Eyewitness: Recalibrating…

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…Caricom & Secretariat

The Caricom Secretary General Irwin LaRocque – whose 10-year term expires this year – is reported to have said that the contributions to fund its operations have fallen by 25 per cent. But he optimistically congratulated the staff for maintaining the organisation’s workload and feels that with continued efficiencies the funding challenge can be handled.

Well, that’s good news…’cause with what’s going on with the world economy in general and the Caribbean economies in particular, that funding shortfall will only continue to plummet.
This has been the case with every multilateral organisation the world over – from the UN and all its subsets like UNESCO – to the regional model that inspired our own integration efforts – the EU. The money just ain’t there and won’t be there in the foreseeable future.

The COVID pandemic reinforced the doldrums the world economy had fallen into since the meltdown of the Western economies in 2008. The latter, of course, provided the locomotive demand that pulled the rest of the world along.

But the fissiparous tendencies in regional groupings were also exacerbated – not only by the lack of funding – but also by political developments both within the groupings and within their members. Take, for example, Europe where we imitated their start as a Free Trade Area that progressively moved into becoming a “Community”. Our colonial “master” and political exemplar, Britain has since exited the EU and gave the world a new word – Brexit!

The stated reason was control of the “free movement” of the peoples of Europe – especially from the poorer old Eastern Europe nations like Poland – into their country. This, they complained, was altering the ethos of their nation, not to mention sopping up jobs which always raise nativist fears. In the Caribbean, all these factors are also in play. With the loss of the big tourist dollars after COVID-19 and TT’s oil running out, relations will definitely become altered.

We’re already seeing some strains with Haiti, which is the perennial “poor man of the Caribbean and the Hemisphere”. With 11 of the 18 million total Caricom population – over 1000 persons per square mile – surviving on less than one-quarter OUR abysmal per capital GDP, you can imagine why they’re willing to be trafficked and visas are being demanded of them.

But back to Caricom and its Secretariat. Your Eyewitness is a “Caribbean Man” ,but the global forces we’re navigating demand we take a deep breath on Caricom. Each territory’s haughty demand for “sovereignty” when it comes to sharing the responsibilities of statehood will have to be amended. There has to be an attitude of “all for one and one for all” through thick and thin if Caricom’s gonna survive.
Do the leaders have the political will?

…on security

Because of our history and politics – or actually the history of our politics! – our security apparatus has always presented a conundrum. With two balanced ethnic groups competing for political power but the security apparatus in the hands of one of those groups, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to conclude challenges would be posed. When there were talks – or even ATTEMPTS in the 60s – for a coalition between the PPP and PNC representing the two groups, the elephant in the room was always who’d control the coercive forces!!

When the PNC got into office, unlike what they agreed to after a CoI from the World Court visited, investigated and recommended – the forces were never made representative but more unbalanced! And as such, always made the PNC very cocky in assuming those forces would ALWAYS take their side. This assumption also placed a great fissiparous pressure on the forces themselves. So once again we’ve arrived at another impasse with Executive-GPF relations which the PNC’s exploiting.

All parties should take a deep breath!

…the COVID-19 fight

At first, we worried whether we’d get the vaccines against the COVID-19 viruses. But now we have the vaccines, folks are refusing the shots.
We now have to deal with “vaccine hesitancy”!