This commentary addresses the needs and vision for just one city in the Caribbean, the Bahamian city of Freeport/Lucaya. But this commentary is also a milestone for the movement associated with the book Go Lean … Caribbean; this is Blog # 400.
400 is a lot of insight, analysis and wisdom. Yet, these all focused on the same goal: to make all of the Caribbean – the 30 member-states consisting of all islands and the coastal countries of Belize, Guyana and Suriname – a better place to live, work and play … by elevating the societal engines of economics, security and governance. This is easier said than done, yet still conceivable, believable and achievable. The following are the totals for these blog categories:
The book serves as a roadmap for the introduction and implementation of the Caribbean Union Trade Federation (CU), a technocratic federal government to optimize the societal engines of the 30 Caribbean member-states. The book asserts that many of the member-states are failing … their citizens, and as a result many have fled their homelands in pursuit of refuge in foreign lands. The Caribbean population is 42 million, with a large Diaspora (estimated from 10 to 25 million); many who have pledged not to return (for permanent residency) until their homeland breaks from their ineffectual governing systems, failing economic engines and inadequate security provisions.
While the previous 399 blog-commentaries are promoting the Go Lean book, this one – # 400 – is different. This commentary is promoting the other blogs!
While the Go Lean book focuses primarily on the member-states, the only actual city with special mention – an actual advocacy; see photo – was Freeport/Lucaya, the 2nd City in the Bahamas.
Freeport is beautiful! “It has great potential” …
… unfortunately, this has been the descriptor for over 60 years: “Great Potential”. In actuality, this town is the epitome of a failing community as it has been “rocked” by one crisis after another: hurricanes, financial crisis, abandonment by Direct Foreign Investors, abandonment by residents, and the eventual manifestation of deficient planning; bringing the age-old lesson to the fore: “when you fail to plan, you plan to fail”.
The complaint there of the everyday man, everyday, is that the oversight of the city’s affairs by the central government in Nassau is deficient, flawed and shortsighted for Freeport. The critics are demanding a referendum to consider different secession options from Nassau. But the options being considered are not “all of nothing from Nassau”, but rather, Freeport is seeking some degree of autonomy and then becoming a Self-Governing Entity (SGE) of the CU.
There is a lot of history associated with the issues of SGE’s and Freeport.
The closest, most successful SGE is in the Orlando, Florida area: Walt Disney World Resort. This resort is administered as a SGE, empowered by the Reedy Creek Improvement District, a special government district created in 1965 that essentially gave the Walt Disney Company the standard powers and autonomy of an incorporated city. Today, the resort hosts 52.5 million visitors as the most popular vacation destination in the world. But early in the site selection process (1959), Walt Disney’s team toured Freeport for consideration for his planned resort[a]. Today tourism is the primary economic driver for Freeport, but declining, with only less than 280,000[b] annual visitors. (Freeport’s economic history has been likened to the Concorde Supersonic jet airplane; considered advanced for a time and then … the cutting-edge had an expiration date, so it became stagnant and stale in its appeal).
See VIDEO in the Appendix below from a visitor that first came to Freeport in 1971, then again in 2009; though not his intention, he chronicled the “delta”.
There are lessons for Freeport – and the whole Caribbean – to consider in this history and to learn from this SGE experience. Primary lesson: Things that are alive should grow!
Freeport was planned as a Free Trade Zone, under the Hawksbill Creek Agreement – a “Free Port” – in 1955. This is one of the categories described in the Go Lean book as “Self Governing Entities”. (Other forms of SGE’s include: industrial parks, technology labs, medical campuses, industrial sites, research facilities, etc.). Orlando’s Reedy Creek Improvement District emerged 10 years later, it was a matruation of the SGE concept.
