Failure to Launch: Past Failures for Integration

Go Lean Commentary

“3 Generations of imbeciles are enough” – Justice of US Supreme Court Oliver Wendell Holmes (1927)

“3 Generations of imbecilic governance is enough” – Summary from 2013 Go Lean…Caribbean Book (Page 3)

It has been that long!

According to, a generation is “the term of years, roughly 30 among human beings, accepted as the average period between the birth of parents and the birth of their offspring”. Integration is so important, yet there have been 3 generations of failure for integration-optimization efforts – explored herewith – in the Caribbean region:

  1. West Indies Federation / Netherlands Antilles – 1950’s – Failed
  2. CariCom – 1970’s – Failing
  3. Caribbean Single Market & Economy – 2000’s – Failed

Enough failing already! Though no efforts have been made to integrate the Spanish-speaking nor French-speaking territories; historically these lands were governed as “overseas” territories with foreign masters (for planning and control).

The book Go Lean…Caribbean – available to download for free – serves as a roadmap for a Single Market, the introduction and implementation of a technocratic inter-government agency to shepherd the elevation of the region’s societal engines: economics, security and governance. This agency is the Caribbean Union Trade Federation (CU), and is designed to benefit all 30 member-states for all 4 language groups. This Go Lean/CU roadmap is intended to be a deviation from the past record of failures. The book states (Page 3):

There have been some efforts at regional integration, but only for [2] individual language groups.

The Caribbean Union is the next evolution from the structured economic integration that became the Caribbean Community [(CariCom)], but now for all neighbors. The globally accepted 7 degrees of economic integration, which spurned CariCom, are defined as:

  1. Preferential trading area
  2. Free trade area, Monetary union
  3. Customs union, Common market
  4. Economic union, Customs and monetary union
  5. Economic and monetary union
  6. Fiscal union
  7. Complete economic integration

CariCom was enacted in 1973 as Stage 3; but Stage 4 was ratified in 2001 and branded the Caribbean Single Market & Economy. This effort sputtered – see Anecdote # 1 [on Page 15]. The CU is a new manifestation of Stage 4; a graduation for CariCom.

This Go Lean/CU roadmap seeks to end the pattern of failure from these integration mis-steps of the past. This commentary opens a series on the Caribbean’s Failure to Launch workable solutions for the defects and deficiencies in our regional society; this is Part 1 of 4 on this subject. The full series is catalogued as follows:

  1. Failure to Launch – Past Failures for Integration
  2. Failure to Launch Economics: Caribbean Central Bank and the Quest for a Single Currency
  3. Failure to Launch Security: Caribbean Basin Security Dreams
  4. Failure to Launch Governance: Assembling the Regional Alphabet Organizations

The Go Lean book defines failure in many different dimensions of relativity. It identifies the extreme of Failing-States, all the way down to the simple assessment: “All is not well”. But in general, there is the consensus that the Caribbean region is in crisis (Page 8) and declares that this “crisis would be a terrible thing to waste”.

The roadmap therefore has these 3 prime directives to assuage this crisis status:

The Go Lean book provides 370-pages of turn-by-turn instructions on “how” to adopt new community ethos, plus the strategies, tactics, implementations and advocacies to execute so as to forge a better future by learning lessons from past failures in regional integration movements. One advocacy embedded in the book is the specific lessons-learned from the previous Anglophone West Indies Federation. Consider the Appendix VIDEO below and these excerpts-headlines from Page 135 with this title, (which gleans analysis based on the history in the Appendix S and Appendix S1, starting on Page 301):

10 Lessons Learned from the West Indies Federation

1 WI Federation Quest for Independence replaced with CU Quest for Interdependence

After 50 years of reflection (see Appendix S1 #1 thru #10), it is conclusive that the West Indies (WI) Federation strived more for independence than for governmental efficiency. It is also obvious that the instincts of the British Federation planners were right, that the common territories needed to integrate to deploy common solutions (Appendix S). As such, the CU advocates for “interdependence” for the Caribbean countries – the challenges of the region transcends any alignment to the European legacies, so the CU advocates that the former British colonies need to confederate with Dutch, French and Spanish former colonies and current American Territories. The CU will represent a population base of 42 million, with the largest population centers concentrated in the Spanish and French states, not Jamaica and Trinidad. However, the CU aggregation of $800 Billion in GDP (based on 2010 figures) represents a larger contribution (GDP per capita) from the English speaking countries.

2 Federal Government versus Provincial Governments

The CU advocates a separation of powers between Federal Departments and the member-states administrations. The CU will avail itself of the “economies of scale” by deploying systems across the entire region designed for efficient and effective governance. Consider for example, implementing revenue systems for property assessments/collections. The CU will in-source the costs for the systems & people, while maximizing the return to State treasuries – Appendix S1 #2. The CU will also generate its own revenue streams, from regional-wide deployments (broadcast rights, lotteries, etc).

