Caribbean Political Economy

Reinventing the CSME

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The CSME has been a failure because it is a borrowed model of integration known as Open Regionalism, which is an imperfectly designed instrument to boost the development of Caricom economies.


Quo Vadis, Caricom? Kenny Anthony

The current chairman of Caricom, Prime Minister Dr Kenny Anthony of St Lucia, has added his voice to those calling for breathing new life into an institution  widely perceived to be comatose. In a recent speech in Barbados, he is saying that the region is facing its greatest crisis since Independence and that its  institutions have not kept up with the times. But where is the action plan? Who will lead it?

Click for Dr Anthony’s speech

Labouring In The Vineyard, Ralph Gonsalves

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Book Review of Sir Shridath Ramphal’s Collected Counsel, CARIBBEAN CHALLENGES, 2012

In the volume under review, Sir Shridath provides counsel in thirteen essays and speeches covering a range of subjects.. with one central focus: the impact of it all on the deepening of the process of regional integration in the interest of the Caribbean..


Labouring in the Vineyard, Sir Shridath Ramphal

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The 2012 Eric Williams Memorial Lecture by the eminent Caribbean elder statesman provides hitherto little-known facts as well as instructive insights into the tortuous course of Caribbean regionalism over the past 50 years.

Click here for Labouring in the Vineyard

Symphony or Dirge? Vaneisa Baksh Trinidad Express 30 May 2012

10 – 1 = 0? History’s big what- if Lennox Grant Trinidad Express 3 June 2012

Jamaica’s PNP—Back in the Saddle Again, Norman Girvan

The economy, relations with Caricom, the CCJ and Jamaica as a Republic are three issues to be faced by the new Jamaican government.

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The Future of CARICOM and Regional Integration, Roosevelt Skerrit

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In a passionate plea for regional integration, The Prime Minister of Dominica invokes the words of Derek Walcott in likening the “region to a beautiful vase that had been shattered by its history into many pieces”. He speaks of rebuilding bonds of ‘communication’ and of ‘trust’; and shows the importance of integration in several areas that are vital to the existence of the Caribbean; including the economy, food security and energy. Pooling our sovereignty’ he insists, ‘ is not necessarily giving up our sovereignty’.

Click here for Skerrit lecture on CARICOM

Drugs, Crime, Security and Sovereignty, Ivelaw Griffith

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Thirteenth Annual Eric Williams Memorial Lecture of the School of Public and International Affairs, Florida International University delivered on October 28, 2011. Dr Griffith is Professor of Political Science, Provost and Senior Vice President at York College,The City University of New York.

CONTENTS I. Introduction*/ II. The Drama of Drugs/ III. The Crucible of Crime/ IV. Challenges to Security and Sovereignty/Jamaica’s Dudus Affair/ Trinidad and Tobago’s State of Emergency/ V. The Subtitle, the Questions/ VI. Conclusion. Also statistics on Drugs and Crime in the Caribbean.

Click here for Griffith’s Eric Williams Lecture

Financialisation and world food prices: what’s CARICOM doing? Norman Girvan


An article I recently received from Patricia Khan (How Global Investors Make Money Out of Hunger, by Horand Knaup, Michaela Schiessl and Anne Seith, published by Speigel Online) is an excellent treatment of the effects of financialisation of world food commodity markets on driving up food prices. It marshals evidence from several authortitative sources to show that the recent spikes in food prices have little to do with the reasons one often sees in the media, like population growth, demand fron China and India, biofuels, climate change etc. but rather to the entry of the banks and other financial entities to the futures markets following deregulation in 1999 and relaxation of banks’ equity requirements in 2004.

I was particularly struck by the statistic from FAO that 98% of futures contracts do not lead to actual deliveries, that the bulk of the contracts are sold by the banks etc prior to maturation, and by the UNCTAD finding that futures prices are driving up present prices, rather than vice versa as it ought to be. I am also struck by the emergence of “land grabbing” in resource-rich African countries by investors exporting food to the rich countries, and by the way in which commercial industrial agriculture has several deleterious effects and that the technical consensus is that food security for the world’s hungry should be based on sustainable agricultural practices carried out by small farmers–an issue which has been addressed by several writers on this blog.

While this is probably familiar to many readers, I am concerned as to whether it has percolated into the thinking of our key decision-makers and the general regional public. Earlier this year we were informed that a CARICOM Common Agricultural Policy has been adopted, but there are,   several questions that arise:

1. What is the status of the Caricom Common Agricultural Policy? Is it receiving the urgency it deserves from decision-makers? Are stakeholders satisfied that the implementation arrangements and mechanisms will result in its timely and effective implementation?

