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Caribbean Integration Essay

I read with great interest a March 4, 2012 article in the Jamaica Gleaner by former Assistant Secretary General of the CARICOM Secretariat, where he argues that poor leadership – political, institutional, and business – has failed the Caribbean integration process. In a recent Facebook discussion I was engaged in, a learned colleague questioned the relevance of regionalism.

That regionalism is now being put up to question is not only troubling, but also speaks to low-level institutional push behind the integration movement, and perhaps sadly a psychological retreat from it among Caribbean peoples. This is most manifest in the clear slowing of the once accelerated momentum to make the Caribbean single market and economy a reality. Only 15 Caribbean countries are full members of CARICOM, while the five British overseas territories – Anguilla, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Turks and Caicos Islands and the Cayman Islands maintain associate status. CARICOM must be expanded for it to remain viable. We cannot underestimate the importance of ‘scale’ in this new global community where trade and development are driven via regional political blocs. Although there are some individual examples of strong economies within the Caribbean, these governments would be foolish to believe that, on their own, they will hold weight among giant economies trade.

The example of Europe is a good one. Although these nations have fought many wars with each other historically, they recognised that in order to survive in the new world order, against the new dispensation (competition India, China, USA etc). they must band together. No European country, by itself, has the scale to compete, so they have to come together to compete. The European Union, despite its recent setback, remains a strong and viable institution. Europe knows it cannot go forward without it. They negotiate as one bloc – adopt free movement of goods and services, of capital. Economically and politically, they form bloc; they negotiate in any forum, any trade deal as one bloc, so that they can acquire the resources to look after their people. Caribbean Integration

The Caribbean Community has a membership of some 15 countries. Yet we want as 15 small island nations to compete against USA, China, Europe. This is an impossibility. Caribbean countries do not have the scale and have serious economic problems. Many investors talking about even larger African countries confess that there is no value in building a large company in a small country. Operating from a small country is more costly so the production is itself is too expensive to sustain. Economic integration is a must. We need to accelerate the Caribbean Single Market & Economy – free movement of people goods, services and labour across borders. We need to work on that; we need to get over the xenophobia, fear of the ‘other’ that amazingly exists among Caribbean nationals; the archaic notion that says without one there is naught; the notion that the others will rape the resources of the economically buoyant.

We need to work together in order to prosper. We need to build our individual infrastructures across the Caribbean region. We also must chart efficient flight routes connecting each other. Eleven hours to get to Trinidad from Jamaica is not going to cut it. That it is cheaper to get to Miami than to a Caribbean neighbour is, in my view, problematic. We need to generate power and then share it. It is important that we make it easier for our peoples to connect physically and even virtually. We have now to use the creative technologies via new media and ICTs now available to drive a virtual integration movement so that our people can get used to the idea of working and building the Caribbean together. Share Resources

We should give priority to cross-country projects; Give priority to cross border interests. When we have shared economic interests, it will reduce the kind of spats that the Chris Gayle incident generated among Caribbean governments and people. People with mutual economic interests do not have an interest in fighting. We need to find a way to create prosperity not just one nation for itself but for all nations in the Caribbean community. We have regional organisations; robust intellectual and human resource; some great ideas but we are weak on executing these ideas. Leadership

Bureaucrats and political leaders can sometimes prove to be real impediments to development. Yet, to speed up this process of integration, we require visionary leadership. Former Jamaican Prime Minister PJ Patterson and St Lucia’s PM, Kenny Anthony seem to be the two voices in the dark calling for a commitment to the regional integration movement. To move this idea forward requires seismic political shifts in thinking and action. As Anthony remarked recently ‘“regional integration like every other idea begins in the mind and will flourish as long as there is manifest commitment to its achievement”.

He however maintains that notwithstanding the role of the political directorate such commitment cannot reside only at a political level alone. Industry, labour, professional associations, faith based and community organisations – in other words, civil society – also have leadership roles to play. I concur with Anthony that integration cannot be the sole responsibility of governments. Yet the psychological and physiological renaissance required to make it happen must now start at the political level. The people already responded favourably to it through education, culture and sport; but an enabling political environment must exist to give the people sense of ownership of regionalism a place in which to anchor.

