The Peoples Empowerment Party (PEP) is appealing to our Barbadian fellow citizens not to allow the current crop of political ‘mis-leaders’ to blind them to the critical role that Barbados and Barbadians have always played in the regional integration movement, and to the grave responsibility that rests upon our shoulders to ensure that the heroic efforts of our forefathers to construct and develop the English-speaking Caribbean region were not in vain!..
At a time when we need Caribbean integration more than ever before, our Barbadian political leadership has set out on a misguided course that is sowing differences and divisions and causing the destruction of Barbados’ proud record of regionalism…
Perception vs. Fact Nation Editorial
Hope for the region in Ms. Mottley’s voice of reason Jamaica Observer
Let’s prevent Caricom from becoming “Carry go bring come” Jamaica Observer
At the root of Caribbean disunity Claude Robinson
by George C. Braithwaite
This paper offers a brief and objective critique of an article written by Lindsay Holder titled, ‘Barbados: A Cost Benefit Analysis of Immigration’; and to the subsequent follow-up for which that writer believed it was necessary to offer clarifying comments. The initial article appeared in the print media as well as new media (e.g. via at least two ‘blogs’). From the outset, my perspective fundamentally differs from that of LH in several respects…
Download the original attachment
The West Indies Death Wish
Fragmentation of the once mighty West Indian Cricket Team mirrors the disintegration of the West Indian nation
By Mike James, Catholic Standard
The Editor of the Prestigious Wisden Cricketers Almanac Scyld Berry, in an article in Wednesday’s UK Daily Telegraph writes:”West Indian cricket seems to have a death wish, to judge by the inability of its administrators and players to pull together. Not even the ultimate humiliation of being beaten at home by Bangladesh has sparked any common sense, purpose or sanity.”
In the article, which unsurprisingly headlined the sports pages of regional newspapers such as the Trinidad Express and Guyana’s Stabroek News, Berry said that while he felt that the West Indies might assemble “decent” teams for World Cups and Twenty20 tournaments, their incompetence at Test level “is now a sorry fact.”
In that case, he asserted, “it might prove better for all concerned, in the long run, and after a painful separation, if the West Indian territories were to do what Trinidad proposes”, which would have each WI territory compete as a separate unit.
Test cricket would then be restructured into at least 2 divisions with Australia, England, India, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa and Sri Lanka in the first division. Bangladesh, Zimbabwe, Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica, T&T, and perhaps a combined Leeward/Windward Islands would join the Second Division. “National, not regional, pride would become the driving force, with the aid of governments and without the West Indian Board getting in the way.” Even in Trinidad where the idea of breaking up the WI team was first publicised it has been recognized it would take Trinidad and Tobago on its own perhaps up to 15 years to reach the standard to compete genuinely with the top tier teams.
Perhaps the most damning statement in the article, only echoing the comments up and down across the region since the collapse of the West Indian Federation 45 years ago, was this, “Only a common culture has held the Anglophone West Indian territories together, and this no longer appears to be strong enough. All other Test teams have been, and are, nation states.”
What has happened to West Indian cricket over the last 15 years is merely symptomatic of what has happened to almost all our regional institutions. CARICOM has become such an empty shell and a mere talk shop that the people of the region no longer expect any of their summits to produce either statements or implementation that will make any appreciable difference to their lives.
For example Article 45 of the revised (1989) CARICOM Treaty of Chaguaramas states that:
“Member States commit themselves to the goal of the free movement of their nationals within the Community”.
Furthermore, in Article II, Respect for Fundamental Human Rights and Freedoms, of the Charter of Civil Society, the following is included as one of the fundamental human rights and freedoms:
“Freedom of movement within the Caribbean Community, subject to such exceptions and qualifications as may be authorised by national law and which are reasonably justifiable in a free and democratic society”.
The CARICOM Website notes that notwithstanding the above, the Conference decided to implement free movement of skills in a phased approach, but the ultimate goal is free movement for all.
