A trade unionist’s perspective of Caribbean integration

 A trade unionists perspective of Caribbean integration
Web Posted – Sun Jul 08 2007
By Katrinah Best

WITH the concept of Caribbean integration having been mooted over the past 100 years, its a wonder issues still prevail over the finite matters of its achievement.

This past week has seen a delegation of Caribbean Heads of Government meet to discuss the framework for regional synergy though it is Former General Secretary of the National Union of Public Workers, Joseph Goddards contention that much of this will go unfulfilled for years and a pivotal group are still being omitted from consultation on the matter – the public at large.

With an acceptance that the reasons for integration are to develop the islands, the various states Goddard was unequivocal in his view that the reality of Caribbean integration represents an unsatisfactory state of affairs with an extremely poor pace of development with few tangible demonstrations of unification.

With the current state of play giving rise to unfulfilled promises, Goddard presented the dampened sentiments of the general public as being characterized by alienation, frustration and mistrust. He elaborated further, The average Caribbean person really doesnt expect much from the politician and theyre doing the best thing they can do which is going ahead and doing their own thing- setting up a little business. The people are ahead of our political leaders with regards to integration.

For Goddard, the various factors inhibiting progress with integration rest with the politicians; with a view expressed that for all the deliberation and decision-making, a concerted effort to implement recommendations is hampered by hesitation and fear on the part of politicians. According to Goddard, very few member states have mechanisms which allow for full consultation with their people.

Clear in his presentation of further reasons for the flux in the movement towards Caribbean integration, Goddard offered his explanation as being a dual nemesis of internal factors, some aforementioned, and external factors. For Goddard, the latter presents a greater challenge if only for the lengthier list of issues which exist. These challenges were presented as:

" The economic, financial and technological superiority of countries which are relied upon to advance integration, the lack of compassion, lack of commitment to pledges and the poor guidance of large financial institutions such as the World Bank which often appears guided by self-preservation and interest rather than the aims and ambitions of the developing region it is tasked to assist. " The unfavourable trade relationships with the European Union as well as other developed regions. " The dominance of larger, developed countries stifling Caribbean progression in general. Goddards conclusion to his dialogue on Caribbean integration brought to task the Caribbean decision-makers who, in his view, must consider alternative methods of economic and social development against the backdrop of integration. For this, Goddard offered some suggestions: " A more pivotal and instrumental role played by the Caribbean Development Bank in progressing the region. "Utilising local expertise to allow for informed discourse and advancement. " Looking to some external sources for support  UK, Canada, China, just some cited. " Elaborating on current models for development somewhat with the creation of local models for development. At the crux of the stalemate with integration is the lack of political will coupled with the full inclusion of the Caribbean peoples within the process. Without that, Goddard questioned any further advancement of the integration movement.



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