Caribbean Political Economy

Food Security and Mitigating Climate Change: The Case for Organic Agriculture, Mervyn Claxton

Is Caricom ignoring the merits of organic agriculture in its policy choices for regional food security? A detailed and critical review that draws on a several authoritative sources raises troubling questions for consideration by consumers, public health professionals, educators, environmentalists, farmers organisations and government policy makers.

Click here for “Has Caricom made the right policy choices?”

Africa’s History Utilized for the Promotion of Regional Integration, Mervyn Claxton

Comments Off on Africa’s History Utilized for the Promotion of Regional Integration, Mervyn Claxton

African governments requested Unesco to formulate and implement a regional project, for the entire continent, which would, effectively, put Africa’s past at the service of both its present and its future. Unesco organized three expert-cum-preparatory meetings to conceptualize the project (the Pedagogical Use of the General History of Africa), formulate it, and plan its implementation. Can the Caribbean learn from this?


Crime and Violence in CARICOM, Mervyn Claxton

1 Comment »

An article in last week’s Economist, entitled “In the shadow of the gallows: Trinidad debates the death penalty” underlines the widespread sentiment of people throughout the region that the death penalty should be reinstated. ..

Continue reading

Indigenous Knowledge and Sustainable Development, Mervyn Claxton


Third Distinguished Lecture, The Cropper Foundation; UWI, St Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago; September 1, 2010

Biodiversity, indigenous knowledge, and sustainable development are very closely linked. The indigenous knowledge systems of the peoples of the South constitute the world largest reservoir of knowledge of the diverse species of plant and animal life on earth. For many centuries, their indigenous agricultural systems have utilized practices and techniques which embody, what one scientist has called ‘Principles of Permanence’- ..

Continue reading

Related items

T&T biodiversity holds key to future Michelle Loubon, Trinidad Guardian

Cropper Foundation launches book Michelle Loubon,Trinidad Guardian

Organic agriculture the way to,   go–expert Julian Neaves, Trinidad Express

Biodiversity critical to small islands–Sankat Michelle Loubon Trinidad Guardian

Emergency Food Production in Haiti: Getting it Right, Mervyn Claxton


PAPDA’s critique of the Haitian Government’s Emergency Food Production programme is correct: the programme will worsen the very problems it is supposed to address. Concerned Caricom citizens, with assistance from Bolivia and ALBA, can support Haitian farmers and grassroots organisations to build food production capacity while empowering people at the base and protecting Haiti’s soil, forests and water resources.

Read this paper

Hayti: The Declaration of Independence, the Donor Conference and Christian Evangelism, Mervyn Claxton

1 Comment »

This original Haitian Declaration of Independence is an extraordinarily inspiring document, which has come to light at a most opportune time – when the Haitian people are in most need of such inspiration. Facing the greatest ordeal in their post-independence history, the Haitian people are confronted with the urgent need to make important strategic choices concerning their country’s future…

Continue reading

Reflections on the Eve of the CHOGM and Copenhagen Summits, Mervyn Claxton


The YouTube video on Indonesia sent out by Wendy Lee is further confirmation of the extent of the contribution of human action to global warming. The atmospheric pollution, so graphically shown in the video, is an indication of the future to which we might be condemned if we continue to dither on taking effective action to promote alternative development policies which could mitigate or halt environmental degradation…

Click here to continue

Related documents

Jamaica’s Statement to AOSIS 2002

Jamaica’s Presentation to WSSD 2002-highlights

Criminal Deportees: who will be the Caribbean’s Baldwin?


by Mervyn Claxton

Comment provoked by a report that 50,000 criminal deportees have been sent back to the Caribbean in the past ten years

A causal connection has been convincingly established between criminal deportees of El Salvador nationals from the U.S. in recent years and the subsequent spike in violent crime in the country, including the great increase in the number of criminal gangs. It would appear that a similar cause and effect situation exists in the Caribbean. I was unaware that the issue of criminal deportees had been raised by Caricom leaders with Obama during the latter’s visit to T&T last April.

The great discretion on the subject (as evidenced by the absence of any publicity or public discussion of the issue) is, perhaps, yet another manifestation of the general indifference, on the part of Caricom citizens, of such a crucially important social problem, something I find most puzzling. Just as important is the misplaced focus by Caricom leaders on criminal deportees instead of the conditions in Caricom societies which generate crime. Transplants, whether physical, social, or cultural, can survive and thrive only if favourable conditions in the recipient society/country exist for them to do so. That principle applies to transplanted criminals.