In fact the recently introduced CARICOM Skills Certificate allowing free movement and residence for UWI graduates and certain skilled personnel in music, sport and media workers only applies to a very small percentage of CARICOM nationals, and still has not been fully implemented by some territories such as Antigua and Barbuda and Barbados, according to the CARICOM Web Site.
On the other hand, for example, some 4,000 work permits for construction workers mainly out of Mainland China have been granted by the Trinidad and Tobago government over
the past two years. On Saturday 1 August while thousands of Trinidadians joyfully celebrated the public Emancipation Day holiday, hundreds of hard hat Chinese workers slipped across the huge Emancipation parade to go back to work on the massive Creative Arts Cultural Complex being constructed just off the Queens Park Savannah. No public Emancipation holiday for them. A common Caribbean culture is not strong enough to advance free movement for the majority of ordinary hardworking people in the region, if Chinese labourers will work on Public Holidays and live like indentured labourers in male-only barracks for rock bottom salaries.
The University of the West Indies is a shadow of the premier regional institution it was in the sixties and increasing the campuses respond to the special needs of the territories where they are located, rather than to the needs of the region as a whole.
CANA the high quality Caribbean News Agency respected internationally which helped bring Caribbean people ever closer on a daily basis came, had its heyday and has gone, a victim of insular interests and the domination of foreign based TV news channels like CNN and BBC for whom Caribbean people are passive recipients rather than creative actors.
Even at the religious ecumenical level the Caribbean Conference of Churches now exerts far less influence than it did, locally, regionally and internationally in the years immediately after its 1973 establishment. Our common Caribbean religious culture is not strong enough to withstand sectarian interests
Premier Caribbean Journalist Hubert Williams recently quoted Sir Shridath Ramphal as telling Caribbean leaders 34 years ago, “The people of the Caribbean must be careful and not relax in our commitment to community. We must be careful to strengthen our bonds lest the sea which we believe is the uniting force between us becomes the instrument that increasingly separates us. We must be careful and work steadfastly to strengthen our unity, for if not, in the face of difficulties – and challenges there will be – it is into our separateness that we shall regrettably retreat.”
The leaders of CARICOM, and the people who vote to keep them there have not heeded Ramphal and now he has had to return to try to convince our cricketing “crabs in the barrel” to rescue at least a shred of dignity out of the humiliation heaped on the people of the region by incompetence, selfishness and greed of players and managers alike, and by those who consider it is proper for national Caribbean sides to play in the second division where they belong, rather than united and powerfully dominating world cricket as they did in the years of Clive Lloyd and Viv Richards.
At political, sport, educational, cultural and even religious levels, the region is doomed as a whole to mediocrity if we cannot sacrifice individual selfish, insular interests for the common good of the region. We rise together or sink individually. The paradox for WI cricket like all life, is that the in order to succeed we must give up our own selfish individual interests to work for the benefit of others.
St Francis gives us the solution much more simply, clearly and truly, with a completely different kind of death wish
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
Concern has been expressed about the excessive numbers of CARICOM nationals taking up too many places in Barbadian schools. From 2006 â€“ 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
What is Fun for Lil Boy is Dead for Crapaud
I woke up early yesterday to check Caricom’s website for the Communique coming out of the recently concluded 30th Conference of CARICOM Heads of Government in Guyana. Across the region, only the Guyanese media seemed to provide extensive early coverage of key decisions. While they had a homecourt advantage, one wonders why the regional press corps was not more vigilant about ensuring that these discussions were given critical attention in their Sunday newspapers. Should this not have been a priority?
