Wednesday, 14 July 2021

Natural Caribbean Unity and Haiti

Entering the Haitian discourse at this time is fraught with perils of all kinds. For starters, the subject is emotionally and ideologically linked to the country’s cruel treatment at the hands of unconscionable colonials and is underlined by a recurring suggestion of geo-political victimhood.

Everywhere last week, for instance, David Rudder’s poetic commentary on a misunderstanding involving a Haitian taxi driver in New York was sounded as a predictable anthem on the theme of perpetual nightmare.

Now, be clear, there are competent observers who have never set foot in the country but are able to capture the gist of a situation in which heavy odds are stacked even against the most noble aspirations. But being there (as I have, more than once) can fill important gaps in understanding flavours not readily available in the videos or texts.

Even more, institutionalising a relationship rooted in history and ethnic solidarity – as has been the case between Haiti and Caricom since 2002 - takes you closer to an understanding of dynamics not otherwise readily accessible.

For, even as the late CLR James was able to match the revolution-to-revolution advances in Haiti, France, and Russia in The Black Jacobins, he was unable, in a 1958 speech in Guyana – to easily attach “natural unity” to relations between Haiti and some parts of the Commonwealth Caribbean.

The awkwardness had also been on display before and after 2002. Not only in the form of linguistic inconvenience – except for the Saint Lucians and Dominicans – but through the practicalities of public service culture and the persistence of political unreliability and dysfunctionality.

I recall the Port-au-Prince discussions of 1994, upon the return of deposed President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, when our offer of (British) colonial public service assistance was extended to his bureaucrats, and their polite (but never seriously pursued) response.

It has since not been an easy ride. There are people in senior diplomatic Caribbean circles who agree that Haitian membership of Caricom was far more the stuff of irrational ideological fantasy than pragmatic self-preserving diplomacy.

Such emotions were roused last December when the OAS Permanent Council permitted Venezuelan participation, despite the country’s withdrawal from the body in 2017. Its “representative” went on to defame the people and government of T&T over the drowning of 16 Venezuelans (in Venezuelan waters) in an incident that November. Haiti, Jamaica, and The Bahamas were not among the Caricom countries to firmly resist an associated resolution.

Our country is yet to fully recover from the diplomatic slur, despite continuing public protestations by Caribbean diplomats. This quite recently earned ambassador Ronald Sanders of Antigua and Barbuda the public derision and disrespect of his Haitian OAS counterpart.

Now, this is not to suggest that Haiti’s current crisis is any less our business, as has been suggested (even through silence) on some fronts. It is in fact a situation in which Caricom, almost exclusively, has the potential to bear the torch of honest broker.

T&T’s declining regional leadership over the past ten of so years can, in fact, be retrieved through enlightened engagement of the Haiti challenge within Caricom.

The political vacuum created by Moïse’s assassination – together with all the associated issues surrounding the legitimacy of his tenure and subsequent appointments - calls for supple diplomatic hands. The events predating the assassination of Haitian President Jean Vilbrun Guillaume Sam in 1915, and those that followed, should not be forgotten. The ensuing US occupation of Haiti did not end until 1934.

This is not to fuel any conspiracy theory regarding what happened at the Moïse household on July 7. There are numerous suspicions. Yet, Caricom, as an interested party, has a unique role to play in facilitating a climate of reconciliation both within and without Haiti. The regional body cannot be left out of the equation, whatever the current internecine discomforts.

As part of the regional grouping, Haiti can no longer be described as a mere neighbour since it occupies important, if not uncomfortable, space in our house. But it would help us all to recognise our limitations as well as the quality of the familial arrangements.

We must also know that all of this is not going to be as simple as saying we’re all sorry.

 

Wednesday, 30 June 2021

Among the ranks of the forgotten

Much to my chagrin, nobody accused me of jumping the queue when COVID-19 vaccine doses were first offered to “the elderly” at the end of March as the first modest COVAX shipment arrived.

What ever happened to “you does look good for your age” and all that? True, I had myself listened attentively for a precise definition of the designation (“the elderly”) when it was clear that anticipated slow vaccine supplies would invariably require an age/health condition hierarchy for administering such protection.

I had already been through the National Insurance drill which sets parameters involving two milestones – (i) reaching 60 and (ii) realising that you are 65 and should not be working so hard.

No, I am not yet at phase two, thank you. I, in fact, made it to phase one three years ago

But youthful myopia – both as private individuals and as states - has you feeling your time never comes.

