Commentary: Whither goeth CARICOM?
By Matthew Thomas
The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) was established on July 4, 1973, by the Treaty of Chagaramus. Its main objectives are to promote integration and cooperation among its members and to coordinate foreign policy.
The first Monday in July was designated CARICOM Day. However, it appears that only Guyana celebrates CARICOM Day.
|Matthew Thomas is a pharmacist and the owner of Matthew Thomas Pharmaceuticals in Kingstown, St Vincent|
CARICOM has a flag, adopted in 1983; an anthem, composed by Michelle Henderson of Dominica and adopted in 2014. In St Vincent, hardly anyone knows of CARICOM Day; very few would recognize the flag and almost no one knows about the anthem. I think that the scenario may be quite similar throughout the region.
Our nationals, especially among the intellectuals and political activists, tear apart the history of the region, often giving the impression that that history should not be known; yet, they eagerly look forward to all their Christian holidays, festivities, songs and other such symbols of the colonial past. They cannot deliver a lecture, except it is laced with quotations from Shakespeare and the like. After 44 years, there is still the problem of cross border travel and we hardly have a common identity.
CARICOM vs. the US
Each CARICOM national is in real flesh and blood connected to a US national. CARICOM nationals since the 19th century have been migrating to the US, producing up to fourth and fifth generations. PM Gonsalves over the past 16 years has been very strident in his language towards the US. In his latest tirade, he refers to them as “fair weather friends” and “Trojan horses” wanting to go into Venezuela in pursuit of their oil.
Who Are the Fair Weather Friends and Trojan Horses?
Like the rest of CARICOM, the US is an extension of Vincentian society. Betty Boyea-King, the first cousin of PM Gonsalves, migrated to the US, and has served as ambassador, the US representative to the Economic and Social Council in Geneva, under three consecutive US presidents, namely, Bill Clinton, George Bush Jr, and Barrack Obama. Similarly Roy Austin, migrated to the US and became the US ambassador to Trinidad and Tobago from 2001-2009 under President George W. Bush. They are US citizens. America is their home. Does this make them imperialists, fair-weather friends or Trojan Horses wanting to steal Venezuela’s oil?
The following are two examples of his vitriol:
1. Appearing in the Vincentian of 11/06/2008, the Gonsalves ULP party, under the caption: Recover Swiftly, Fidel, wrote:
“Meanwhile, imperialism, its spokespersons and lackeys have reacted to Fidel’s illness in a vulgar, gloating and inhumane manner. First imperialism spokes persons and the so-called mainstream media in the USA have raised the issue that Fidel was dead already. These vulgar imperial and neo-colonial partisans conveniently forget that Imperialism has been trying to assassinate Fidel for 47 years… Those who were enthused at Fidel’s imminent demise are a sick lot… We are in solidarity with Fidel and the Cuban government and its magnificent Cuban people. We will defend Cuba against any of imperialism’s adventure there.”
2. Under the caption: St Vincent PM Calls for Regional Condemnation of US Reversal of Cuba Policy, Gonsalves said: “We must not allow Trojan Horses to enter Caracas in pursuit of Venezuelan oil.” (Caribbean News Now, 21/06/2017)
In the book, “Grenada The Untold Story”, by Gregory Standford and Richard Vigilante, Richard Jacobs, then Grenada’s ambassador to Russia told the Soviets: “Ralph Gonsalves of the St Vincent United People’s Movement was a clear, consistent and reliable Marxist-Leninist who can be helped at all levels without fear of compromise.”
Leading up to the December 2005 elections in St Vincent, Ralph Gonsalves, repeatedly said: “I want to say that Ralph Gonsalves remains committed to carry on the work of Maurice Bishop.”
True to form PM Gonsalves seems to be bullying his way through CARICOM in order to fulfill his mission. He is the self-proclaimed chairman of LIAT. In any WICB dispute, he is the first to intervene, writing all sorts of vain and insulting letters as is exemplified in one to Dave Cameron, president of WICB, where he writes: “The days of men riding horses with cork hats across plantations, are metaphorically over.” (CMC, 25/12/2014)
Real garbage, not worth recycling. Was/Is Dave Cameron a slave owner, imperialist/colonialist? More recently he used his bullying tactics through the CARICOM Secretariat in having a St Vincent’s draft versus the CARICOM’s position on Venezuela, being presented; thus causing confusion even at the level of the OAS, in his servile support for Maduro and his wicked dictatorship in Venezuela.
Ralph Gonsalves in his absurdity is likening the atrocities taking place in Venezuela to people lining up to get food at the Salvation Army, when he said: “We must resist the call to support intervention in Venezuela just because we are told that people are lining-up for food, or we may have to also justify and support similar action across the Caribbean, as people in all our territories also line-up for food at the Salvation Army outlets across the region… I am offering the best of my advice from my long and collective experience, both as a politician and as the longest serving CARICOM prime minister.” (Caribbean News Now, 21/06/2017)
Note: Dr. Keith Mitchell, PhD in Mathematics and Statistics; Parliamentarian from 1984; PM, 1995-2008 and 2013. Ralph Gonsalves, PhD in Government; Parliamentarian from 1994; PM 2001.
While PM Gonsalves is taking on the role of the world’s arbitrator, Vincentian traffickers plying their trade in agricultural produce in Trinidad, have to be engaged in bartering, since they are experiencing great difficulty to take out foreign currency. While on the other hand millions of dollars leave St Vincent for Trinidad daily, through supermarkets, SOL, the sale of steel and cement, banks and many other commercial enterprises operating in St Vincent. In the meantime, St Vincent continues to sink to the bottom of the socio-economic chain, when according the World Bank:
“St Vincent and the Grenadines has made significant human development progress, yet poverty and unemployment remain high… nearly one in two young adults is unemployed and about 30% of the population lives in poverty.” (The Vincentian 02/06/2017)
The Russian thoroughbred is being whipped on its final lap. Until CARICOM is afforded one vote at extra-regional forums, we will get nowhere as a unit and there will always be a Trojan Stallion.