BHAG – Need ‘Big Brother’ for Pandemics

Go Lean Commentary

The whole world must act now to remediate this crisis – flatten the curve – of this Coronavirus danger. There are no “ands, ifs or buts”. This is a systemic threat!

If one Caribbean member-state does not comply with the best practices for mitigating this disease, they will have to answer to …

Wait, there is no one to answer to!

This is the problem; there is no accountability entity for the Caribbean to turn to in times of distress.

If only there was …

… this is a Big Hairy Audacious Goal for the Caribbean. We need someone – a Big Brother – to run to for help with our security threats. This was the clarion call for the 2013 book Go Lean … Caribbean. It opened with this acknowledgement and declaration (Page 3):

There is something wrong in the Caribbean. It is the greatest address on the planet, but instead of the world “beating a path” to our doors, the people of the Caribbean have “beat down their doors” to get out. Our societal defects are so acute that our culture is in peril for future prospects.

The requisite investment of the resources (time, talent, treasuries) for this goal may be too big for any one Caribbean member-state [alone]. Rather, shifting the responsibility to a region-wide, professionally-managed, deputized technocracy will result in greater production and greater accountability. This deputized agency is the Caribbean Union Trade Federation (CU).

The economy of the Caribbean is inextricably linked to the security of the region. Therefore the CU treaty includes a security pact to implement the mechanisms to ensure greater homeland security. These efforts will monitor and mitigate against economic crimes, systemic threats and also facilitate natural disaster planning and response agencies.

But can’t we just …

… run to the big Super Power in our region, the United States of America, for answers, solutions and refuge.

The simple answer is No!

The US has gone on record to declare and demonstrate that they are not to be considered the Big Brother for anyone else, other than their people; (many conclude that they even fail in their domestic deliveries). “Blood is thicker than water” and the Caribbean member-states must accept that frankly, we are “not blood” – even true for US Territories like Puerto Rico. Consider the support for this assertion in these examples of news articles here:

VIDEO – Trump address allegations about US blocking multiple Caribbean states from receiving shipments of vital medical supplies –


Title # 1: Caribbean nations can’t get U.S. masks, ventilators for COVID-19 under Trump policy
By: Jacqueline Charles and Alex Harris
Caribbean nations struggling to save lives and prevent the deadly spread of the coronavirus in their vulnerable territories should not look to the United States as they seek to acquire scarce but much-needed protective gear to fight the global pandemic

A spokesperson from U.S. Customs and Border Protection confirmed to the Miami Herald that the agency is working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to prevent distributors from diverting personal protective equipment, or PPE, such as face masks and gloves, overseas. Ventilators also are on the prohibited list.

“To accomplish this, CBP will detain shipments of the PPE specified in the President’s Memorandum while FEMA determines whether to return the PPE for use within the United States; to purchase the PPE on behalf of the United States; or, allow it to be exported,” the statement read.

In the past week, three Caribbean nations —the Bahamas, Cayman Islands and Barbados —have all had container loads of personal protective equipment purchased from U.S. vendors blocked from entering their territories by U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

“We are talking about personal protective equipment; we’re talking about durable medical devices and gloves, gowns, ventilators as well,” Bahamas Health Minister Dr. Duane Sands told the Miami Herald.

On Tuesday, U.S. Customs and Border Protection informed a shipping company that its Nassau-bound shipment of medical supplies could not be offloaded in the Bahamas and the containers had to be returned to Miami “for inspection.” But even before that, Sands said the Bahamian government had already been fielding multiple “complaints from freight forwarders and shipping companies that they were having challenges clearing certain items.”

“Over time, that grew to a crescendo with certain persons having the same experience,” he said.

The blockade experienced by Caribbean nations followed President Donald Trump’s April 3 signing of the little-known Defense Production Act. While the order gave the federal government more control over the procurement of coronavirus-related supplies, it also allowed the administration to ban certain exports. Trump invoked the act following a Twitter attack against U.S. manufacturer 3M over the export of its highly sought N95 respiratory face masks.

In a release, the Minnesota-based company said the Trump administration wanted it to cease exports of the masks to Latin America and Caribbean nations. Pushing back on the request, 3M said such a move carried “humanitarian consequences.”

Soon after the president’s order, Caribbean governments and shippers started hearing from Customs and Border Protection, learning that shipments of vital supplies had been blocked.