2. How has the recent (2011) spike in global food commodity prices impacted the cost and availabilty of food in CARICOM countries? How many people in CARICOM have been pushed below the poverty line, or the hunger line (if there is such a concept) by the rise in food prices since the beginning of 2011?

3. What steps have CARICOM governments taken to support internationally the calls for (a) regulation of global commodity markets and (b) a transactions tax, to curb speculation? (see article).

4. What steps have CARICOM governments taken, or are taking, or should be taking, to prevent “land-grabbing” in countries like Guyana and Belize, to ensure that the food needs of the people of the region are the first call on the land resources of the region?

5. What steps have CARICOM governments taken, or are taking, or should be taking, to provide land, credit, R&D and other incentives to small farmers to carry out sustainable agricultural practices for domestic food production in the region?

6. And finally, who is championing these issues in the Caribbean media? Is it getting the attention it deserves and is the regional public sufficiently seized of its importance? Anf if the answer is “no”, what can be done to remedy this situation?


In recent years, the financial markets have discovered the huge opportunities presented by agricultural commodities. The consequences are devastating, as speculators drive up food prices and plunge millions of people into poverty. But investors care little about the effects of their deals in the real world.

More at,1518,783654,00.html,  

Regional Food and Nutrition Security Policy Brief No 2 2011 CARICOM Secretariat

Customising Caribbean economic integration, Norman Girvan

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Presentation at the ECLAC Caribbean Development Round Table held in Port of Spain on September 13, 2011

Proposals now on the table suggest the evolution of a kind of hybrid model of economic integration; in which elements of ‘industrial policy’ (selective interventions by means of common policies, functional cooperation and investment) are combined with elements of orthodox ‘open regionalism’ (selective implementation of single economy elements). But if Caricom is to move in this direction, there are at least three hurdles are to be overcome…


Other presentations at the ECLAC Caribbean Development Round Table

Racist killings in Libya’s ‘regime change’ and Caricom’s mixed signals, Rickey Singh

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WHILE the warplanes of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) continue to facilitate the anti-Moammar Gadhafi rebel forces to take full control of Libya, there are increasing reports of racist killings and torture against black Africans accused of being mercenaries of the deposed Libyan president…



Statement by Cuba on the withdrawal of its diplomatic personnel from Libya

Caribbean Regional Integration, Institute of International Relations

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Report on a survey, carried out in January 2011,,   by a team from the Institute of International Relations (IIR) at the University of the West Indies (UWI) of over 100 regional stakeholders on their opinions on the current state of Caribbean regional integration and their recommended solutions for the problems affecting integration.

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No Caribbean society? You must be joking! Sir Ronald Sanders

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At their retreat in Guyana on May 21 and 22, CARICOM Heads of Government are reported to have concluded that “There is need for discussion and articulation of a Caribbean society”. But the understanding that the Caribbean people are a society has been articulated since the beginning of the 20th Century by trade union leaders, educators, writers, calypsonians and politicians. The discussion on Caribbean integration needs to be taken to another level–a regional assembly of political representatives and representatives of civil society.

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CARICOM’s Failures Condemn Anguilla to Continuing Colonial Status, Sir Ronald Sanders


If a tiny country like Anguilla is to seek independence, with all the costly requirements that come with such a bold step, it would have been better-off doing so within the framework of CARICOM…But, CARICOM itself does not now offer an enticing prospect.


Is ALBA a New Model of Integration? Reflections on the CARICOM Experience, Norman Girvan

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Forthcoming in the International Journal of Cuban Studies, September 2011

This paper is a step towards evaluating the claims of ALBA to be a new model of integration that is superior to neoliberal integration schemes. It draws lessons from the experience of three Caribbean countries which at one and the same time are members of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM); participate in an Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the European Union and are members of ALBA..

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PetroCaribe: Fine Example of Political Collaboration Jamaica Gleaner 27 August 2012

CARICOM to retreat in order to advance, Norman Girvan

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The CARICOM Intersessional Summit held in Grenada on February 25-26 ended with a decision to hold a Heads of Government retreat in Guyana to deliberate on the direction of the regional integration movement. Leaders say that they are aware of the ‘scepticism and impatience’ of the public on the slow progress of integration; and that the present structure of governance is not ‘delivering what the Caribbean people demand’.
In the run-up to the retreat, Caribbean citizens need to continue to speak out to their leaders and to lobby vigorously on the urgency of re-dynamising the integration movement and to offer ideas on how to do it. Below is a selection of recent commentaries that addresses issues of Caribbean identity and its link with economic performance, the marginalisation of women, crime and violence, CARICOM’s implementation shortfalls and its participation deficit, and leadership.