There is a parallel with an exchange I had with a politically appointed senior energy advisor some years ago who advised that T&T should not worry about oil and gas reserves “running out.”

“As long as the planet remains viable, we will have oil,” he said.

Then, you reach 60, and the TTARP card you got at 50 is no longer a social media joke and you have worked overseas, and freelanced, and people had your NIS number all mixed up and you realise you are pretty much among those “Scottie” James O’Neil Lewis described as the officially “forgotten”.

“One gets the impression,” the late diplomat told me 21 year ago, “there is a feeling that people are living too long.”

Relatedly, it was my father, many years before this, explaining to me exactly what a late friend of his did professionally as an “actuary”.

As an insurance man, Dad expressed much of this in measures of financial risk. Among the things he told me was that his friend had more than once expressed concern about the eventual “bunching” of both private and state benefits to the elderly.

Sooner or later, he surmised, the country’s ability to sustain largely non and partially contributory support for those who had reached the final phases of their lives would be depleted, especially within the context of a country where there is a widening gap between the young and an increasing number of old people who are tending to live longer and longer.

Such a revelation more than 40 years ago came to mind when I read Raphael John-Lall’s Sunday Guardian interview with gerontologist, Dr Jennifer Rouse.

“The last cohort of the “baby boomer” generation, those born between 1946 and 1964, are due to retire in 2024, followed closely by the Generation X-ers, a significant number of who are contract workers,” the article says.

To locate specific political responsibility for such an oversight is particularly problematic. Current protestations over the inevitability of extending the retirement age to 65, for purposes of NIS benefits, ought not to include a partisan flavour if people are inclined to be honest. Nobody seemed to seriously note what had been happening – multiple studies and seminars later.

An IPS feature published in my name in 1999 points to the fact that 21 years ago there had been concern by people such as Rouse and others that by the year 2005, people over the age of 60 would have accounted for 20 percent of the population – a situation that will eventually bring into jeopardy the ability of the state system to continue payment of benefits, at set levels, to the aged.

Today’s actual statistic for the elderly is closer to 15 percent, but it persists at a time when the stresses of the pandemic period are accentuating the impact of seriously compromised macro-economic conditions, and the fact of an ageing population.

The options remain limited. I can’t see how we can escape an effort to protect the integrity of national insurance as a reliable source of support to the aged. The real issue, though, would be to assure us that “we” won’t be consigned to the ranks of the forgotten.

There is evidence that a measure of forgetting occurs. There are even those who believe some culling during this crisis might well be a blessing in disguise. The words of Dr O’Neil Lewis bear repeating: “There is a feeling that people are living too long.” Are we?

 

Wednesday, 23 June 2021

The agony of labour

In case you hadn’t noticed, it was Labour Day last Saturday. A stark Rishi Ragoonath photograph on page 7 of the Sunday Guardian virtually told the entire June 19 story – but mainly, and perhaps only, to those who have walked the Fyzabad trail.

As a 1980s labour reporter I made the walk several times. When I looked around then, it was hard to tell the difference between the journalists covering the annual event and the trade union members celebrating it – except we did not typically join in the singing, or bear placards.

I believe we all knew at the time that our marching with the celebrants represented much more than “coverage”, even though our demeanour would change, and our press passes become more openly displayed once we reached the bandstand and the speeches we could have reported on, even before hearing them.

Even so, we were realising that more than 40 years following the advent of modern trade unionism in T&T, the broad developmental role of the labour movement had begun to change. Oil and gas wealth was transforming the land and peoplescape. The politics had evolved. A new status quo had begun to take effect, within which unions held a fixed spot.

Political parties with any kind of popular support were moving further and further away from the interests of organised labour - save for the 1975/1976 version of the ULF. Neither the PNM nor the UNC can lay claim to sleepless nights over such matters.

Since those days, union membership has also shrunk to the extent that, today, under 20 percent of the working population is represented by a labour union – some of them undemocratic and dysfunctional.  

This has rendered a notion of tripartism marginal to essential questions of the social and economic well-being of the country. Had this been otherwise, the withdrawal of the three (yes, three) trade union federations from the National Tripartite Advisory Council would have had a far more seismic impact on today’s state of pandemic affairs.

Instead, nobody recognises any real change in the dynamics of public discourse or action.

Economist Vanus James was even moved to declare on the weekend that the interests of workers are now more appropriately placed in the hands of employers that are, in turn, reliant on state support for a more vibrant business environment.

