Blog # 600 – State of Caribbean Union: Hope and Change

Go Lean Commentary

Here’s a fact of life: Young people always need Hope and Change.

To ensure this, there have been protest movements – around the world  – in recent times where young people have engaged to get attention, to foment their prospects for Hope and Change. Consider:

  • Arab Spring – Young people in one Arab & North African country after another stood-up in protest of their political & economic status quo.
  • Occupy Wall Street – Young people in the US complained in enduring street and sleep-in protests outside Wall Street.

The book Go Lean…Caribbean – available to download for free – chronicled the rise of these protest movements (Pages 143, 160, 200 & 224). It showed how people at the grass-roots level are able to effect change on the policies and priorities of their country. This is the bottoms-up strategy for forging change; there is also the top-down strategy: getting the political leaders to propose new legislation. Both approaches could be effective in the quest to elevate the 30 member-states in the Caribbean region. The State of our Caribbean Union is that we are in crisis; we must reform and transform our region; it is not optional; it must be done in order to offer Hope and Change to the young people of the Caribbean.

The book states this urgency in the opening (Page 3):

CU Blog - State of Caribbean Union - Hope and Change - Photo 1Our youth, the next generation, may not be inspired to participate in the future workings of their country; they may measure success only by their exodus from their Caribbean homeland.

Nine years ago (2008), young voters in the US thronged rapturous rallies for then-presidential-candidate Barack Obama. Then again, early in the 2016 Presidential campaign, young people flocked to candidate Bernie Sanders. Despite the end-result, the natural idealism of youth always looks for political expression. Usually …

Currently, there is no grass-roots change-protest movement in the Caribbean – this is the State of the Caribbean Union. There needs to be … such a movement! This is according to this commentator-columnist scanning this region’s political landscape. See his strong urging here:

Title: Why the concerns of Caribbean youth matter
By: David Jessop

In much of the world, young people feel economically marginalized, politically alienated and in a struggle against insecurity and inequity.

In the Caribbean, it is little different. Lack of opportunity, the absence of generational change, high levels of unemployment, discrimination based on gender or sexual orientation, and the slow pace of change, are abiding aspects of the lives of many in the younger generation.

However, unlike their counterparts in other regions of the world, where frustration with the political class and anger with the old order have led to new political movements and protest, no similar region-wide or sustained manifestation of dissent has occurred. Instead, in recent years, protests have been limited and disconnected.

Part of the answer as to why this should be seems to lie in the Caribbean’s smallness and fragmentation. While life in micro-states offers proximity to political and economic opportunity, size also imposes limits on dreams and aspiration. When set alongside the seemingly boundless prospects for material gain in North America and US cultural penetration, the same smallness is almost guaranteed to heighten frustration with the slow pace of national development.

The consequence is a sense of disillusion among many young people, and a desire by many of the best, brightest and better educated to seek avenues of escape to other parts of the world.

Dr Terri-Ann Gilbert Roberts, a UWI/SALISES research fellow who was recently nominated by Caribbean youth to be the UN secretary general’s youth envoy, and who is engaged in research, policy and programme formulation on issues affecting children and youth, speaks with knowledge of the topic.

She believes that while young people in the Anglophone Caribbean may not express their frustrations in traditional highly-visible ways, their concerns are palpable, and can be seen and heard in their online and offline conversations in their communities, and in student and youth organisation debates.

She says that the reason that the views of Caribbean youth do not manifest themselves in large-scale anti-government street protests of the type seen in other parts of the Americas, is not because young people do not share the same concerns about their future, the inclusiveness of Caribbean society, or the accountability of public officials. Instead, she believes that because the Anglophone Caribbean has relatively stable democratic traditions, freedom of expression, a free press, and smallness, young people feel that that their shared concerns are known, but are not adequately addressed.

She argues that because “many young people have lost confidence in the capacity of formal governance processes and structures to address their concerns”, they “question the practical value of investment in large-scale protests in which their voices may be ignored and their actions will not influence change”.

While others believe that the absence of protest in the region is a good thing and reflects the homogeneous nature of Caribbean society, the absence of any real basis for public dialogue with those who may lead or vote for tomorrow’s Caribbean, says much about the region’s malaise, and more importantly its future development.

In common with other societies, many in the older generation in the Caribbean seem to want to hold on to the past and the status they have achieved, sometimes making it seem that all that matters is the jealous guarding of privilege.

