And they meeting regularly, drawing up all kind of treaty
And after they drink their whiskey, the treaty dead already
At their Heads of Government conference…
Lots of talk but no action ever commence—Chalkdust
More than a few citizens of the region would have been at least mildly surprised, and justifiably so, at the recent assertion by Barbados’ prime minister and current chair of Caricom, Mia Mottley, that the segregated invitations and dis-invitations of regional leaders by the US State Department to a meeting in Jamaica, was a scarcely veiled attempt to divide the region.
While we, too, are in firmly in favour of the ongoing regional experiment of a single market and economy, it does seem as bit rich to speak of an attempt to divide a grouping that appears to be scarcely unanimous on anything. Take for instance, what has been reported to have been the two main agenda items at the same confab: the state of governance in Venezuela and the choice of the next secretary general of the Organisation of American States. To the best of our limited knowledge, we are not certain that there is any united regional position on either of these issues.
These are not the only ones, either. For instance, almost 15 years after its inception, four states only have seen it fit to accede to the appellate jurisdiction of the Caribbean Court of Justice and, while each member state has subscribed to the original jurisdiction, this is merely so by virtue of agreeing to be part of the regional body. Had this very matter been one of free choice, we would not at all have been surprised by an identical degree of reluctance on the part of some as was displayed with respect to the appellate jurisdiction. To this we may add LIAT, Petro Caribe and UWI.
Further, in this context, some states swear by the notion of Citizenship by Investment to boost their flagging economies; others are totally appalled at the idea. And oddly, for a region that contemplates freedom of individual movement and of establishment, there is no uniformity of the employment of company laws, despite the valiant efforts of the Caricom Drafting Facility to produce model laws for assessment and possible adoption in both these areas and others besides.
Even in the game of cricket, where we once held global advantage, the respective leaders manage to find disagreement on matters as mundane as the leadership and selection policies regarding players and support staff of the regional governing body.
As we stated above, we remain adherents to the view that regional integration is a very good thing. We also believe that most citizens of the respective member states are of the same view. We do not fool ourselves, however, that all is hunky-dory in regional affairs and that all are wedded to our declared tenet of being friends of all and satellites of none.
Long ago, our late prime minister and now right excellent national hero, Errol Barrow, suggested that the regional experiment of integration was bring propelled by the daily peregrinations and interactions of the “higglers” and others who traverse the region, and not by those who wonder rather at the identity of those who will purchase and consume their grey sand or other national products.
As long as there is no subsidiarity to the overarching regional project, the lure of sovereignty is likely to prove too enticing for a diversion from the purely domestic to the regional interest.