Dr Lennox Honychurch (left) and Dr Ralph Gonsalves
By Ken Richards
BASSETERRE, St Kitts (WINN) -- A period of consolidation and progress, that’s how St Vincent and the Grenadines prime minister, Dr Ralph Gonsalves, describes his six-month stint as chairman of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) from January to June.
“Consolidation on a range of matters related to the CARICOM central purposes… functional cooperation, coordination of foreign policy, economic integration, and initiatives regarding coordinating and strengthening security. I think in each of the areas we have seen the consolidation and progress,” Gonsalves told WINN FM’s the Bigger Picture.
“If you take the economic integration area, we have noted that the matters like the right of establishment for businesses from one place to another, they’re well-established, and people don’t really question them anymore… we didn’t really have any challenges with that during this period,” he said.
In relation to freedom of movement, Gonsalves said that the Shanique Myrie case has “assisted immensely”.
“They’re still challenges, but governments now know, and regional citizens do know that they can be held to account by the CCJ in its original… jurisdiction. Occasionally you’ll find hiccups but I think the governments have fallen in line with the decisions, some more so than others, some moving faster than others,” he explained.
Heads of government at their Antigua summit made reference to a new strategic plan. However, historian Dr Lennox Honychurch does not expect that to do much for the region’s integration process.
He is not optimistic that CARICOM can move forward in terms of integration.
“This has been going on for years, and as Prime Minister Kenny Anthony of St Lucia himself [pointed out]… every time they have a heads of government meeting the same things are regurgitated,” Honychurch said.
“They are important things that CARICOM… has done, in terms of… united passports and aspects related maybe to trade, but it really doesn’t impact very heavily, and what is happening in the Eastern Caribbean, the leaders of the Eastern Caribbean within the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States are moving together far more efficiently and effectively than CARICOM is," he said.
According to Honychurch, the regional grouping should have achieved a lot more by now.
“It’s a huge bureaucracy lodged down there in Guyana, and I don’t think that’s its links with the territories apart from these heads of government meetings, are really very impactful or strong… and in the decades that it has existed, you would expect more should be done, more should have been done,” he said.
Republished with permission of West Indies News Network