“The mechanisms you need to support workers (are) through their jobs in the private sector,” he is quoted as saying.

Even so, Dr James acknowledged the value of both SMEs and the medium to large enterprise sectors. He however did not remind us (though he knows) that the state, in all its manifestations, is the single largest employer in the country, and that the informal sector will continue to grow, especially under current conditions, as a largely unrepresented employment cohort.

So, where do trade unions enter the picture? They represent a small and declining minority of workers. Their interests are not clearly aligned to the unrepresented majority. There is also no coherent, joint developmental agenda in the face of a pandemic that has severely reduced private and public financial resources, and led to a loss of jobs and economic opportunity.

Yet, enlightened trade unions can be among the most valuable assets in protecting the interests of workers wherever they are found by helping to define the terms of engagement involving a dominant state, a self-centred private sector, and the population.

Very little about this is included in the reporting of the Post-COVID Roadmap to Recovery. Not much more from anyone else has also portrayed a future in which commerce, industry, and finance can sustain and enrich us all through productive engagement of the country’s most important resource.

There are, in fact, no “good old days” of trade unionism to which there should be a return. What we have are different times that are serving to re-focus a lethargic, complacent, and arguably incapable labour movement.

A new social compact is clearly insufficient to our needs if we do not move forward from tripartism to a new multipartism more closely aligned to current realities.

Under such conditions, trade unions may find more relevant space. If they are concerned. If they are willing. If they are able. The agony of labour confronts us all.

 

Wednesday, 9 June 2021

Caricom’s next steps

June 9, 2021 

Wesley Gibbings

On August 15, Belizean diplomat, economist, and former politician, Dr Carla Barnett, will take over at the Caricom Secretariat in Georgetown at a time when a combination of all three skillsets of hers, and more, will be required to navigate the integration movement safely through the most perilous period in its 48-year history.

If the pandemic challenge has proven one thing, it is that the brittle post-colonial substructures of the movement require extensive excavation and refurbishment.

This goes beyond the discrete institutional pillars of economic integration, human and social development, foreign policy coordination, and security. For, in the end, all of these would need to be fundamentally repurposed.

They have certainly proven to be near useless in this crisis, not in the direct sense of a role in regional public health coordination through CARPHA, for instance, (though there is a lot to be said here) but as cohesive mechanisms to manage the general well-being of the region at a time of urgent need.

It took 28 years to revise the 1973 Treaty of Chaguaramas. Further changes are needed 20 years later. Among the first tasks would be to reformulate its architecture and to decide who is coming along for the rest of this long ride.

Jamaica has already determined an exit route. The Bahamas has persistently kept at least one foot outside. And Haiti has not always displayed good neighbourliness - whatever our own negligence toward a country whose chaotic entry into the fraternity has never been reconciled.

These three come to mind particularly in the aftermath of last November’s OAS vote on Venezuela when T&T fell victim to a disrespectful, cynical lie. This is hard to forget or to forgive. I have mentioned other disappointments in past columns. This one though …

Meanwhile, the Caricom “travel bubble” popped early because the promise of a greater protective/nurturing mechanism for social, economic, political, and cultural resilience had already ruptured in our faces.

At each turn, it has mostly been everybody for themselves, rendering invalid the prospects for meaningful, joint action in the application of health and travel protocols, the coordinated acquisition of vaccines, and a single, resilient face and voice before the world.

It has also been impossible to tidily compartmentalise even the most specialised functions of the state in addressing a crisis that is taking lives and leaving growing numbers in despair, pain of all varieties, and facing death. How is COVID-19 not as much a regional security question as it is a public health challenge?

In T&T, for instance, we are learning too slowly yet surely that the pandemic is not solely a matter for a ministry of health.

Against such a backdrop, Dr Barnett, together with interested regional leaders, would do well to dispassionately assess all regional options for survival. However, engaging the massive tasks will require institutional assets the Caricom bureaucratic establishment and its associated institutions do not currently possess or are able to harness.

For example, the Caricom Secretariat is not a modern organisation within the meaning of 21st century institutions of its kind. If Dr Barnett does not understand this, she will go nowhere with any of the aspirations she has already found the time to identify.

By August 15, people in all member states should know her well. It is not in the stock of the professional instincts of public servants to pursue such an objective. Her predecessor proved the point.

But Dr Barnett has fought elections, sat in the senate of Belize, and traded punches with the best during assignments spanning different political administrations. Media shyness will thus not be treated with magnanimity.

