Making our case where it matters Editorial
Stabroek News
October 23, 2003

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In his latest column in the Sunday Stabroek Mr David Jessop, the Executive Director of the Caribbean Council for Europe, noted that in the post cold war period the Caribbean had suffered from an increasing lack of interest from Europe and North America. He suggested that the Caribbean must devise new strategies to project its limited power and outlined various possibilities.

Has anyone developed a strategy to engage Poland, the next big player in Europe?, he asked. Which country has made preparations to manipulate the British political system to the regionís advantage? There are potentially, he noted, a wide range of non-governmental third parties able to facilitate understanding of the regionís problems. Where are the plans to mobilise the diaspora to project the Caribbean into the domestic environment of those with whom the region is negotiating? US and EU producer groups, he said, have long ago recognized that in Washington and Brussels little will be achieved by them unless day-in day-out at all levels, they, their governments and diplomats share intelligence, find the pressure points and mobilise in support of their national interests.

Mr Jessop went on to talk of twinning cities and other institutions like churches, schools and sports clubs. Some trade unions and political parties also have counterparts in Europe and North America, and this opens up other possibilities, he suggested.

Jamaica and some industries (sugar and rum producers) have begun to tackle these issues. But, he correctly noted, there is no regional vehicle to conceptualise, co-ordinate or deliver such activity, namely to make the future of the Caribbean a domestic political issue in the US and Europe.

Surely there are some openings here. Large Guyanese communities exist in America, Canada and to a lesser extent the United Kingdom. Canít they be mobilised in some way by the embassies in those countries to present petitions to Congress or Parliament stressing the importance of say sugar, rice and tourism to the region? Canít they lobby Congressmen and Members of Parliament? Such efforts would be entirely without prejudice to normal diplomatic initiatives.

Fresh ideas are needed. The single market and economy remain to be finalised. Complex trade negotiations on three fronts remain ahead. Preferential prices are under threat. The dangers are real and the problem is that our case needs to be continually put forward in the right places. In keeping with the move towards forms of more inclusive governance perhaps a group comprised of all the political parties could craft one or two ideas to involve Guyanese overseas to push our case in one form or another.