A regional movement
One clear lesson which is emerging from the difficult struggle for existence which has characterised Caribbean life since the 2008 global crisis, is that the hopes which had been placed in single territory national independence as the vehicle for national development, have been utterly dashed.
Despite the continual sneering of a minority historical bloc who incidentally was also opposed to independence, an increasingly large number of Caribbean people are coming to accept that the single territory independence experiment has run its course.
Indeed, so universal is this realisation that in recent days, increasing numbers of Caribbean patriots are beginning to move towards the idea of independent grassroots organisation for regionalism. Following on Dwight Venner’s recent call for a “state of nations”, has come an insightful emailed “urgent call for Caribbean statesmen and patriots” from Barbadian David Comissiong to move the regional upward and onward.
In Comissiong’s view, the time had come for a full realisation “that the current governance and integration mechanism that we possess in our Caribbean Community (Caricom) is not strong enough or comprehensive enough to deal with the very serious economic, social, and cultural challenges that are bearing down upon us.
“And if this is the case, why shouldn’t we… resolve to revisit our regional Constitution – our Treaty of Chaguaramas – and to do what is necessary to further develop and transform it, so that we can give ourselves that most precious of gifts: a regionalised ‘national’ governance structure that is capable of elevating our Caribbean Community to the position of strength, progress, glory and honour that is its rightful due.”
Like Comissiong, I am of the firm view that the next step in the Caribbean independence project will be the fashioning of a programme and an organisation to move the regional project beyond its current limits. Given the urgency, of the moment, an outline of such a programme will occupy the attention of future articles.
However, the emergence of such a project will not come without the expected opposition from the usual suspects. No doubt, the representatives of the forces who opposed the first independence will scoff at the efforts of genuine patriots seeking to initiate the second.
Incidentally, it would make a very interesting study to discover why the same groups who were adamantly opposed to independence, as pro-British anti-nationalists – they know themselves – are today masquerading as the most die-hard small island nationalists opposed to integration?
Could it be that the same factors which explain their earlier anti-nationalism also account for their present day anti-regionalism? Could it be that those groups are so comfortable in their continued existence as economic masters within small island fiefdoms, that they dare not risk the shift of political power to a more profoundly self-determining regional institution, over which they would have reduced influence?
• Tennyson Joseph is a political scientist at the University of the West Indies’ Cave Hill Campus, specialising in regional affairs.
• Courtesy Barbados Nation