She is also a former deputy Secretary-General of Caricom who knows the ins and outs of the Georgetown arrangements.

There is much work to be done. Caricom’s “open regionalism” as a way of engaging the rest of the world is up for frank review. Existing institutions need to be evaluated and rationalised.

There are those out there foolish enough to believe that any of us can set sail on our own or cleave to perceived opportunities not borne out of our own realities. There are others who believe we can make a future for ourselves and generations to come, right here. Dr Barnett has, as part of her unwritten terms of reference, the task of steering countries and people in such a direction.

Friday, 16 April 2021

Rebuilding Competitiveness in Trinidad and Tobago (Guest Contribution)

Dr Terrence Farrell

Economist/Former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of T&T

The Covid-19 pandemic will cause the demise of some businesses, especially in tourism, hospitality, and personal services.  Other businesses, notably traditional media (newspapers and television) and mobile telephone companies have been under severe pressure for some time due to technological change.  Guardian Media and OCM have seen profitability plunge.  TSTT and Digicel have had to lay off staff.  

These pandemic and technology-related effects apart, this country is witnessing what economists term ‘deindustrialization’, that is where there is more or less rapid attrition of firms in an industry due to loss of competitiveness.  Indeed, deindustrialization is a symptom of loss of competitiveness, whether in manufacturing, agriculture, or in the services sector.

While industrial development is achieved over time periods usually measured in decades, deindustrialization can unfold more quickly depending on how fast competitiveness is eroded and how fast firms recognize and respond to the loss of competitiveness.  Our national competitiveness has been eroding.  The Sugar industry became more uncompetitive into the 1970s and was kept on life support through subsidies for over 30 years after that.  In Manufacturing, it has been eroding anew over the last fifteen years or so.  In the Energy sector, as the era of cheap gas locally has ended, the loss of competitiveness has been of more recent vintage since the shale revolution in the USA.

What is happening now was presaged in the 1970s and early 1980s by the closure of several firms whose competitiveness had been built on import substitution behind protective quotas (Negative List) and tariffs.  Those firms failed to attain sufficient scale in regional or extra-regional markets, and either went out of business (e.g., Neal and Massy’s car assembly plant and the textile manufacturers), decamped elsewhere to get scale economies (e.g., Johnson and Johnson), or eliminated uneconomic product lines (e.g., Nestle and Unilever).  Some manufacturing firms in the Food and Beverage industry were able to survive and grow because they achieved strong market positions in local and regional markets.  

These include Bermudez (biscuits), S M Jaleel (soft drinks), and Associated Brands (chocolates and cereals).  These firms, as well as others with strong local demand, like Carib Breweries and Angostura in alcoholic beverages, and Langston Roach Industries in household cleaning products, benefited from the exchange rate adjustments in 1987 and again in 1993 which improved price competitiveness.  As economic growth and profitability improved in the 1990s, our financial institutions in banking and insurance began their expansion into regional markets, notably, CLICO, Guardian Holdings, Republic Bank, and First Citizens Bank.

We had a long period of improved competitiveness from the early 1990s.  However, we are now into another cycle of deindustrialization similar to the 1970s and early 1980s.  Employment in Manufacturing peaked in 2004 and has declined steadily since.  In Iron and Steel, Arcelor-Mittal departed overnight.  As cheap gas has disappeared, the older, less efficient ammonia plants have been forced to close.   Methanol and ammonia companies are shifting strategically to position their plants here as swing producers and are making any new investments in plants elsewhere where gas prices are lower, and end-markets are closer.  Unilever is basically halting manufacturing here and will become just a distributor.  Nestle’s manufacturing production has been scaled back significantly.  

Our locally-owned Food and Beverage manufacturers have also been making their new investments elsewhere, in Costa Rica (Bermudez), Jamaica (S M Jaleel and Bermudez) and Colombia (Associated Brands).  In financial services, the Canadian banks, Scotia, CIBC, and Royal, have been disinvesting or reshaping their business models as higher regulatory and compliance costs in these small markets with overvalued exchange rates and weak economies are making their businesses less competitive.

Is it possible to revive competitive industries, and how do we do so, beyond public relations visits to factories and pleas for ‘ease of doing business’?  The answer today is more complex than it was in the 1980s because competitiveness is determined by a combination of factors including price, location, technology, logistics, product uniqueness, and the ability to exploit networks in order to access markets.  Price and scale remain critically important and cannot be ignored, even where other factors may, in specific instances, mitigate their effects.  