This commentary is advocating for Freeport to return to its root design – the city had envisioned a population of 250,000 people, but never exceeded 70,000 at its peak decades ago – and pursue some form of autonomous rule (not necessarily independence) that was always envisioned, and is so badly needed now. This has been a familiar call for decades. The options now are ideal for a public referendum by the people of Freeport/Lucaya, with the following choices:
|Special Taxing District||Allow for additional tax revenue, like a surcharge to VAT, for the autonomous administration.|
|Municipality||Full autonomy as a city with Strong Mayor and/or separate Parliament with Prime Minister.|
|Semi-Autonomous||Separation-of-Powers between central government and Freeport allowing some limited control.|
|Autonomous||Expanded Separation-of-Powers between Nassau and Freeport allowing even more control.|
|Independence||Create a separate country.|
Freeport is not the only community contemplating these choices. Consider:
- In Catalonia, Spain, there is a separatist movement advocating a similar quest.
- In the United Kingdon, the people (and leaders) of Scotland are wrestling with the same issue: autonomy from London.
There are a lot of lessons – from the worldwide struggle – in this issue for the Caribbean in general and Freeport in particular. Despite Freeport’s demand for autonomous rule, the plan is not to “go at it alone, rather immediately confederate with the CU. This makes any referendum a demand for interdependence with the rest of the Caribbean. The people of Freeport should feel that aligning with the CU and submitting to the technocratic solutions (Security initiatives, Job creations, Caribbean Central Bank) would be preferred to the failed economic and monetary policies from Nassau. The underlying spirit behind this Freeport Re-boot movement would be a quest to learn lessons and “appoint new guards” to make their homeland a better place to live, work and play. This spirit was pronounced in the opening Declaration of Interdependence at the outset of the Go Lean book (Page 12 & 14); consider these statements:
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.
xxxiii. Whereas lessons can be learned and applied from the study of the recent history of other societies, the Federation must formalize statutes and organizational dimensions to avoid the pitfalls of communities like East Germany, Detroit …
The Go Lean roadmap posits that the Climate Change crisis (with the accompanying hurricanes) continues, and that the global financial crisis lingers … to this day. But the roadmap trumpets that “a crisis is a terrible thing to waste”. The best hope to reform and transform Freeport in particular – and the Caribbean in general – is to confederate the CU. Then, real solutions can be forged: growing the regional economy to $800 Billion GDP and creating 2.2 million jobs … leveraging the region’s 42 million people.
How would this vision of Freeport, as a more autonomous city, affect the everyday man, everyday?
This transformational change comes with burdens and responsibilities; the people must therefore be cautious and reserved. There must be a comprehensive plan that considers all the advantages and disadvantages of an autonomous move. Some of the reservations would be:
Debt – The City of Freeport would have to assume all outstanding National Government debt that have been incurred specifically for Freeport’s consumption. Think schools, hospitals, public safety facilities. It would curtail negotiations with Nassau if the expectation is for Nassau to pay for Freeport’s debt.
Rent – Any status, short of independence, would require some separation-of-powers with Nassau. Therefore some degree of government revenue – rent – would have to be remitted to Nassau. It could easily be envisioned for Freeport to make “lease” payments to Nassau equal to, or in excess, annual Freeport contributions to the National Treasury, plus inflation.
How would such an autonomous move make Freeport a better place to live, work and play? How would this roadmap elevate the societal engines of economics, security and governance in this city? Consider here:
Freeport was envisioned for a population of 250,000; that can still happen. Positive steps in that direction would only grow the economy. It is an economic fact that more people = economic growth; less people = economic abatement.
Freeport can and must do better … than its status quo or its historical past.
This movement behind this Go Lean roadmap just wants to make our Caribbean homeland – and Freeport – a better place to live, work and play. 🙂
Appendix VIDEO – Freeport VIDEO Tour; first time since 1971 – https://youtu.be/LVFIVbgwjTg
- Category: Travel & Events
License: Standard YouTube License
Music: “Variations On A Theme From Pachelbel’s Canon In D Major (Live Piano Solo)” by David Lanz
Appendix – Book Citations
a. Finnie, Shaun (2006). “Chapter 7 – The Mouse Moves East“; The Disneylands That Never Were. www.Lulu.com Online Publishers. Pages 94 – 96. ISBN 9781847285430
b. Oxford Business Group (2009). “A lot to offer; Grand Bahama Outlook”. The Report: The Bahamas 2009. www.OxfordBusinessGroup.com. Page 77. ISBN 9781902339221.