I read with great interest a March 4, 2012 article in the Jamaica Gleaner by former Assistant Secretary General of the CARICOM Secretariat, where he argues that poor leadership – political, institutional, and business – has failed the Caribbean integration process. In a recent Facebook discussion I was engaged in, a learned colleague questioned the relevance of regionalism. That regionalism is now being put up to question is not only troubling, but also speaks to low-level institutional push behind the integration movement, and perhaps sadly a psychological retreat from it among Caribbean peoples.

This is most manifest in the clear slowing of the once accelerated momentum to make the Caribbean single market and economy a reality. Only 15 Caribbean countries are full members of CARICOM, while the five British overseas territories – Anguilla, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Turks and Caicos Islands and the Cayman Islands maintain associate status. CARICOM must be expanded for it to remain viable. We cannot underestimate the importance of ‘scale’ in this new global community where trade and development are driven via regional political blocs. Although there are some individual examples of strong economies within the Caribbean, these governments would be foolish to believe that, on their own, they will hold weight among giant economies trade.

The example of Europe is a good one. Although these nations have fought many wars with each other historically, they recognised that in order to survive in the new world order, against the new dispensation (competition India, China, USA etc). they must band together. No European country, by itself, has the scale to compete, so they have to come together to compete. The European Union, despite its recent setback, remains a strong and viable institution. Europe knows it cannot go forward without it. They negotiate as one bloc – adopt free movement of goods and services, of capital. Economically and politically, they form bloc; they negotiate in any forum, any trade deal as one bloc, so that they can acquire the resources to look after their people. Caribbean Integration

The Caribbean Community has a membership of some 15 countries. Yet we want as 15 small island nations to compete against USA, China, Europe. This is an impossibility. Caribbean countries do not have the scale and have serious economic problems. Many investors talking about even larger African countries confess that there is no value in building a large company in a small country.

Operating from a small country is more costly so the production is itself is too expensive to sustain. Economic integration is a must. We need to accelerate the Caribbean Single Market & Economy – free movement of people goods, services and labour across borders. We need to work on that; we need to get over the xenophobia, fear of the ‘other’ that amazingly exists among Caribbean nationals; the archaic notion that says without one there is naught; the notion that the others will rape the resources of the economically buoyant. We need to work together in order to prosper. We need to build our individual infrastructures across the Caribbean region. We also must chart efficient flight routes connecting each other.

Eleven hours to get to Trinidad from Jamaica is not going to cut it. That it is cheaper to get to Miami than to a Caribbean neighbour is, in my view, problematic. We need to generate power and then share it. It is important that we make it easier for our peoples to connect physically and even virtually. We have now to use the creative technologies via new media and ICTs now available to drive a virtual integration movement so that our people can get used to the idea of working and building the Caribbean together. Share Resources

We should give priority to cross-country projects; Give priority to cross border interests. When we have shared economic interests, it will reduce the kind of spats that the Chris Gayle incident generated among Caribbean governments and people. People with mutual economic interests do not have an interest in fighting. We need to find a way to create prosperity not just one nation for itself but for all nations in the Caribbean community. We have regional organisations; robust intellectual and human resource; some great ideas but we are weak on executing these ideas. Leadership

Bureaucrats and political leaders can sometimes prove to be real impediments to development. Yet, to speed up this process of integration, we require visionary leadership. Former Jamaican Prime Minister PJ Patterson and St Lucia’s PM, Kenny Anthony seem to be the two voices in the dark calling for a commitment to the regional integration movement. To move this idea forward requires seismic political shifts in thinking and action. As Anthony remarked recently ‘“regional integration like every other idea begins in the mind and will flourish as long as there is manifest commitment to its achievement”.

