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YOU, ME & CSME: Ideal Caricom SG


Michelle Cave

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THE PERSONAGE to guide, strengthen, widen the organisation of states we know as CARICOM will need to be as dynamic as he or she is wise and humble, in the face of the oft-seen-as egocentric Caribbean national leaders.
This secretary general (SG) will have to know the nuances of Caribbean political life, will need to know how to walk lightly on national affairs, will need the savoir-faire of dealing with the international community on an equal footing. They will need a mediating temperament to handle the heads of government.
This secretary general will need to have under her or his belt, stints in academia. It would not hurt, as they will need a healthy respect for innovative partnerships, ideas and technologies to carry CARICOM for the next decade, into a growth phase like it has not seen before (I say decade because somewhere we have gotten it into our heads that this position should last eons, this is not necessarily beneficial).
The new secretary general will need a strong backbone, enabling him or her to stand firm and not baulk at entities complicit in denigrating the progress of the Caribbean Community.
What of course would be most fascinating, as the heads of government work out their terms of reference, would be someone untainted by Caribbean politics, someone from the depths of our diaspora, bringing a fresh view, an inability to cower or shrink when faced with the heads of government, or worse. This pristine quality, though, could work in their favour or out. They will need to be cognisant of the playing field.
The new secretary general will have to be seen as strong and able to lead the heads of government at the same time as culling the best from their arguments for consensus.
The plethora of men and women in the diaspora, talented, excited at the possibilities of a strong CARICOM, who have proven their worth and abilities in their chosen fields, all over the world – yes, just might be a useful pot to choose from.
Still there are some excellent choices to be made here at home.
Kenny Anthony springs to mind as the most appropriate. Len Ishmael too. Perhaps Ralph Gonsalves. They’d need to step out of their national arenas in a decisive way, though. In the case of Ishmael, she would bring her expert leadership from the OECS success to the CARICOM stage, not a wholly unpleasant thought.
What we do not want is a sexagenarian or a septuagenarian who is bored with the conversation of CARICOM and cannot see innovation from the trees. Nor do we want an economist as they tend to specify, at the sacrifice of all others, matters economic. Although Kurleigh King managed to span that bridge well, he, I’d suggest, was the exception not the rule.
It’d be a coup to access a Jamaican, finally putting to bed the distant cousin Jamaica has always been to strengthening integration efforts. Norman Girvan, Atherton Martin, P.J. Patterson? – well no. Maybe there are others I am not calling to mind?
Or perhaps, Rene Preval? Or Jean-Bertrand Aristide for that matter – that would certainly be a coup. Bringing Haiti to the fore of CARICOM would certainly send a strong message to international bodies, as well as Caribbean countries who have forgotten the promise of Haiti. At the very least, it would have the governmental structure of all members using French as an essential second or third language of operation, along with English.
The point, though, is this new secretary general will necessarily at once have the wisdom, the strong vision and will, the intelligence, the humility, the humour that we call charismatic statesman: the beingness we love and desire more than sugar cane, calypso and carnival. Yes, our new SG must embody all of the qualities of a seasoned statesman, but injecting in there the inquisitiveness of a three-year-old. If the search committee can manufacture such a being, we are set.
• Michelle Cave has done her thesis on the regional integration movement.

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