July 26, 2010

Where Caricom really going?

By Reginald Dumas

At their just-concluded meeting in Jamaica, the Caricom Heads of Government once again trespassed on my patience. I must say something on two aspects of this latest intrusion.
First, much has been said about Prime Minister Persad-Bissessar's apparent hard line on Trinidad and Tobago assistance to Caricom. I certainly would not have used the ATM comparison. It came over as a putdown, and no one likes to be put down, especially in public. But I have no problem at all with the principle she raised. Let me first go back a bit.
In the late 1970s, just before its precipitous collapse, the price of oil reached a level then considered unimaginably high. For many in this country, distorting Eric Williams' actual words and meaning, money had already become "no problem".
Williams himself seemed to fall victim to the distortion, and his government began — there was a strong flavour of contempt in its conduct — to dole out money to Caricom governments beating a path to its door. I say "dole out" deliberately, and I will give you an example from my time as High Commissioner to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean (EC) in the latter part of the 1980s.

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