Time to step out of the shadows

This year, 2014, we should lay the responsibility on the doorstep of every Caribbean leader of government who continues to fiddle around, seek safe haven, and or practice business as usual within the traditionally safe shadows cast over our countries by western democracies.

We must articulate forcefully our desire that the Caribbean heads of Government demonstrate the requisite ‘chutzpah’ to step out into the sunlight, to fully embrace and avail our countries of all of the opportunities that new and emerging nations offer; advantages that can help us to realize the required growth and development that our region, and our individual countries in particular require so desperately.

It is time for every Caribbean country to join the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) that was inaugurated in 2001. No more excuses should be entertained. We need to stop moaning and groaning about the apparent expenses associated with holding referendums, as may be required by law in some of the territories, or the perceived fear of political interference in the court’s administration of justice.

Lord Phillips, the president of the UK’s new supreme court has virtually given us notice, by intimating that the time that the Privy Council is forced to spend on Commonwealth countries cases is disproportionate, and that former colonies should in fact set up their own appeals court. So what are we waiting for?

The time is ripe too for regional countries to join ALBA, and Grenada has wisely applied for membership. Admirably, most of our more pragmatic neighbours have awoken from their political stupors and have joined ALBA, in order to position their countries to reap the benefits of an association with that grouping.

As to the thinking of the critics against an ALBA association, and the brakes holders towards the CCJ eventuality? Generally the same people.

It always amazes me that the harbingers of doom who fear that joining ALBA would somehow prompt the US Congress to direct their President to declare war on Grenada, continue to blithely take for granted the ongoing economic life line that has been extended to us by Venezuela. This umbilical cord comes in the form of the benefits that we derive from the Petro Caribe arrangements for Grenada and other islands, without which, at this point in time, we would have been sucking salt, petroleum imports wise.

Look at the large petroleum tank the Venezuelans constructed at Queen’s Park! And the number of cultural, housing, and other projects we continue to receive gratis from that same Government that is in power in Caracas today!

Of course I expect that the naysayers would be quite alarmed, agitated, and motivated at this time, warning us to observe the present unrest in Venezuela!

As far as I am aware, there are two opposing groups of people demonstrating in Venezuela. One group supports the elected government, and the other opposes them. They both have their arguments, and the outcome is an internal matter that should be worked out by the Venezuelan people themselves, as long as no one group slaughters the other side as a means of resolving their differences.

We hope that the people of Venezuela could find a solution, shortly, towards settling their problems without more blood being shed.

I must point out that if and when the right wing opposition elements in Venezuela assume power, whether by the ballot box or otherwise, it would be an ominous game changer that would sound the death knell of the Petro Caribe arrangement that most of our region benefits so greatly from.

Unrest is widespread in a number of countries in the world at any given time. But unrest is a sign of the times, a factor of the struggle people engage in to foster change and bring about a hopeful improvement of their livelihoods. It is a reality we have to come to grips with, and try to MANAGE as best as we could!

But people have to live. So here at home in Grenada we must set aside, once and for all, the irrelevant and dated ideological attitude some espouse, of fighting contrived leftists bogeymen that are supposedly hiding under everyone’s beds.

We have to come to grips with and fully comprehend that the times are evolving, and that there are new and exciting alliances out there to be forged between emerging nations of the world.

Dr. Mitchell, congratulations. As a citizen, I am fully supportive of your playing of the ALBA card. Now please, Sir, ramp up your administration’s efforts towards taking us to where we belong, under the umbrella of the CCJ.

Independence: We boast about being proud of forty years of independence, yet we seem to be incapable of letting go of the shirt tails of our former masters. What does it say about us as a people, that after 40 years of self governance, we are still finding excuses to retain the Privy Council as our final court of appeal.

Would it require a period of 80 years, post 1974, for us to grow up and become sufficiently self reliant and confident in our capabilities as a nation, to enable us to stand on our own feet?

Let us get real. The Queens representative’s residence (the Governor General’s house) has been lying in abject ruin for 10 years, since it was destroyed by hurricane Ivan. Today, a decade later, we still find ourselves running around the mulberry bush caught up in the vagaries of a donor negotiations frenzy that we deem necessary for raising monies to rebuild that structure.

Similar circumstances apply to the building of the new Parliament. This effort has been dependent entirely on promises of financial assistance made to the former (NDC) administration by the governments of Australia and the United Arab Emirates. Am I missing something here?

Has either Australia or the United Arab Emirates ever played a meaningful role in our history? Have any of these nations ever profited, governed, administered or maintained resident representatives in Grenada?

But Grenada is a blessed country. Whilst we continue to wage a never ending civil war of political attrition between the Green and Yellow camps; a senseless conflict that expends most of our energies fighting with OURSELVES, instead of uniting and coming together for the common good of our country’s development, all is not lost.

Because Internationally recognised periodicals like National Geographic and others, continue to promote Grenada as one of the listed destinations to visit in the WORLD, and individuals like our son of the soil, Kirani James, are still able to engender moments of pride for our nation’s people by flying our flag high, thereby bringing us glory and invaluable recognition on the world’s stage.

The recent opening of a Sandals property here should improve both our marketing and airlift potential, and our main export crops nutmeg and cocoa seem to be at last on a path to recovery after the devastation of hurricane Ivan.

I believe that the formula for Grenada going forward is a simple one. And this is really all that we can do. Every government administration that is formed by the candidates who win parliamentary seats in a free and fair election, should be supported by the entire populace, and given all of the encouragement necessary for them to carry out the job that they ask us to entrust them to perform.

When those administrations tenures are up, we examine their performances. If we are not satisfied with their stewardship in office, then, just as we exercised the democratic right to vote them in, we should exercise the option to vote them out, and give someone else the opportunity to fulfill yet another promise to us, of better days are coming.


 Roger Byer

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