Only when Caricom leaders cease treating the symptoms of the many serious problems which our societies face and begin tackling, instead, the roots of those problems would the need for alternative development policies become clear and unavoidable. But politicians, as distinct from statesmen (which our region sorely lacks), tend to pursue their narrow political interests. As long as Caricom citizens and civil society groups continue to either remain silent on important socio-economic issues (through passivity, resignation, or apathy) or merely content themselves with pro forma protests rather than stimulating a public debate on such issues with a view to proposing feasible alternative policies, business will continue as usual and nothing will change. In the course of my research on conditions propitious to, and the causes of, social and political change, I examined a number of revolutions and social explosions. A recurrent factor in all of them was the blindness of the “bourgeosie” to the grave danger of continuring to ignore or dismiss explosive conditions in their society.

James Baldwin

James Baldwin

In 1963, James Baldwin published “The Fire Next Time” which he hoped would help prevent the racial conflagration he saw coming. Whether Baldwin’s book helped to open the eyes of the white power structure to the explosive situation in American society is not subject to proof but it most certainly galvanized the civil rights movement. The passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 has been attributed, in part, to the enormous impact his book made. Baldwin warned in his book that should his effort fail the words of a slave song might come true: “God gave Noah the rainbow sign, / No more water, the fire next time!” Who will be Caricom’s Baldwin? Who will come forth to warn Caricom society of the Fire Next Time?


Criminal Deportees To Caribbean Tops 50 Thousand Mark In Decade

CaribWorldNews, WASHINGTON, D.C., Fri. July 17, 2009: Over 50,000 convicted Caribbean-born criminals, who have called the U.S. home for many years, have been shipped back to the Caribbean in the past decade under tough U.S. immigration laws, a CaribWorldNews analysis of new Department of Homeland Security data reveals. The number of criminal deportees sent back to the Caribbean between the decade of 1999 and 2008 totaled 50,589, DHS statistics released this month and analyzed by CWNN reveal. Last year, the number was at 4,343, a slight increase from 2007, when the total was 4,315. However, it was an improvement from 2005, when the total rose to 5,149, the highest for the decade.

Click here for full report

Windmills Of The Mind, Mervyn Claxton


I decided to wait until all the comments on my paper Port of Spain Declaration: A Critical Analysis were posted before making a global response. Four comments were received – those by Norman and Yash in this exchange and two others – by Wendy Lee and Margaret Gill – (Wendy’s contribution is posted on the website, Margaret’s is not) in two separate, parallel e-mail exchanges. Notwithstanding the several important points made by Norman and Yash (which I discuss below), it is my opinion that only Wendy’s and Margaret’s contribution grasped the essential issue involved – sustainable development.

Wendy posed the crucially important question “How can we get decision-makers to absorb and act on the information that is so readily available about sustainable development IMPERATIVES, including critical ecological requirements, instead of pursuing the same old false, unjust and unsustainable models?” Margaret identified another key aspect (one that I explored in the paper) – how do we inform and educate the Caricom public on that essential issue.

Click here to continue

Critique of Herman Daly’s ‘Steady State Economy’, Mervyn Claxton


Although Daly’s basic tenet in From a Failed Growth Economy to a Steady State Economy has considerable merit, Steady-state economy theory is a Northern-centered theory that is written from an exclusively Northern viewpoint. It reflects Northern interests and Northern fears. It does not take into consideration the situation of the South. Given their present circumstances, virtually all countries in the South would require many years of positive growth to be able to significantly alleviate (not to speak of eradicating) poverty, and for their populations to be able to attain a decent living level…

Click here to continue

Port of Spain Declaration: A Critical Analysis, Mervyn Claxton


An in-depth critique of the Port of Spain Declaration prepared for the Vth Summit of the Americas, for its failure to address fundamental issues in sustainable development from the perspective of the interests of the Global South. Discusses issues of land degradation,,   sustainable agricultural practices, ecology and agroecology, water resource depletion, lessons of the Cuban experience in sustainable growth with equity, developing a culture of sustainability, renewable energy, toxic emissions, nitrous oxide, global warming, deforestatiion, the role of traditional agroecological practices and indigenous knowledge, disaster prevention, food security, intellectual property, biopiracy, cultural heritage, creativity, and the extreme envionmental situation in Haiti. Concludes with,   concrete proposals for an Internet discussion of sustainable development practices and policies,   forr the Caribbean and initiatives that Caricom can take with respect to Haiti and,   at,   the upcoming (2010) conference,   of the Inter-American Program for Sustainable Development.

