Caribbean Political Economy

EPAS and Asymmetrical Integration: Caribbean Tale

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Presentation at Workshop on Alternative Trade, St Mary’s University, Halifax, N.S. 1-2 November 2013

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Does Caribbean economic integration have a future? (Video), Norman Girvan

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Does Caribbean integration have a future? Whichever configuration of the Caribbean we talk about, an economically integrated region seems to be remote. The only areas of relatively successful regional integration are functional cooperation; intra-Caribbean migration, and cultural intercourse.

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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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The Global Jobs Pact is hampered by non-implementation of the CSME, Marcel Meyer

The President of the Caribbean Employers Confederation is warning that jobs will go elsewhere if regional governments fail to act on their CSME commitments.

The CEC and its members have committed themselves to Decent Work, to supporting the establishment and further development of the CSME and to the implementation of the “global jobs” pact in the Caribbean and we will continue to do all humanely possible to ensure positive outcomes with respect to these matters, but we do firmly believe that, without social dialogue at the national and regional levels, without a predictable business environment in the CSME and without full free movement for economic purposes, the implementation of the “global jobs pact” in the Caribbean will be severely hampered…

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Is the West Indies West Indian? Sir Shridath Ramphal


In the Tenth Sir Archibald Nedd Memorial Lecture delivered in Grenada on January 28, 2011, the eminent Caribbean statesman has pointed to the ‘grave and present danger’ of demise of the Caribbean Court of Justice and with it, of further consolidation of the regional movement and a West Indian identity.

As all Grenadians know, it was here in St. Georges ninety-five [95] years ago that T.A. Marryshow flew from the masthead of his pioneering newspaper The West Indian the banner: The West Indies Must Be Westindian. And on that banner Westindian was symbolically one joined-up word – from the very first issue on 1 January 1915. What was ‘Teddy’ Marryshow signaling almost a century ago? …

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What The Waves Say Margaret D Gill

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.

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Conference Programme and Abstracts

London Metropolitan University Hosts First ALBA-PTA Conference Report on

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…

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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

CARICOM’s Elusive Quest for Economic Integration, Norman Girvan


Chapter 9 in Alleyne, Frank; Denny Lewis-Bynoe and Xiomara Arcibald (Eds.) Growth and Development Strategies in the Caribbean. Barbados: Caribbean Development Bank, 2010; 199-218.

The paper discusses economic integration initiatives from the launch of the Caribbean Free Trade Association (CARIFTA) in 1965 to developments in the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) up to 2010. It uses a political economy perspective to discuss characteristics, underlying theories, embedded strategies, implementation problems and economic outcomes; and concludes by outlining a possible research agenda.

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The Caribbean in a Turbulent World, Norman Girvan

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A paper that reviews regional challenges from, and responses to, the world economic crisis; structural shifts in global geo-economics and geo-politics especially the changes in the Latin American political economy; and the changing dynamics of Caribbean regionalism in relation to these developments.

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Barbados Immigration Controversy 2009, Norman Girvan

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A compilation of news items and commentaries on the controversy over the Government of Barbados’s policy on Caricom migrants announced in early 2009.

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ALBA: To Join or Not to Join? Norman Girvan

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Presentation at PNP Forum on ‘Progressive Internationalism’, UWI, Mona, September 12, 2009


The traditional global configurations are changing and new sources of power are emerging. The role of Latin America has also changed. Latin American integration schemes have enabled it to become a platform for change and a new source of power in the Western hemisphere. Amidst the many Latin American integration initiatives is ALBA which forces the Caribbean region to reevaluate their conventional trading partners and relationships. ALBA has the potential to become one of the more potent forces in the region, with the terms and conditions associated with membership bringing to the fore many social and economic benefits and previously unheard of trading conditions which take into consideration the unique positions of developing nations. On the other hand there are risks of economic and political dependency on new donors; and concerns regarding transparency and accountability. Concerns have also surfaced regarding the potential of ALBA membership to undermine CARICOM’s integration and to foment tensions in CARICOM-US relations.

