Friday, January 16, 2009

United Caribbean: Let's talk Cuban policies.NATIONNEWS.COM.

"We need to see influences of Cuba all through the Caribbean, the least perhaps being Spanish as a second language in each territory."
"The rest of the region, too, has much to gift Cuba, none so much as supporting human rights and democratic governance or facilitating the free flow of information and people. The cultural and sporting service industries of Cuba are highly developed, and strategically placed to be decisively beneficial to the region's ability to break into increasingly opening markets internationally. "

by Michelle Cave

I'VE BEEN ACCUSED of many things, not least of which is my being overly optimistic about the future, and in particular that of the Caribbean as a political and economic unit. Well, I will make no apologies for this one.

The increasing commitment of the Caribbean to creating and maintaining integration and partnerships as a defence against the current international financial reordering, is necessary, smart and timely. This is especially so if our Spanish sister to the north chooses to engage in a collective tango with the rest of the Caribbean.

The wisdom of bringing Cuba into CARICOM's fold is grounded in its concentration of and carefully honed present and future leaders, dedicating themselves to its upward mobility and, dare I say, ascendancy in regional economic affairs.

CARICOM rightly has been wooing Cuba, making this one of its highest priorities. No country in this region needs Cuba to be a rival economy.

If last year is any gauge, we saw three devastating hurricanes attacking Cuba, allowing the island to attract only three million visitors to its shores! This is only on the level of tourism. It is intriguing, since tourism stands in the minds of many of today's political economists as primary in foreign currency earning potential. Some quick footwork is needed on a policy and practical ground.

Caribbean private sector associations and entrepreneurs are put on notice. CARICOM heads of government can put any amount of policy partnership and commitment into place, but the only way there will be long-term and significant bonds forged between CARIFORUM and Cuba is for the private sector associations to engage in dialogue with their Cuban counterparts and policymakers.

It is perhaps equally important to insist on direct flights to Havana from Port-of-Spain, Bridgetown, Castries, Roseau and Georgetown as a matter of subsidised and promoted policy, as well as to decry the decades-long practice of blocking communication between the greater region and Cuba.

It will certainly be interesting to see CARICOM, even if it succeeds in having the Dominican Republic consistently work alongside it, implement policies of energy, education or healthcare reform, far less technical cooperation, trade and climate change, without Cuba in the mix, or without each other in the pelau, for the benefit of the development of people in the region.

The rest of the region, too, has much to gift Cuba, none so much as supporting human rights and democratic governance or facilitating the free flow of information and people. The cultural and sporting service industries of Cuba are highly developed, and strategically placed to be decisively beneficial to the region's ability to break into increasingly opening markets internationally.

We need to see influences of Cuba all through the Caribbean, the least perhaps being Spanish as a second language in each territory.

Well positioned to be a leader in the region then, in everything from informatics to tourism, Cuba is set to take off, and we wonder whose to-do list Cuba is on.

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