Dear friend, you are faithful in what you are doing for the brothers, even though they are strangers to you. ..We ought therefore to show hospitality to such men so that we may work together for the truth” – 3 John 1:5,8
Fifteen years ago I began to focus in my writings on an alternative model for third world economic development. This continued after my first visit to Singapore where I further understood the Rt. Excellent Errol Walton Barrow’s concept “Barbados – the Singapore of the Caribbean”. Since then many Caribbean countries have adopted Singapore’s success as their international benchmark.
Almost 10 years ago I had an opportunity to work as a consultant with the Caribbean Development Bank and developed the Caribbean Business Enterprise Initiative which was an innovative strategy to create “sunrise” industries to replace the fading “sunset” industries, like commodity sugar and bananas. The Caribbean Business Enterprise Trust Inc. (CBET) was established as a private sector managed entity outside of the CDB to implement the CBEI concepts. CBET has evolved over the last six and a half years into the CBET Shepherding model which integrates the idea, business systems and money in an amalgam which, if shepherded, will lead to sustainable business success.
In 2007 I had the privilege of working with the Indigenous Services division of Invest Barbados which has provided further insight into the constraints that inhibit entrepreneurship development in the Caribbean and has shed light on the possible solutions that may be developed. It was this latest association that exposed me to the creative industries to the extent that my vocabulary now includes phrases such as “unleashing creative and humanitarian energy” and “penetrating social space”.
One of the professional relationships that has developed is with Annalee Davis, a multidimensional Barbadian contemporary artist who is renowned worldwide. Her company’s Mission is “To be a Leading Cultural Producer and Exporter of Diverse Contemporary Art, Craft and Film to Multi-dimensional Markets in the World”.
She produces films, contemporary art and home furnishings. One of her recent projects is a 32 minute documentary film entitled “On the Map”. The film is an intervention into the Caribbean region’s current integration initiative and examines the very much debated topic of migration and the accompanying complex issues.
This film is fantastic. It is filmed primarily in Trinidad, Guyana and Barbados, beautifully choreographed, displays a touch of literary class and excellently portrays the rich amalgam of mainly imported Caribbean cultures. It recognises the current CSM(E) “freedom of movement” thrust and interposes the lack of “freedom of movement” contrast in dramatic fashion. One striking observation in the film is that in our colonial past “freedom of movement” between the countries in the Caribbean was absolute. Where we fought to release the shackles of colonialism, we succeeded. In the new dispensation, we are now constrained by draconian immigration and customs laws inspired by a myopic and selfish focus. The constitutional evolution that is CSM(E) now requires us to dismantle these laws so that we can enjoy the freedom of movement status we had during colonialism. Where there is no vision, the people perish.
The film “On The Map” should be required viewing for every Caribbean citizen or resident; the message induces a bottom up approach to the immigration issue and introduces more stability into the system of change. CSM(E) has many elements of a top down approach which is fine and dandy if the populace is ready for it. In my opinion, widespread and repeated viewing of “On The Map” and possible film sequels would lay a sound foundation on which freedom of movement can be restored. Then we would have come full circle.
In the meantime agreements will continue to be made at Heads of Government level but alas they may not be honoured, at the national level, if another decision is more politically expedient at the time. The Single Market concept has developed over the years but there are some mindsets among those with immigration and customs responsibilities which have stymied its full implementation.
The Single Economy? Well let us wait and see who will wave the magic wand. In my opinion, the Single Economy cannot be successfully implemented until there is a supra-national body in place. Examples of this are the Commission, in the case of the European Union and the Federal Government, in the case of the USA. Which Caribbean Government is going to give up part of its sovereignty to a supra-national body? I think none, hence my subdued rational expectation of the future of the Single Economy.
In the meantime, the Single Market movement should foster as much trade as we can between Caribbean countries, particularly in agriculture (the genesis of our food supply) where the extra-regional food import bill is so horrendous and likely to rise because of the impact of the price of oil on the transportation system.
There is also the opportunity to export Caribbean exotics initially to neighbouring countries but ultimately farther afield. The efforts of CSM(E) should be focused on getting the individual countries up to speed to show hospitality to such men so that we may work together for the truth and then and only then will the collective impact redound to benefit of Caribbean integration.