Caribbean Political Economy

An Oil-Rich Cuba? Robert Randels

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Cuba is about to begin drilling for oil in the Gulf of Mexico. If it finds what it is looking for, oil wealth could snatch Cuba out of the century-old grasp of the United States before Obama leaves the White House….Cuba is part of Petrocaribe, a region-wide program of exploration, refining, and distribution backed by Venezuelan oil. PDVSA ships 200,000 barrels per day to Petrocaribe member states under a liberal payment plan with up to twenty-five years to pay….Whether or not Cuba becomes an oil exporter, it plays a geographically and operationally central role as Petrocaribe’s refining, storage, and shipping center…


The PetroCaribe WikiLeaks Files: How the U.S. Embassy and Oil Companies Fought Against a deal That Would Benefit Haiti’s Poor, Dan Coughlin and Kim Ives

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Leaked US Embassy cables show how ‘Washington and its allies, including Big Oil majors like ExxonMobil and Chevron, maneuvered aggressively behind the scenes to scuttle the PetroCaribe deal’ between Haiti and Venzuela, which would save Haiti $100 million a year and provide financing for providing basic goods and services for 10 million Haitians.

Go to Nation article on the PetroCaribe cables

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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ALBA: The Power of an Idea, Norman Girvan

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Presentation at Conference on Transformation, Latin America on the Move! Saint Mary’s University, Halifax, N.S., Canada, October 2-3 2009. Programme details and presentations at

7 Features of Latin America’s ‘New Orientation/Declaration of Indigenous People 2009 World Social Forum/Signs of the changing times/English speaking Caribbean Draws Nearer to Latin America/Popular resistance to the Honduras Coup/ALBA–From ‘Alternativa’ to ‘Alianza/ALBA Mission and Principles/ALBA Practices and Projects/Petrocaribe/Recent Developments/ALBA Issues/ALBA Social Movements Network

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Nicaragua and ALBANISA: The Privatisation of Venzuelan Aid COHA

Understanding Populism and Political Participation: The Case of Nicaragua; By Carlos F. Chamorro, Edmundo Jarquí­n and Alejandro Bendaña. Edited by Cynthia J. Arnson and Adam T. Stubits. Woodrow Wilson Center Update On The Americas, No. 4, June 2009

Trends in South-South Cooperation ECOSOC

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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The Honduras Coup, ALBA, and the English-Speaking Caribbean

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by Faiz Ahmed

The military coup carried out by masked soldiers in the early hours of June 28 against the democratically elected President of Honduras, José Manuel Zelaya Rosales, was a bandit act with differing messages intended for different audiences.

One such audience is the oligarchical groupings throughout the hemisphere, who will be emboldened by Washington’s tacit tolerance of the coup makers.,   Another audience is the Latin American leftist and popular governments, who are being told that their agendas can be trumped by non-democratic means.

And there is yet another audience: the predominantly English-speaking Caribbean governments who, like Zelaya, are far from ideologically opposed to capitalism, but are aware of their inability to improve the overall quality of life of their societies within capitalism’s current configuration.,   As a result, many of these island governments are edging towards regional agreements based on principles antithetical to the capitalist system.

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The Prime Minister has spoken-IV, Reginald Dumas

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As published in the Trinidad Express Tuesday, July 14th 2009

reginald-dumas21 Conclusion of a four-part series

As I’ve often said, I’m wholly in favour of working closely with our Caricom colleagues. It helps them, it helps us. Why else would you have a regional body?

Caricom isn’t doing all that well, however. The people of the region remain essentially unengaged with it 36 years after its birth, and its aims and objectives, to which lip service is repeatedly and solemnly paid by generation after generation of its political leaders, are in practice crumbling through misuse and neglect.

Rickey Singh, who knows more about these matters than most of us, wrote in the Express after this month’s Georgetown summit that our Heads of Government “may have unwittingly succeeded in spawning more disappointment and cynicism The communiqué issued at the end of the meeting exposes the yawning gap between high-sounding rhetorical claims and the failure to take hard and imaginative decisions.” The late Lloyd Best used to say that talk is action. We in the Caribbean have elevated that aphorism to the level of art, and our politicians are our most accomplished artists.

Patrick Manning at least has been making an effort at some form of sub-regional integration. As so often with him, he’s been going about it in the wrong way, and there are suspicions of his real motives. But he did set up the Vaughan Lewis Task Force, which has now reported, and he did address both his party and the Parliament on the topic of what T&T could do to assist the less fortunate in the region. (He rather spoiled that superficially noble sentiment by linking it with a need for us to keep Caribbean illegal would-be migrants away from our shores, and with the spectre of our paying “in blood” if we didn’t.)

Where the Lewis Report is concerned, I’ve read only the executive summary and find that I’m not clear on what is being proposed and why. This means I have no choice but to read the report in its entirety. I dread that, because its two volumes together make up more than 560 pages, and my capacity for sustained concentration over lengthy periods is no longer what it used to be. But I shall have to make the effort.