In the case of Barbados, it was a shipment of 20 ventilators purchased by a philanthropist that were barred, Health Minister Lt. Col Jeffrey Bostic told his nation in a live broadcast on April 5. After accusing the U.S. of seizing the shipment, Bostic walked back the allegation and told a local newspaper the hold up had “to do with export restrictions being placed on certain items.”

For the Cayman Islands, it was eight ventilators and 50,000 masks that were produced and purchased in the U.S. and removed from a Grand Cayman-bound ship in Miami — also on Tuesday. In a Friday afternoon tweet, the British overseas territory’s premier, Alden McLaughlin, said the U.S. had released the shipment with help from the U.S. Ambassador to Jamaica Donald Tapia.

Like Cayman, the Bahamas was also forced to turn to diplomatic channels for help. Following the intervention of the U.S. Embassy in Nassau, Sands said, it appeared they “were fairly close to a resolution.” But on Friday, the shipments were still being held by Customs and Border Protection, said a source familiar with the situation.

Betty K Agencies, a shipping company, was informed about the Trump policy after its ship had left Miami with three containers of medical supplies on Tuesday, hours ahead of its Wednesday arrival in Nassau.

The CBP note sent to Betty K Agencies regarding its Bahamas medical shipment was obtained by the Herald. It reads, “Due to a April 3rd, 2020 Presidential Memorandum regarding the allocation of certain scarce or threatened health and medical resources for domestic use, the items below cannot be exported until further notice.” The list went on to mention various types of single-use, disposable surgical masks, including N95 respirators and medical gloves.

Earlier in the week, the State Department suggested to the Miami Herald that media reports about seized medical exports might not be accurate. Late Friday, the White House issued a different statement after the ministers went public.

“The United States, like many other nations, is currently experiencing a high demand for ventilators, masks, gloves, and respirators that is straining available supplies and production capacity,” a senior administration official told the Herald. “President Trump has made clear that this Administration will prioritize the well-being of American citizens as we continue to take bold, decisive action to help slow the spread of the virus and save lives.”

The official went on to say that the administration “is working to limit the impacts of PPE domestic allocation on other nations. The United States will continue to send equipment and supplies not needed domestically to other countries, and we will do more as we are able.”

During Friday’s Coronavirus Task Force press briefing at the White House, President Trump acknowledged the high demand for the United States’ ventilators and testing kits, which Caribbean health officials have said are also banned from export.

“We’re the envy of the world in terms of ventilators. Germany would like some, France would like some; we’re going to help countries out. Spain needs them desperately. Italy needs them desperately,” he said.

But when asked by a McClatchy reporter about the Caribbean and the accusation that the U.S. was blocking personal protective equipment in certain cases, Trump implied that the shipments were being caught up in drug trafficking and seizures.

“Well, what we’re doing, we have a tremendous force out there, a Naval force, and we’re blocking the shipment of drugs,” he said. “So maybe what they’re doing is stopping ships that they want to look at. We’re not blocking. What we’re doing is we’re making sure; we don’t want drugs in our country, and especially with the over 160 miles of wall, it’s getting very hard to get through the border. They used to drive right through the border like they owned it, and in a certain way, they did.”

The president also invoked the U.S.’s effort to stop human trafficking.

“What we’re doing is we’re being very tough and we’re being tough because of drugs and also human trafficking,” he added. “We have a big Naval force that’s stopping, so maybe when you mentioned that, maybe their ships are getting caught. But we are stopping a lot of ships and we’re finding a lot of drugs.”

The LA Times reported earlier this week that seven states have seen the federal government seize shipments of necessary medical supplies, including thermometers and masks, without saying where or how they planned to reallocate them.

Caribbean health ministers, who have been warned by the Pan American Health Organization to expect a spike in COVID-19 infections in the coming weeks, have tried to assure their citizens that they are not relying solely on vendors in the United States to help their response to the respiratory disease.

They have also placed orders with suppliers in China and South Korea, they have said. McLaughlin, the Cayman premier, recently announced that the territory recently sold thousands of extra coronavirus test kits it had purchased, at cost, to Bermuda and Barbados.

It has been slightly more than 100 days since the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus to be a global pandemic, and just over a month since the first cases were registered on March 1 in the Caribbean, beginning with the Dominican Republic and the French overseas territories of St. Martin and St. Barthélemy. The first confirmations of COVID-19 in the English-speaking Caribbean came on March 10 when Jamaica recorded its first case, followed by St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Guyana the next day.

