Oh, my! the debate on Caribbean Single
Market and Economy (CSME)
is all the rage. With The Prime Ministers of Jamaica, Trinidad,
and Barbados singing on January 1, 2005.Yep! the very
that started the 1960s West Indian Federation.
Is it fair to start the xenophobia, and besides CSME is just about a single
market integration a far cry from a federation. We're in a completely
requiring different market strategies as pointed out so
eloquently in the Jamaica Observer column, January 9th, 2005
the CSME is really backward" by Dennis Morrison.
Any federation aspirations will be a long time coming. For now
balance between currencies and the share number of them, along with a
number of other factors inhibits any attempt at full-scale economic
integration the likes of a federation any time soon.
I'm reminded of an expression growing up in Barbados that states "Wha'
sweeten goat-mout' bu'n 'e behind." What the old folks meant was, proceed
with caution. Bear in mind that unlike many of the other block-operated
agreements (block of islands) currently in vogue, for example the Caribbean
Community and Common Market (CARICOM) which is an outgrowth of the
failures of the Caribbean Free Trade Association (CARIFTA). CSME requires
control of a piece of the sovereignty of ones country to another.
Many of us observing this debate over the past year, are too young to
appreciate the pros and cons of the federation debate. What led to the death of
what was then the "West
Indian Federation." Let's take a brief look at a focal
point in the history of the West Indian Federation.
Parochialism or Fanciful Conceit
Did the West Indian Federation fall apart through selfishness? Was it the
fanciful conceit of young nations anticipating the taste of the sweet nectar of
independence from the British colonial master? The only way they knew how,
that got them into trouble to start with. Maybe both.
When the Jamaican government of Prime Minister Norman Manley wanted
out of the West Indian
federation, he used a popular referendum by the
Jamaican people to
withdraw from the federation. The Jamaican Govern-
ment fears, if you
to call it that, was that the Jamaican economy would
be burdened by the
lesser members and withdrew in 1961. Trinidad soon
follow suit. You'll
notice that the sweet nectar
tions soon deprecated to parochialism when the time came to stand up.
Back in the '60's the people didn't understand it then. Do they understand it
now? Lets not mince words here! History does repeat itself.
Are we committed? Or are the eloquent detractors of integration going to
gain prominence the instance there's a little wrinkle. My experience has
taught me that many of the objections to CSME and the real or imagined
federation fears. Has less to do with economic fears and more to do with
nationalist zeal -- those who think they can do better out side of the group.
rumblings familiar or what.
But in all fairness we were babes in the woods back then. Through our many
failures to come together as a community and with an eye on
history we're wiser.
The Backward Opposition
Are the opponents of CSME "...really backward"? Some of them maybe, in
extemporaneous eloquence and simple fears. But for now history is on
their side. The first paragraph in Dennis Morrison's column
sets up my very
point of contention. But get a grip, this is only single market integration, not
a federation. Getting there one-step-at-a-time is fine.