Unfortunately, this has resulted in an absence of progress, and bestows legitimacy on defending the political and economic status quo. The consequence is that many nations and regional structures remain locked into thinking that is well past its sell by date, whether it be in relation to politics, the public sector, or business. The effect is to create responses that are inward looking, deeply protective, and lacking leadership, or ambition when it comes to the future for the young. It is reflected in the falling youth voter numbers in many Caribbean nations.

Dr Gilbert-Roberts argues that these frustrations have resulted in a clear majority of Caribbean young people refocussing on what she describes as “self-regulated, constructive and pragmatic spaces for online and offline dialogue” to form a basis for their everyday politics.

Putting this another way, she says that, in the Caribbean, young people are now seeking change in those parts of society over which they have power and influence. She cites as the political expression of this, youth movements in some parts of the region that are calling for public transparency and accountability that seek to audit government processes rather than make generic criticisms of government; environmental clubs; youth clubs that offer homework programmes for children; and offers of peer counselling and mentorship.

There are of course regional variations.

In the Dominican Republic, there is generational mobility but this largely only applies to the well-educated sons and daughters of the elite and the county’s expanding professional classes. In Cuba, its government has belatedly recognised the need to make strenuous efforts to include young people who want more in the way of personal freedoms and materially, while keeping the country’s social gains.

In other parts of the region there are exceptional, often female free thinkers in politics and business. There are young entrepreneurs in the services sector and agriculture who see Caribbean opportunity in new ways. There are very able individuals who in private acknowledge they would seek positions of leadership if politics was less tribal. And there are also large numbers of young men who feel uncertain about their place in society and feel threatened.

Dr Gilbert-Roberts, and others who prefer to speak off the record, observe that the level of frustration may now be growing faster than the capacity of youth groups to respond to the needs in their communities.

“We are already seeing increasing numbers of peaceful civil society protests involving young people: for example, marches in Jamaica against violence against children and women, alongside more disruptive protests, for example in Dominica in relation to oppositional politics… If and when these youth movements join up, and connect with the broader frustrations of other segments of the society, we will begin to see new and more visible forms of expression which could also become catalysts for change,” she observes.

Addressing youth alienation, declining educational standards, and the glass ceiling on aspiration, requires high level leadership and action. If the concerns of the region’s young people are not recognised and embraced by its political and business class, change and new thinking could well be driven by unmanaged events.

About the Author: David Jessop is a consultant to the Caribbean Council and can be contacted at Previous columns can be found at
Source: Caribbean News Network – Posted May 13, 2017; retrieved May 16, 2017 from:

It is important to glean these main points from this foregoing article by David Jessop (Caribbean Council Consultant), to better understand the State of the Caribbean Union and the lack of Hope and Change aspirations here:

  • The Caribbean status quo is failing from the perspective of young people – there is a “glass ceiling of aspiration”:
    • Lack of opportunity
    • Absence of generational change
    • High levels of unemployment
    • Discrimination based on gender or sexual orientation
    • Slow pace of change
  • Other regions – i.e. Arab Spring – have active or recent political movements and protests
  • Caribbean youth do complain … in small voice and online
  • The smallness of most of the Caribbean member-states lead to fragmentation and disunity
  • Entrenched leaders want to conservatively hold on to the status privilege
  • There is a foundation for change: democratic institutions, freedom of speech and press; even small starts in Cuba.
  • These ones are challenging orthodoxy, particularly many female free thinkers in politics, business and entrepreneurism.
  • But young people seem settled on only changing the periphery: demanding transparency, accountability and audits
  • There is the need for more disruptive transformation: “out with the old; in with the change”.

These main points of the foregoing article correspond to the Go Lean movement, the original book and blog-commentaries, especially among the last 100 or so, the most recent milestone. This submission is a new milestone; this is blog-commentary # 600. These prior entries posit that the Caribbean status quo is truly in crisis, and that any alternative destination (North America or Western Europe) is not a fitting refuge for the Caribbean Black-and-Brown.

Really, the assertion is that the best option for Hope and Change in the Caribbean is to work to reform and transform the Caribbean, all 30 member-states for the full population of 42 million people. (This is the quest of the Go Lean movement, to forge a Single Market and a technocratic government for the 30 Caribbean member-states). Consider these consistent themes from these previous blog-commentary samples:

The Go Lean book and accompanying blogs studied the good, bad and ugly lessons from a number of communities around the world – see the most recent American protest movement in the Appendix VIDEO below – and then presented a plan to grow the Caribbean regional economy, create jobs, secure the homeland and optimize governance.