Since then, the number of cases has grown to more than 4,000 across 33 Caribbean countries and territories, with over 185 deaths, according to the latest available statistics compiled by the Caribbean Public Health Agency.

The Bahamas currently has 41 confirmed cases and eight deaths. Sands said the island nation, which is still recovering from last year’s deadly Hurricane Dorian, is “in the middle of our surge.” As a result, he’s trying to build the country’s capacity to handle COVID-19 infections by ensuring that healthcare workers, police and defense force officers are armed with masks, gowns, booties and hazmat suits for the pandemic.

“While we do not have a problem at this point, we do not want to get into a problem,” Sands said. “We have modeled what our burn rate is likely to be so we are just trying to build out our anticipated need to make sure that we stay ahead of the demand. So these shipments, while important, would have been for future needs.”

Sands acknowledges that the United States, which on Saturday surpassed more than half a million coronavirus cases and 20,000 deaths, is in a very difficult position as it becomes the world’s worst coronavirus hot spot and hospitals experience shortages.

“It’s very challenging when you don’t have enough supplies to meet the needs of your own institutions. I am in no way condoning or endorsing anything. I am simply saying as we watch the challenge it is also very, very difficult,” he said. “For all intensive purposes, borders are now shut, and without wanting to be flippant or dismissive, it’s every man for himself and God for us all.”

McClatchy Washington Bureau reporter Michael Wilner contributed to this report.

Source: Posted April 13, 2020; retrieved April 17, 2020 from:


Title #2 : U.S. blocks export of ‘tens of thousands’ of COVID-19 medical supplies
By:  Ava Turnquest
NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Health minister Dr Duane Sands confirmed the country has been significantly hit by U.S. restrictions banning the export of COVID-19 protective gear, noting the procurement of “many, many thousands” of critical supplies has been blocked.

However, Sands told Eyewitness News the government did not put all of its “eggs in one basket” as the country has sourced supplies from various countries.

He added: “This was a big deal, this wasn’t no little problem, this is a big deal.”

See the full article here: posted April 9, 2020; retrieved April 17, 2020.


Title #3: U.S. will send supplies that are ‘not needed domestically’, embassy says
By: Jasper Ward
While defending the United States’ decision to block the export of critical medical supplies, a U.S. embassy official said today that America will continue to send equipment and supplies that are “not needed” domestically to countries like The Bahamas amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The COVID-19 pandemic and the necessary response measures are challenging governments globally,” the official told The Nassau Guardian.

“The United States is taking action to maintain the commitment of the president to the American people. The United States is continuing to send equipment and supplies not needed domestically to many other countries, including The Bahamas, and we will continue to do more as we are able.”

See the full article here: posted April 9, 2020; retrieved April 17, 2020


We just completed a 6-part series on Big Hairy Audacious Goals (BHAG) where we considered these goals, these entries:

  1. BHAG – The Audacity of Hope – Yes, we can!
  2. BHAG Regional Currency – In God We Trust
  3. BHAG – Infrastructure Spending … finally funding Toll Roads
  4. BHAG – One Voice – Foreign Policy and Diplomatic Stance
  5. BHAG – Outreach to the World – Why Not a Profit Center
  6. BHAG – Netflix, Hulu, CBS, Peacock è Caribbean Media

Now for this continuation, a 7th entry, we consider the goal of a “region-wide, professionally-managed, deputized technocracy for greater production and greater accountability” – our own Caribbean Big Brother.

We obviously cannot rely on the US to be our Big Brother for pandemics – we must do it ourselves. This has been the theme of a number of previous Go Lean commentaries that elaborated on the goal of elevating the Caribbean societal engines for better Homeland Security; consider this sample list here: Coronavirus: ‘Clear and Present’ Threat to Economic Security Cursed in Paradise – Disasters upon Disasters Good Governance: Stepping Up in an Emergency First Steps for Caribbean Security – Deputize ‘Me’, says the CU After Disasters, Failed State Indicators: Destruction and Defection Funding the Caribbean Security Pact – Yes, we can! Caribbean Charity Management: Grow Up Already & Be Responsible The Logistics of Disaster Relief Managing a ‘Clear and Present Danger’

Yes, a new guard, the CU Homeland Security apparatus has always been the quest of the movement behind the Go Lean book (Page 10), and these previous blog-commentaries. The book presented a Declaration of Interdependence, with these words:

When a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security.