In Sunday’s Barbados Advocate, the only significant mention of the Conference related to intra-regional migration and illegal immigrants. There were eight stories on this issue, including the editorial and three of the four letters to the editor, all generally supportive of the government’s policies, not surprising given that this was a central plank of the Democratic Labour Party’s electoral campaign that many believe contributed in no small way to their victory at the polls. Given the firm statement on intra-regional movement coming out of Guyana on Saturday night, which nonetheless recognized the challenges some countries faced in relation to others, it will be interesting to see the public response of Prime Minister David Thompson (whose grandfather I believe hails from Guyana) now that he is back home. With some exemptions extended to Belize and Antigua and Barbuda (in the latter country one report puts the non-national working population at 35-40 percent), there was a commitment to realizing freedom of movement, an expansion to cover household domestics from January 2010, training/sensitizing of immigration officers on the regional commitments, and immediate action on entry procedures enabling the temporary movement of service providers. This last point in particular potentially goes a long way towards democratizing free movement, given the critical role of small island traders, among whom women predominate, and who, as Guyanese and Red Thread activist Andaiye has noted, have long made the Caribbean a single economic space.
Jamaican economist Norman Girvan notes that these decisions, in particular the statements affirming the rights of all migrants to humane treatment, are to be applauded, ” provided that they are effectively, efficiently and speedily implemented. That has always been the problem.”
Indeed. And in this regard it goes well beyond the freedom of movement issue that has caused so much debate and consternation across the Caribbean in recent weeks.
Yesterday I had a conversation with someone who commented that it was small wonder that Caribbean people had so little interest in what was coming out of these meetings, and little faith in the endless stream of grand pronouncements. She quoted a Guyanese saying, What is fun for lil boy is dead for crapaud, that so perfectly described the predicament facing Caribbean people, that I decided to use it as the title for this week’s column.
The proverb brought to mind the opening ceremony for the Heads at the National Cultural Centre. It was an elaborately staged and â€“ from an organizational and diplomatic viewpoint â€“ almost impeccably executed affair, but as we stood at attention while the police band solemnly announced the arrival of Heads of State or delegation, I found myself struggling not to laugh. While it is certainly true, as my mother often notes, that I have a highly underdeveloped sense of protocol or occasion, I believe this time that my reaction was more than just an irrational response from the sidelines. Looking at the seventeen men on stage, standing before their national flags and the Caricom standard, I found myself amazed and frustrated at the way in which we seem to have so completely internalized the lessons of colonial rule. Franz Fanon warned us about this in The Wretched of the Earth, written nearly half a century ago. Why on earth do we need so many Prime Ministers, Presidents, Premiers, assorted Cabinets, for a region this small and this vulnerable to the global economy? In whose interests is it that the Caribbean is probably, per capita, the most governed space in the entire world at a national level, and so demonstrably reluctant to translate governance into a regional imperative, when it is clear that the only route to meaningful sovereignty (beyond flag independence) and to political, economic and social security and justice for the Caribbean peoples is a regional one? You have to ask yourself about the challenge of reconciling regionalism with democratic electoral processes that reward inward looking appeals for votes. Beyond the official declarations, what would our national leaders have to give up to realize this larger vision?
The Communique issued on Saturday night states that ” Heads of Government reviewed the governance arrangements of the Community and expect to conclude their considerations on the basis of proposals to be advanced by the Secretary-General and the Task Force on Governance.” Say what? Which task force now? It is incredible that this statement is buried deep in the Communique, when in fact it is at the heart of the dilemma of stasis, that is to say it is a framing issue and not simply another line item. Exactly how much time do the Heads need to conclude considerations, and then how much longer before they make a decision following the conclusion, and then when is a decision really a decision, especially if it is never implemented? If you think I’m being unfair, consider this. In 1992 the West Indian Commission Report, Time For Action (17 years on, we should say Time for Less Talk, More Action), clearly identified the implementation deficit as a fundamental issue for Caribbean regionalism, one that understandably leads to cynicism among our peoples. PJ Patterson, this year’s recipient of the Order of Caricom, referenced the report in his address last Wednesday when he remarked that ” Mature regionalism will remain a pipe dream unless authority is vested in an executive mechanism with full-time responsibility to ensure the implementation, within a specified time frame, of critical decisions taken by the heads or other designated organs of the community.”
