Rol-J Williams

Dr. Leroy Calliste, styled the Black Stalin penned for our consideration,
“CARICOM is wasting time
De whole Caribbean gone blind
If we don’t know from where we comin’
Then we cyah plan where we goin’ ”.

Although these words were penned over a quarter-a-century ago, the recent events- not only in St. George’s, Grenada, but also since the signing of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas (RTC)- have led to much talk around the region about whether or not the hard work of the likes of Eric Williams, Errol Barrow, and the like have gone for naught.

If the uncertainty in the minds of the citizens of CARICOM was not cemented before the Thirty-Eighth Regular Session of the Heads of Government of CARICOM, then surely the insular attitudes adopted, adapted and displayed by some of our very own leaders have become the last proverbial straw on the camel’s back. A camel, that sadly has borne the burdens of forty-four years of insularism, chauvinism, and at best, or worst, depending on your position in this matter, the crassness of far too many of our leaders who clearly do not understand the struggles of our fore-leaders.

For indeed, CARICOM was not born through, by nor of the fancy, whim and caprice of any overzealous leaders who saw a profitable channel through which their single country could prosper. CARICOM was born through, by and of the realization that it is an absurd and asinine proposition to believe that the voice of a solitary country could ever be heard at the United Nations, and on a much smaller scale, the Organisation of American States (OAS).

What has been so laughable and irrefutably questionable in the minds of many CARICOM citizens is not the fact that many CARICOM states fail to observe certain aspects of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas and the governing clauses of the Caribbean Single Market and Economy but the fact that our leaders are yet to show any level of seriousness to forge an effective and legitimate path to securing the true essence of what makes us truly Caribbean: our togetherness.

The days of our togetherness being expressed only in unspoken word and the cultural and heritage values are no longer recognizable. In fact, our shared cultural matrices and milieus, as Dr. Ralph Gonsalves contends, while relevant to our identity, can no longer be used as a diplomatic key to unlock any doors for us.

Most of us have celebrated over forty years as independent nations; Barbados celebrated fifty years just last November, Jamaica and Trinidad did so in 2012, and Guyana did so in May of last year. The conundrum we face is whether we would allow ourselves to fall into states where our socio-economic drivers are stalemate; our land use policies are written supporters of economic monopoly; our people are unemployed and vastly underemployed.

Surely Dr. Eric Williams, Sir Errol Barrow, Forbes Burnham and Michael Manley saw the potential in what the leaders of today see horror. Strangely enough, the leaders who saw the vision way back on July Fourth 1973 were from the largest and most resource-rich lands that lay in the Caribbean Sea.

Fast forward to 2017, and one would find our leaders bickering over whether the West Indies Cricket Board should disband and be rebuilt and rebranded in the process. Surely, our fore-leaders would look down with shame at how our democratically-elected leaders have reduced themselves to such levels of triviality.

The most recent triviality stemmed from Gaston Browne, Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda stating that, “The governance (of WICB) appears to be an evocative romanticism of a particular Caribbean head.” He went on to say that, “Now there is a particular head who is of the flawed opinion that with my support and other heads that he could achieve his compulsive-obsessive desire to dissolve the board.”

Clearly, he is discrediting the work and credibility of two of the region’s greatest luminaries: Dr. Ralph Gonsalves and Dr. Mitchell and in so doing he has established an insular mindset that can only set the hands of the clock in a backwards motion, thus diminishing the work this great region has done over the last forty-four years. The fact of the matter surrounding this whole WICB debacle is that an INDEPENDENT commission SET UP by CARICOM made the recommendation through, by and of which Dr. Mitchell and Dr. Gonsalves are using as the bases of their arguments as to why the WICB must disband and be rebuilt.

Clearly, as a teenager, I am extraordinarily disappointed at the fact that I have read all the literature presented by Dr. Gonsalves which clearly show why the WICB should be disbanded and a PRIME MINISTER of one of CARICOM’s Member States either read the discourse and forgot about it or simply chose not to read it because, as clearly indicated in St. Georges this week, he is chauvinistic.

The fact of the matter is, Gaston Browne has only been prime minister for three years and this disregard for the advice of two leaders who have been on the political vanguard for thirty and forty years can easily be viewed by CARICOM citizens as disrespect for the intellectual depths which Dr. Ralph Gonsalves and Dr. Keith Mitchell have explored.

As a teenager passionate about Regional Integration, let me give a bit of advice, if we ever want CARICOM to prosper, we cannot disagree with each other as leaders in the media and the fact of the matter is that the unanimous decision around CARICOM is in support of Dr. Mitchell’s stance. Serious leaders do not fight internal regional integration issues with the media!

Mind you, Hon. Browne had the opportunity to have his jab at Mitchell and Gonsalves in the private plenary sessions, instead he carted out of Grenada with as much haste as he thought out what he was going to say about Dr. Mitchell.

We ought to be ashamed of ourselves with the levels our leaders are reaching.

Slinger Francisco, Mighty Sparrow, summed up, “Federation boil down to simply this it’s dog eat dog and survival of the fittest.”

The only fit one who can survive this race to prosperity is the Caribbean, or for want of a better term, CARICOM. Not Grenada, not Barbados, not Antigua and Barbuda, nor St. Kitts and Nevis, but CARICOM.

Now, what has been the relevance of these forty-four years?

Rol-J Williams is a 17-year-old student from the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis who has overcome many challenges and has become a highly acclaimed student, an internet blogger and publisher, Caribbean Junior Minister of Tourism, an amateur photographer, and most recently a Youth Parliamentarian.