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Barbados’s capacity to host Caricom migrants, Annalee Davis

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Concern has been expressed about the excessive numbers of CARICOM nationals taking up too many places in Barbadian schools. From 2006 – 2007, 2.3% of students in primary and secondary schools were CARICOM nationals, ie. out of 40,276 students, 930 are CARICOM nationals. From July to December 2007, 1,214 students received student visas (including tertiary) and 181 students renewed their visas.

Statistics all show that while some schools are under capacity, others are over capacity…Read full text here

A Caricom Executive Mechanism, P.J. Patterson


Remarks at the Conferment of the Order of Caribbean Community at the 30th Caricom Heads of Government Conference, July 2, 2009

The greatest threat to the credibility of CARICOM lies squarely in the failure to implement solemn declarations and decisions made Conference after Conference. Surely mature regionalism will remain a pipe dream unless,   authority is vested in an executive mechanism which is charged with full time responsibility for ensuring the implementation within a specified timeframe of the critical decisions taken by Heads or other designated organs of the Community.

For how much longer can a final decision be postponed on upgrading the institutional machinery if the Community is not to become comatose?

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Caribbean Judiciaries in an Era of Globalisation, Sir Shridath Ramphal



We are at such a time, and both policies and practices are deepening Caribbean divides. ‘The knock on the door at night’ is not within our regional culture; still less are intimations of ‘ethnic cleansing’. No Caribbean leader would countenance such departures from our norms and values; but all must not only believe, but also act as if they believe, that we forget our oneness at our peril; whether the ‘otherness’ that displaces it is an accidental place of regional birth, or otherness of any kind. I say ‘accidental’ because in the Caribbean the age-old process of trans-migration has made us all family: as a great Barbadian regionalist, the Rt. Excellent Errol Barrow, reminded us twenty-three years ago – concluding in his practical common-sense way that:

” If we have sometimes failed to comprehend the essence of the regional integration movement, the truth is that thousands of ordinary Caribbean people do in fact live that reality every day. … we are a family … and this fact of regional togetherness is lived every day by ordinary West Indian men and women in their comings and goings.”

So indeed it was; and for a very long time. My great-great grandfather on my mother’s side came to Guyana from Barbados looking for land and settlement, and found them – and so it has been up and down the chain of island societies that free movement fused into one: freedom curbed ironically with the arrival of our separate ‘national’ freedoms. But the roots of those family trees are now spread out in the sub-soil of the Caribbean. Social antipathy and divisiveness deny them; but DNA’s defy even Constitutions.

” CARICOM is at risk”, we have been warned. So it is; and few are blameless. Political leaders, in particular, have to be less casual about CARICOM, less minimalist in their ambition for it, less negative in their vision of it. Its foundations have been built on our oneness; not on the geography of a dividing sea. The Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas is not just embellished parchment; it is the logic of that oneness in a world which threatens our separate survival. And the revised treaty is not all; there are international Conventions to which all CARICOM member states are parties that are relevant to our rights and obligations to each other as human beings, much less family. The Caribbean Community is now our regional mansion within a global home. We have to make it more secure and habitable – through reaching goals like the CSME (or even the CSM), and reaching them together.

Next month is the 20th Anniversary of the Grand Anse Resolution on Preparing the Peoples of the West Indies for the Twenty-first Century – the Resolution that established the West Indian Commission. Nearing the end of the new century’s first decade, we are still ‘preparing’. No wonder ‘CARICOM is at risk’. In the era of globalization, we retrogress if we simply mark time while the world moves ahead. As CARICOM’s political directorate meet in Georgetown next week at their XXXth Summit they must demonstrate credibly that they still believe in Caribbean integration, that they care about securing it against risk, and that they are serious in their commitment to the objectives of the Treaty of Chaguaramas. I believe the people the Caribbean yearn for that assurance from inspired leadership.

