Go Lean Commentary
The problem with different independent nations coming together to build consensus is that each party may have its own self-interest. Independence and consensus-building are inherently opposed to each other.
The subsequent news article highlights this point, as it relates how 5 US ambassadors to Caribbean member-states had convened stakeholders to promote an agenda of American leadership in energy security.
Something about this initiative seems conflicting!
A lack of American leadership in the past has resulted in solutions originating elsewhere, from one neighbor in particular: Venezuela. That country’s PetroCaribe initiative had been valued by many Caribbean member-states as it was a vital lifeline throughout the global financial crisis, which had combined with cripplingly high oil and gas prices in 2008. But Venezuela-PetroCaribe is in enmity with US policy.
This brings to the fore a previous lesson in American foreign-policy history, from 25 years ago: Nelson Mandela’s unconditional support of enemies of the US that were unconditional supporters of the anti-Apartheid movement. Mr. Mandela’s direct comment was as follows:
“One mistake that some political analysts make is to think that their enemies should be our enemies. That [is something] we cannot and should never do. We have our own struggle that we are conducting. We are grateful to the world for supporting our struggle…but independence means we get to choose our friends and choose our enemies” – Nelson Mandela; June 21, 1990. (See Appendix A below).
The foregoing article speaks of the US Caribbean foreign policy initiative in campaigning against PetroCaribe et al:
Title: Ambassadors to Caribbean countries discuss energy, security
By: Jennifer Kay
MIAMI (AP) — Five U.S. ambassadors to the Caribbean on Thursday reinforced the U.S. government’s commitment to helping the cash-strapped region to reduce its dependence on Venezuelan oil while addressing multiple security issues.
The panel at Florida International University followed last month’s Caribbean Energy Security Summit in Washington, where Vice President Joe Biden said the U.S. was poised to help Caribbean countries that could address corruption and make needed regulatory changes.
The U.S. ambassadors to Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Suriname and Barbados and the eastern Caribbean participated in the panel hosted by FIU’s Latin American and CaribbeanCenter.
The U.S. wants to encourage more American investment in Caribbean energy projects, such as a new wind farm in Jamaica, “but we need to have and provide a safe and secure environment,” said Luis Moreno, the ambassador to Jamaica.
With falling oil prices shaking Venezuela’s economy, the Caribbean is interested in finding alternatives to Petrocaribe, a decade-old trade program created by the late President Hugo Chavez that requires member countries to pay only a small portion of the up-front costs for oil, allowing them to finance the rest under long-term debt agreements.
The ambassadors derided the program, though they acknowledged it wasn’t likely to end soon even as they push Caribbean countries to consider shifting to natural gas or other energy alternatives.
“We want to encourage individuality. We want to get these countries to sit up for themselves,” said Moreno, who called Petrocaribe “a blunt political instrument.”
Aside from Venezuela’s influence, the Caribbean faces a number of challenges that concern the U.S, such as border security, rising Chinese influence in the region, human rights, weak infrastructure, a lack of regional coordination and vulnerability to climate change and natural disasters.
There’s also been a rise in drug, arms and human trafficking in some eastern Caribbean islands as authorities put pressure on traffickers in South America, and some countries have begun essentially offering citizenship and easing travel for people who buy land or make other investments in the islands, said Larry Palmer, ambassador to Barbados and the eastern Caribbean.
Another problem is political instability in Haiti, in spite of strides the country has made in recovering from a 2010 earthquake. Long-delayed elections are scheduled later this year, but “it’s always rocky in Haiti,” said Pamela White, ambassador to Haiti.
“Let’s just pray we can get through those two days (of scheduled voting) this year so the Haitian people have the right, the democratic right, to vote in people they think will represent them,” she said.
Source: Associated Press News Wire Service (Retrieved 02/18/2015) – http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/feb/12/ambassadors-to-caribbean-countries-discuss-energy-/
VIDEO – St Lucia Clip from Caribbean Energy Security Summit – http://youtu.be/0Ho_PmQThTQ
Published on Jan 29, 2015 – Dr. James Fletcher – Minister of Public Service & Energy – who attended the US Summit on Energy Security says the meeting was a precursor to the energy and climate partnership of the America’s meeting which will take place in March 2015.
