Sir Alister launches The Caribbean and the Wider WorldSaturday, December 31, 2016
BY BALFORD HENRY Senior staff reporter email@example.com
Renowned Caribbean academic Sir Meredith Alister McIntyre has welcomed the Jamaican Government’s decision to appoint a commission to review Jamaica’s participation in the Caribbean Community (Caricom).
"I think that the Government must be commended for setting up the ‘Golding committee’," Sir Alister told a packed Council Room audience, at the launch of his new book, The Caribbean and the Wider World, on the campus of the University of The West Indies (UWI) recently.
Sir Alister, as he is best known, who served as secretary-general of Caricom between 1974 and 1977, was responding to questions arising from a "conversation" with the university’s current vice-chancellor, Sir Hilary Beckles, which was the obvious highlight of the launch.
He was commenting on the decision by Jamaica’s Prime Minister Andrew Holness to appoint a Caricom Review Commission chaired by his predecessor Bruce Golding.
At the launch of the commission, Holness explained that it was not his intention for it to "lay any groundwork or chart any path out of Caricom", despite numerous grouses arising from the Jamaican community about discriminatory practices.
"This is about strengthening Jamaica’s position within the regional integration process, which is absolutely important for Jamaica’s economic growth and development for the next 50 years," Holness said at the launch in June.
The Jamaica prime minister insisted that the region should not pre-empt the outcome, but Sir Alister said that whatever the outcome, it is a good step.
"I don’t know what the recommendations will be, but it’s a good step to get going on careful consideration of Caricom," he stated.
"Caricom, of course people are forgetting, has changed in a number of basic ways. We are no longer a grouping of island states. We have got Belize, we have got Guyana, we have got Suriname, and we have got the Dominican Republic and Cuba under association agreements. So how can we continue this business of being a community of small states?
"We have got to look again at what our productive capabilities are, what are the areas in which we should try to attract some degree of international engagement," Sir Hilary argued.
He also had some serious comments to make on the various issues affecting Caricom.
"We don’t implement, because we do not consult with the people, including the business people, enough. We must have clear examples of what the problems are. Successful implementation must mean successful involvement, and unless we involve the people more in these matters so that they have a complete understanding of it, they will not be sufficiently prepared to do their part when the negotiations start," he added.
How better to start identifying that process, Sir Hilary suggested, than with the support of Sir Alister’s "phenomenal sense of commitment to the region and the people within it", and the "remarkable story" which he relates in his new book.
"It is the story of the 20th century and all of the successes that we have seen in this Caribbean in the 20th century," Sir Hilary noted, pointing out that it covers the region’s successes – including the integration movement, the advancement of The UWI, Caribbean and global trade, and international diplomacy.
Beckles called McIntyre "an architect of the modern Caribbean", who decides to write his memoirs "at the beginning of the 21st century".
He noted that McIntyre helped to advance the integration process which, he added, has no closure.
"There is no closure, no beginning and no end. Each generation plays its part. So [with] this book he gives us a tool. It is not a
Bible; it is a tool that says, ‘there is a journey that has long started, here are some obstacles you can avoid…Let this be a tool as you can imagine the 21st century as I imagined the 20th century," Beckles stated.
He urged each guest at the event to purchase at least three copies of the book — "one for yourself, one for your grown children, and one for the youngest or the grandchildren".
The book was advanced as "an excellent resource for students, educators and policymakers, as well as persons holding a general interest in the Caribbean and its development".
"Readers of this book will find an authentic account of the life and career of a virtuoso who was involved in the search for solutions of regional issues within the framework of the global landscape," according to a background provided for guests.
Former Jamaica Prime Minister P J Patterson called it "a literary masterpiece".
"This could only have been written by one who was much more than a witness; one who was indeed an active participant and at the very centre of helping us to chart the way forward for integration in what has become increasingly turbulent waters, particularly during the last four decades of the 20th century," Patterson commented.
The book was also said to reflect Sir Alister’s "concurrent commitment to assist the peoples and institutions at the national level, so as to resolve pressing problems of a strictly internal focus".
The function was chaired by Ambassador Richard Bernal, who also gave the closing remarks.
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