In spite of current fiscal challenges and a real exposure to impacts of Climate Change, the Caribbean gets a resounding optimistic outlook for 2019 and beyond.
My assessment of the region of my birth comes not from any partiality, but from my impartial analysis and observation of trends, current affairs and attitudes blowing on the trade winds across the Caribbean.
The Trade Winds of optimism are precipitated by a new cast of leaders in the Caribbean, who are apparent scholars of the region's first integrationists of the late 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. And as a result, 2019's Caribbean leaders are identifiably those who earnestly promote and subscribe to the imperativeness of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and those promoting deeper Caribbean integration.
Last year on this Blog, The World in 2018 - the Caribbean, I said: "Parliamentary elections on my birth island of Barbados...will serve as a litmus test on whether or not the electorate of the Caribbean would punish incumbents in 2018 for soaring food and commodity prices as well as increases in unemployment." That observation came following my visit back to Barbados in the summer of 2017. On May 25, 2018, Barbadians went to the polls and for the first time ever, they elected the island's first female Prime Minister, Mia Mottley and they also handed her Barbados Labour Party (BLP) all 30-seats in Parliament, another first event for Barbados. Like most Caribbean people, Barbadians had had enough with under performing governments that failed to make the tough choices needed to move the nation forward.
Yet, ousting the last government of Barbados was not a cure all for Barbadian woes. Years of mismanagement under the old government had drained the nation's treasury, thus forcing the new Mottley government to seek a bailout from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). An economic plan has been approved to steer Barbados back to fiscal health. Obvious painful decisions have been and will be made in the process back to monetary-health, but optimism certainly outweighs any stinging action.
The fiscal condition of Barbados is similar to that of most Caribbean nations. But in spite of the troubles and the destruction of hurricanes upon Dominica to Barbuda and elsewhere throughout the region, optimism remains high for 2019 and beyond. Resilience to Climate Change will be battled in 2019 from Grenada, to Barbados, to Dominica and elsewhere.
Under the umbrella of CARICOM, member-nations in 2019, will continue to forge deeper regional integration from Barbados to Trinidad and Tobago, to Guyana, to Jamaica, to Grenada, to St. Vincent and the Grenadines, to St. Lucia, to Antigua, to St. Kitts, Nevis and Anguilla toward a stronger unity to assist, to support and and to act as one-unified bloc toward the secured social, economic and political advancement of the Caribbean.
Most Caribbean governments today understand the importance and effectiveness of CARICOM than at any other time in the past 25-years. It stands as the seeming federal authority toward the safeguard of laws, rights, education, trade and life in the Caribbean - a modern re-tool of the original West Indies Federation 1958-62 and the Caribbean Free Trade Area (CARIFTA) of the 1970s, thus affirming that out of the old, it is possible to retrofit systems to meet current needs and desires.