What is PetroCaribe and how does it relate to the Caribbean economic empowerment effort? (See Appendix B below). Previously, this commentary detailed a discussion on PetroCaribe-ALBA-SUCRE, identifying these economic integration initiatives started by the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez (1954-2013). His advocacy of socialism often brought him at odds with the US. But still, there were benefits and benevolence in his actions.
The book Go Lean…Caribbean pursues an apolitical agenda; the only motive is the elevation of Caribbean society by optimizing the economic, security and governance engines. This serves as a roadmap for the introduction and implementation of the Caribbean Union Trade Federation (CU). Further, the book, and accompanying blog commentaries, posit that American leadership may not always have the Caribbean best interest in mind, even for US Territories. Societies do better in their American interactions when they relate as protégés, not parasites. This is a reality that we must accept. The Go Lean roadmap features 144 missions to accomplish this feat of elevating Caribbean society to protégé status.
The Go Lean roadmap does align with many of the objectives of these US ambassadors; it is important for the Caribbean to pursue energy independence. As such there is a focus on alternative energy options that can be easily deployed in the region: solar, wind turbines, tidal and yes, the natural gas option as the US advocates. The cause to combat climate change and mitigate natural disasters is welcomed from the US, as our Caribbean islands are on the front lines of this battle. But the Go Lean roadmap is not 100% concurring with the US policy; we also align with some objectives of PetroCaribe, especially negotiating group discounts and delivery terms for the Caribbean member-states. Early in the book, these pressing needs were pronounced in the Declaration of Interdependence (Page 11), with these statements:
i. Whereas the earth’s climate has undeniably changed resulting in more severe tropical weather storms, it is necessary to prepare to insure the safety and security of life, property and systems of commerce in our geographical region. As nature recognizes no borders in the target of its destruction, we also must set aside border considerations in the preparation and response to these weather challenges.
vi. Whereas the finite nature of the landmass of our lands limits the populations and markets of commerce, by extending the bonds of brotherhood to our geographic neighbors allows for extended opportunities and better execution of the kinetics of our economies through trade. This regional focus must foster and promote diverse economic stimuli.
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.
The Go Lean roadmap details a series of community ethos, strategies, tactics, implementations and advocacies to foster the progress in the wide fields of energy alternatives and group purchasing. The following list applies:
|Community Ethos – Economic Systems Influence Individual Choices||Page 21|
|Community Ethos – Lean Operations – Group Purchase Organizations||Page 24|
|Community Ethos – Cooperatives||Page 25|
|Community Ethos – Regional Taxi Commissions||Page 25|
|Community Ethos – Ways to Improve Negotiations||Page 32|
|Community Ethos – Ways to Impact the Greater Good||Page 37|
|Strategy – Harness alternative power: Sun, Wind, and Natural Gas||Page 46|
|Tactical – Fostering a Technocracy||Page 82|
|Tactical – Separation of Powers – Energy Commission||Page 82|
|Anecdote – “Lean” in Government – Energy Permits||Page 93|
|Anecdote – Caribbean Energy Grid Implementation||Page 100|
|Implementation – Foreign Policy Initiatives at Start-up||Page 102|
|Implementation – Ways to Develop Pipeline Industry – Underwater Power Lines||Page 107|
|Implementation – Ways to Improve Energy Usage||Page 113|
|Implementation – Ways to Promote Independence||Page 120|
|Planning – Lessons Learned from 2008||Page 136|
|Advocacy – Ways to Impact Public Works||Page 175|
|Advocacy – Ways to Foster Cooperatives||Page 176|
|Advocacy – Ways to Impact Monopolies||Page 202|
|Advocacy – Ways to Impact US Territories||Page 244|
The planners of a new elevated Caribbean hereby thank the US foreign policy-makers for their dedication towards the Caribbean. This is friendly! But as matured independent nations, we accept the responsibility to “choose our own friends and our own enemies”.