And so must we all here; for without CARICOM, without the Community, where is the Caribbean Court of Justice; where, even, are Caribbean judiciaries? The siren song of separatism lures us to self-destruction – as it once did with the federal nation we were about to be 47 years ago. The Federation – ‘The West Indies’ – (how quickly we have forgotten its name) did not founder on technical rocks; it foundered on political ones. We have now re-built pains-takingly over nearly half a century; and are again ‘about to be’ – this time an economic community. And again the siren sings seductive songs of separatism. In our collective self-interest, resistance of that enticement has become a major challenge of our time; and it is from our political directorates that the will to resist must mainly come.

The Caribbean Court of Justice, with the full jurisdiction with which it must soon be endowed, with its rich inheritance of the common law and of that international law which is the under-pinning of globalization, is for me the greatest assurance that as a Community of Caribbean people we can meet and overcome the challenges of the time.

Click here for full Address at the Inauguration of the Caribbean Association of Judiciary Officers, Port of Spain, June 25, 2009

The ‘Real’ Immigration Problem in Barbados, CFHA





There are thousands of Barbadians, who, having travelled to the U.S.A, overstayed their time, and are now in the process of working on getting their “green cards”. With 6 or 7 years of residence in the U.S.A under their belts, these Bajans have evolved into ‘Bajan-Yankees’, and we would be appalled if the U.S government suddenly started deporting them.

Yet, that is precisely what our Government is doing to ‘Guyanese-Bajans’ and ‘Vincey-Bajans’ in our midst! Our Immigration officers are raiding the homes and work-places of Guyanese and Vincentians who have been living in Barbados for 7 and 8 years, arresting them and putting them on the first flight out of Barbados. And several of these persons are the parents of children born in Barbados, and the owners of bank accounts and other forms of property in Barbados!

Most ordinary Barbadians are not aware that this is happening. Indeed, the Barbadian people have been so misled, that they believe that our Government has given all undocumented or ‘illegal’ Caribbean residents a six month period of time within which to go into the Immigration Department and regularize their immigration status. This is simply not true!

Admittedly, the Barbados government has advised undocumented’ Caribbean migrants that they are required to go into the Immigration Department between 1st June and 1st December 2009, but, they have warned that the only people who have a chance of being accepted are those who came to Barbados before the 1st of January 1998 – almost 12 years ago. All of the others will therefore be subjected to the very real likelihood of deportation! And the Immigration Department has not waited until the 1st of December 2009 to start deporting people! Indeed, they have already commenced a heartless campaign of arrest and deportation.


This inhumane approach to our Caribbean brothers and sisters may be contrasted with the progressive and constructive policy that was pursued by the previous Administration.

The previous government had a policy under which undocumented or ‘illegal’ CARICOM migrants who had resided in Barbados for 5 or more years, were permitted to come forward and apply for Immigrant Status. And once they were able to demonstrate to the Immigration authorities that they were gainfully employed, had no criminal record, and were likely to make a constructive contribution to our society, they were accepted.

Furthermore, if they failed to convince the Immigration Department and were rejected, they were given a right of appeal to an “Immigration Review Committee” chaired by a Minister of Government. If they failed to convince this Committee, they would then be ordered to leave Barbados.

This was a good policy, because it came to the rescue of persons who had become ‘Barbadianised’, and had become part of Barbadian society. Deporting such persons simply did not help anybody, and a wise Barbados government acknowledged this.

Barbados has never had a problem with this “five year amnesty” policy! Indeed, it was a good and humane policy and should be reinstated!


The ‘real’ problem with the immigration situation in Barbados is that the traditional and long-standing exchange of migrants between Barbados and Guyana evolved into a ‘migrant labour phenomenon’ over the past decade, but the government of Barbados failed to acknowledge this new development, and therefore also failed to establish a formal ‘migrant labour programme’ with appropriate controls and administrative structures.

The reality is that the Barbadian economy and society has evolved in such a manner that the present generation of native Barbadians is no longer attracted to the physically taxing and repetitive labour of the agricultural, manual and low level service jobs that their parents and grand-parents were prepared to do!