Sunday’s Jamaica Gleaner, in a commentary on Caricom, credits Patterson and the current Prime Minister Bruce Golding for suggesting ways of breaking what it calls ” the logjam in Caricom”, noting that Golding proposed a permanent 15 member Commission to work with Caricom Heads and the Secretariat to implement decisions. While Golding may well have raised this now, I believe that it was the Guyana Government that first brought this up a few years ago. Guyana was responding to the Technical Working Group on Governance (TWGG), which was appointed by Caricom Heads at their Port-of-Spain meeting in 2006, and mandated to examine how to move forward on the recommendations proposed by an earlier Prime Ministerial Expert Group on Governance (PMEGG), itself appointed in 2003 and reporting in 2005.
Time does not permit me to go into the TWGG report, except to say that at first glance although I have some questions, its recommendations seem rational and streamlined â€“ the establishment of a four person commission that in its focus on implementation would work closely with Heads, national cabinets, the Assembly of Caribbean Parliamentarians and community organs. The commission would be headed by a president, with the other three members representing expertise in the three identified areas of Caricom: foreign and community relations; regional and international trade and economic integration; and human and social development. In contrast, the suggestion by Caribbean states of a 15 member commission â€“ presumably representing Caricom member states â€“ risks offering a narrowly nationalist approach to the issue of regional implementation and creating a layer of bureaucracy that will only lead to more timelags. At any rate, why hasn’t the TWGG report been translated on the ground across the region (putting it on the Caricom website is simply not good enough) and what are the Heads’ objections to it? The implications are so far-reaching that we have a right to know. I was told that Vaughan Lewis, Chairman of the TWGG, was in Guyana for the Heads meeting. Was he invited to talk about governance, nearly three years after the report was filed, six years after the appointment of the PMEGG? The throwaway line at the end of the Communique doesn’t assure us that it has been taken off the shelves and dusted off.
So, what do we have instead? A new taskforce on the global economic crisis, led by President Jagdeo. Very impressive sounding, until you realize this is now the third such taskforce in less than a year (the other two headed by Compton Bourne and Delisle Worrell)! Impressive soundbites on recommitting to the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas. The grand sounding ‘Liliendaal Declaration on Caricom Beyond Grand Anse.’ Another special convocation of (talking) Heads slated for October, on the CSME. Meanwhile, regional governance deferred. Again. Which means there is no guarantee â€“ and no existing mechanism either â€“ that the issues agreed upon, the decisions made in Guyana, will be implemented swiftly and efficiently.
No regional routes. Only national cul-de-sacs. The trappings of office reward the few. Is it that the temptations of power are too seductive to relinquish? As I said in last week’s column, talk is cheap. We need a grassroots audit and public conversation about the various prices being paid by working people across the Caribbean for this foot dragging at a regional level. Unfortunately, it will probably prove that proverb right. What is fun for lil boy is indeed dead for crapaud.
y 6, 2009
As published in the Trinidad and Tobago Express Friday, July 3rd 2009
I remain intrigued by the Prime Minister’s statement of June 24 to Parliament on what he called the “contribution (Trinidad and Tobago could) make at this time to (the) economic wellbeing (of some Caricom countries).”
The first part of the statement was laden with statistics designed to show how much better off economically we are than a number of Caribbean countries. “This disparity,” he went on, “is a source of concern to (the) government because we believe that if the economic situation in those countries is unable to guarantee their populations a standard of living to which they aspire, then that is likely to lead to mass migration into the areas where they feel a better way of life might be available”-in other words, migration to Trinidad and Tobago.
The projects he then outlined for several countries were therefore, in his view, a means of creating employment in those countries and thus keeping what I imagine he sees as the Caribbean hordes-Grenadian, Vincentian and other -at bay and at home. How this could viably be done within his proposed political union, which presumably is to have freedom of movement of persons as one of its key elements, he didn’t say.
