Posted by BU Commenter Analyst
2. FTAA plans got scuttled so the USA set up the Central America Free Trade Area (CAFTA) and included the Dominican republic. I believe that the USA is no longer interested in what the ex-British colonies do.. as it is not an economic or security issue, except for illegal drugs.
3. Chavez and Venezuela has put a spanner in the USA plans with his South American initiative where he is promoting ALBA, a trading and investment entity that would promote south American integration – using Venezuela’s oil wealth. We already see island like Dominica moving towards joining that entity. We cannot tell if Chavez will succeed, but his Petro Caribe and ALBA initiatives, however it is obvious that times have changed, and new options are there especially in a Caricom that is weak and ineffective.
4. It may be noted that the EU deal sigbed last December is NOT with Caricom but with each of the countries including the Dominican Republic. .. that form Cariforum. this tells us that they do not consider Caricom as a signatory for the individual countries.
5. I believe that Caricom is a talk shop that makes agreements that are not followed through with action or implementation e.g The Caribbean Court of Justice. I believe that the CSME was created to ensure integration, but it has also been plagued by the same implementation issues where there is no buy-in by every country to ensure its success
6. Then there is the change of governments in the region and a new set of faces in Jamaica, St. Lucia and now Barbados. Are these governments really MORE committed to Caricom or CSME as their predecessors? I would say NO!, based on what I have heard in the news and from speeches. These governments are also occupied with serious internal problems revolving around economic matters and criminal activity that could affect their main industry of TOURISM.
7. Trinidad should have taken a lead role in Caricom and CSME and has not. Petro-Caribe was a wake up call for them but they are only interested in building Trinidad and exporting and investing in the region using the preferential entitlements. Jamaica seems far away from everything and has never taken a lead role recently in any integration movement. P.M. Bruce Golding was never a supporter of CSME so can you expect any interest from him? He has to deal with a country with” the highest murder rate in the world”, according to the Economist magazine.
8. So I think that the CSME king has no clothes and efforts to clothe him at this time will fail. Why? The USA does not care what we do. The drug lords and the crime entities control Trinidad Jamaica and Guyana which are the three largest countries. The economies are all under stress except for Trinidad… but their increasing crime is affecting everything there.
9. In Barbados we have the CSME office which was ably run by ex PM Owen Arthur. The ideals of economic integration were spawned in the days of Barbados’s Barrow and Guyana’s Burnham in the 60’s, 70’s and early 80’s.. Many of its ideals are credible. The issue is always in the level and processes to implementation, and this has been dismal throughout the last 25 years. Lately, the reality of the illicit drugs and crime in many of the islands mentioned earlier does not encourage uncontrolled free movement of populations, irrespective of the arguments of some that immigration is a good thing. The pressure is also on labour competition which would lower wages and standards as well as put pressure on housing, education and health services in some countries. e.g Barbados, which is a small island but with a relatively high standard of living will attract immigrants.
10. Lastly, the new Prime Minister David Thompson of Barbados is now reposible for CSME as Owen Arthur was in the past, since its formation. It would be interesting as see what he does about the “REALITIES of CSME”, as they affect the region and Barbados in particular. It is not an easy decision for him to make as he cannot be seen not to accept the CSME mantra, even though little has been done to ensure an orderly and inclusive approach by ALL of the Caricom members to ensure its success – if that is the agreed wish of the PEOPLE within Caricom.