EDITORIAL: Let talk give way to action
It is a good idea, and it seemed a no-brainer at the time, but sometimes the best laid plans of mice and men do not bear fruit in due season or at all. Once again last week, the leaders of the region met to discuss matters of state affecting the region.
If some contemporary Caribbean people begin to treat the idea of regional unity as a good idea gone bad, we would not find it surprising. However, we cannot accept the futility of watching this region failing to do what is so right that it should be done for the good of its people.
It would not be amiss if one were to assess the story of regional unity so far as a case where there has been partial failure on the part of recent generations, to the detriment of the souls who now inhabit these parts as free men and women, even if their ancestors did not.
It seems clear that the benefits of regional cooperation will far outweigh the adjustment issues which will arise as a direct consequence of such integration, but clearly the advantages of the small pond are still a major encumbrance to genuine regionalism.
The success which has attended the efforts of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States should have convinced the region’s governments of the wisdom of accessing the Caribbean Court of Justice with alacrity. Alas, not even this limited demonstration of regional cooperation has met with unqualified success and a large and worthwhile investment of such unparalleled excellence is still massively underused and remains a sharp reminder of the shortsightedness of some among us.
We must never forget that one of the benefits, if one may call it such, of colonial experience was the need for many of our aspiring leaders to journey to the United Kingdom in order to study law and, to a lesser extent, medicine. Many a desire for regional cooperation was conceived in the cold and wintry climate of a hostile environment far away from the comforts of one’s home.
At such a distance, the need to extricate oneself from the condition of the colonial experience was fertilized by the common condition of many of the students gathered together, even if their navel strings were scattered abroad in every conceivable corner of the setting British empire.
One would have thought that some half a century after the dissolution of the Caribbean Federation that greater tangible evidence of cooperation would have been established, than a regional university, a regional cricket team and a regional final court of appeal which is a final court but for only four of the area’s countries.
This region cannot easily survive in its present fragmentation and the recession has shown that beyond dispute. And regional cooperation is needed at the political level to resolve a number of matters critical to an improved standard of living for the region’s people.
A slew of these matters requires joint political and economic action. Improved and more organized air and sea travel is critical; food security and the production or provision of fossil-based and renewable energy for the region come easily to mind. But, so too do the linkages between this region and the African and Southern American continents.
These issues cannot be resolved merely by talking, but to move from talking to hard, beneficial decision-making will be the easier if the region can first achieve deeper political and economic integration. Sometimes talking has to give way to action!