My hope for 2018

In this final issue for the year I wish to thank readers of the Caribbean Camera for their continued support and wish you all a Happy Christmas and a healthy, successful and prosperous New Year.   I also want to thank you for your comments on the articles I have authored and hope you continue to be critical or supportive when necessary.

After reading a number of Caribbean newspapers, I have decided to address a few issues that are dominating the Caribbean news and that are negatively impacting on Caribbean economies, politics and culture.

Whenever I open the papers I am surprised by the number of murders that are being committed all over the Caribbean.  Most homicides involve poor people victimizing other poor people, notable within the illicit drug trade.  According to the latest available data, the murder rate was about the same in the United States and the Caribbean.  My hope is that Caribbean governments address the extreme poverty in the Caribbean.  Poverty drives poor people to the drug trade because it is lucrative and does not require qualifications or experience to participate.

Caribbean governments need to review NAFTA.  NAFTA eliminated much of the relative trade advantage that the CBI countries had enjoyed over Mexico since 1984, and gave Mexico a distinct advantage in apparel production, which was a dominant export sector for many of the Caribbean countries.  In addition, trade preferences gave market access to selected developing country goods, duty free or at tariffs below normal rates, without requiring reciprocal trade concessions. And their extension was conditioned on extensive eligibility criteria and the use of U.S. inputs. Also, multilateral trade liberalization and other regional U.S. preference programs have been limiting export promotion and deterring product diversification in these very small developing countries.  In effect, Caribbean independent states have become less viable under this agreement.

We need to seriously consider a Caribbean Energy Consortium.  In one of my articles I discussed the need for the Caribbean to develop its natural economic endowments: sun, wind, hydro and geothermal power.   The electricity prices in the Caribbean are extremely high, with an average of US$0.34 per kWh and as high as US$0.50 per kWh, which is nearly four times the price paid in the U.S.

We can achieve substantial reductions in the cost of energy, which helps the households in those islands, particularly those in lower income brackets. The reduction in cost will help the tourism industry by reducing energy costs to hotels and resorts, which pay a large portion of their operating costs for electricity for air conditioning and ice production.   Very important, the cost of renewable energy technology has been declining dramatically while the efficiency of the technology has been increasing steadily. This is especially true for solar and wind energy.  We need to combine our financial and educational resources in order to capitalize on these energy sources for our own economic progress.  Allowing foreigners to develop and own these resources and means of production, while we remain mere consumers does not promote our economic independence.  Energy must be defined as our National Security, and we must do whatever it takes to ensure our National Security.

My hope is that Caribbean Countries form some type of legal union that would enable us to become a sovereign nation.  As mentioned in my last article our independent non-viable independent states are retarding our progress.  The peoples of the Caribbean need to actively get involved in the politics.  Politics is about how the economic pie is divided.  Politics determine who gets what, when, why and how the economic resources are distributed.  If you, the people, are not satisfied with the current political dispensation, create a new dispensation or force the establishment to deal with your concerns by any means necessary.

I wish that you read a book each month, and demand that your governments include Caribbean authors in the school curriculum.  The following books, at a minimum, should be included in every high school curriculum: Capitalism and Slavery by Eric Williams; How Europe Underdeveloped Africa by Walter Rodney; Black Jacobins by CLR James; and The Destruction of Black Civilization; by Chancellor Williams.  These texts should be in every school and home in the Caribbean in order that our youths may understand the past and chart a course for the future.

The old saying: “If you do not know your history you are doomed to repeat it” Is critical at this juncture in our history.  Our History has been one of slavery.   Our current path is leading us to a new type of slavery: no beatings, no slave ships no visible Massa.  The IMF, WTO and other international institutions have replaced these ships and now use Structural Adjustments, Privatization and other economic vehicles to achieve the same results.  Let us educate our children concerning their past so that they do not repeat it.  Caribbean, and other black authors, books, periodicals, poetry. etc. must be made part of the Caribbean school curriculum.

Recent passage of the tax bill in the US must become a part of your analysis.  The Trump administration is remaking the justice system, rewriting environmental rules, overhauling public-lands administration, and greenlighting major infrastructure projects. It is appointing persons who will guarantee the triumph of its ideological vision for decades to come.  This vision is anti labor union, anti environment, anti immigration particularly black and brown, etc.  Border crossings have already plummeted, because immigrants:Mexicans, Haitians and other Latin Americans recognize that they are not welcomed in the US.

Canada will now have to decide if it needs to close its borders or review its immigration policies in light of these changes in the US.  More important, you the black Caribbean immigrant must revaluate your position and reengineer how you make progress in this new dispensation.

You must begin or continue to set goals.  If you are an entrepreneur, employee or student, setting goals is critical to ensuring your future success. While setting these goals ensure that you prioritize and have a viable means of achieving them.  Most important, remember that family is critical and crucial so be sure to set aside time for the family and loved ones.

This is my hope for our Caribbean family in the Caribbean, Canada and wherever you may call home.  All the best to you, your family, and loved ones for the New Year.