He however maintains that notwithstanding the role of the political directorate such commitment cannot reside only at a political level alone. Industry, labour, professional associations, faith based and community organisations – in other words, civil society – also have leadership roles to play. I concur with Anthony that integration cannot be the sole responsibility of governments. Yet the psychological and physiological renaissance required to make it happen must now start at the political level. The people already responded favourably to it through education, culture and sport; but an enabling political environment must exist to give the people sense of ownership of regionalism a place in which to anchor.

Author, Broadcast journalist, Professor and Political Analyst, Dr Hume Nicola Johnson is ranked among the leading communication specialists in Jamaica. With over 15 years of professional experience in television & radio broadcasting, public relations and strategic political communication, paired with poise, strong public speaking skills and a sharp political instinct, Dr Johnson is am emerging powerhouse in the Caribbean political and socio-cultural arena.

Her expertise in political communication and active engagement in the Jamaican public sector and creative industries sector won her top-notch clients including high-level Government officials, entertainers and business executives. For example, Dr Johnson served as a specialist Speech writer within the Ministry of National Security; researcher with former State Minister for Foreign Affairs & Trade, Delano Franklyn, political advisor with parliamentarians and media consultant with political parties.

She also served as an executive member of the Youth Advisory Council with former Prime Minister of Jamaica, Most Hon. PJ Patterson. Her outstanding work, in building the image and brands of iconic Jamaican entertainers Tony Rebel (and reggae festival Rebel Salute), Queen Ifrica and Lymie Murray is also well regarded. Nowadays, Hume manages a global academic career extending from her native Jamaica to Australia, New Zealand and the United States. Currently, she is Professor of Public Relations and Media Communications at Roger Williams University, Rhode Island, United States. Previously Dr Johnson lectured in the Broadcast curriculum (radio and television) at James Cook University, Queensland Australia.

She is also an Honorary Associate of the Department of Politics and Public Policy at the University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Dr Johnson holds a PhD in Political Science & Public Policy from the University of Waikato, New Zealand. An astute political thinker, she writes extensively on governance and civil society in Jamaica. She is the author of ‘Challenges to Civil Society: Protest and Governance in Jamaica’ (Cambria Press, 2011); co-author of ‘Jamaican Dons, Italian Mafias and the chances of a reversible destiny’ (Political Studies, Vol. 56, March 2008);

‘Performing Protest in Jamaica: The Mass Media as Stage’ (International Journal of Media and Cultural Politics, Vol 2, no. 4, 2008) and “Ode to Quasheba: Resistance Rituals of Higgler Women in Jamaica” (On the Edges of Development: Cultural Interventions, New York: Routledge, 2009). Dr Johnson is also a regular political commentator and analyst with The Jamaica Gleaner and various broadcast media radio. She comments on politics and governance, including civic, social and cultural issues.

Dr Johnson offers Executive Training and consultancy services in Strategic Communications including – Radio and TV Broadcasting, Public Speaking, Public Relations Techniques and Crisis Communications. Her ‘Step Up to the Microphone’ series is a workshop designed to train working professionals in public speaking. The training components include The Art of Conversation, Building Your Personal and Professional Brand, Understanding the Media; Speech writing and How to handle Media Interviews. She is available for speaking engagements on Political and Social Affairs (civil society, governance); Crisis Communication; Leadership; Image & Reputation Management, as well as Nation Branding.

Sports Conference, Salzburg, AUSTRIANovember 7th, 2012
sport has also become part of the Jamaican national identity – how the nation sees and positions itself in the world – in short, its brand identity. Sadly, Jamaica is also renowned for having one of the highest murder rates in the world, perceived to be fiercely homophobic, boasts chronically unsatisfactory levels of corruption, violence and unemployment, as well as clannish party politics, which divide rather than unite the nation.

Can sport be the great ‘leveler’ and ‘stabiliser’ in a society so fraught with social problems? In this essay, I use Simon Anholt’s concept of ‘nation brand’ to explore Jamaica’s extraordinary sporting accomplishments, and ask whether this can help to bolster and advance Jamaica’s brand image and standing on the world stage, as well as stir well-needed national unity, build social capital and lead to social transformation at home. Challenges to Civil Society: Protest and Governance in Jamaica

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