President Bharrat Jagdeo of Guyana, for one, was not at all impressed by Mr Manning’s exaltation of Trinidad and Tobago’s economic strength; he called it “condescending”, and referred sarcastically to our high murder and kidnapping rates. “Condescending” and “arrogant” are adjectives that this country more and more frequently uses to describe Manning’s behaviour; they may well be gaining regional currency as well. I find Manning a bit of a puzzle myself. I know he has a well-developed sense of political self-preservation, but, try as I might, I am yet to discern any intellectual justification for bumptiousness. Put it down to acute myopia on my part.
But what of the details of Manning’s statement? On the statistics and the migration, I prefer first to examine in full his PNM Convention speech on June 21. To judge by excerpts in the media, that speech contained alarming scenarios of uncontrollable illegal entry into this country from neighbouring islands, and I would therefore like to explore any possible linkage between what he said then and what he told Parliament a few days later.
Manning’s statement also spoke of tourism and the negative effect on Caricom tourism-dependent economies (I trust he was including Tobago) of the opening-up of the Cuba market. He was right, of course, but Caricom should have started preparing for this a long time ago. After all, we have for years been pressing for Cuba’s full reintegration in hemispheric affairs, and we ought already to have confronted the probable consequences of such an eventuality. Careful what you wish for, the old saying goes; you may get your wish.
On energy, Manning said that his government now felt that “a supply of LNG to Jamaica for the stimulation of investments in the alumina sector (was) a matter of national priority.” For which nation, Trinidad and Tobago or Jamaica, he didn’t say. Sometime ago Jamaica was very upset with us for apparently reneging on a promise to provide that country with gas. Now Manning explains the slippage by saying that the well which his government “anticipated could have met that specific requirement (had to be) abandoned before it reached its target depth ”
The world “supply and demand situation for gas (had now) changed,” he continued, and “a supply of gas might now become available from (this country for Jamaica).” I would very much welcome an interpretation of that cryptic remark, especially since he used the word “might”, which suggests he’s not sure.
Should the Jamaicans rely on this? If so, why? What are our proven and probable reserves of gas? Are they adequate to meet on a continuing basis all the demands being put, or contemplated to be put, on them – smelter in La Brea, exports to Chile and Brazil and Jamaica, electricity plants in Tobago and elsewhere, Eastern Caribbean pipeline, etc.? For whom is the proposed supply to Jamaica destined? Alcoa? Might that be part of a deal to compensate for the stalled Alcoa facility in Trinidad and Tobago?
Why do we need an aluminium smelter in this country anyway? If the government is so enthusiastic about regional co-operation, has it entered into discussions on the matter with Guyana, which is much closer to us geographically than Jamaica, has the raw material -bauxite-in abundance, and possesses a land area large enough to dissipate the harmful effects of pollution? Wouldn’t that also help keep the Guyanese “hordes” at bay and at home? That should appeal to Mr Manning. And to Prime Minister David Thompson of Barbados.
It would be nice if our Minister of Energy could give us straightforward and comprehensive answers to these questions. But Conrad Enill seems more committed these days to obfuscation than to transparency, in and out of Parliament. Poor fellow, given his circumstances, I can almost excuse him.
Manning said more on June 24. I shall be coming to that
COALITION, , FOR, , A, , HUMANE, AMNESTY
THE “REAL” IMMIGRATION PROBLEM IN BARBADOS!
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.
THE OLD FIVE YEAR AMNESTY
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 NEW SITUATION
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;
DAVID A COMISSIONG, Secretary
16 June 2009
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…
There are several questions being raised in the current climate as it relates to the future of CARICOM and the future of Caribbean regional integration. In some quarters it is felt that the momentum for regionalism is being swept aside. This is due to embedded insularities and the repeated failures by governments to implement agreed policies, and for regional agencies and institutions to demonstrate the requisite convergences. Prejudices and ignorance are assuming pivotal positions once held by a bond of resilience to oppression and exploitation…