That vexed issue of CARICOM back again
It’s nearing the end of the work week; so, no doubt, by the close of business tomorrow we shall all know if in fact Jamaican Shanique Myrie has been paid.
Interest was reignited in her case after Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite promised this week to bring to close this matter, which has been hanging over Barbados’ head since last October, on account of a Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) ruling that went in Ms Myrie’s favour.
But that this ruling has proven so controversial, divisive even, and that this region is yet to arrive at any common understanding on the movement of people, which underpins our very integration movement, should be our primary cause for concern at this stage.
Not how much money Ms Myrie is getting, or what assets Barbados has that could be horse-traded as part of a settlement, but the bigger picture of our regional togetherness and what is now the lived experience of ordinary West Indian men and women in their comings and goings.
Is Errol Barrow’s vision dead? Or are our regional brothers and sisters still ever so welcome, but waiting in vain for our call to allow them in?
Indeed, the whole point of CARICOM now seems to be lost, with many an unqualified regional practitioner, driven by a strong nationalist agenda, currently pronouncing her imminent death, even though our only hope of economic recovery may lie in CARICOM’s survival.
This is the result of our failure as a region to communicate the opportunities and benefits of acting as one and moving together. In the midst of a harsh and difficult economic climate, an outspoken choir of naysayers has been allowed to drown out a more enlighted chorale of pro-integrationists, even though “one from ten” does not necessarily equal nought, and regional collaboration can no longer be simply dismissed as any tight shoe that will pinch any of our feet either.
Some have blamed the CARICOM Secretariat, which disappointingly also seems to have lost its way as its current leadership struggles to make a mark.
Others suggest the problem with our integration goes much, much deeper –– and is an ugly remnant of our colonial past –– a slave mentality that progresses at the expense of others –– instead of black brother working hand in hand with black brother and lifting all the boats together.
If two are better than one, it stands to reason that 15 CARICOM states working together to come up with solutions for the current global economic crisis that threatens us all is a better option any day than going it alone.
Is this not the essence of the CSME?
But that we continue to quibble over who should be allowed to enter from which territory, and bearing which colour passport, is more than enough evidence that this region is in crisis –– and not just economically.
In fact, it goes way beyond the Shanique Myrie judgment and the CCJ, or even free movement, for that matter.
As CARICOM Chairman Ralph Gonsalves rightly pointed out this week, “the CCJ cannot do what the people of the Community and their duly elected leaders fail and or refuse to do”.
But how long now have we been talking about the need for a better governance structure that would take forward the integration movement? A CARICOM Commission, as long advocated by Sir Shridath Ramphal and the West Indian Commission Report of 1992, focused on the deepening of regional integration through each of the four pillars: functional cooperation, coordination of foreign policy, coordinating national and regional security, and extending economic integration?
We are of the same mind as Dr Gonsalves that the region would find it more difficult to address its immense current and future challenges unless
its governments and people strongly embraced a more mature, more profound regionalism.
And that it “ought to be a noise in the blood, an echo in the bone of our Caribbean civilization”.