What future for Caricom?
Professor Norman Girvan of the University of the West Indies has warned that Caricom is in danger of collapsing.
He fears that his ominous outlook could come to pass, if steps are not taken to ensure that decisions taken to deepen regional integration are enforced.
Professor Girvan said that the 15-member grouping had become stagnant due mainly to a failure to implement key decisions.
He said that regional leaders seem to lack the will to pass the Single Caricom Act, which would ensure that decisions agreed regionally are automatically enforced nationally.
Also expressing concerns about the future of Caricom has been the St Vincent and Grenadine Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves.
Lamenting the slow pace of integration, he pointed to spoke of Caricom member states "jealously guard(ing) a much vaunted and pristine sovereignty".
But he had also called for the drive toward a deeper union in Caricom to continue.
What are your thoughts on the future of 'the regional integration process', esopecially in the aftermath of the recent Caricom summit?
Is Caricom still relevant?
What are the priority issues for you?
Have your say
How much more myopic can we be? Perhaps the greatest threat to regional integration is ignorance and indeed the wealth and
seeming prosperity of Trinidad and Barbados. Now look at the EU where the UK has allowed immigrants from countries much less
developed like Poland etc to live and work here and the economy has benefitted a great deal. The labour situation altered
and became more competitive, some businesses exploited the cheap labour available and every middle income citizen imagined
his/herself a real estate entrepreneur. Such was the need for housing. And believe it or not, whether there is free movement
or not each country will continue to feel the brunt of that which happens in the neighbouring countries! Caricom makes for
a reciprocal and more managed equation (hopefully). We must stop being narrow-minded and myopic... For those who see Trinidad’s'
boom as unstoppable. Do remember that oil is a non - renewable resource and crime an economic variable, a symptom of poor
wealth distribution, and, as for Barbados, the face of tourism is changing...just see the Maldives, Mauritius and Seychelles.
Caricom cannot afford to collapse at any cost. The present leaders should strive to enlighten their own people as to the benefits
While it might be said that unity is strength, with the example of the European Union being cited, it must be clearly understood
that the Caribbean is a totally different dynamic. The region, or at least some members, are officially developing states,
while some remain unclassifiable, to be kind. Of the five million or so of the English-speaking Caribbean population it may
be argued that up to 40 percent live in abject squalor, while another 30 percent or so survive on minimum fate. As Dr. Williams
would have argued, it makes no sense (especially now, in the face of global economic concerns) to saddle T&T's second chance
at prosperity with the burdens, debts and starry eyes of Caribbean neighbours, who we love, but surely should not cut our
noses for. The point about politicians and their not-unselfish, unspoken thoughts of creating veritable dynasties is not comforting
either. Everyone is talking about the winds of political change in the Caribbean, but where were those voices before respective
elections were called??? If the people of the Caribbean continue to allow the creation of a regional empire that is set to
divide and rule the masses in the shadows of neo-colonialism, then there will never be unity.
That is a good point made by Rajesh. Instead of focusing on possible setbacks of free movements we should turn our focus on
creation of wealth. States with capital surplus, like Barbados, can benefit from countries with investment deficit like Guyana.
Instead citizens are rubbing their pockets and counting their coins. How great would USA have been if Texas, Illinois, New
Yore etc were separate countries. We must appreciate that the real problems we are facing are energy and food crises. These
crises can mean economic rise for some states and fall for others. If Caricom cannot take advantage of states with potential
the larger world economies may weigh in and steal the opportunities to the determent of the people of the Caribbean.
An integration movement is definitely needed! I am not sure whether Caricom is that movement. The speed of deepening that
movement is miserable. One gets the feeling that while regional peoples want integration, our political leaders do not.
This CSME should be abolished. It will only cause poor islands to live and work in developed places like Barbados. Abolish
CSME and allow people, especially those from the poor islands, to remain home.
Hal, I see your views but to the contrary Guyana can feed its people. Its economy, aided by high food prices, is offsetting
the impact of high oil prices. Guyana is better off in this crisis than other island states.
Yes, Caricom is still relevant.
Caricom, and by definition, CSME, has failed its first major hurdle, the global credit crunch. Even if we were to ignore the
democratic deficit implicit in the structure, the failure to develop a policy on the global food and commodity inflation which
is crippling Western economies is a major failure. We have the capacity in the Caribbean to deal with this. Guyana should
have been a major regional food producer, in particular rice, but the racialised politics of that failed state is the real
reason for its inability to even feed its three-quarter or a million people. Dominica and Grenada should be major food producers,
along with St Lucia. But, most important of all, there must be a Caricom parliament with directly elected members. Until then,
Caricom will remain a failure.
