By D. Markie Spring
Turks and Caicos Islands:
Idyllic and liberating are the ways I’d describe every Caribbean nation that has gained its independence from European rule and governance. Hitherto, it has been twenty-five years since the last Caribbean nation disassociated itself from Britain.
However, some countries continued to be dependent upon Europe -- Britain, Netherlands and France -- with little political progress; hence, I recommend regionalism through political efforts.
In the Caribbean we differ extensively within the political arena. This is evident through the failed West Indies Federation, which was established in 1958 and ended in 1962.
There are too many disparities amongst our nations; ranging from the bashment between the governments of St Vincent and the Grenadines and Barbados over the drug trade between the two nations.
Also, most dependent territories, with the exception of Montserrat, view citizens of the other Caribbean islands as less fortunate. The same can be said about the Bahamas, Antigua and Barbuda, and Barbados to a lesser extent. Other political challenges exist.
Conversely, Cuba maintained a Communist regime for more than forty years. Recently, the former president handed over power to his brother Raul Castro; politics in this corner of the region has become a family business. The Cuban Communist regime must realize that communism and socialism have failed in every government that has adopted these political nightmares.
Similarly, Haiti’s political environment has been contentious with a long history of oppression administered by dictators -- Francois Duvalier and then his son Jean-Claude Duvalier.
Arguably, conscientious and considerate are true descriptions of the way Barbados’ governments have perpetrated their governance of that nation. The governments there have always worked for the citizens and strived to industrialize the country; thereby, producing political stability at home. It is also true that Barbados has its own political disputes and rivalries, but not as devastating as other Caribbean islands.
In the meanwhile, some scholars and citizens alike argued for and against regionalizing the political arenas of the Caribbean. Those against argued that the region has diverse political structures ranging from a Communist regime to a Westminster-style parliamentary system. Those who support regionalism argued that these dissensions are superficial and only subvert commonalities, which exist amongst states.
It is time for us to benchmark other nations that have fully integrated their political system and learn from their progress.
Ideally, the European Union (EU) has instituted the European Council, which has often being describe as the “Supreme political authority,” has political roles in the negotiating changes in treaty and demarcates the policy agenda and strategies of the EU.
The United States, although somewhat different has sub-regions, which they called states and each state has it own government; yet constituted and regulated by the federal government.
In the US, there are Californians, Texans and New Yorkers; yet they are all Americans; In Europe there are the British, Romanians, and Germans; collectively, they are Europeans. In the region, we maintain our nationalities whether St Vincentians, Barbadians or Trinidadians, but as a regional unit we are West Indians.
It is time for politicians across the region to stop focusing exuberantly on self; rather they should discuss the issues affecting the region. Additionally, lack of interest and support from major states has crippled regionalism, coupled with the exclusion of the Dominican Republic and Haiti as members.
However, proponents of regionalism suggests that there are many benefits derived from strengthening the region’s governing bodies and political powers; creating efficiencies of scale and encouraging decentralization, amongst other benefits.
In Cuba’s case, I am not trying to hand down my political ideologies or those existing in the wider Caribbean; rather I am seeking to educate and solicit support from them to join the rest of the region in their quest for oneness through democracy. I realize that some scholars may disagree; however, there is real evidence that regionalism works.
August 18, 2010
Regionalism: The Caribbean prospective - Part 3