Archive for October, 2013

I’m baaaaaaaaaaack. Its been a really long while but i guess I have not been sufficiently moved by any of the million of things happening in the world to write on…UNTIL NOW!!!

I might be a bit late in tackling this issue but I feel it is such a pivotal watershed in the history of Caribbean regional integration that I had to put my two cents into the hat. Let me start with a hyperbole that might not be so ridiculous when you think about it: Shanique Myrie may have just become the most important person in the history of Caribbean regional integration. I hope sirs Eric Williams, Norman Manley, Alexander Bustamante, Forbes Burnham and Grantley Adams don’t take too much offence at this assertion in their restful state. But it cannot be an overstatement to say that the actions of Miss Myrie and her legal team to take the issues of alleged human rights violations as well as denial of hassle free entry into a Caricom state as a Caricom citizen, to the Caribbean Court of Justice and the the subsequent ruling of said court, have done more to push the regional movement forward than perhaps anything any Caribbean leader or Caricom Heads of Government Decision has done for the past 10 to 15 years maybe even more. Again maybe I exaggerate but so great is the current moment from my point of view.

I will not go into the legalese and bore you with the details of the case and the ruling verbatim, but suffice it to say that the CCJ has ruled once and for all that Caribbean citizens should not be hassled, mistreated, maligned and repatriated by border agents in countries that proclaim to be working towards a single market and economy which at its foundation must engender the free movement of Caricom nationals across national borders. No longer can the “Caricom’ at the top of our passports be seen as an empty gesture. Once it cannot be proven that we are “undesirable” or a potential “burden on the state purse” we cannot be willy nilly denied entry by our fellow Caricom neighbours.

This is indeed a watershed. We have all heard horror stories of Caricom nationals being ill-treated at the airports across the region. We also know that citizens of certain countries have often been treated as the dregs of the region and stereotyped and singled out for denial of their free movement regionally. Jamaicans and to a lesser extent Guyanese have borne the brunt of this treatment but in some way shape or form the entire region has displayed aspects of the ailment that is killing the region: INSULARITY AND BADMIND. All of us in the region to varying degrees have the “me myself and I” syndrome that has stifled any real economic progress of the regional integration movement. What this landmark CCJ ruling has done is to shine a light on these ills and hopefully now some real implementation of free movement can take place. We can only hope that the Caricom Secretariat is quick to draft the guidelines for this hassle free treatment of Caricom nationals so we can truly move around freely and develop once and for all this feeling of unity and Community which Caricom was meant to be and can be.

Ms Myrie I hope your actions, the actions of your legal team and the way the CCJ handled this case with the utmost level of professionalism has also once and for all highlighted to our leaders and to the Caribbean society at large that we have competent institutions and Caricom can work if we utilise them. The CCJ came to my doorstep in Jamaica. Could Ms Myrie have afforded redress to the Privy Council? doubt that strongly. If nothing else has this case should show that we have capable people and capable institutions, what is needed is for people to be bold as well as for people to use them.

So all these Caribbean/Jamaican private sector interests who spend so much of their existence bashing Caricom and the unfair way it benefits some versus others – PUT YOUR MONEY WHERE YOUR MOUTH IS. Ms Myrie was brave enough to defend her rights as well as she realised that the only true source for recourse if wronged as a Caricom citizen was through the CCJ. Let us as Caribbean people work together in harmony and when the harmony is disrupted as it will be in any union let us use the institutions we have to smooth it out versus being at each others throats forever.

God Bless You Miss Myrie. Your case has the potential to be the spark to get the fire going.