that doesn’t make up for shutting its eyes in 1968, 1973, 1978 (referendum) and 1980 to Burnham’s dictatorial excesses. But he was one of Caricom’s “big four” founding members, wasn’t he? Did that give him a free pass, or were there other reasons?

Anyhow, your Eyewitness’s pessimism stems from the regional body’s lack of progress in fulfilling its central mandate: becoming a COMMUNITY – with all that that entails. Or even on more instrumentalist lines, failing to becoming a “Common Single Market and Economy”. The whole point of the latter goal was to overcome our individual minuscule size in a globalising world, where size gave clout in trade relations that made that world go around.

The CSME, WE’re told, is on “pause”! The former goal of “community” was more sentimental – a residue of our common British colonial/slave heritage. There’s only so far sentiment will carry you when you’re a minnow trying to navigate in shark infested waters!! Remember there are no permanent friends or permanent enemies – just permanent interests?

And this is what the analyst sees ahead for us individually. Driven by those larger forces and their demands, there are gonna be new, more fluid alignments. We were always seen by America as minnows in their “lake”. While this view went back to their “Monroe Doctrine” back in 1823 – which warned Europeans to keep their hands off us and Latin America – in a short while, they and Britain had kissed and made up and enjoyed their “special relationship”.

It wasn’t till Cheddi slipped up and didn’t explicitly deny he was a Commie that the US flexed their muscle and the rest is trite (but bitter!) history. So, what’s ahead for Caricom?? Since we can’t go it alone, the islands will be split into two factions – one group, including us, will cleave to the US, and the others towards Cuba and China.

For four centuries, the British made us ignore the first law of geography – “Everything is related to everything else. But near things are more related than distant things.”

We’ll be looking south to fulfill our continental destiny.

…and death traps

Some were shocked that those two poor Venezuelan young ladies perished in their apartment because the doors and windows were all “grilled”. There’s no pun intended, but it was so macabre that your Eyewitness couldn’t resist the aptness. The crime wave that escalated from the Burnham days with the very graphically named “kick-down-the-door” bandits into what one leader called a virtual “genocide against Indian-Guyanese” reached its apogee in the 1980s.

Hapless Indians started welding construction steel rods together to create lattice-like structures to prevent the bandits from breaking through doors and windows. They were dubbed “grills” because they looked like cooking grills. While the “grills” were outfitted with padlocks, in the event of a fire, very few could muster the presence of mind to open them to escape. There was a famous Indian personality, Lakshmi Kallicharran, who was killed like this some years ago.

It’s tragic on many levels that, thirty years later, even more doors and windows have to be “grilled”. Crime still rules Guyanese lives.

…for Harmon?

Joe Harmon just referred twice to “PRESIDENT Ali” in a release. At last, he’s off that ridiculous stance to not “recognise” Ali as the President, because he’s disputing the elections’ results.

Hadn’t he always accepted he was the “Opposition Leader”!!