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PEP COLUMN: Onward, Caribbean soldiers!

rhondathompson, [email protected]

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The recently concluded fifth Assembly Of Caribbean People (ACP) was a tremendous success, and has inspired new hope in the future of the Caribbean.However, true to form, the biggest, and perhaps the only, let-down centred on the political leadership of the region.With the notable exception of Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves, not a single Caribbean prime minister or Opposition leader found it possible to accept the organisers’ invitation to attend the assembly.Apparently, not even the knowledge that George Lamming and Gonsalves were slated to address the assembly, or that delegations would be in attendance from some 14 Caribbean territories and from the Caribbean Diaspora in North America and Africa, was sufficient to motivate them to attend.But this only serves to reinforce the correctness of the decision of the assembly’s regional executive committee to focus their efforts on the development of a People’s Movement of the Caribbean. If salvation is to come to the Caribbean it will surely come through the collective efforts of the ordinary sons and daughters of the region, rather than from seemingly stale and visionless political leaders.Regrettably, a number of the resolutions passed at the assembly will require the delegates to engage in collective lobbying of the region’s political leaders. No doubt they will do so dutifully, and hope for the best, but the real optimism and action lies with the concrete initiatives and campaigns that the delegates have agreed to undertake themselves.Having concluded that the only truly effective way for the Caribbean to deal with the international economic crisis is for the region to produce more for itself, it was agreed that the ACP would reach out to the Caribbean’s farmers, manufacturers and fisherfolk to develop a special and supportive relationship with them and their representative organisations.And, an integral part of this initiative will be a push to launch a pan-Caribbean “import substitution” strategy and a Buy Caribbean programme.The ACP will also be mobilising its membership to craft model Caribbean health and education programmes that are based on the best practices currently in existence in our region.The establishment of a pan-Caribbean “artists collective” is another of the initiatives agreed upon. Caribbean artistes will be brought together in order to foster a commitment to consciously deploy the arts and the humanities in the development of our common “Caribbean civilisation”, and to ensure that the most outstanding, “classic”, Caribbean artistes are made accessible to all the people of the Caribbean.The ACP also turned its eyes to the still colonised territories of the Caribbean, and resolved to take the initiative to bring together the various anti-colonial, pro-independence movements, political parties and organisations of the region in a grand pan-Caribbean convocation designed to unify and strengthen the regional de-colonisation effort.A number of other concrete and practical initiatives have been agreed upon, inclusive of a pan-Caribbean reparations and debt cancellation campaign; the crafting of a Caribbean model of a system of people participatory governance; a “woman to woman” education and consciousness raising project; and Solidarity with Cuba campaign.The people of the Caribbean will be invited to get on board these campaigns. Stay tuned.
•The PEP Column represents the views of the People’s Empowerment Party. Email [email protected]