Posts Tagged ‘Caribbean’

Baccra Massa Still Smiling in 2016

Baccra Massa Still Smiling in 2016

Baccra Massa Still Smiling in 2016

Every time I open my social media accounts and see the internet Molotov cocktails being chucked from the north western end of the Caribbean down to the south eastern end and vice versa I think to myself… Baccra did a really good job with this divide and rule thing and no matter how hard and often we proclaim emancipation and independence it is clear that we need regular doses of the words of Redemption song that Tuff Gong borrowed from the Rt. Excellent Marcus Mosiah Garvey.

“Jamaican’s does be the reason the crime going up in T&T and allyuh does know it” vs “Who do these Trinis think they are, them think dem s!@# can mek patty, not even know why Jamaicans still want go there.” Baccra Massa Still Smiling in 2016.

But what really is going on here? What is the real root of all this? Why is it that every other year or month we have some reignition of these “wars” between Caribbean nations, with particular emphasis on the two largest English speaking ones? Is it resentment for one Jamaican National Hero saying Jamaica is walking while the rest of the region is crawling? Is it because one PM was tired of being the region’s ATM? All this while Baccra Massa Still Smiling in 2016.

But what of the current melee, it is clear to me that CARICOM and the CSME are valuable or at least potentially valuable but at present and perhaps from ever, they have been beset with regional, structural and national level issues that have hamstrung its potential. Most people do not even know what CARICOM/CSME is or is supposed to be. Here is the Cliff Notes version – CARICOM is a political and economic cooperation organization forged between mainly English speaking, former British colonies designed to face the” big bad” world in a vein of pooled capabilities. CARICOM is based largely on three pillars:

  • Functional Cooperation –  shared institutions like  CXC and UWI
  • Coordinated foreign policy – CARICOM joint positions in International Organizations and negotiating Trade Agreements as a unit
  • ECONOMIC INTEGRATION – common external tariff and the free movement of goods, capital and labour i.e. PEOPLE.

We do pretty well in the first two pillars if people are honest but the third pillar is really why we are here cussing each other on Facebook while…Baccra Massa Still Smiling in 2016.

What is required now is an honest introspection on the part of the entire CARICOM family, but particular the governments and citizenry of Jamaica and the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. Rather than get touted by the modern day dividers such as skewed media, influential civil society players that stand to benefit from the disharmony and government officials acting in the name of political expediency versus the greater good. My brothers and sisters from Jamaica must realize that as a sovereign state the Twin Island Republic has the right to protect its borders and seek to avert abuse of immigration laws in any way fit, especially in the face of illegal immigration from Jamaica that is at a fairly significant level by all accounts. Concurrently, my brothers and sisters from the Twin Island Republic must realise that not every Jamaican is coming to be a “leach” and that legitimate efforts at border protection are subject to the rule of law, fairness and humanity. It cannot be done in a pseudo-arbitrary fashion, where even persons who are above board are made to feel like criminals, all this while under CARICOM arrangements we are all “guaranteed” hassle free travel.

WE ALL HAVE BEEN GUILTY OF WRONGS IN THIS SITUATION BUT WE CANNOT ALLOW THE POTENTIAL GOOD OF OUR UNION TO BE KILLED OVER MISGUIDED EMOTIONAL RESPONSES TO REAL ISSUES THAT REQUIRE MATURE DEBATE.

For example, and controversially, if one ascribes to the “free trade” school of thinking then the purpose of a free trade movement like CARICOM is the “efficient allocation of resources” therefore if T&T has an oversupply of manufactured goods and an undersupply of low skilled labour and Jamaica has an oversupply of low skilled labour and an undersupply of manufactured goods, then the concurrent influxes of goods into Jamaica and people into Trinidad and Tobago is something that should be perhaps promoted but in a streamlined fashion. But this paragraph is for another day and for more rigorous economic scrutiny, but the general point is that we might actually need each other more than we think but never ending pride, misguided nationalism and self-serving public voices are pushing us apart all while…Baccra Massa Still Smiling in 2016.

So here we are with powerful private sector voices and voices in the streets of Jamaica calling for a boycott of all Trinbagonian goods and these cries being met with social media and radio retorts of “round up all these Jamaicans in T&T illegally, they are the reason there is crime, crime was virtually nil before their infiltration.” But are these voices speaking for the majority? I hope not, too often in public discourse the voice of the misguided, lowest common denominator dominates the discussion and derails constructive reasoning.

Or am I wrong? Is it that this impasse between Jamaica and the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago is insoluble? Is it that the majority of us would rather just sever all ties with each other forever?

