Since the historic failure of the West Indies Federation our reasons for integration have slipped gently from short-sighted fears into hurricane storms, vanishing under the ruthless winds of self-doubt. Historians have argued that this lofty experiment didn’t work because of concerns over the balancing of weights, personality politics, inhibiting structural factors, and the need to hold unto independence.
Except for the advantages of talking about the importance of integration, and the need to promote unmatched allegiance to bridging gaps, CARICOM leaders are unable to connect our people with the wider issues that hold the Caribbean together.
I am not convinced that we believe that the efficiencies of integration outweigh our small size. Our shoulder muscles are under intense strain to harness shared values, regardless of minor differences. Yet, the general perception across the Caribbean and in the diaspora is that integration is for show and tell. It is not for practical use or agreeable value.
This implies that CARICOM is dead to success, but alive as a symbol.
Let me flood us with questions for sober re-thinking. Freeze clever answers.
What image comes to mind when we think of CARICOM? What message is CARICOM communicating to the world? Do we bring anything of relevance to the international community? Why should the G20 take us seriously? When we negotiate with powerful countries, is it from a position of strength or from a disposition of weakness?
Pause! We are usually significant to the super powers when we are playing their tunes or when they disguise their interests as our benefit. We need to focus on fine-tuning our intrinsic value!
Too many of us carry village politics to global meetings. We are still learning how to turn what we have into something of worth, to the point where we earn the world’s respect. These efforts at self-preservation suggest that we never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity, but we must laugh instead of weep over it.
Are Caribbeaners themselves, prepared to figure out homemade solutions to today’s economic ellipse and social starvation, and put political will behind them?