Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 7th 2015 Contents 10 UWI TODAY – SUNDAY 7TH JUNE, 2015
Ideas Aplenty, Inaction the Curse
BY REBECCA ROBINSON
There is no doubt that the content of this conference is
absolutely essential to the future of the Caribbean region.
The challenge is therefore not in the conception of ideas,
but in the more up-stream department of executing ideas.
Pro Vice-Chancellor and St. Augustine Campus Principal,
Professor Clement Sankat, in his opening remarks
underscored this point by saying that as a region, country
and community, “execution has bedeviled us.”
Shortly thereafter, the Deputy Executive Secretary of
ECLAC (Economic Commission for Latin America and
the Caribbean), Antonio Prado, brought what could have
been easily summative and future-positioning remarks in
his welcome. Prado said that the models and strategies used
to improve the lives of the peoples in the past are no longer
working, that small adjustments have not been enough in
a hyper-competitive world and there needs to be a tectonic
shift, a paradigm change.
Luke Williams’ Disrupt was the provocateur concept
for this conference and Prado’s address exemplified and
advanced a real-time meaning of being disruptive in the
Caribbean with razor accuracy. He said that disruptiveness
in the region is needed to challenge the persistent problems
associated with development and some revolutionary ways
of bringing this would be for:
(1) Institutions to strengthen a culture of openness with
the public at large as they are the groups who make
the products, provide the services and craft the
experiences. A robust collaborative relationship with
the private sector would challenge academics to find
practical solutions from their theoretical positions so
that the intersection of that relationship is the genesis
A review of the proceedings from the Forum on the Future of the Caribbean, 5-7 May, 2015 held at The UWI and the Hyatt Regency Hotel, Trinidad & Tobago.
(2) Academics need to revise what and how they theorize
and conceptualize and leave behind macro-thinking for
a deeper level, a micro-level of understanding that can
drive innovation and profitability in business, which
can be supplied to business to help them leap-frog over
past and known challenges to development.
(3) Business and industry must share in the risks associated
with research and development which will benefit all.
Only networks of public and private partnerships can
find ways to raise productivity levels, cut the lengths
between growth and inequality and spread the access
to capacity building tools. Overall, the region has
to use these “ideas as recipes to rearrange things to
create new value and wealth” – the core tenet of Luke
Williams’ Disrupt as based on economist Paul Romer’s
new growth theory.
This frame was adequately clad with some specifics,
statistics and samples over the course of the three days but
it was on the last day, at almost the last session that arguably,
one of the most important drivers of disruptiveness was
presented: CARICOM has to reinvent itself. This call came
from Andy Knight, Director of the Institute of International
Relations at The UWI.
“CARICOM is an important institution for Caribbean
unity but there is a perception that it has stalled or lost its
way. It is not enough to tinker with that institution it requires
a complete overhaul.
“Caribbean states are small, vulnerable and
dysfunctional. Pursuing individualistic foreign policy will
be a failure. We need to act as one, to pool our sovereignty,
to get rid of the egotistical political leadership and forge a
new convergence in terms of collective decision-making
and positions within multilateral bodies.”
Caribbean people, by their sheer enduring presence
are creative, adaptable overcomers, but there is a time in
the personal and collective histories of all people when
the survival strategy of ‘brute force’ must be examined and
tweaked, if not totally revamped to survival predicated on
‘brain power.’ And that is what this conference was about
– acknowledging that the future of the Caribbean lies in
using the accumulated intelligence along with the better
than ever access to technology, to find a way to make the
data meaningful in everyday life.
That is a big request and indeed a major disruption to
the current order as every speaker no matter the subject, in
some form acknowledged that the ideas and perspectives
they were offering in some way challenge the current order
and modus operandi. Speakers therefore adequately aligned
to the conference themes: laying out futuristic goals for
the region; reviewing how the Caribbean collective can
converge; calling for the region’s debt burden to be lessened;
addressing poverty and other social imbalances; locating
innovative financing and finding allies for this drive in the
Andy Knight summarized some of the key issues on
the last day:
“It is time to streamline the plethora of regional
organizations that have multiplied in the region since
independence. Rationalization of their goals and functions
and elimination of unnecessary overlap would be part
of that streamlining. We need political leadership, but a
different type of political leadership than we have currently.
Corruption, white-colour crime, unaccountability must give
way to clean and accountable governance.”
THE FUTURE OF THE CARIBBEAN
Professor Sir Hilary Beckles, UWI Vice-Chancellor.
Economist and Head of the Caribbean Centre for Competitiveness, Indera Sagewan-Alli with moderator Josanne Leonard.
SUNDAY 7TH JUNE, 2015 – UWI TODAY 15
CARIBBEAN UNITY – DOOM or DESTINY?
The End of the West Indies PART I
BY PROFESSOR GERARD HUTCHINSON
The question of the ideological
and psychological identity
of the Caribbean continues to
be one that should be easily
answered but remains largely
unconsidered. Economic, cultural
and psychosocial problems – not
least crime and violence – where
the Caribbean leads the world
alongside Central America, demand
a regional response in order to
prevent a return to a complete loss
of independence and some form of colonization; if we are
not there already.
However, in each country there seems to be a complete
ignorance of similar problems in the proximal and distal
region. There have been several reports in the newspapers
recently assessing – either directly or indirectly – the state
of the Caribbean union. The lack of a regional response to
the issues of crime and violence underscore the parlous
nature of the union.
Cricket and The UWI have often been touted as the last
remaining symbols of regional unity, but the title West Indies
may now be anachronistic, given the current preferred
generic referencing of the region as the Caribbean.
