Mark Golding, Leader of Opposition & PNP President calls for progressive leadership to advance Caribbean regional integration
Ambassador Curtis A. Ward
“We cannot stand still. We must take action to achieve the benefits of regional integration. We must move forward with confidence, commitment, and abundant energy. Standing united and acting together, we in the Caribbean can fulfil the promise of a brighter future for all our peoples.” — Hon. Mark Golding, M.P.
(02 August 2022) — In a wide-ranging speech at a forum organized and hosted by the Caribbean Research & Policy Center, the Hon. Mark Golding, M.P., Leader of Opposition in the Jamaican parliament and President of the People’s National Party, explained the imperatives for the future of Caribbean regional integration. Speaking in his dual capacity, Mr. Golding reminded the Caribbean diaspora audience of support of regional integration by former leaders of his political Party. Mr. Golding placed himself in that tradition of regionalist leadership in advancing Caribbean regional integration. Mr. Golding noted a deficit in progressive leadership of the regional integration movement and pledged to reinstate Jamaica’s traditional leadership role under a future PNP government.
Speaking to an audience comprised predominantly of Jamaican diaspora leaders and community members, but also including other members of the Caribbean diaspora, in the Washington DC, Maryland, and Virginia (DMV) area, Mr. Golding assured the gathering, that under a future PNP government, efforts at regional integration would gain momentum. Many in the diaspora and the region have expressed concerns at the slow pace of regional integration and have questioned whether current Caribbean leaders have the political will to implement decisions made to further the integration movement. Mr. Golding’s assurance of his own commitment to regional integration was a welcome message.
As the Hon. Lisa Hanna, M.P., a member of the Jamaican parliament and Opposition spokesperson on Foreign Affairs & Foreign Trade, and Diaspora Affairs, in introducing Mr. Golding at the forum at the Hilton Doubletree Hotel in Silver Spring, Maryland in the Washington DC suburbs, said, Mr. Golding has the gravitas to lead.”
She also pointed out that the PNP is a political party which believes in regionalism and multilateralism, and gave examples of the Party’s leadership on difficult geopolitical issues by former PNP leaders. She cited as example Jamaica’s National Hero, Norman Washington Manley, the PNP’s founding leader and president, and Premier of Jamaica, who led the world in ending trade with apartheid South Africa even before Jamaica achieved independence. She also noted the brave steps taken by PNP governments in establishing and maintaining relations with China, Cuba, and Venezuela at very difficult times in global affairs.
Ambassador Curtis Ward, chairman of the Caribbean Research & Policy Center (CRPC), in welcoming members of the Caribbean diaspora to the forum and dinner which followed, thanked them for supporting this important initiative on Caribbean regional integration, noted their interest in regional affairs, and urged the gathering to support future CRPC programs.
Mr. Golding in addressing the Caribbean Diaspora directly urged them to play a role in the integration movement, and he commended the CRPC for organizing the forum. He reminded the audience of the fundamental rationale for Caribbean integration, saying, “In the Caribbean, our collective history of colonization and conquest, our individual histories of decolonization, and the development of a dynamic, vibrant Caribbean existence, constitute the foundation of our shared regional identity and provide the psychological impetus for regional integration.”
Importance of unity and collective action
“Acting collectively, we can significantly reduce these deficits, creating the conditions to build our capacity to compete effectively in world trade in goods and services.”
Throughout his speech, Mr. Golding repeatedly emphasized the importance of a united Caribbean region acting collectively.
In further support of the regional movement, Mr. Golding cited former Jamaican Prime Minister the Most Hon. P. J. Patterson, also a former President of the PNP, who aptly described the uniqueness of the Caribbean and its people. In Mr. Patterson’s words, “We are a chain of islands and sub-continental landscapes woven into a quilt of shared geographic space, and endowed with a unique texture of a unique Caribbean blend fomented by our achievements and aspirations…”
Further, Mr. Golding said: “The logic of integration also operates on the practical level. Our grouping of small islands individually lacks the economies of scale and market size to encourage the levels of investment that can expand output, generate greater employment, and afford a better quality of life for our peoples. Acting collectively, we can significantly reduce these deficits, creating the conditions to build our capacity to compete effectively in world trade in goods and services.”
