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Address by Dr. The Honourable Kenny D. Anthony 2005 CLICO Awards Ceremony

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MARCH 12, 2005




As the Single Market and Economy approaches, one senses growing fear,  anxiety, and even trepidation, throughout the region.  Ordinary citizens fear a loss of jobs.  Manufacturing entities, especially in the Eastern Caribbean,  say they cannot cope with regional competition.  More crime, it is said, will be exported.  The better off economies will be overwhelmed with nationals from those Member States with depressed economies.  The list of fears can go on.

In some ways, the apprehension is paradoxical.  For years, it has been said that Caribbean people are ready for integration, but the politicians are not.  It would now appear that the aspirations have been reversed.  The political directorate is ready, but confronts an anxious citizenry.  How then can we overcome this fear and anxiety?  How can companies like CLICO, a household name throughout the Caribbean, help to reduce and conquer this fear?  How can CLICO be put into service of this enterprise, the Single Market and Economy?

Neither the CSME nor the CCJ should inspire fear and distrust.

The CSME and the CCJ are both momentous in their import, but they are far from revolutionary. Within CAR1COM and more particularly within the OECS, nations have systematically, incrementally and progressively thrown off the yokes of a colonial past, only to find a new economic freedom. But freedom, unchained and unchannelled, is a fractious thing. We must therefore, now seek to transform and consolidate that freedom into meaningful progress along the path of economic, social and political sustainability.


To fully comprehend the nature of this paradigm shift in the context of a single economic space and a regional court of justice, we must return to the early rationale for that integration process in which we are already so deeply engaged. Consider for example, the argument that our regional integration structures have yet to incarnate the quintessential aspiration of a common Caribbean identity, and have yet to give bodily form and concrete meaning to the concept of a unified Caribbean citizenry.

This sentiment was eloquently expressed as far back as 1983, by Edward Seaga, then Prime Minister of Jamaica, when he argued that:

“Nowhere else in the developing world, not in
Africa. not in Asia, is there any region that combines proximity, access to industrial experience, together with political and economic systems hospitable to enterprise, to the degree that we do. We are in a unique position to magnetize the Region as a centre of production for economic take-off. All that is needed is the political will.

of Government Conference: July 4, 1983)

Seven years later, transcending the political divide, Acting Prime Minister, P. J. Patterson echoed those very sentiments:

”…We are bound together by a historical process ... there is an enormous psychological bonding  …yet we find elusive and sometimes difficult, the necessary political will to cement all of the historical social and cultural bonds into an economic foundation.”

Though it is quite natural to be fearful of the future, we must not allow that fear to paralyse us into inaction, that like Hamlet we think upon the deed so much and lose the name of action. We must instead examine and dismantle the fear, distrust and anxiety by addressing those concerns that hold us apart. For the most part those fears are insular. Where for example, some citizens have come to distrust local justice, we must seek ways to improve their circumstances, by improving access to adequate representation, and by improving accountability and transparency in the justice system.

We must seek to demystify systems of justice administration so that citizens feel empowered and not disenfranchised. A Caribbean Court by its very power to elevate local legal issues to the regional level, offers the opportunity of objectivity, fairness and impartiality. On the other hand, while the possibility of appeal to the Privy Council in England has all these semblances, they come with both a philosophical and contextual “disconnect” which by no means guarantees improved justice. Moreover, the prohibitive cost of making representation to such an appellate body, effectively distances it from the vast majority of ordinary citizens. It is therefore time to establish a more accessible, and relevant process.


In this context, we may as well contemplate the consequences of failure, posited by P. J. Patterson when he predicts that:

“.. .the next generation will never forgive us…, They will look at a united
Europe, a cooperative Asia, a Latin America attempting to set up free trade areas, and begin to wonder what went wrong in the Caribbean”.

(CARICOM Head of Government Conference July 31, 1990)

It has also been argued that the illusion of political independence has eclipsed the more advantageous reality of interdependence offered by regional integration. I would suggest that a unified Caribbean, the embodiment of a single people, holds critical answers to our deepest economic dilemmas.  It is the discovery of on autonomous self, within a larger interdependent whole that will deliver the dream of economic, social and political viability.


As with the state, so too the self. When we give expression to that which truly are our individuality, our identity and our circumstance - we can then transcend national boundaries and barriers to embrace others of similar circumstance, and so create an ideal which is larger than the sum of its parts. We cannot shy away from this challenge.

From the southern end of the geographic spectrum, the late Forbes Burnham of Guyana, in his own inimitable and celebrated style, once declared:

There seems to be a battle, a fruitless and futile battle, being waged in the world today against the normal and just aspiration of people to run their own affairs and to rule themselves… but even as we move to independence, undoubtedly the need arises for us to think in broader and wider terms... it is time for us to reflect upon the necessity for independent nations to get together into large communities for the mutual benefit and advantage of the individual territories...

(3rd Conference of Commonwealth Caribbean Countries.
Guyana: March, 1965)


Speaking in the same vein about the viability of the state as well as the region, the centre as well as the periphery, President Cheddi Jagan of Guyana similarly proclaimed:

The concept of development must now be accepted globally as a multidimensional one which must spotlight human development as a central focus. There must be the empowerment of people in order to enable them to contribute creatively... The task before us is clear.... We have to increase the momentum of the regional integration process. We have to take difficult decisions which may not appear too attractive to our individual small economies, but which are all too necessary for our collective survival., (our) collective efforts are in microcosm a reflection of what the community as a whole can achieve, once the will is there.