Firms must learn to innovate, to create unique selling propositions, and to build potentially global brands. However small, they should have the ‘DNA of an elephant’.  Some must learn how to use platforms such as Amazon, Mercadolibre, or Alibaba to penetrate new markets.  They must be allowed, nay encouraged, to invest overseas, regionally, and extra-regionally.

We don’t need all of InvesTT, TTIFC, ETeck, Free Zones Company and ExporTT.   Tasked with implementing some form of the ‘Triple Helix’ belaboured unceasingly by Mary King, one properly resourced government agency must help firms access research and development resources, obtain funding for innovation, collaborate with universities, exploit diasporic and diplomatic networks, and navigate access to developed country markets in the face of what Paschal Lamy has termed their newer ‘precautionary’ barriers around product safety for consumers and environmental protection.

Deindustrialization flows from Dutch Disease and weak, reactive policy making, which combine to erode competitiveness.  Anesthetized by energy sector rents and government subsidies, we may hardly perceive what is unfolding around us.  But if we are to halt and reverse it, we must appreciate what it will take to rebuild competitiveness, and the risks and costs involved.  We need to be single-minded, not superficial, focused, not fickle.  We have a lot of work to do.


Wednesday, 14 April 2021

The lessons of history

April 14, 2021

Wesley Gibbings

Two months from now, with the advent of the annual hurricane season, the Caribbean region will come face to face with yet another challenge to its resolve to persist as a viable, sovereign geographical space.

We have latterly added to chronic socio-political dysfunctionality, extreme weather events, earthquakes and volcanoes, the unfolding reality of the climate crisis and now, another pandemic.

We’ve been down all these roads before. It is in the natural course of history that nations are tested from time to time to the limits of their endurance. In most instances they prevail. In others they collapse and disappear – if not from internecine disquiet, from the weight of exogenous destructive and predatory forces.

I have more than once attracted considerable vitriol for suggesting that a long review of history witnesses the disappearance of civilisations far greater than ours, and that there is no objective reason why we should be any less vulnerable or more privileged, particularly as small island states.

Following a public lecture on the future of Caribbean media at the Montego Bay Campus of UWI almost exactly five years ago, an angry university student from an OECS nation walked up to me with a telling-off.

I had wondered aloud during my presentation how, given small space and woefully finite natural resources, his country continued to exist as a sovereign state attempting to make it into the future alone – even frequently denying the value of an integrated regional space.

Then, more recently, one T&T journalist was inclined to reference the “tiny island” state of St Vincent and the Grenadines – blissfully unmindful of the context of our own small size and vulnerabilities. I suppose this means we are a “big” island. Steups.

Here we go again, I told one colleague, the “small island” talk that occupies permanent, obsessive space in the minds of ethno-centric commentators, some of whom have emerged in recent days regurgitating the political myth of imported votes 65 years ago.

Meanwhile, not far from our own small island state, the Mayans once thrived throughout the Yucatán Peninsula. When the pandemic storm ends, travel and see for yourself what remains of their legacy. There are other examples. Look them up. Pre-Columbian Tainos. Indus civilisation. The Khmer Empire.

I have also visited the Pacific region more than once. You can look down from your aircraft and see the disappearing atolls. In Tebunginako, Kiribati, the village church stands in the ocean when the tide comes in. Tuvalu - with a vote equal to ours, the United States, Russia, and China individually – is known as a disappearing island.

I have noted to the consternation of many that, in some instances, the continued existence of some of our regional constituents as states flying independence flags challenges several historical norms – whatever the state of self-delusion. That many of our economies defy the meaning of the texts.

Venezuela once thrived as a modern metropolis next door. We visited frequently for tourism, shopping, and the camaraderie of neighbours. Today, it stands testimony to the ravages of political depravity.

There is very little to suggest our own immunity. The quality of the current responses to adjoining tragedies do little to engender optimism that a wholesome approach by all elements is adopted to prepare for challenges beyond immediate pandemic and economic woes.

Desperate Venezuelans fleeing political and economic disaster are “de Venes”. The government is advised “not to bring the Vinceys here.” There were convulsions when Dominicans were invited to rest their weary heads here following Hurricane Maria in 2019. I shall not be apologetic about insisting that all of this has emerged mainly from the same quarters.