This movement studied previous pandemics and presented the lessons learned to the Caribbean region in a post on March 24, 2015:

A Lesson in History – SARS in Hong Kong
How can a community – the Caribbean region in this case – manage such an epidemiological crisis?

For this, we have a well-documented lesson from Hong Kong in 2003. There is much for us to learn from this lesson in history.

The people, institutions and governance of the Caribbean need to pay more than the usual attention to the lessons of SARS in Hong Kong, not just from the medical perspective (see Appendix B), but also from an economic viewpoint.

During the “heyday” of the SARS crisis, travel and transport to Hong Kong virtually came to a grinding halt! Hong Kong had previously enjoyed up to 14 million visitors annually; they were a gateway to the world. The SARS epidemic became a pandemic because of this status. Within weeks of the outbreak, SARS had spread from Hong Kong to infect individuals in 37 countries in early 2003.[3]

Can we afford this disposition in any Caribbean community?

Consider how this history may impact the Caribbean region. SARS in Hong Kong was 12 17 years ago. But last year [2014] the world was rocked with an Ebola crisis originating from West Africa. An additional example local to the Caribbean is the Chikungunya virus that emerged in Spring 2014. The presentation of these facts evinces that we cannot allow mis-management of any public health crisis; this disposition would not extend the welcoming hospitality that the tourism product depends on. Our domestic engines cannot sustain an outbreak of a virus like SARS (nor Ebola nor Chikungunya). Less than an outbreak, our tourism economic engines, on the other hand, cannot even withstand a rumor. We must act fast, with inter-state efficiency, against any virus.

This is the goal as detailed in the book Go Lean … Caribbean as it serves as a roadmap for the introduction of the technocratic Caribbean Union Trade Federation (CU). The vision of the CU is to ensure that the Caribbean is a protégé of communities like the US and EU states, not a parasite.

The Go Lean book reports that previous Caribbean administrations have failed miserably in managing regional crises. There is no structure for cooperation, collaboration and coordination across borders. This is the charge of the Go Lean/CU roadmap. To effectuate change in the region by convening all 30 Caribbean member-states, despite their historical legacies or governmental hierarchy.

The CU is not designed to just be in some advisory role when it comes to pandemic crises, but rather to possess the authority to act as a Security Apparatus for the region’s Greater Good.

Legally, each Caribbean member-state would ratify a Status of Forces Agreement that would authorize this role for the CU agencies (Emergency Management and Disease Control & Management) to serve as a proxy and deputy of the Public Health administrations for each member-state. This would thusly empower these CU agencies to quarantine and detain citizens with probable cause of an infectious disease. The transparency, accountability and chain-of-command would be intact with the appropriate checks-and-balances of the CU’s legislative and judicial oversight. This is a lesson learned from Hong Kong 2003 with China’s belligerence.

SARS was eradicated by January 2004 and no cases have been reported since. [4] We must have this “happy-ending”, but from the beginning. This is the lesson we can learn and apply in the Caribbean. …

This vision is the BHAG for today’s Caribbean. Yes, we can …

… execute the strategies, tactics and implementations to fulfill this vision.

COVID-19 was not the worst pandemic and may not be the last. So we must put the proper mitigation in place.

This vision, this BHAG, is conceivable, believable and achievable. We urged all Caribbean stakeholders to lean-in to this Go Lean roadmap. This is how we make our homeland a better place to live, work and play. 🙂

About the Book

The book Go Lean…Caribbean 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 & create 2.2 million new jobs.
  • 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 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 reboot, reform and transform the societal engines of Caribbean society.

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

Who We Are

The movement behind the Go Lean book – a non-partisan, apolitical, religiously-neutral Community Development Foundation chartered for the purpose of empowering and re-booting economic engines – 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 12 – 14):

ix. Whereas the realities of healthcare and an aging population cannot be ignored and cannot be afforded without some advanced mitigation, the Federation must arrange for health plans to consolidate premiums of both healthy and sickly people across the wider base of the entire Caribbean population. The mitigation should extend further to disease management, wellness, mental health, obesity and smoking cessation programs. The Federation must proactively anticipate the demand and supply … as developing countries are often exploited by richer neighbors for illicit organ [medical equipment and provisional] trade.

x. Whereas we are surrounded and allied to nations of larger proportions in land mass, populations, and treasuries, elements in their societies may have ill-intent in their pursuits, at the expense of the safety and security of our citizens. We must therefore appoint “new guards” to ensure our public safety and threats against our society, both domestic and foreign. …. 

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.

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

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