Ronald Mason, Jamaica Gleaner Contributor:
There comes a time when the only thing to do is make clear, definitive, unambiguous statements about things of importance. Here goes. I am a Jamaican, I am NOT a Caribbean man. I want no part of the totally useless creation we label CARICOM. The peoples who populate those islands 1,000 miles away from my home are not brothers and sisters. There has been some cross-breeding, but it's statistically insignificant to warrant the familial term 'brothers'.
I do not ascribe to the notion that because we are primarily and predominantly of the same racial composition, that makes us brothers. The same could be said of the people of Papua New Guinea. They were also former colonies of the same empire, but I do not hear this claim for integration with those good people.
I have visited countries in this Eastern Caribbean. On arrival, one is not imbued, as a Jamaican, with the feeling of belonging. One is met with the quizzical, "What do you want now?"
I have had a period of enforced residence with some of them at a particular North American university and here in Jamaica. This has not created any pleasant memories, and I would have been better off not to have had those interpersonal experiences.
NOT THE SAME
We are different. Mauby, blood pudding, bake, monkeys unfettered, major racial divide are all daily features of life in those islands. The fact that the West Indies cricket team is offered up as a source of bonding strikes me as overreaching. The team, when it was great, had individuals who proved to be extraordinary. They were immensely, individually talented.
They had a singular purpose - to win. They did win, but the team was created initially out of British colonies. The development of independent countries with their own attendant nationalism has significantly diluted this experience. One is hard-pressed to foresee a return to glory on the field, and even if they did, what would differentiate them from other cricket entities? Just look at the Indian T20 spectacle. Love cricket - watch, recognising the multiple nationalities playing as a unit.
The Trinidadians have this over-bearing, suffocating attitude. The Bajans have this bombastic self-importance. Both of these nations waste no time in displaying these traits towards Jamaicans. Remember Kamla Persad-Bissessar and the ATM being out of bounds? The Bajans and Shanique Myrie?
NO LONGER SUFFER IN SILENCE
As an aside, until these most recent incidents, I was prepared to listen to Sir Ronald Sanders and suffer in silence. No more. We need to give the six-month notice and leave CARICOM. Keep your oil, money, flying fish and population. We will deal with the world as it is and forge our way therein as best we can.
We have the resourcefulness, aptitude and personnel to make our mark. Let us use what we have and be inspired by George Headley, up to Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Usain Bolt, the Nobel laureate in our midst and those high achievers in the diaspora.
Have you noticed which two countries are usually responsible for put-downs of Jamaica and Guyana? I, for one, am no longer prepared, on the national level, to engage those who patronise my country and my countrymen. I would support the repatriation of CARICOM nationals who work in Jamaica. Parochial, yes. More jobs for Jamaicans.
The matter of commerce between the countries is predicated on mutual benefit. Is this the case with Jamaica and CARICOM? Hell, no. They see Jamaica as the market to be exploited, not where fair trade exists. No to Jamaican patties. Yes to tissue high in bacteria. Play the fool regarding natural gas. Pull the plug. Get the brand name Air Jamaica, then curtail service to Jamaica.
We do not have to buy the biscuits, chocolate, peanuts, tissue and the multitude of other consumables from Trinidad. There are Jamaican products of similar or superior quality than. And our local purchases will boost jobs at home. As for me and my house, we will not buy CARICOM products.
As a member of the legal fraternity, I have given great thought to the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ). I understand the need for a final appellate court. I do have a longing to sever the ties with the colonial power. Let me suggest that we look at another option. There is a country in our part of the world that is developed, shares our judicial heritage and philosophy, does not have the baggage of colonial domination, and has proven itself to be a worthy ally of Jamaica. I have no knowledge that they would be receptive to affording us assent for our final court.
However, we need to cut the ties to CARICOM. Leaving the treaty will mean exiting the CCJ. We would be diminished as a court of original jurisdiction for CARICOM trade matters. Can we give thought to looking to Canada as our final court of appeal?
This may well mean a diminished court. It may further be reduced if we could recoup the 26 per cent contribution we made to the trust which funds the court. This totalled US$100 million.
Federation was a bad idea. It was laid to rest. CARICOM cannot hope to be viable without some states ceding to the whole some political power. God forbid that Jamaica should do that. Political decision-making, however limited? No way!
The current experiment has to be laid to rest. For me and my household, we will be at the vanguard of seeing to the dismantling of CARICOM. I am a proud Jamaican. I am not a Caribbean man.
Ronald Mason is an immigration attorney-at-law/mediator. Email feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.
May 05, 2013
Kick CARICOM to the kerb (Part 2)