Fri 29th Aug 2008

Long live CARICOM - Gonsalves and Manning are not political role models for Caribbean Youths

CARICOM was formed in 1973 by the signing of the Treaty of Chaguaramas. As a people, we speak the same languages, eat the same food and have a very rich ethnocentric culture. Surely these attributes should provide us with unity, love, strength, wealth and positive togetherness within CARICOM. Unfortunately, we are witnessing short sightedness, singularity, political back stabbing and mud slinging from some of the leaders within CARICOM. Who would have thought that a CARICOM Leader would refer to CARICOM as a ramshackled organisation, a talk shop and politically impotent to get the CSME working by 2015?

Rather than putting forward a solution to the problems within CARICOM, we have seen a memorandum of understanding signed in Port of Spain, Trinidad on 15 August 2008, by the Prime Ministers of Trinidad and Tobago, Grenada, SVG and St Lucia. This new subgroup was formed without any consultation with the people of the region and is a blatant attempt to undermine CARICOM.

We in the region should tell Manning and Gonsalves that short sightedness is not an option. Starting a new regional subgroup is like re-inventing the wheel. It is an outrageous act, in that, they are showing that the leaders do not have the capacity to resolve problems around the table. Since this is their modus operandi, whenever there are problems with this new subgroup, would they disintegrate as a solution?

In the eyes of all Caribbean people, Manning and Gonsalves should not be seen as role models for our Caribbean youths. Gonsalves took office in SVG on 1st April 2001. Since then, SVG's economy has been in a meltdown and is kept afloat by a massive recurring bank overdraft of over one hundred million dollars. Gonsalves and the ULP regime have divided SVG socially. His seven years in office in SVG has been a colossal failure in moving SVG forward. Therefore, his participation in this new initiative is nothing but hot air, providing the Caribbean with an illusion of what cannot be, while basking in a media blitz.

Let's not forget that Patrick Manning's Government has significant wealth at its disposal from oil, natural gas and asphalt. Yet, under Manning's watch, with the world's largest police force per capita, at his disposal, serious crimes have become a plague in Trinidad and Tobago. The gap between the haves and the have-nots have widened substantially. Trinidad's good image abroad has taken a hammering. Therefore, Manning's attempt to provide leadership to this new subgroup, is like the blind leading the blind. He and Gonsalves have shown to be totally incapable of cleaning the mess in their own back yards. How can they provide capable leadership to this new subgroup?

Since the birth of CARICOM the region has benefited substantially. It is a crucial bloc which shows unity within the Caribbean and is the vehicle for trade negotiations providing economies of scale to the region in a number of areas including education, sport, defence and transportation. Gonsalves and Manning are at a tangent with current Caribbean thinking. This new entity must be rejected outright. Long live CARICOM.

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