3 Jamaican Dynamic

Among the Caribbean nations, Haiti is highest on the 2012 Failed State Index (#7), Jamaica is among the next set of Caribbean countries at #119, just slightly behind South Africa (#115) and Albania (#118). Obviously, the nation-building

needs of Jamaica has been truncated, plus the country’s brain drain is worst in the region with almost a matching population living abroad in a Diaspora as opposed to residing in and contributing to the local economy. The CU will ensure better representation of larger populated states by employing a bicameral legislative branch: while the Senate is “one-man-one-vote” (2 Senators per state), the lower house has balanced representation based on population. Geographically, Jamaica is not the furthest west (Belize), nor south (Aruba) in the region. The Capitol for the CU is slated for a Federal District on the border of Haiti and the Dominican Republic – See Appendix S1 # 3.

4 Trinidad Dynamic

Trinidad and Tobago has thrived, somewhat, as an independent nation, they have one of the highest per-capita GDP in the region and have just recently been upgraded from “developing” status. (They are the only oil-producing country in the region; but their oil reserves are due to be depleted in the next decade). Yet, the country has a huge gulf between the “haves-and-have-nots”, to the point that emigration continues to be a major deterrent to their nation-building efforts. Trinidad is #122 on the Failed State Index – See Appendix S1 # 4.

5 Lack of Local Popular Support (See Parallel at Appendix S1 #5)

The CU empowers the economic engines, societal institutions and cultural provisions of the region to promote growth and development in the member-states. These efforts will be complemented with the invitation to repatriate for the Caribbean Diaspora. So the local markets will be the target of promotional campaigns and public media outreach.

6 Smaller Countries

The smaller countries get the greatest benefit of the CU initiative as they get to leverage the size of the Caribbean Single Market to their advantage. They will enjoy the strength of the currency union, access to capital markets and the deployment of economic engines in the local market. The CU will assimilate the Eastern Caribbean Federation and Monetary Union into the governmental delivery structure – See Appendix S1 # 6.

7 Location of the Capitol

Even though the CU will embrace e-Government delivery methods (data centers, call centers and web sites), the Trade Federation will still institute physical edifices (Post Offices, Administrative Centers, Libraries, Museums). There will be an actual Capitol. The CU capital is slated for a Federal District on the border of Haiti and the Dominican Republic. This is a center-“ish” site considering north: Bermuda & Bahamas; west: Belize & Cuba; south: Guyana & Suriname).

8 University of the West Indies
9 West Indies Regiment

The CU is also a security pact that will empower a Homeland Security Department. The State Militia and Naval Operations, derivatives of the West Indies Regiment, will enter a new phase of existence with the facilitation of an  ultra-modern defense unit with drones, attack helicopters, underwater submersibles and intelligence gathering and analysis.

10 Relationship with Canada

The West Indies Federation was an Anglophone effort only! Though it sought the goal of “Step 7 – Complete Economic Integration“, as specified in the foregoing introduction, it failed miserably here. (This is the disposition of the United States of America, but unfortunately, due to societal defects of territorial status, this is not the disposition of Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.)

So these developments refer to the English and American territories; this is not the full Caribbean. There are other legacies …

The Go Lean book also details effort in the Dutch Caribbean, or the Netherland Antilles. This excerpt – on Integration and Secessions – is derived from Page 16 of the book:

Anecdote # 2: Dutch Caribbean – Integration & Secessions 

This Dutch Caribbean has had a varied history of integration and secession events. The Netherlands Antilles also referred to informally as the Dutch Antilles, was an autonomous Caribbean country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

Although the country has now been dissolved, all of its constituent islands remain part of the kingdom under a different legal status and the term is still used to refer to these Dutch Caribbean islands [a].

The Netherlands Antilles consisted of two island groups. The ABC Islands of Aruba, Bonaire, and Curaçao are located just off the Venezuelan coast. The SSS islands of Sint Maarten, Saba, and Sint Eustatius are in the Leeward Islands southeast of the Virgin Islands near the northern end of the Lesser Antilles. The Dutch colonized these islands in the 17th century, (at one point, Anguilla, Tobago, the British Virgin Islands, and St. Croix of the US Virgin Islands had also been Dutch), and united them in the new constituent state of the Netherlands Antilles in December 1954. Wanting to shed the appearance of any colonial shackles, the Netherlands Antilles, Suriname, and the Netherlands acceded as equal member-countries of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. With this move, the United Nations deemed decolonization of the Dutch Caribbean territory complete and removed it from the UN’s official List of Non-Self-Governing Territories.

Suriname sought and was granted independence in 1975, but continued their quest for regional integration. Today, they are a member of CariCom and are considered a Caribbean country with their trade and cultural links with the Caribbean nations.