Over the past decade or so therefore, the Barbadian economy has come to rely on imported Guyanese workers to perform essential but unwanted jobs in agriculture, construction, care of the elderly, and a range of low level services. This has helped Barbados to maintain strength and efficiency in these vital areas of its economy, and this, in turn, contributed to the maintenance of an overall strong economy in which the unemployment rate dropped to the historically low level of 6 per cent. In other words, the presence of Guyanese migrant workers in Barbados has not caused the unemployment of native Barbadians!

The belief that the quantity of employment available in Barbados is of a fixed nature and that migrant workers from Guyana simply take the jobs of existing Barbadian workers, is absolutely wrong! The fact is that the Barbadian economy has expanded along with the growth in the labour force! Indeed, our economy would be smaller, with lower per capita income, without our imported Guyanese, Vincentian and St Lucian labour!

However, rather than allowing needed migrant workers from Guyana to come to Barbados in an ad hoc manner, we need to put a formal ‘migrant labour programme’ in place, and run it properly! This is what our new government should be doing – not running down and deporting 5, 6, 7 and 8 year residents of Barbados!


Our government is inflicting unnecessary damage on both the image and the economy of Barbados, with their inhumane and myopic immigration policy. Our organisation – the “Coalition For A Humane Amnesty“- therefore asks all Barbadians to join with us in insisting upon a reinstatement of the ‘five year amnesty’ policy, and the establishment of a formal, structured ‘migrant labour programme’ for guest workers from the CARICOM sub-region.

If you are interested in our campaign, please contact us at the Clement Payne Centre, Crumpton Street, Bridgetown, Barbados (Tel 246 435 2334;



16 June 2009

Barbados: Managing Immigration Issues, George Brathwaite


The debate over Prime Minister Thompson’s declaration of an amnesty focussing on undocumented CARICOM nationals has stirred many an emotion in Barbados, Guyana, and the wider CARICOM. Since the announcement, differing views have penetrated the public sphere with mixed but petulant effects. There appears to be an escalation of underlying anxieties and fears voiced by both undocumented immigrants as well as Barbadian nationals. It is clear that the Government of Barbados is acting within the legal parameters open to it as a sovereign state.

Nevertheless, and in some quarters, arguments are being made that the Government may well be ‘mashing the crease’ with respect to its treaty obligations and commitments to the RTC Establishing the CSME, and in relation to international conventions for which the country is a signatory…

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Caricom: Hang Together or Hang Separately, Douglas Orane

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Douglas Orane is Chairman & CEO Of GraceKennedy Limited, a leading pan-Caribbean company. This address was delivered at the Fourth Annual Private Sector Meeting/Dinner with CARICOM Ministers of Trade and Finance on June 13, 2009.
In it, Mr. Orane calls for speedy action on establishing the regional financial services agreement and a regional stock exchange, early removal of remaining bureaucratic obstacles to the free movement of capital and skilled labour, substitution of a culture of decison-making and implementation for the culture of meetings and speeches, and greater use of teleconferencing for more frequent meetings among Caricom leaders.

Douglas Orane

Douglas Orane

Earlier this year I referred to the global financial crisis when speaking with my colleagues in GK as the equivalent of a Force Five hurricane approaching our region from the Atlantic and with us starting to feel the outer bands of wind. The reality now, in June, is that the hurricane season is here and the hurricane has hit.

What I would like to do is share with you, how we in GraceKennedy prepared ourselves for this hurricane, how are we surviving and thriving in it and what lessons are there, not only for other companies and individuals in the Caribbean but also for our governments and for our Caribbean society as a whole.

