The movie “Born on the 4th July”, was a mega hit because it hit a raw nerve in America back in 1989. It tells the story of a young man, born on the 4th July – the same as the US Republic, of course – who volunteers like a good patriot fresh out of high school for the Marines to fight in the Vietnam War. His coming-of-age in that crucible of imperialistic overreach, opened his eyes to the horror of war and their disconnect from those who are in the trenches.
Caricom was also born on the 4th of July – and your Eyewitness knows that date wasn’t chosen through mere coincidence. Those WI leaders who decided to move beyond the opening gambit of CARIFTA – the Caribbean Free Trade Association, also intended to form “a more perfect union” – as the American “founding fathers”. Just a decade before, the WI Federation has fallen asunder under the inbuilt disabilities inserted by the British – and even Arthur Lewis couldn’t put it together again.
But the leaders didn’t give up – first with CARIFTA and then Caricom. We were to be a COMMUNITY! Meaning WE West Indians were going to work together to make the dream of achieving developed country status a reality – starting on July 4, 1973. In 1989, when the movie hit the screens, Guyana had hit rock bottom – the then PNC Government had to go to the IMF on bended knees to bail us out. On that option, Burnham presciently had said “Over my dead body!!”
But we had to swallow their bitter (poisonous?) medicine – we were vying with Haiti for the “lowest on the totem pole” award! So, you’d think we’d be one of the most vociferous supporter of Caricom – if for nothing else than “there’s strength in numbers” and all that, no? And we were! WE stretched ourselves above and beyond to make our contributions – even housing the Secretariat here. But what did we get? Free movement of citizens? How about that “Guyanese bench” at Barbados airport? Investment in our agricultural land? How about cutting their nose to spite their face by dropping “The Jagdeo Initiative”?? etc…etc…
So there comes a time, when – like that veteran in the movie – we have to look at this whole Caricom venture a bit more dispassionately and see what it’s doing to us. Now that we’ve struck oil, we can expect everyone and their uncle in Caricom to vie to become our “besties”. Nothing wrong with that – but we have to evaluate who allowed us to have some dignity in the bad old days.
And who kicked us into the dirt!
We’ve frequently had occasion to mourn, like the character from Dickens, that surely the law isn’t an “ass” for taking some ridiculous stand or another. Like jailing a fella for simply having raw materials for a decent spliff in his possession! But it looks like there are folks in our society who’re determined to ensure the identity of “assishness” and the law.
Take the fellows at SOCU. They’ve already made asses of themselves for filing a charge against ex-AG Anil Nandlall for 14 Law Reports costing the grand sum of US$2500 – when it was clear they had no case – and in any case, had already spent 10 times the US$2500!! But now comes the quintessence of SOCU’s “assishness”.
They filed request for a “search warrant” for the law reports to a Magistrate. But when Nandlall pointed out the High Court had already issued a prohibition against seizing the “Commonwealth Law Reports” they claimed they were actually looking for ‘Law Reports of the Commonwealth’!! Can you believe that?
Is this a comedy routine or what??
Your Eyewitness has to concur with that letter writer who claims the NGSA simply reinforces class distinctions, since it assumes at least a middle class background.
But, he has to ask…”What’s the solution?”