kaieteur news Jul 03, 2017
The Working People’s Alliance (WPA) in a message released yesterday, stated that it joins with Guyana and the wider Caribbean in celebrating yet another CARICOM Day, and that we are reminded every year at this time of the importance of our integration project and the need to both protect our gains in that regard, and to further advance the movement.
“This year we celebrate CARICOM Day amidst wide-ranging changes in the Global North, in particular the so-called Brexit and the change of administration in the USA. It is, therefore, incumbent upon the region’s leadership to reflect on the consequences of those changes for CARICOM and the wider Caribbean,” the party pointed out.
The WPA also emphasised that it remains committed to the widening and deepening of Caribbean integration “for we continue to be steadfast in our view that regional integration is, in the end, our best protection against the global and hemispheric pressures on small developing countries such as ours. In this regard, we are heartened that our government has maintained Guyana’s unswerving fidelity to CARICOM and Caribbean integration. This is an investment that would in the long run benefit our people and economy”.
The party said that regional integration is not an easy undertaking, as it requires countries to give up some of their sovereignty in the interest of the collective.
“We in the Caribbean have had to overcome the failure of the Federation and our subsequent struggles to balance national and regional imperatives. But there can be no doubt that as a region we have achieved much together. The very fact that CARICOM has remained intact 44 years after the signing of the treaty of Chaguaramas is itself a monumental achievement. Today we have a functioning regional court of last resort in the form of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) and we are making steady movement towards the realization of a Caribbean Single Market and Economy. There is indeed much to celebrate.
But even as we celebrate, we must not lose sight of the need to do more to strengthen the movement.”
The party expressed disappointment that more member-states have not signed on to the CCJ.
“While we respect the hesitancy of some countries on this matter, we feel that we owe it to our independence promise to make our break with colonial rule, both symbolic and substantive. We, therefore, urge our sister countries to make another big effort to join the CCJ. The absence of many of the member countries from the court hurts its legitimacy.”
The WPA is also concerned about the continued negative treatment of CARICOM nationals as they move across the region.
“Despite formal commitment to free movement of labour and capital, many countries have not been honouring that commitment when it comes to labour. Only recently Guyana, a country whose nationals often suffer much indignity as they move across the region, found itself discriminating against a group of Haitian nationals. While the matter has been corrected, WPA urges the government to be much more pro-active in ensuring that we do not walk that road again.
WPA also takes this opportunity to urge our CARICOM countries both, individually and collectively, to redouble our efforts at investment in the peoples of the region. We warn against a growing tendency to uncritically adopt models of development that further marginalize and disempower the broad masses of our peoples. We believe that regional integration should ultimately be about the freedom of our peoples from socio-economic insecurities and fears.
Here we wish to invoke the warning our own WPA member, Professor Clive Thomas, uttered in 2000:
“There is nothing more practical than a good idea. Good ideas, however, can only come from people. In turn, these are derived from the collective product of our knowledge, common-sense, wisdom, training and education. Our human resources, and the ideas they generate, are therefore. Ultimately, the key to our future. Creating societies in which we are all involved, and where development is therefore people-centred, empowering, and knowledge-based, is the only secure way to build a future for the peoples of CARICOM in our present age of rapid globalisation and irresistible liberalisation world-wide.”
The party also called for the study of regional integration to be integrated into the school curriculum from nursery to university.
“We feel that insularity flourishes in the absence of institutional knowledge of our diversity within the context of our similar history and common identity. In this regard our cricket team, despite its many challenges, along with the University of the West Indies, remain shining examples of our integration in action.
In concluding, the party urged CARICOM’s leadership to continue to resist efforts to get the region involved in the internal situation in Venezuela.
“While WPA is committed to the respect for human rights in all countries, including Venezuela, we feel that CARICOM must develop its own approach to what’s happening in that country rather than bow to the dictates of external agendas.”