We accept that in this case, the US may have altruistic motives, especially with declining oil prices possibly affecting Venezuela. But for far too often, American leadership has been motivated by crony-capitalistic intentions. The points of mitigating the risks of American Big Business were further elaborated upon in these previous blog/commentaries:
|http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=4076||US Big Media Fantasies versus Weather Realities|
|http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=3397||A Christmas Present for the Banks from the Omnibus Bill|
|http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=3326||Detroit’s M-1 Rail – Finally avoiding Plutocratic Auto Industry influence|
|http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=2887||Caribbean must work together to address rum subsidies|
|http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=2522||The Cost of Cancer Drugs|
|http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=2465||Book Review: ‘This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate’|
|http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=2435||Korea’s Protégé Model – A Dream for Latin America / Caribbean|
|http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=2338||Lesson Learned – How Best to Welcome the Dreaded ‘Plutocracy’|
|http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=2259||The Criminalization of American Business – Big Banks Let Loose|
|http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=2251||US Black-and-Brown populations are still institutionally disadvantaged|
|http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=2183||A Textbook Case of Industry Price-gouging|
|http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=1143||Health-care fraud in America; Criminals take $272 billion a year|
|http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=789||America’s War on the Caribbean|
|http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=709||Post 2008 Great Recession – Student debt holds back home buyers|
|http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=242||Post 2008 Great Recession – The Erosion of the Middle Class|
|http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=273||10 Things We Don’t Want from the US – #1: American Self-Interest|
The Go Lean roadmap calls for integration of the regional member-states, a strategy of confederation with a tactic of separating powers between CU federal agencies and member-states’ governments. The roadmap calls for the regional integration of energy generation and energy distribution services – a regional grid. The separation-of-powers tactic also calls for assumption of Emergency Management agencies for the member-states. This allows for the regional mitigation and remediation of the affects of climate change. The roadmap posits that to succeed as a society, the Caribbean region must integrate and consolidate into a Single Market of 42 million people, so as to be able to compete with the rest of the world, and to facilitate better negotiations.
It is time to choose our own friends … and enemies.
Now is the time for all of the Caribbean, the people, business, institutions and governments, to lean-in for the optimizations and opportunities described in the book Go Lean … Caribbean. 🙂
Appendix A: Nelson Mandela’s Friends
The relationship between the United States and the anti-apartheid movement Mandela led was duplicitous. Some of his most fervent international supporters were leaders of countries sharply at odds with America.
The US Government criticized Nelson Mandela for going to Libya to visit Muammar Gaddafi, and in a speech that he gave Nelson Mandela said that “they could go and jump into a pool”. He said that he was not going to turn his back on the people that was there for him in his darkest hour.
Nelson Mandela was 100% man; he didn’t allow other people to tell him what to do, and he didn’t allow people to pick his friends [or his enemies]. [Many times,] America’s enemies were Mandela’s friends.
These “friends” referred to:
- Fidel Castro of Cuba
- Minister Louis Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam
- Yasser Arafat of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO)
- Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran
Additional research: Mandela Town Hall Meeting, New York City, June 21, 1990:
http://youtu.be/q6eE9BIUfBg – 1990 video of Town Hall meeting with Nelson Mandela of South Africa anchored by Ted Koppel on ABC Nightline in New York.
Appendix B: PetroCaribe / ALBA / SUCRE
PetroCaribe is an oil alliance with Venezuela which allows the purchase of oil on conditions of preferential payment. The alliance was launched on 29 June 2005 in Puerto La Cruz, Venezuela. In 2013 PetroCaribe agreed to links with the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas (ALBA), and to go beyond oil and promote economic cooperation. It is now considered an “economic zone”.
There are a total of 17 members, plus Venezuela; 12 of the members are from the 15 member CariCom (excluding, Barbados, Montserrat and Trinidad and Tobago). At the first summit, 14 countries joined the alliance. These were: Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Belize, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Haití, Honduras, Jamaica, Nicaragua, St Lucia, St Kitts and Nevis, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname and Venezuela.
ALBA – The Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas is an intergovernmental organization associated with socialist and social democratic governments wishing to consolidate regional economic integration based on a vision of social welfare, bartering and mutual economic aid. ALBA nations may conduct trade using a virtual regional currency known as the SUCRE.
SUCRE – A regional currency to be used in commercial exchanges between members of the regional ALBA trade bloc. It is intended to replace the US dollar as a medium of exchange in order to decrease US control of Latin American economies. The acronym is in Spanish, as: Sistema Único de Compensación Regional. In English, this means: Unified System for Regional Compensation. The plan is for the SUCRE to become a hard currency.