Skip to main contentAccess keys helpA-Z index
BBCCaribbean.com
Latin America & Caribbean
Africa
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
 
NEWS
 
SPORT
 
WEATHER
 
 
Last updated: 21 July, 2008 - Published 11:51 GMT
 
Email a friend   Printable version
What future for Caricom?
 
Caricom flag
Is Caricom in danger of collapsing?
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.
Juanita Collins

Caricom cannot afford to collapse at any cost. The present leaders should strive to enlighten their own people as to the benefits of togetherness.
Caudley Geeorge
St Johns, Antigua and Barbuda

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.
The Doc said "One from ten leaves nought" and I think that "nought and nought will always be nought"!!!! Caricom, Cari-gone...
N D
Tunapuna, Trinidad

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.
Abiose Thomas
Georgetown, Guyana

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.
Achille Chris Joseph
Canefield, Dominica

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.
Ivan Thorpe
Bridgetown, Barbados

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.
Rajesh
Guyana

Yes, Caricom is still relevant.
The priority issues are providing a secure environment for the next generation and that transcends all aspects of our life. A reduction in crime, better education and health services, a sustainable environment and the removal of corrupt administrators and politicians.
S Bishop

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.
Hal Austin
London

Caricom Ministers say one thing when they are together, but when they get home they have to make decisions that will get them votes
Robin
Basseterre, St Kitts

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.
Rajesh
Guyana

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.
Derick Bhupsingh
Tunapuna
Trinidad&Tobago

How laughable!
12 prime Ministers for a population of 5 million and consider that more than 3 out of these 5 million live in either Trinidad & Tobago or Jamaica.
Rkalip

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…
Jean Louinel
Mandeville
Haiti/Jamaica

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)?
Kawamuinyo Gill
Barbados

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 sovereign states...
Daryle
St Lucia

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.
Trevor McDonough
USA

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.
Next,as the economies of the different entities boom and ebb so too does their yearnings for and against a linking up. When countries start feeling their pockets get squeezed they start speaking about integrating to bolster "our" economies. Then when things sweeten up they forget that and become protectionist and find all the reasons not to do so.
Finally, Caricom leaders tend to go into politics for self aggrandizement thus they do so not really caring about those issues rather about what they can do for themselves before they leave office.A whole big bunch of avaricious fellows.
Bernard Williams
Basseterre, St Kitts

Caricom is a dismal failure. Our politicians have failed us miserably.
I believe that we would much better off under colonial rule. Lawlessness has taken over the region and the politicians don’t seem to have the … fortitude to do any thing about it.
R Kalip
Rio Claro, Trinidad & Tobago

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.
The Caribbean has always lacked the political will to create a strong regional organization and there is nothing today to suggest that it has changed.
Caricom is as relevant today as it ever was, but the reality is that fickle politicians continue to protect their individual interest, which prevents any meaningful integration.
Jai Parasram
Toronto, Canada

Caricom should be disbanded and these islands should seek to become a province of Canada.
Pablo Hegel
Barbados

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.
V.Sealy
St. Michael, Barbados

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.
Rajesh
Guyana

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.
Thus, on the positive side of things this just might be a good thing to finally bring the region together and not just by music.
Sandy
Boston, MA

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?
Joshua Chowritmootoo
Irving, Texas, USA

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.
Not even reggae music seems to be closing the gap because the vast majority of Jamaicans play only their artistes songs and music. If the reggae singer is from another Caricom country, Jamaican Djs won't promote them, but we play Jamaican music without any prejudice.
Big-islandism mentality is a social ill.
Among OECS citizens there is problem too. In addition, we have our politicians wasting tax payers money, flying to different Caricom countries and only talking about Caribbean unity.
Too me, it is just a waste of time, because look how Guyanese are being treated when they visit neighbouring Caricom countries.
In spite of those negatives, I would like to work in a Caricom country where the crime rate is low and the people are tolerant to their Caricom neighbours.
H George
Toronto, Canada

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.
Yewande Lewis
Kingston, Jamaica

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.
Aleem Hassoo
Guyana

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.
Jean Louinel
Mandeville, Jamaica/Haiti

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
Naazil Sain
Queens , USA

I, Howard Foster totally agree with all the following points:
The last thing we need is an EU-style Caribbean parliament regulating every aspect of our lives. Caricom must be strengthened including integration of Cuba with its expertise. Individual politicians must accept that there will be inevitable political losses & gains. 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 the short to medium term, CARICOM Heads of Government will need to look seriously at ceding some of their sovereignty to allow for decisions agreed to regionally to be automatically enforced nationally as suggested by Professor Girvan. After 35 years of what has largely been a fragmented approach to regionalism, our CARICOM leaders need to assess the relevance of CARICOM as presently configured and look towards building or rebuilding an institution that can best serve the needs of the current and future Caribbean.
CARICOM should be given authority to Tax CARICOM States.
Howard Foster
Toronto, Canada

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.
Steve Foerster
Salisbury, Dominica

The Caribbean cannot fight poverty, crime or develop suitable education, health, policing systems alone.
European, US and developed Asian nations will continue to exploit weaknesses including illegal fishing, one sided trading etc.
Caricom must be strengthened including integration of Cuba with its expertise. Individual politicians must accept that there will be inevitable political losses & gains.
Mayro

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.
Gerald La Touche JP
Birmingham, United Kingdom

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.
Jay Bruno
St George's, Grenada

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 than apart.
- With respect to deepening the integration project, priority issues ought to be following through on the aspects of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas not yet finalised, placing the issue of some type of political arrangement on the agenda and deepening the level of economic integration than currently obtains.
In the short to medium term, CARICOM Heads of Government will need to look seriously at ceding some of their sovereignty to allow for decisions agreed to regionally to be automatically enforced nationally as suggested by Professor Girvan. After 35 years of what has largely been a fragmented approach to regionalism, our CARICOM leaders need to assess the relevance of CARICOM as presently configured and look towards building or rebuilding an institution that can best serve the needs of the current and future Caribbean. Essentially, the fate of our respective Member States are so interwoven that the outright failure of regionalism can have crippling effects on our respective micro states.
Joel Richards
Kingstown, St. Vincent

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.
Ralph Gonsalves alluded to this recently, pointing out that Caribbean people are obsessed with their "state uniqueness" and are oblivious to the fact of their common history and culture. People will obsess over the fact that they call a dish "peas and rice" as opposed to the other islanders who call the dish "rice and peas" even though it is fundamentally the same dish! They focus on cosmetic differences as a way of identifying themselves and their state as unique and special.
It is frightening that they cannot agree on a concept as simple as a Caribbean high court. Notice that no one is even talking about the notion of a common Caribbean Constitution which would have common basic provisions but where certain nations because of their real uniqueness (mostly around racial composition) might have special clauses.
We really can never unite unless because we do not want to give up our "sovereignty" and in order to unite we must each give up some sovereignty for the common good.
The way you have framed the question is really irrelevant since this just perpetuates the bureaucratic mentality(special committees, a 200 page report, etc. )These guys and gals - and apparently you...are full of sound and fury...signifying nothing!
Lennox Fraser
Toronto, Canada

 
 
Name
Surname*
Town
Country
Email
Telephone*
* optional
Your opinion
 
  
 
EXTERNAL LINKS
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites
SEE ALSO
 
 
Email a friend   Printable version
 
 
 
BBC ©
 
^^ Back to top
 
  Archive
 
  BBC News >> | BBC Sport >> | BBC Weather >> | BBC World Service >> | BBC Languages >>