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Is Caricom at Risk? Norman Girvan


Prime Minister Bruce Golding of Jamaica is reported as having expressed concern about ‘a number of things’ that are ‘destabilising and threatening the existence of Caricom’. In particular he believes that the political integration being pursued by Trinidad and a number of countries in the Eastern Caribbean may be ‘commendable’, but is ‘to the detriment to the deepening and strengthening of Caricom’ (Jamaica Observer June 10, 2009). The Prime Minister is also concerned that membership of ALBA (Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas), ‘which now engages three Caricom countries, is going to have a destabilising effect on Caricom’.
I have to say that when the Trinidad-Eastern Caribbean integration initiative was launched back in 2008, I was of the same view as Prime Minister Golding. Since then I have experienced a 180-degree about turn in my thinking…

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T&T-Eastern Caribbean Integration Task Force Report

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Ministry Of Foreign Affairs , Trinidad And Tobago. The Establishment Of A Single Economy And Appropriate Political Integration Between Trinidad & Tobago And Eastern Caribbean States

On August 14, 2008 the Heads of Government of Trinidad and Tobago, Grenada, St. Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines signed a Joint Declaration on Collaboration towards the Achievement of the Single Economy and Political Integration among Grenada, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.

Click here for the T&T-Eastern Caribbean Integration Task Force Report



The thought-provoking article by Barbadian artist Annalee Davis Thoughts on the ‘Amnesty’, which first appeared in the Stabroek News of 25 May 2009, has drawn attention to the human implications of the treatment of Caricom nationals in Barbados and the alarming rise of anti-Caribbean xenophobia in our region. This must concern everyone who cares about the quality of human and social relations among members of the Caribbean ‘family’ andthe impact on Caribbean integration where it matters most–at the level of ordinary citizens.

Another alarming aspect of developments in Barbados is the risk of ‘tit for tat’.Caricom is the largest single market for Barbadian manufactured exports. Caricom visitors are the second largest category of Barbadian tourism. Barbados derives benefits from being an airline,  travel hub for the Eastern Caribbean. A large number of regional organisations, with their Caricom staff and dependants, are based in Barbados. Barbados is both recipient and source of foreign investement with the rest of Caricom. Retaliatory actions against Barbados by other Caricom states for perceived uinhumane and discriminatory actions will leave Barbados and the,   entire Community poorer.

There needs to be a reasoned, region-wide method to handling this question. First, it seems to me that the principle of free movement throughout the Community that is enshrined in the Revised Treaty is quite unrealistic. However, there is no reason why honouring existing commitments in respect of freeing seven occupational categories cannot be maintained. The numbers involved are relatively small. The problem arises with occupations like construction, agriculture and tourism when host economies that have been booming enter a period of recession. Some region-wide management system for this is necessary. And it should be comprehensive in the sense of speaking to several issues. One approach would be to grant temporary work permits for such categories of workers, or a regional guest workers type scheme aimed at filling labour market shortages which may be inherently temporary because of construction ‘booms’.

Second, a consistent and humane approach to exisiting undocumented Caricom nationals must be adopted, if intra-Caribbean human relations at the popular level are not be poisoned for a generation. The proposal of a regionally agreed five-year amnesty for undocumented Caricom nationals from the Coalition for a Humane Amnesty seems to me to be eminently reasonable.

In addition governments, civil society, religious organisations and concerned individuals should actively discourage public expressions of stereotyping, hatred and abuse directed at Caricom nationals. Political parties should also be pressed to subscribe to a Code of Conduct that prohibits the use of such inflammatory statements, which are akin to racism, in election campaigning.

This might seem to be radical and even anti-free speech but if you think about it, there are many precedents. Many countries internationally have laws on the books that criminalise anti-Semitism and other forms of racist abuse; even homophobia. I don’t know how many Caribbean governments would tolerate for long public expressions of blatantly racist sentiments, whether directed at white, black or East Indians or at any other ethnic category. The social, economic and political consequences would be simply unacceptable. In the present circumstances Caricoms from another country are an ‘ethinicity’. We simply cannot have a situation where people are publicly denounced or targeted because they look or dress in a certain way or speak with a particular accent; or are made into a political football, and have no means of defending themselves. Let alone police raids in night clubs, bus stops etc in the dead of night. That is a prescription for a human relations disaster.

We would like to have your comments on this and and on the questions raised by Ms Davis.

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