On the Manning ideas for help to the region, I was extremely disappointed not to hear any mention of Haiti, which is worse off than any other Caricom member. Let me state for the record that I much appreciate what the Manning administration has already done for that country by way of grants from the Petroleum Stabilisation Fund. But much more has to be done for and with the Haitian people (as, to be blunt, the Haitian people have to do much more for and with one another).

Manning knows that, hence his proposal for a Haiti Hemispheric Fund at the recent Summit of the Americas. Alas, the proposal has fallen on deaf ears, I’m told. Here in T&T, however, the Medianet Haiti Relief Fund has been established, and the government may wish to contribute to it through money and/or goods. Kelvin Scoon at Medianet Caribbean (622-9432 and 628-7855) is the person to contact.

We must not ignore the broader theme of location of projects that subliminally pervades Manning’s parliamentary statement of June 24. Again, this matter of regional harmonisation of industry isn’t new; it goes back to the days of the West Indies Federation. This is what The Economics of Nationhood, published by the T&T government in September 1959, said on the subject: “Federal coordination of the (regional) economy (will ensure) that the various projects proposed by the different Units (of the Federation) do not duplicate or overlap each other but are conceived in a regional context.”

Nearly 30 years later, in 1985, the Caricom Heads approved the Caricom Industrial Programming Scheme (CIPS), according to which, the Caricom Secretariat tells us, industries were to be identified and allocated to various member states. If you’ve heard of the CIPS at all, which I doubt, what have you been able to glean about its operations? Under his recent proposals, how many southern Caribbean drydocks does Mr Manning envisage? How many quarries?

I have two last points. First, whom does Mr Manning see as the investors in his suggested regional ventures? The private sector? Regional governments? Or the T&T taxpayer? (Mind you, if one of our state agencies can spend nearly $200,000 on balloons and confetti-thus also causing more environmental impairment-for a function where the only obligation was to cut a ribbon, perhaps money really is no problem. Always provided, of course, the money isn’t yours but the taxpayer’s.)

Second, I note that all the countries in which Manning wants to “intervene” are beneficiaries of Hugo Chavez’s’ PetroCaribe programme, and that at least two of them, Dominica and St Vincent and the Grenadines, also belong to his ALBA (Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas). Is this coincidence or design? And if the Chíƒ, ¡vez and Manning initiatives are indeed running on parallel tracks, how are they to be reconciled? Are they to be reconciled?

Read ,   Part I Part II Part III

ALBA and Petrocaribe: An Alternative to Neoliberal Integration? Norman Girvan

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Presentation at XI Conference on Globalization and Problems of Development, Havana, Cuba, March 4, 2009

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There is An Alternative,  Yes Cuba, No. 7.

ALBA, Petrocaribe and Caricom, Norman Girvan

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Issues in a New Dynamic (30/05/08)

The emergence of Venezuelan-promoted ALBA and Petrocaribe and their growing relations with several Caricom countries is a significant recent development in regional affairs; with Petrocaribe now the largest source of concessional lending to Caribbean oil-importing countries. This paper examines the trade, financial and social cooperation programmes of ALBA and concludes that participation in ALBA is not incompatible with membership of Caricom. It also addresses broader strategic issues including diversification of Caricom’s international economic relations; opportunities for mutually advantageous forms of South-South cooperation; and the scope,   for a coordinated trade policy by Caricom…

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COHA Analysis of Ecuador’s Adherence to ALBA June 7 2009

Just at a time that analysts were crossing out Hugo Chávez as a ranking regional player, with the days ago adhesion of Ecuador to the Venezuela-inspired organization, he has managed to propel a new spurt of momentum to the Caracas grouping and its now seven fellow-members (Bolivia, St. Vincent, Dominica, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Honduras, and Cuba). Up to now, Washington has tended to breezily dismiss ALBA as a bizarre, if whimsical ideological caprice on Chávez’s part, in want of an agenda and serious purpose. While ALBA still has to make some practical progress in terms of currency reform, expansion of trade, unified regional actions, and promotion of social progress that express acts of solidarity, and developing as an ancillary IDB type body, ALBA can by no means be considered a lightweight.

Movimientos Sociales con el ALBA (Social Movements with ALBA) News & Information

The Dynamic Debut of Raul Castro: Storm-Battered, Oil-Rich Cuba COHA,   4/11/08

UNASUR and the South American Defense Council Alex Sanchez, COHA 1/10/08

The View from Europe: Petrocaribe David Jessop, BBC Caribbean 1/08/08

The Chavez Effect: Caribbean Life Belt Sir Ronald Sanders, BBC Caribbean, 27/07/08

A lack of coherence Stabroek News 24/07/08

Nicaragua’s Illegitimate Debt to Venezuela? Alejandro Bendana. Follow the link and scroll down to the posting in English

Is the Monroe Doctrine Really Dead? And what will the Obama Doctrine be Like? Greg Grandin

The debate over Dominica and ALBA

Petrocaribe: A win for Venezuelan Foreign Policy COHA

South American Allies Advance Integration Venezuelanalyis

Latin American and Caribbean Unity Noam Chomsky

Petrocaribe $160 M Support for Jamaican Renewable Energy Projects