Caricom Ministers say one thing when they are together, but when they get home they have to make decisions that will get
I think the will for Caricom is there in some leaders but some are failures in many aspects. And on the big issue of sovereignty,
why is there discrimination towards other nationals? Guyana willingly offered its land for food security. Who will benefit?
Not Guyana but the other Caricom states. Guyana is already food secure in many items. It is not affected much by the rising
food prices but gains so why this issue of sovereignty. I like the way Jagdeo stood his grounds. The EPA is a sore to the
Guyanese economy. First it was sugar now it's all other exports. It's an outrage. The EU only thinks in its favour so some
of the leaders of Caricom should take note of the way they EU as a group used its numbers and power to impose this agreement
on them. If they stood their ground as a group maybe they wouldn't be in such a situation today. I doubt if the agreement
had something to do with oil that Trinidad would sign it so the Caricom as a region must understand each other's views and
as a group tackle issues.
Another waste of time and money. The millions spent on Caricom would be better spent to give the people better health and
education and to help eradicate poverty and create jobs. Caricom has done nothing for the average man on the street but the
Heads continue to hold these expensive talk shops year after year.
Bernard Williams of St Kitts has the most accurate analysis of the present state of CARICOM. If anyone knows CARICOM better
refute Williams’s sharp observation. In fact I have already said it, Caricom is an illusion. But politicians find personal
meaning in it. They find an opium that keeps them coming to laugh loud and talk and make personal plans after (they leave)
office. But as far as integration is concerned, forget it. If any CARICOM leader reads the debate with good conscience, they
will tell you that the most accurate definition for Caricom is, in fact, that it is an illusion…
How good and how precious it is for all once to come together in unity. It is like the ointment that runs down Aaron’s beard
and pools like molten silver. And so we can really see in it our mirror images. We believe the politicians are out there
elected in some process. The politician, like the agent in Matrix is within us all. What are our responsibilities if we
want CARICOM (to work) and it is going (to work)?
I am baffled by the need for certain islands to protect their ‘sovereignty’ while putting the Caricom integration project
in danger. If European states after centuries of war could cede power to a supranational body in the European Union, why aren’t
we able to do the same in the Caribbean? It’s a matter of our survival...We cannot survive in this global village as independent
I don't see much hope for Caricom. It has become very apparent that there is a lack of political will and leadership and
I think it will go the way of The West Indies Federation. We all remember the grandiose plans for that body and we know the
end result. Caricom, as a regional body, can't even find the gumption to criticise Robert Mugabe and his recent hijacking
of the election in Zimbabwe. And the members are still dithering as to what to do about the EPA with the EU. It's a rather
sad reflection on the 'leadership' of this organisation and on the respective leaders themselves.
Caricom is not going anywhere because too many of the politicians are weak to their own emotions and electorate. Until we
get politicians who are willing to do the right thing in support of this we will never move forward with this.
Caricom is a dismal failure. Our politicians have failed us miserably.
Caribbean unity has always been handicapped by what one commentator called "Islandness". Its history - going back to the early
federation - has shown that certain powerful nations would not compromise their "independence" for regionalism.
Caricom should be disbanded and these islands should seek to become a province of Canada.
57 years as a Caribbean national and I still remain astonished by our pettiness. The substantial intellectual capital we possess
in the region continues to fail to see the need for some degree of integration, especially in terms of economics, judicial
and common identity. The nay-sayers should take a page from the European Union reality, if they can see the need to unify
in order to survive the new world order of globalization. When will our leaders … leave our children a worthwhile legacy.
I can't understand why the integration process is taking so long, each state is unique and by forming a bloc won't take away
its uniqueness. Take Italy. It's part of the EU but it still retains itself as a unique nation. Where else would find Rome?
Similarly in the Caribbean, where else will you find Georgetown and its tree lined streets. They thing is, the Caricom states
lack trust in each other. Some see others as inferior states and some think they will lose their individuality. Some have
ethnic issues, some have religious issues. Religion and ethnicity will always play a role in these institutions; religion
not so much but ethnicity will play a role in this integration process. So let’s get on with it or let it fall. While countries
join other unions they sure will not turn a blind eye to their obligations to Caricom, well not Guyana. The President made
that clear to the Guyanese population.
I am not quite sure what the big fuss is really. Together they stand, united they fall. This simply has a lot to do with
ECONOMICS, hello is anyone listening? Countries with a weak dollar will benefit from this union. Countries with a strong
monetary system can simply resist to continue this UNION. Think for a moment who would greatly benefit from this UNION.