The arrangement of the integrated Netherlands Antilles proved to be an unhappy one. The idea never enjoyed the full support of all islands, and political relations between islands were often strained. Geographically, the ABC Islands and the Leeward (SSS) Islands lie almost 1,000 kilometers apart. Culturally, the ABC Islands have deep connections with the South American mainland, especially Venezuela, and its population speaks a Portuguese-Dutch Creole language called Papiamento; the Leeward SSS islands, on the other hand, are part of the English-speaking Caribbean.

When the new constitutional relationship between the Netherlands and its Caribbean colonies was enshrined in the Kingdom Charter of 1954, the colonial administrative division of the Netherlands Antilles grouped all six Caribbean islands together under one administration. Despite the fact that Aruba calls for secession from the Netherlands Antilles originated as far back as the 1930s [b], the governments of the Netherlands and the Netherlands Antilles did everything in their power to keep the six islands together.

First, Aruba became a separate state within the Kingdom of the Netherlands in 1986. Then between June 2000 and April 2005, each remaining island of the Netherlands Antilles had a new referendum on its future status. The four options that could be voted on were the following:

• closer ties with the Netherlands

• remaining within the Netherlands Antilles

• autonomy as a country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands (status aparte)

• independence

Of the five islands, Sint Maarten and Curaçao voted for status aparte, Saba and Bonaire voted for closer ties to the Netherlands, and Sint Eustatius voted to stay within the Netherlands Antilles.

In November 2005, a negotiation began between the governments of the Netherlands, Aruba, the Netherlands Antilles, and each island in the Netherlands Antilles. The end results were autonomy status for Curaçao and Sint Maarten, as previously enacted by Aruba, plus a new status for Bonaire, Sint Eustatius, and Saba (BES) making these islands special municipalities.

In November 2006, Curaçao and Sint Maarten were granted an agreement for the autonomy they sought. After some political maneuvering and a subsequent referendum, the acts of parliament integrating the “BES” islands into the Kingdom of the Netherlands were given royal assent in May 2010. After ratification by the Netherlands, the Netherlands Antilles, and Aruba, this Kingdom act amending the Charter for the Kingdom of the Netherlands with regard to the dissolution of the Netherlands Antilles was signed off by the three countries (Netherlands, Aruba, the Netherlands Antilles) in September 2010.

The book stresses that reforming and transforming the Caribbean societal engines must be a regional pursuit for interdependence, not autonomy – some problems are just too big for any one member-state to tackle alone. This was an early motivation for the roadmap, as pronounced in the opening Declaration of Interdependence (Pages 12 – 13):

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.

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.

xxiii.  Whereas many countries in our region are dependent Overseas Territory of imperial powers, the systems of governance can be instituted on a regional and local basis, rather than requiring oversight or accountability from distant masters far removed from their subjects of administration. The Federation must facilitate success in autonomous rule by sharing tools, systems and teamwork within the geographical region.

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.

In the past, the optimization of regional integration has been so elusive for Caribbean people. Our Failure to Launch has been a sad reality, despite the accepted wisdom that …

only when a people come together to address issues that affect them collectively can they ever hope to resolve their problems. – Go Lean book Page 135.

Too bad … all our past efforts – despite limited to just one language – have failed. Integration is still a good idea, a Big Idea!

The CU is a big idea for the Caribbean … allowing for the unification of the region into one [a Single] Market of 42 million people [from all 30 countries & territories]. This creates the world’s 29th largest economy, based on 2010 figures. … After 10 years the CU’s GDP should double and rank among the Top 20 or G20 nations. – Page 127.

Let’s do this! The benefits from this Go Lean roadmap are too alluring to ignore. We can learn from failure; we can forge success. We can make our homeland a better place to live, work and play. 🙂

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


Appendix VIDEO – West Indies Federation –

Published on Jan 6, 2016 – The West Indies Federation, also known as the Federation of the West Indies, was a short-lived political union that existed from 3 January 1958 to 31 May 1962. Various islands in the Caribbean that were colonies of the United Kingdom, including Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, Jamaica, and those on the Leeward and Windward Islands, came together to form the Federation, with its capital in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago. The expressed intention of the Federation was to create a political unit that would become independent from Britain as a single state—possibly similar to the Canadian Confederation, Australian Commonwealth, or Central African Federation; however, before that could happen, the Federation collapsed due to internal political conflicts.

The territories of the federation eventually became the nine contemporary sovereign states of Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Jamaica, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Trinidad and Tobago; with Anguilla, Montserrat, the Cayman Islands, and Turks and Caicos Islands becoming British overseas territories. British Guiana and British Honduras held observer status within the West Indies Federation.

This video is targeted to blind users.

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