CU Blog - State of Caribbean Union - Hope and Change - Photo 2

CU Blog - State of Caribbean Union - Hope and Change - Photo 3

CU Blog - State of Caribbean Union - Hope and Change - Photo 4

Yes, we can.

But the Go Lean book asserts that this effort is too big a task for just one Caribbean member-state alone, so the book urges all 30 member-states to convene, confederate and collaborate in order to effect change. As such, the Go Lean book serves as a roadmap for the introduction and implementation of the technocratic Caribbean Union Trade Federation (CU), for the elevation of Caribbean society – for all member-states. This CU/Go Lean roadmap has these 3 prime directives:

  • Optimization of the economic engines in order to grow the regional economy to $800 Billion and create 2.2 million new jobs. (The issue of jobs alone is paramount to any Hope and Change movement in the region).
  • Establishment of a security apparatus to ensure public safety and protect the resultant economic engines.
  • Improve Caribbean governance to support these engines, including a separation-of-powers between the member-states and CU federal agencies.

The book stresses that reforming and transforming the Caribbean societal engines must be a regional pursuit. This was an early motivation for the roadmap, as pronounced in the opening Declaration of Interdependence (Pages 11 – 14):

viii. Whereas the population size is too small to foster good negotiations for products and commodities from international vendors, the Federation must allow the unification of the region as one purchasing agent, thereby garnering better terms and discounts.

xi. Whereas all men are entitled to the benefits of good governance in a free society, “new guards” must be enacted to dissuade the emergence of incompetence, corruption, nepotism and cronyism at the peril of the people’s best interest. The Federation must guarantee the executions of a social contract between government and the governed.

xii. Whereas the legacy in recent times in individual states may be that of ineffectual governance with no redress to higher authority, the accedence of this Federation will ensure accountability and escalation of the human and civil rights of the people for good governance, justice assurances, due process and the rule of law. As such, any threats of a “failed state” status for any member state must enact emergency measures on behalf of the Federation to protect the human, civil and property rights of the citizens, residents, allies, trading partners, and visitors of the affected member state and the Federation as a whole.

xvi. Whereas security of our homeland is inextricably linked to prosperity of the homeland, the economic and security interest of the region needs to be aligned under the same governance. Since economic crimes … can imperil the functioning of the wheels of commerce for all the citizenry, the accedence of this Federation must equip the security apparatus with the tools and techniques for predictive and proactive interdictions.

xxiv. Whereas a free market economy can be induced and spurred for continuous progress, the Federation must install the controls to better manage aspects of the economy: jobs, inflation, savings rate, investments and other economic principles. Thereby attracting direct foreign investment because of the stability and vibrancy of our economy.

xxvi.Whereas the Caribbean region must have new jobs to empower the engines of the economy and create the income sources for prosperity, and encourage the next generation to forge their dreams right at home, the Federation must therefore foster the development of new industries, like that of ship-building, automobile manufacturing, prefabricated housing, frozen foods, pipelines, call centers, and the prison industrial complex. In addition, the Federation must invigorate the enterprises related to existing industries like tourism… – impacting the region with more jobs.

The Go Lean book accepts that the current (failing) State of the Caribbean Union does not have to be a permanent disposition. Under the Go Lean roadmap, a 5-year plan, we can do better; all of the Caribbean can do better. This roadmap (370-page book) provides the “how”, the turn-by-turn details of the community ethos to adopt, plus the strategies, tactics, implementations and advocacies to execute so as to reboot, reform and transform the societal engines of Caribbean society.

This commentary is 1 of 5 in a non-sequential series on the State of the Caribbean Union. This series depicts the dysfunctional and defective state of affairs (economics, security and governance) throughout the entire region; there are some common traits. These have been assessed by the Go Lean movement. The full entries of all the blog-commentaries in this series are as follows:

  1. State of the Caribbean Union – Lacking Hope and Change
  2. State of the Caribbean Union – Dysfunctional Spanish Caribbean
  3. State of the Caribbean Union – Deficient  Westminster System
  4. State of the Caribbean Union – Unstable Volcano States
  5. State of the Caribbean Union – Self-Interest of Americana

Can we change the State of the Caribbean Union? Yes, we can. We need our own Hope and Change movement … anew … here at home. We need to make our homeland a better place to live, work and play. 🙂

Download the free e-book of Go Lean … Caribbean – now!

Sign the petition to lean-in for the roadmap for the Caribbean Union Trade Federation.


Appendix VIDEO – Trump inspires grassroots protest movement –

Posted February 3, 2017 – CNN’s Brian Todd reports on the surge of anti-Trump protests across the United States. – Source: CNN

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