Yes, the EEU has one monetary system, among other things travel documents and free trade. Let’s think outside the box folks,
this may not work. There are serious prejudicial issues that these countries really and truly need to work out.
The coming together of varied entities to form a union is always fraught with insurmountable difficulties, much more so when
a disparate group of poor mostly non-viable economic entities try to come together for all the right reasons but whose leaders
do not have the political will to decide and move forward. What is the fear to join the Caribbean Court of Appeal? Is not
justice universal in Western Civilization?
The only thing that can bring Caribbean people together is music such as calypso, soca and zouk. We experience it all the
time, during the carnival celebrations held in various Caricom countries.
It would be a sad day if CARICOM were to collapse. Although I am proud of our big island attitudes, I think we have allowed
them to grow too large to the detriment of a stronger regional grouping. I hope that when the government leaders convene
their meeting on July 1 to 4, they will realize this and make concrete steps to ensure that CARICOM is strengthened and maintained
for generations to come.
As a national of a Caricom member state, I am yet to be convinced of the effectiveness of this union. Our failure to progress
as a strong union is simply because of poor leadership, distrust and short sightedness. The benefits to be derived from a
strong and fully functional union is immense, unfortunately our leaders have failed us on the whole regional integration issue.
We are all small scattered nations which cannot negotiate effectively witl bigger states and unions. As such we need to speak
with one voice and sing from the same hymn book. I honestly suspect the more advanced Caribbean nations feel that poorer countries
such as Guyana would be a burden on the region should there be a fully fledged integration, failing to realise the vast degree
on untapped resources that they can have access to, should we deepen our integration. We should learn a few vital lessons
from the EU enlargement, the warmness by which the bigger EU states embraced those poor Eastern European states. We all have
existing common grounds, such as language, cricket, culture etc. It’s time we stop dithering and put the issue on the front
burner and pursue it with vigour and purpose.
CARICOM has never been a solid idea. It was always a dream to be pursued, not a reality in any way. In fact, each Caricom
member state was only concerned about how it can influence policy for itself rather than pushing a common agenda for collective
benefits. It has already collapsed; it simply was not yet announced. Any political scientist will tell that is was a political
illusion to put CARICOM in proper perspective. Caricom is failed attempt to unify the Caribean. This unity will never be achieved.
The will for this kind of unity is nonexistent.
Guyana should pull out from Caricom and hook up with the South American counties who like us, not the Caribbean islands who
always treat us Guyanese like dogs
I, Howard Foster totally agree with all the following points:
Caricom should be a free trade bloc with a common passport and free movement. Beyond this, however, countries should come
together only on a case by case basis when circumstances demand. The last thing we need is an EU-style Caribbean parliament
regulating every aspect of our lives. Most importantly, Caricom must never be given the authority to tax, not now, not in
a hundred years, never.
The Caribbean cannot fight poverty, crime or develop suitable education, health, policing systems alone.
Ask the French, English, Spanish and Dutch colonial masters of yesteryear why did they manage their Caribbean colonies as
a group instead of as per island. Even administrators and judges had jurisdiction over several islands in the early days.
It is not rocket science but simple arithmetic and basic economics. Individually, economies of scale work against these little
island nations who would be better off pooling their little scarce resources together. The best place to see this is in the
Foreign Office where every one of these little countries has an ambassador or high commissioner office abroad representing
their little individual interest. In the world we live in today this is laughable, but not so funny when you consider the
high cost of living and tax burden suffered by their local citizens to support such extravagant mediocrity by their governments.
As propagated by the Caribbean Village Trust, regionalism with the resultant single integrated United Caribbean Nation is
not an option now but a necessity if the region is to grow and prosper. Caribbean people have been one people since the slave
trade brought us here and we recognise ourselves as one people – it is the little “Caesars” who have held back our dream of
one Caribbean. The time is now to do or die.
I agree totally with Professor Girvan. It’s time the whole bunch of regional tin gods submit to a supranational authority
and get this show on the road. It's the only way to go.
In this era of globalisation, free trade, unprecedented levels of climate-change, rising oil prices, global economic hardship
and a plethora of other challenges, deeper integration should not be an option for CARICOM States, but should be seen as an
urgent necessity. Small vulnerable economies such as ours will be much better off confronting these challenges together rather
There really is no hope for Caricom since Caribbean people and leaders are not committed to integration but to the petty nationalism
fed to them by the politicians and leaders of their respective societies.
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