Numbers, Agendas and Survival of the fittest
October 1, 2005 Commentary Archives
"If some member states continue along a line of protectionism and insularity, they will create a milieu in which the CSME will become moribund."
These are the haunting words of the president Rickford Burke of the New York based Caribbean Guyana Institute for Democracy (C.G.I.D).
As I read those words I have mixed feelings, a little watery eyed, in the reality that Mr Burke's words might become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Given the trend that seems to be developing in the C.S.M.E community.
Whereby some signatory nations to the Revised treaty of Chaguramas that established CSME, seem unwilling to implement the article of free movement of C.S.M.E citizens among C.S.M.E states. In the words of the C.G.I.D:
It is becoming increasingly obvious that as the integration process intensifies...the countries demonstrate ambivalent political will...manifested in the the implementation of protectionist and hostile policies. These policies are driven by narrow, nationalistic interest of the nation states.
He then goes on to mention St. Kitts and Nevis restrictive work permit rules, Barbados hostile immigration policy toward Guyanese, and Dominica's discriminatory policy toward Haitians.
In the case of Dominica. Haitians traveling to that country has to register a US $400 bond. This as part of a policy to reduce the influx of Haitians. The irony of it all is that among Prime Minister Skerrit duties in CARICOM is the overseeing of free movement of people. Still, I see a silver lining in all this.
Barbados' Guyanese problem revisited
Now some new numbers. According to Ricky Sing of "Caribbean Impact News paper," September 15, 2005 issue. Barbados Statistical Service 2000 census population demographics presented by Deputy Prime Minister Mia Motley. Shows that for that period the single highest number groups of foreign nationals living in Barbados, to be Guyanese, Vincentians, St. Lucians, Trinidadians, and Jamaicans in that order.
According to these numbers documented Guyanese holding some form of legal status numbered 4,349.From 2000 to 2005 has seen an increase of 3,883. these numbers include temporary, long-term work permits, student visas etc., total Guyanese presence 8,232.
Sing goes on to make the point that if another estimated 2,300 illegal are added. Guyanese presence in Barbados still does not rise to what he calls "the wild speculation, that has led to the fostering of bitter propaganda about 'the Guyanese presence'" in Barbados, estimated at some 30,000.
CSME'S dark cloud,..a silver lining
Any seasoned political leader knows how to take advantage of a focused electorate. I think Barbados' immigration woes along with the issues Dominica has with the Haitians, and Nevis and St. Kitts restrictive work permit rules, is a timely punctuation for CARICOM in this all important C.S.M.E.
Unfortunately, in many of the letters I've read in Caribbean News papers and Websites, written by the average citizen. There's hardly any mention of CSME. CARICOM should take stock of this.
Challenge to the order of things is always a good thing. Quite frankly I welcome this. Strictly from a public-spirited point of view. After all, this is the Caribbean. There has to be a pissing contest. Better sooner than later.
Barbados Statistical Service, 2000 census of top
foreign national living in Barbados.