Whatever the case, I am tired of this whole debacle and I am also angry, angry because

Baccra Massa Still Smiling in 2016.

SELAH

 

 

 

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It would be remiss of me to not say something about the visit of the “Honourable” prime minister of the United Kingdom Mr David Cameron to these humble shores. How could I not speak about this former colonial power paying a visit to the former pearl of the empire, an outpost which undoubtedly represents one of the anchors of the wealth that this metropole now sits upon?

Now such a wry introduction doesn’t even begin to cover the vast gamut of emotions and deep lying issues that this innocuous official state visit has evoked. The only analogy that seems fit is that Mr Cameron’s visit and all its trappings and layers have scratched the scab of a long inflicted wound.

The word in the air from the rumour came about that Mr Cameron would be visiting these shores was REPARATIONS, with one member of parliament going as far as to declare that there should be a boycott of any visit of Mr Cameron to Gordon House if the matter of reparation (which was unanimously agreed to in principle in said Gordon House previously) was not placed squarely on the agenda.

What we received was at first a Floyd Mayweather “duck and move” in his parliamentary speech where The UK Prime Minister, with familial ties to the royal family and himself a descendant of slave owners in Jamaica, boldly declared that slavery was really really bad but as two nations that are now friends we really should be looking to the future that is to say MOVE ON!!! with the bonus that the UK was the one who spent decades ridding the world of this yucky slavery that was really bad. Commendations to you sir.

The second punch was more direct and to continue with the boxing metaphor was more like an effective Lennox Lewis jab. In his small interface with journalists after visiting our National Heroes’ Park Mr Cameron unequivocally confirmed that reparations are not the way to go, we are looking forward plus we are spending and continue to spend millions in Jamaica. Can’t believe you all aren’t happy.

But what Mr Cameron forgot is that CONTEXT IS EVERYTHING. The aid that the UK has and continues to give Jamaica and the Caribbean is commendable but none of this is given in a historical vaccum. Many, many columns and blogs and pages have been written about the sociocultural and psychological wounds that the transatlantic slave trade have left with us. BY no means do I want to get into all of that in detail, but Mr Cameron must know that the great Britain, the great empire of old and the G8 developed country of now stands on the shoulders of our perished forefathers. In fact Mr Cameron, has an almost ironic place in this contemporary history as the intergenerational wealth which allowed this man to be educated at Eton and then Oxford and the wherewithal to become Prime Minister is founded in not only the toil of slaves in this here Jamaica, but also the financial windfall which his antecedents received in the form of REPARATIONS for the loss of their property when the really really bad yucky slavery thing that we spoke of above was ended.

Again I say context is everything. So Mr Cameron thought that he would perhaps receive a cordial response if not a hero’s welcome for the raft of aid and developmental assistance he came “bearing as gifts” but instead he has affronted almost an entire nation. in fact if it were the Japanese Prime Minister Abe, that also shared some hours in our Jamaican shores with Mr Cameron, who announced the aid package that the UK Prime Minister did he would have definitely been positively received. this is even including the now infamous “Prison Gift.” I assure you that another head of state could have made the case for this Prison deal which I think is fundamentally flawed yet not the devil it has become to be seen as. BUT NOT MR CAMERON. Why? Because rather than as a Government and Nation that has committed arguably the greatest atrocity in human history, the United Kingdom through its Leader who intergenerationally has directly benefitted from the spoils of slavery refuse to say what have become some of the most difficult words to pass through lips…” I am sorry…WE ARE SORRY”

So Mr Cameron you and your fellow countrymen who seek to keep a running tab on all the money you have spent in the former empire as means to justify not considering reparations should know that at the core the academic literature on Reparations show that the simplest but perhaps most important aspect of righting wrongs and this is indeed one the greatest wrongs known to man, is the act of accepting and owning this wrong and apologising for it. Thereafter we can get into the mechanics of the finances.

It is undoubtable that post colonization the UK has spent a lot of money in these neck of the woods but subsequent to the REQUIRED apology let the actuaries from both sides of the Atlantic sit at a table with their calculators and do the math of the difference between all that was pilfered from this side and what has been sent back in the other direction.

I conclude with the words of another British politician…The newly elected Leader of Opposition in Britain and a so called friend of Jamaica. Is there better yet upon the horizon…Time will tell.

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.