(7th intercessional Meeting at Heads of Government; Guyana: February’ 29, 1996)



For nearly four decades, our leaders have been espousing these ideals of integration, interdependence and empowerment. However, in the hearts and minds of Caribbean people the question remains: are we substantially closer to achieving those ideals? It is my contention that the creation of a single economy, characterised by free movement of goods, services and people is the tangible proof that the Caribbean people require of their leaders. As difficult as it seems for us within the political directorate to yield to this necessity, it is also the final proof of our commitment to the integration process.

Our task in the interim, is to prepare our respective constituencies for that inevitable transition towards open regional competition. Consider in that context, that this is only a prelude to the global competition which awaits soon thereafter, in the face of which we will be almost defenseless.

If we are to evolve, politically, economically and socially, the answers to our development issues must come from within. While we can learn from the experiences of others, we cannot expect others to fashion our future for us. The creation of a single economic space is akin to the enlargement of the field of dreams within which Caribbean people can continue to aspire.

Its principle tenets are the free movement of goods, capital and people in search of opportunity, reward and empowerment. The unacceptable alternative is to give way to the prejudice and cynicism that often precede bold initiatives, and which in retrospect, almost always translate into minor irritations when the ultimate goal is clearly in sight. Similarly, the creation of a Caribbean Court of Justice is one such goal. It is the definitive statement by a modern, liberated and self determined people to finally accept responsibility for the administration of higher justice within their homeland.

It is my own view that to continue to hold fast to a system where the highest arbiter of justice is our former colonial master, is to deny ourselves the dignity of self-determination. It is a shameful admission of a fundamental lack of faith in our selves and our ability to administer the very Independence for which so many have struggled and died.

Such a system is inimical to our aspirations of maturing nationhood. It flies in the face of our conceptualisation of our selves as a maturing Caribbean nation. To hold on, out of fear to such a system while claiming to be masters of our destinies,  is clearly  absurd.  Indeed, the concept of having to apply to powers beyond our shores to determine ultimate legal outcomes is akin to grown adults depending on disinterested parents for final validation of their lives.


As Caribbean people, we must be brave enough to develop new, profitable relationships with the body politic and within civil society. These should be based on our social, political and economic realities and be designed to transform our landscape into a more enabling environment.

We must, at the very least, perceive ourselves as masters of the small circumferences that we inhabit. That would be a first step towards a Caribbean society so uniquely confident that it becomes a new development model of great interest to the rest of humanity. This is not utopia. For centuries, our people, by their ideas and achievements, have repeatedly given us a stature in the world that defies our supposed limitations as small island economies.

Why then do we still doubt our ability to administer the full scope of our justice and economic systems? Why then do we resist the formal integration of markets that are, otherwise already inextricably linked? Why, when we know that by dint of external processes of liberalisation and globalization we must combine forces to survive?


Caribbean society has sustained itself by sheer determination and creativity through several centuries of domination, building as Walcott says, on the “nothing we inherited”, It is time therefore, to unite our schizophrenic selves.  It is time to validate those things we do well which have preserved our society. It is time to abandon victimhood and reverse the crisis of confidence that erodes our determination to master the private and public worlds around us.

The late Errol Barrow offered a similar view:

The collective wisdom and intellect of our people are yet to be tapped and given a central place in the development strategy of our nation. But we are so busy Westministering ourselves into becoming a clone of the Anglo-Saxon world and its American extension that we forget that we have a life and a history of our own to be examined, dealt with and used as a source of energy for the development of this Region and the shaping of a civilized society.


(7th  Meeting of CARICOM Heads of Government: Georgetown, Guyana: July 1986)



In accepting Barrow's challenge to shape our own civilized society we should be encouraged by the fact that ordinary Caribbean folk have been integrating for eons. Long before the Federation, CARIFTA, CARICOM and the ACP, they did so through friendships, marriages, business linkages, artistic, academic and sporting endeavour. Today, even our small traders and entrepreneurs, higglers and hucksters, maintain these links, despite the threatening strictures of separate statehood.


This brings me to CLICO and I return to the question I posed earlier.  How could CLICO  help to reduce fear, apprehension and distrust towards the Single Market and Economy?


First, CLICO must continue to be unambiguous about its self definition.  It is a Caribbean company, not a Trinidadian, Barbadian,  Antiguan or Saint Lucian company.  Plain and simple, CLICO is a Caribbean company which belongs to the Caribbean people.  Your calendars are statements of that philosophy.


Secondly, CLICO must begin the process of sharing and integrating its personnel across our region.  The St. Lucian portfolio cannot and must not be exclusively Saint Lucian.  Likewise, the Trinidadian portfolio cannot be the exclusive domain of Trinidadians.  The management of a Caribbean Company must be integrated vertically and horizontally.  Every worker in a Caribbean Company should be a worker in the cause of the Caribbean Community.


Thirdly, CLICO is a living example of the success of a shared economy.  A shared economy is not a single market or a single economy.  But CLICO has had years of experience investing in our region and economy.  CLICO understands market size; how to transcend  boundaries real and imagined.  CLICO has always accepted that viability is best assured by moving beyond the confines of one’s borders.  That experience must be freely shared.


All of this is to convey a simple message.  All of you here tonight must join the cause of shaping our Caribbean Community,  our Caribbean Nation.  CLICO must be a Champion for the Single Market and Economy.


Ladies and Gentlemen, as  Caribbean people, we will always move in response to our most fundamental needs: kinship, culture opportunity, love, and adventure. It is time to forge ahead undaunted by bureaucracy. It is time that we celebrate that common identity nurtured by those persistent pioneers who sought their counterparts across that bountiful Caribbean continuum which Walcott describes as “miles of cerulean silk” in a “Star Apple Kingdom”.

I thank you!


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