Mr. Golding added that “in terms of seeking support on the international stage for solutions to meet our many historical, structural and geographical challenges, while our individual voices are easily ignored, collectively we can punch above our weight and exert a level of influence that gives us a better chance of achieving a more level playing field in our quest for sustainable development.”
Drawing a parallel between the European integration movement and the integration movement in the Caribbean, Mr. Golding highlighted the progress of the European Union (EU) moving “from a Free Trade Agreement to a Common Market, to a Single Economy and very close to a Political Union.” According to Mr. Golding, “The EU has demonstrated the power and strength of collective organization and, despite various challenges, has shown to the world the strengths and benefits that flow from a commitment to unity and collective solutions.”
Mr. Golding said, “In contrast, the promise of Caribbean regional integration remains only that. While we have established several functional regional agencies, we still have a long way to go to achieve regional integration as envisioned by the founders of the integration movement and the subsequent leaders who have promoted this grand idea.”
Citing the effect of insularity and disunity among Caribbean leaders as an obstacle to the regional integration movement, Mr. Golding said, “We are yet to realize the potential of optimal regional integration. The institutional underpinnings of regional integration have been too often subordinated to the varying perceptions of self-interest of individual nations… Unfortunately, we have recently been experiencing a Caribbean which, sporadically but too frequently, manifests a lack of unity.”
Mr. Golding further noted, “There are various reasons for these episodes of disunity – some from within the region, borne of an unfortunate tendency to embrace an opportunistic and myopic form of individualistic politics, others from pressures or allurements from outside. These episodes are sometimes deliberate and sometimes inadvertent.”
Inclusive dialogue with Caribbean citizens in the region and Diaspora
Involving “all our people” also meant “effectively harnessing the expertise, talent, and resources of our Diaspora.”
Referencing the divisive 1961 referendum in Jamaica, which caused the collapse of the West Indies Federation, Mr. Golding said there was a need for a greater understanding across the region why unity among Caribbean states was necessary and beneficial. He emphasized the importance of the inclusiveness of Caribbean citizens, “both across the region and the Caribbean Diaspora, in an open and honest discussion about our Caribbean Community.” He said there was a mandate for us to “find participatory ways to involve all our people, their ideas, their talents and creativity, as we seek to advance our progress as a region.” He emphasized that involving “all our people” also meant “effectively harnessing the expertise, talent, and resources of our Diaspora.”
Mr. Golding identified some important benefits of regional integration of Caribbean people to include: Unrestricted travel of CARICOM citizens among all CARICOM member states; Free movement of labor for employment; Convenient and affordable movement of people and cargo throughout the region; Implementation of and accession to the CSME by all member states; Accession of all member states to the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) as our final court of appeal, giving our people greater access to justice than the Privy Council, a vestigial colonial court that sits in London.
Jamaica’s abdication of its leadership role and effect on regional integration
“… one of the biggest failures of the current administration in Jamaica is the extent to which well-established principles, which have long served the interests of Jamaica well in our international relations, have been subordinated to opportunistic, divisive pandering to external interests.”
In reference to the importance of Jamaica’s “major and often decisive role at the centre of Caribbean deliberations and decision-making,” and Jamaica as a leading force for cooperation within the region, which began with “the catalytic role” of PNP founding President the Rt. Excellent Norman Washington Manley in establishing the West Indies Federation in the 1950s, Mr. Golding expressed his belief in the importance of future Jamaican leadership in solving the region’s problems which he emphasized required collective action. He said, “the optimal pathway for achieving greater regional energy security, food security, stronger health care systems and the mobilization of finance to build climate resilience and mitigate the impact of climate change, is through our collective regional efforts in the Caribbean.”
Mr. Golding bemoaned the abandonment by the current Jamaican government of traditional core principles of Jamaica’s foreign policy and geopolitical engagements and the negative effects on regional unity and effective collective action to solve the region’s problems. He said, “one of the biggest failures of the current administration in Jamaica is the extent to which well-established principles, which have long served the interests of Jamaica well in our international relations, have been subordinated to opportunistic, divisive pandering to external interests.” He said, “These instances of willingness to depart from the principle of collective action in international affairs have created tensions within our region, at a time when greater cooperation and effective collective action are needed.”