I have been suffering through a very long blog writing slump as if the many different issues and challenges facing the world and Jamaica have almost lead to a sort of paralysis. I don’t know what it says about me that it is this most asinine article that has irked me sufficiently to write again.
The article I speak to is entitled “Kick CARICOM to the Kerb” written by a supposedly eminent legal mind however the content of this article severely brings such a designation into question in my humble/upset opinion. Mr. Lawyer’s arguments are not new but I strongly believe in the mantra “Who kno betta fi do betta.”

Argument 1 – The Caribbean region has no common identity. The evidence provided for this is that black slaves were in other places so why don’t we have links with them. Second piece of evidence from his eminence is that we eat different food. Do I have to provide counter arguments or are the assertions seem ridiculous enough in and of themselves. Never mind geographic proximity and the cultural, language and cuisine that we do share these count for nothing because we Jamaicans don’t like Mauby or bakes.

Argument 2 – West Indies Cricket is the only unifying entity, when the team was good it wasn’t a WI identity but buck ups of a generation of talent. Now this is the second most annoying aspect of this article and it surprised me it could get worse but later for that. REALLY MR LAWYER? What exams do students take in high school, they don’t come from a properly functioning regional body? Is not the UWI the premier academic institution in the region evidence of regionalism being reasonably successful? Not to mention areas such as telecommunication, postal services and disaster preparedness and emergency management and other unsexy, non-sensational areas that people ignore in favour of petty mess.

Argument 3 – Dem nuh like we so I’m not Caribbean I’m Jamaican. This is the argument that most Jamaicans will agree with but even that I have an issue with on a couple levels. On one level labeling an entire group based on a couple anecdotal experiences would mean all Jamaicans are con men that smoke weed. Secondly Jamaicans are just as guilty of this insular mindset. So the writer points to the T&T PM’s “ATM comment” clearly not remembering when the man on our 1 dollar coin likened the rest of the region as babies crawling whilst the almighty Jamaica was running. Not to mention the pride with which we love to refer to “small islands.” Same tune different day. All this is, is the remnants of baccra’s effective divide and rule campaign.

Argument 3 – we get the short end of the stick in trade so away with CARICOM. Another argument people will agree with readily and there is great truth in it, but not all of it is some evil system that is working against Jamaica alone. As day follows night if country A produces more goods than Countries B-Z then obviously country A is going to have a trade imbalance in a free trade arrangement. Does that make the arrangement in and of itself bad or does it mean untapped potential that countries B-Z need to work towards? I do yield however that in terms of trade in goods Jamaica tends to be more open than other countries, and that is a problem but how the argument is made and to then say do away with CARICOM as a whole is not well made by the writer in my opinion.

Where the wheels really fall off for the eminent lawyer is the assertion that instead of the CCJ, (cause we a nuh Caribbean people) to replace the privy council, we should for all intents and purposes beg our big snowy friend Canada a kotch and use their court as our final appellate court. LOL.

I really can’t deal with this anymore. Suffice it to say Mr. Lawyer has succumbed to the same view of CARICOM that most people across the region have and that is to fall into the trap of the sensational. ALL regional groupings have basically the same issues people have issues with people coming to take their jobs and people have issues with disputes relating to goods not getting into regional markets. Check the EU if you don’t believe me. What is noteworthy it is issues of economic integration that plague most regional groupings, CARICOM being no different. But that is just One Third of the story as CARICOM stands on 3 pillars – 1) Economic integration; 2)Functional Cooperation and 3) Foreign Policy coordination. If Mr Laywer and my fellow Caribbean people are fair CARICOM has been reasonably successful in the latter two pillars. The common institutions referred to above represent the strong functional cooperation I speak of and the ability of the region to take common positions and negotiate as a bloc versus multiple small states should not be scoffed at in a world of super powers and super blocs. Even in economic integration where most the issues lie it has not been all doom and gloom either.

CARICOM is by no means perfect that is not what I am getting at, at all here. A lot of work needs to be done but my submission is CARICOM doesn’t work to its full potential because our leaders don’t take it seriously and they don’t have to because we as the regional citizenry don’t hold them to account for their tomfoolery. I guess because we ourselves don’t take it seriously. So what you get when you take the approach of Mr Lawyer and the non-Caribbean Jamaicans (and other nationalities) is a circle if futility.

This was a lot and I still haven’t gotten all my thoughts off my chest but alas I won’t bore you any longer just to say if you physically read today’s newspaper and see the article, Note the unrelated picture above the article saying “What The F.” Can you say IRONY!!!

Blessings.

PS – see the article and decide for yourself if i’m too harsh: http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130505/cleisure/cleisure5.html