Troubling result SOF WO referendums in Caricom

first_imgDear Editor,The Caribbean has been a hot spot for the European Colonial powers for many centuries. Territories changed hands regularly as wars of possession flared up time and again. The people living in them had no say in what was happening.However, gradually the masses began to insert themselves in those fights. First, they abolished slavery, then indentureship, and later began the fight for freedom- independence.The intensity of that struggle varied in each territory. However, the forward-looking leaders were always for a clean break with colonialism.In the post-independence period, attempts were made to establish a Caribbean Community. Progress has been made over the years. Admittedly though, very often it has been so, that it makes the tortoise look like a sprinter.Recently, the movement towards integration has suffered some serious setbacks. The referendums held in Antigua and Grenada to decide whether those two countries should withdraw from the Privy Council of the United Kingdom as their court of final jurisdiction and for them to join the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) delivered results that are very disturbing. Those two referendums rejected the proposition to join the CCJ.It is worrying, because this is not a case where the British or the Privy Council are fighting to keep the Caribbean states in their jurisdiction. In fact, it is the opposite, they have been encouraging the region to leave, because they are aware that the judges at the CCJ are more familiar with the culture of the people of the region, the nuances of life here, etc.The fact that the people of the region have a lot in common is important. Generally, we have a common history, and experience has shown that our people interact with each other with great ease. There are positions to promote and facilitate integration.Why, therefore, is it proving so hard to build institutions that can facilitate greater integration?After all, via CARICOM we have established a common market; we have expressed our intention to work harder to unite our economies. We have often coordinated our position on international issues. Working together has helped the region to punch way above its weight.  We are often courted in appointments to import international bodies.While I don’t profess to have all the answers, I believe that while we have independence, our colonial past still weighs heavily on our mind. The influence of centuries of colonial domination has not yet been overcome.I recall that when I made my maiden speech at the CARICOM Heads meeting in St. Lucia, I raised this issue. I said then that it does not speak well of us that after fifty years of independence all the territories are not members of the CCJ. I had called for all the territories to join and strengthen this important institution.I must admit that I did not fully grasp the depth of the colonial domination on people’s and leaders’ mind. I now marvel at Bob Marley’s exertions to emancipate our minds from mental slavery, or the regular exertion of the Mighty Chalkdust to do the same in many of his calypsos.I say this because most of the region’s territories are still outside the CCJ. It is clear that the important leaders, people in politics, law, media, etc. are not convinced of the importance of CARICOM. They do not think the benefits of integration are significant.We are living in a world of great fundamental contradictions. On the one hand, the international economy has now interlinked, but it is producing a greater nationalism even among highly developed nation.Under the slogan of ‘making America great again’, President Trump has been pulling the US out of many important bodies and agreements. He is using the power of the US not to assist in building a better world, but to extract more benefits for the US. At least that is how he sees things.The withdrawal of the UK from the EU is another manifestation of this growing nationalism. The movement for withdrawals from internationalism is strong in France, Spain and Germany as well.I believe that this is so because of the failure of this neo-liberal model of globalisation to improve people’s lives. Figures are numerous to show that the benefits from increased production and productivity goes mainly to the one percent of the very rich internationally. The ‘dog eat dog’ mentality which dominated our world for centuries is still the strongest sentiment internationally.Ordinary working people have experienced stagnation and decline in a world of great abundance.This direction of isolation will not help the people as they are being told, it could make things worse. The task, is to change the model of globalisation.Therefore, CARICOM leaders and opinion makers, must consider carefully their position on this issue. The CCJ has shown great capacity and integrity. It can become even stronger. This act of rejection of the CCJ has with it the seeds of greater harm.It shows the mentality that many still believes that we in the region are inferior to others. It can be interpreted, that we still believe that things from abroad are always superior to what we have or produce.This, in the global environment, can lead to disintegration. It can threaten the other gains that have already been made, however modest they may be.On the other hand, with boldness, the region can become a region of hope, and serve as an alternative experience on the need and benefits of integration for the world.We must work to overcome the recent setbacks, or else face the consequences of great reversal.Donald RamotarFormer Presidentlast_img read more