Role of the Diaspora in Regional Integration
“CARICOM, as a maturing regional integration entity needs a mechanism to harness the support of our Caribbean people in the Diaspora.”
Returning to the importance of the Caribbean Diaspora as a catalyst for regional unity, Mr. Golding said, “CARICOM, as a maturing regional integration entity needs a mechanism to harness the support of our Caribbean people in the Diaspora.” He said the Caribbean need to facilitate the considerable goodwill and capacity of the Diaspora in support of Caribbean development. He identified closing the information gap between governments in the region and the Caribbean Diaspora as a critical area for effective diaspora engagement. Mr. Golding said Caribbean governments need to provide the Diaspora with channels of reliable information about what is happening in the region.
Mr. Golding also pointed to the failure of CARICOM to devise a formal methodology for tapping the overseas capital markets through making attractively packaged investment financing instruments available to the Caribbean Diaspora. He noted that capital flows from such engagement could be directed towards critical development needs in the region, including the modernizing and expanding of regional air and sea transport. He said such a development would provide a multiplier effect that would be significant to regional trade and economic development would be significant.
Jamaica’s Foreign Policy Overview
“Jamaica has stood for consistent adherence to progressive democratic principles in furtherance of the strategic interests of the developing world.”
Emphasizing the history of successive PNP governments in building Jamaica’s respected global reputation and using this goodwill to advance the region’s interests in international organizations and institutions, Mr. Golding credited “the bold statesmanship by consequential leaders like Michael Manley, PJ Patterson and Portia Simpson Miller.” He stressed that under the PNP leadership “Jamaica has stood for consistent adherence to progressive democratic principles in furtherance of the strategic interests of the developing world.” He said PNP governments “deal with other nations on the basis of sovereign equality and diplomatic common sense.” He said that under PNP leadership Jamaica successfully mediated encounters with the other nations of the world and pledged that under his future leadership, Jamaica will continue to do so.
Mr. Golding further emphasized that Jamaica has never reaped substantial benefits from genuflection to international superpowers and Jamaica and the region have made solid gains “when Jamaica has strengthened to pursuit of a common cause by providing leadership at the political, diplomatic and technical levels within CARICOM, the OAS, the UN, the Non-Aligned Movement and the Commonwealth,” which will again commence under his leadership.
He noted “the importance and immense value of Jamaica’s longstanding partnership with Washington, which is based on mutual respect and consistent adherence to the principles which have beneficially guided our friendly relations.” He said he was pleased that “there are far more instances where our interests coincide than there is divergence… and said Jamaica will continue to work collaboratively in furthering our common interests, based on our shared democratic ideals and our deep linkages.”
The Way Forward
Collectively the region can work to “effectively diversify our economies, create the enabling environment for our economies to strive, not just survive.”
Mr. Golding States endorsed the concept for those CARICOM members that wish to accelerate the process of regional integration process should proceed to do so, and that he is confident that the other countries will come along when they see the benefits being manifested. He said Jamaica must be up front and centre in leading this movement on the road to progress. He stressed the significance of the will of political leaders that is needed to make this happen. He called for collective deliberations at the political level to look at ways in which the region can address its challenges and opportunities. To that end, Mr. Golding highlighted the available natural and technical resources – land, energy, logistics, planning, and engineering, and labor – of respective countries in the region to attain food security, and for the governments of the region to work collectively to find ways to monetize our assets for the benefit of the people of the region. Mr. Golding said collectively the region can work to “effectively diversify our economies, create the enabling environment for our economies to strive, not just survive.”
Mr. Golding called for collective action to achieve the benefits of regional integration. He said Caribbean leaders “must move forward with confidence, commitment and abundant energy” and stand united and act together to “fulfill the promise of a brighter future for all our peoples.”
A video of the event is available on YouTube compliments of Larry Sindass and CaribNation TV at: https://youtu.be/2qevjjtw674
The full text of Mr. Golding’s speech is available on the CRPC website at: https://caribbeanresearchandpolicycenter.org/future-of-regional-integration-july-2022/
© Curtis A. Ward/The Ward Post