Names and labels are important, especially in this age
of branding, and the concept of the West Indies throws up
many unresolved dilemmas. Should we be a West Indies as
separate from a Caribbean or as a constituent part of the
larger Caribbean? What is this larger Caribbean and what
does its geographic existence mean? What of those countries
that remain politically aligned as colonies to European
countries, as applies to the French and Dutch Caribbean?
Gabriel García Márquez, the late Colombian author,
opined that the Caribbean extends into Central America and
indeed the southern United States by virtue of the common
Guyana, of course, is on the South American continent
but has traditionally been embraced as part of the West
Indies and by extension, the Caribbean.
Understanding the meaning of the two terms and the
need to clarify their meaning and relevance seems to be a
priority for the leadership of the region. The duality of names
may be contributing to an implicit identity crisis. Names
are important in the assumption of purpose, and creating
a platform for belonging, becoming and representation.
We have assumed multiple names for the groupings in the
Caribbean, perhaps because of our fractured histories and
the multiple colonizers that shaped this migrant Caribbean
The English-speaking Caribbean has been commonly
called the West Indies. The origin of this name lies in the
misleading geography of Columbus and the inability of his
successors to come to terms with the reality of this part of
the world. The health of the regional project continues to
be severely compromised and I would suggest that one of
the reasons for this is a lack of definitional clarity in our
own minds. CARICOM seems to have failed to engender a
sense of regional unity, purpose and commonality of destiny.
The issue of leadership is perhaps best reflected in the
ongoing debate about the best model of management for
West Indies cricket. The role and value of cricket and its
administration in the region are also in continuous review,
as dissatisfaction about the administrative management,
including its structure continues to fester. Yet one radio
commentator suggested that the recent victory over England
in the final Test match of the recently concluded series would
do wonders for the psyche of the Caribbean citizen.
Leadership that seeks the benefit of all and does not
seek to recreate the old divisions in order to maintain its
hold on power is a desperate need.
The exercise of leadership in the Caribbean née
West Indian enterprise of The UWI has also come under
historical and contemporary scrutiny. Since the banning of
Walter Rodney by the administration of The UWI Mona
Campus in 1969 and the perceived lack of an intellectual
ideology generating scholarship related to the generation
and preservation of regional identity, The UWI’s role in the
clarification of the nature and purpose of the Caribbean
union remains unclear.
The CARICOM leadership has not fared any better
since Black Stalin’s landmark song, as the response to the
Maurice Bishop-led coup in Grenada and the subsequent
events culminating in the US invasion after the collapse of
the coup’s leadership was confused and inconsistent at best.
There has been no detailed academic or regional
analysis of that coup or indeed, the two attempted coups
in Trinidad in 1970 and 1990. Several other regional issues
have not been sufficiently explored to examine the effects
on our consciousness. The Dudus extradition in Jamaica,
the financial implosion of CLICO, the denial of entry of
CARICOM nationals to CARICOM countries, the exegesis
of Haitians from the Dominican Republic, the growing
presence and influence of China in the region, the lack of
regional consensus about the Caribbean Court of Justice
among others, all demand detailed and insightful analysis.
Would it not be more effective to develop and adopt one
regional solution than multiple island ones?
Perhaps this process should have begun with the
reasons for the failure of the West Indian Federation that
has seemed to haunt our efforts to unite under a common
banner of regional interdependence. The recent struggle to
establish a common protocol and affordable carrier system
for facilitating movement between the islands continues
to inform the immigration challenges that islanders face
Professor Gerard Hutchinson is Head of Psychiatry at the Department of Clinical Medical Sciences, The UWI, Faculty of Medical Sciences.
in travelling from one Caribbean island to another. From
Shanique Myrie to Yasin Abu Bakr, the questions seem to
have no consistent answers. Identity becomes critical to the
formation and elaboration of the questions that we need
to ask, and our confidence in the answers. There are so
few genuine regional institutions, and they continue to be
mired in covert and subtle expressions of one-upmanship
and lack of an explicit regional purpose and philosophy.
These institutions are becoming increasingly anomalous if
not anachronistic. They require unity of purpose and unity
of effort if they are to survive and prosper.
‘No set ah money, could form a unity
First of all a people need their identity’
– Black Stalin
The deceptive trap that money and funding are
the solutions to our problems continues to misdirect
attention. Paying people well does not guarantee consistent
commitment if they are not consumed by the desire to
perform at their representative best. If what they are
representing is self only, individualism will breed selfishness
and eventually triumph over community. It is worth
interrogating the idea that a working model of Caribbean
unity is the best means to deal with the pressing problems
facing the region. The upsurge of crime and violence
across the region is a direct consequence of the unbridled
materialism and authoritarianism that has infiltrated
and overtaken our societies. There is more negation than
affirmation, particularly in the appreciation of our human
The question of negation or affirmation, what to reject,
what to seek, what is the value of Caribbean unity? The
role of alliances in the expression of identity, the issues of
language and of course, the historical trajectories that have
seen the USA, itself an amalgam of states, replace Britain
as our greatest cultural colonizer.
A large component of the hegemony enjoyed by the
USA has been derived from the vast human and physical
resource diversity contained within its borders. New York,
Florida, California and Texas are further apart in culture
and character than any of the West Indian islands yet they
are held together by a constitution that recognizes the value
of being together.
What does our lack of unity convey about the
Caribbean psyche? Is it fragmented and unable to create
a solid foundation? Lacking in foundation? Will it always
be rudderless and therefore unable to be molded as a
purposeful entity? These are the questions that must be
answered to determine the future of the region and whether
we will some day become a net importer of talent and brain
instead of a net exporter.
Mr West Indian politician
Ah mean, yuh went to big institution
So how come you cyar unite 7 million?
–Leroy Calliste, Black Stalin
Caribbean political independence is a farce at its zenith
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