The Case for a New Caribbean Identity, Marc Ramsay

CARICOM, Collective Responsibility and Female Marginalisation, Carolyn Cooper

Crime and Violence in CARICOM, Mervyn Claxton

CARICOM’S ‘Original Sin’, Norman Girvan

Is The West Indies West Indian? Sir Shridath Ramphal

CARICOM: Its Leadership That’s Needed Sir Ronald Sanders

A Call For Support For A Caribbean Political Union

Message to Sir Edwin Carrington, Norman Girvan

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The following message was sent on the occasion of the function honouring Sir Edwin Carrington, outgoing Secretary-General of the Caribbean Community Secretariat, in Georgetown on December 17, 2010.

I sincerely regret that I cannot be with you and your family tonight to join with your friends, colleagues and well-wishers in the supremely deserved tributes to your outstanding service of labour in the vineyard of Caribbean regional integration. But you know that I am with you in spirit…

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ALBA and CARICOM: Paradoxes and Problematique, Norman Girvan

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Presented at a Conference on ALBA and the Future of Regional Integration held at London Metropolitan University, January 29, 2011; the presentation explores issues arising out of the simultaneous membership of three Caribbean countries in ALBA, the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) and the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the European Union; and assesses ALBA’s claims to represent a superior alternative to neoliberal integration schemes that is based on solidarity and cooperation. Issues raised include the compatibility of simultaneous membership in schemes that are so different from one another; whether ALBA represents an alternative to the other two; ideological vs. financial motivation; and ‘asymmterical’ vs. ‘non-reciopocated’ solidarity.

Click here for Presentation

Conference Programme and Abstracts

London Metropolitan University Hosts First ALBA-PTA Conference Report on

For a Caribbean Political Union, Clement Payne Movement

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The Clement Payne Movement in Barbados has launched a call for Union of (CARICOM) Caribbean States that points to the current challenges facing the region and invokes the dreams, aspirations and struggles of the Caribbean Labour Movement and the other visionaries of Caribbean unity. A resolution has been drafted for submission to national parliaments leading to a Constitutional Convention in 2016. The idea comes as commentators, editorials, businessspeople, academics, and other civil society voices are bemoaning the state of CARICOM and calling for its revitalisation.
As unlikely as the idea might appear to be in the current political climate, we urge readers to give it serious consideration, and provide feedback by entering your comments in the box below.

Click on link for,  Request for Support for a Caribbean Political Union

PDF Version

The Denial of Self-Determination: Haiti and the International Community, Kevin Edmonds

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Webmaster’s note: The news of ‘massive irregularities‘,   in the November 28 elections in Haiti, in a study by the Washington-based Center for Economic and Policy Research,,   has come as a further embarrasment to the OAS/CARICOM observer mission which, while reporting many such irregularities, nonetheless endorsed the electoral process, Kevin Edmonds, who is St. Lucian, took part in an informal election observation mission with several Haitian grassroots organizations in November, 2010. He is a freelance journalist and graduate student at McMaster University’s Globalization Institute in Hamilton, Ontario.

If any nation in the history of humanity has been terrorized by the naked brutality and hypocritical logic of modernity, it has been Haiti… (which) since it’s independence in 1804, Haiti has been the victim of both history and hypocrisy… The recent turmoil surrounding the Haitian elections on November 28th must be seen as an extension of international determination in undermining the Haitian people’s right to self determination…

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Caribbean Court of Justice: None But Ourselves, Patrick Robinson

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Judge Patrick Robinson. a Jamaican, is president of the International Criminal Court. This address was delivered at the Cornwall Bar Association Annual Banquet and Awards ceremony in Montego Bay, St James, Jamaica on December 4, 2010.

By far the more potent explanation of our lack of self-esteem, our self doubt and mistrust of, and lack of confidence in, each other is the 300-year colonial experience. And if you want an explanation for the opposition to the abolition of the Privy Council and its replacement by a Caribbean Court, this is it: the feeling that we are not good enough and cannot be depended on to be just and fair and deliver justice in the way that an English court can…

Click here for address


Golding resists CCJ–wants final Jamaica court CMC

Mr Golding’s final court Jamaica Gleaner Editorial

Time to move forward with the CCJ, Jamaica Observer Editorial

Opposition PNP says Golding is confused

Trinidad PM must take up the CCJ cause, Trinidad Express Editorial

Dancing Away From The CCJ Rickey Singh,,   Jamaica Observer

Golding’s CCJ doubts Tennyson Joseph, Trinidad Express

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