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EDITORIAL: Do or die time for CARICOM

luigimarshall, [email protected]

EDITORIAL: Do or die time for CARICOM

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MUCH HAS BEEN said over the past few weeks about the pending demise of the BBC Caribbean Service and the void that will undoubtedly be left in terms of regional news flow.
Conveniently though, it would seem that many of those caught up the vortex of early reaction have neglected to credit, or at the very least underscore, the continuing efforts of those remaining Caribbean broadcasters who, with little or no support from any government, continue to carry forward this important work, lest we be faced with a total regional news blackout.
But even more worrying is the present sorry state of CARICOM integration.
Note has already been taken of the fact that the 15-nation grouping is still without a Secretary General, after receiving notice last September from Edwin Carrington of his departure at the end of 2010. 
We are even more fuzzy on the proposed new structure for  governance. Last word was that there was going to be an OAS-type assembly, but some of the leaders themselves have baulked at this idea.
There is also a seeming ambivalence on the issue of free movement. While no fewer than ten categories of skilled nationals have now been approved by CARICOM Heads of Government, how many have actually been institutionalized?
More glaring is the situation with the Caribbean Court of Justice – that bold judicial symbol of our pride and independence, which has only three full members, with the conspicuous exclusion of Trinidad and Tobago, where it is headquartered.
If that is not insult enough, Prime Minister Bruce Golding’s recent announcement that he wants to set up his own final court for Jamaica certainly is.
Incidentally, it came just as he was preparing to hand over the chairmanship of CARICOM to Grenada, and while it may have won him much needed friends at home, it certainly did not improve his ratings abroad, especially with staunch integrationists such as Sir Shridath Ramphal.
In delivering the Tenth Sir Archibald Nedd Memorial Lecture in Grenada last month, Sir Shridath cautioned that “the blood stream of our regional integration process is threatened by anaemia”.
He also warned then that nothing speaks louder about this current debilitation facing CARICOM “than our substantial denial of the Caribbean Court of Justice. 
On matters of regional unity, many of our leaders have already been diagnosed with a rabid case of “foot-in-mouth” disease. If it is not Jamaica believing it can go at it alone, it’s T&T beating its well-oiled chest. Let’s not leave out Barbados either. With a population of just 260 000 plus, our most popular refrain as a nation remains the same one sang by RPB at the 2009 Pic-O-De-Crop finals: “home drums got to beat first”.
But the region may not meet with RPB’s good fortune and will have to acknowledge that an insular message is not always a recipe for success in this “do or die time” for CARICOM.