I strongly believe that all public policies, actions, and decisions would benefit greatly from a critical examination and that the more searching the examination, the healthier would be the society concerned and the better the quality of its democracy. I also firmly believe that such criticism is useful and valuable to the extent that it is complemented by suggestions or proposals for alternative policies/actions which are demonstrably or, at least, arguably better than those criticized.

A given public policy or action may be criticized for one or more justifiable reasons but unless that policy or action can be shown to be worse than adopting no policy or undertaking no action at all on the particular matter, and if the person who criticizes it is unable to propose feasible alternatives which are demonstrably/arguably better than the one criticized, he/she should acknowledge the possibility that the policy/action in question might be the least worse option available to the authority and, as such, does not merit outright condemnation. I have always tried to apply that principle to any criticism I make on all issues I examine, whether they concern public policy or not. It is a principle that I applied in this paper, which criticizes quite severely many if not most of the policies and actions advocated in the Port of Spain Declaration of Commitment.

Click here to continue

The Debate over ‘Dead Aid’ by Dambisa Moyo; Mervyn Claxton and others


Below is a very interesting and provocative review of new book by a Zambian author, Dambisa Moyo, called ‘Dead Aid’. The arguments in the book might be

Dambisa Moyo

Dambisa Moyo

seriously flawed if one is to go by this review, but I do agree with the author’s basic premise that international “Aid“, as currently conceived and implemented, does more harm than good. I have always wondered why so few development economists from the South have not tackled this important issue. They have, by and large, left unchallenged the North’s basic assumption that an effective way to tackle underdevelopment in the South, especially in Africa, is to increase “aid” (and private investment) rather than substantially decrease or remove all those unfair subsidies to their agricultural ,  exports as well as those from their livestock industry, which enter countries of the South at “dumping” prices thereby destroying whole swathes of their agricultural sector -countries where ,  the majority of the population live off the land.

Thus, at every G-7, G-8, or G-20 meeting, Northern NGOs, who apparently share that assumption, press for an increase in “aid” to the South. UNDP has regularly published statistics showing that the quantity of “aid” (I always put that word in quotation marks because genuine aid means help or assistance and international “aid” is anything but that) delivered to countries in the South is but a fraction of the considerable sum of money of which their highly subsidized agricultural exports deprive those countries. I see that Obama has decided to reduce government subsidies to the U.S. cotton industry, the subsidized exports of which have ravaged cotton farming in West Africa on which millions of families depend for their livelihod. When added to the host of non-tariff barriers (on which development economists from the South have admittedly done a great deal of work) which countries of the North insist on imposing on the South’s exports, such “aid“, even if it might occasionally provide some real relief, is no more than a band-aid.

Mervyn deadaid1402
Dead Aid, Dambisa Moyo
A Zambian Economist Blog Review

The question of international aid to developing countries is one of the most controversial subjects in modern development literature. One simply needs to look at any local bookshop under the “current affairs” section and you are hit with many large and often time consuming volumes on the subject. So when I stumbled on Dambisa Moyo’s book at my favourite bookshop (Waterstones Charing Cross Station), I felt a mixture of delight and nervousness…

Full review

See also:

A Tale Of Two Islands, Mervyn Claxton


Antigua under Stanford, Guadeloupe under France

If Caricom business enterprises, which produce foodstuffs and every-day,  ,   consumer necessitities,   are prepared to take the initiative by making feasible proposals to local Antillean political leaders and business interests to supply a broad range of products to the Antilles and which could immediately bring down the high cost of living, it would be very difficult for the Metropolitan government to oppose it in the present explosive situation…But do they possess the drive, the business acumen, the initiative, or the entrepreneurial chutzpah to explore such a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity?…


Mervyn Claxton reviews ‘An Encounter With Haiti’, by Reginald Dumas

1 Comment »

Reginald Dumas has written a fascinating, highly readable, well documented account of his experience as U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s Special Adviser on Haiti, in the period immediately following President Aristide’s resignation from power, which was disingenuously described as ‘voluntary’ by certain foreign interests.. His penetrating insight into the dynamics of big power, small country, and international organization politics illuminated his observations and analysis throughout the book…