Such is the work of vandals, unmindful of our own susceptibilities and many with one foot planted outside home terrain, who applaud each pandemic misstep and have led the way with everything from early COVID denial to current vaccination hesitancy.  

None of this suggests meek compliance with authority or silence on breaches of rights, proper political behaviour, or plain common sense.

But what we have been witnessing reeks of a sense of invulnerability and privilege. Two weeks ago, someone was declaring the demise of Caricom. Today, an empathetic regional response can make the difference between life and death. Just saying.

 

 

Wednesday, 31 March 2021

CARICOM'S COVID CO-MORBIDITIES

March 31, 2021

Nothing like a pandemic to expose brittle institutions, shatter developmental delusion, and test the mettle of leadership at all levels.

We’ve been here before. But not as independent states attempting to make our own way in the world, employing our own structures of governance.

Prof. David Killingray’s 1994 paper on The Influenza Pandemic of 1918-1919 in the British Caribbean captures the nature and scale of the tragedy – 100,000 dead between October 1918 and March 1919.

Despite relatively centralised colonial rule at the top, the collective regional response was disparate and reliant on territorial peculiarities and preferences. Unilateralism prevailed. Uneven application of measures was the norm.

So, as a region we have a history of this sort of thing. The integration movement – even when directed by the colonials – was an attempt to address fragmented approaches to both issues of life and death and broader developmental aspirations, while recognising self-interest and individual will.

There is a lot more between this introduction and the conclusions I offer here, but that’s for the academics. This is a newspaper column.

So, we as a region have always been challenged by the fact that we do not represent a political or socio-cultural monolith. Successive reviews of the integration project have noted the anomalies. Much more than now dated recognition of MDCs and LDCs, developed and under-developed sectors, have been important socio-cultural dynamics.

Come now to a collective response to a pandemic, and there are lessons of 1918-1919 to be learned. As national governments, CARPHA, the Caricom Secretariat and other institutions realised early that coordinated COVID-19 management is no simple task. The “Caricom Bubble” never materialised, for example. The Gavi Vaccine Alliance, which informed the COVAX process, determined a hierarchy.

Not entirely unrelated to all this, are the co-morbidities of existing institutions that are expected to take us through a challenging, if not epochal period.

That said, I for one, consider news of Caricom’s passing to be wildly exaggerated – even coming from a politician of sturdy pedigree. It is unbelievable hyperbole to consider the OAS fiasco over Venezuela a matter of terminal significance.

Mr (not Dr) Gonsalves must have paid insufficient attention to Dr Gonsalves’ vast compendium of grandiloquent accolades supportive of a “maturation process of … Caribbean Civilisation.” It would however be tragically ironic if such a conclusion emerged from pandemic home schooling.

The fact is, Caricom was not found to be dead upon the arrival of the pandemic. Neither has it been lifeless against the geo-political challenge of a failed neighbouring state. It is in the nature of this business to disagree, and sometimes to even not wish each other well.

The EU assembles a group comprising people who once killed one another. The AU is hardly a pillar of internal peace. These arrangements all leave space for infidelity, separation, and even divorce. The Bahamas, Haiti and Jamaica know that very well.

All of this, though, is not to diminish Caricom’s pre-existing institutional ailments. I have contended, to the chagrin of some, that the Caricom Secretariat needs to substantially up its game. The transition in August to a new Secretary General provides an opportunity to begin the process. The required credentials, as I have said before, exceed bureaucratic competencies. Some potential contestants have emerged. I believe there is room for more aspirants.

There are also issues associated with two other key institutions – UWI and CWI. Now, don’t get me wrong. I still think that within the context of Caricom of 2021, these are two peripheral areas of regional engagement. More so, cricket, than the university. But they are important to us in most Caricom states.

It cannot be of comfort to anyone that the imbroglio over tidying things at UWI is now a hotbed of high-level gossip, rumour, and ad hominem attack. Lost in the debate is the fact that so many things about this institution are in desperate need of repair. I, for one, am paying absolutely no attention to platitude or fancy talk. Neither, I am certain, are most students, administrative staff, and faculty.

Look now at CWI – as I have said before, of virtually no significance to at least four of Caricom’s 15 member states, and of rapidly declining importance to people who never saw Clive Lloyd bat. Same thing.

In these pandemic times, co-morbidities matter. The institutions for joint action are not all healthy. But death is not an option.


Natural Caribbean Unity and Haiti

Entering the Haitian discourse at this time is fraught with perils of all kinds. For starters, the subject is emotionally and ideologically ...