‘Time to Go’ – Logic of Senior Emigration

Go Lean Commentary

“Twenty million American Negroes unpacked.” – Comedian and Activist Dick Gregory, on November 27, 1963 when President Lyndon Johnson announced at a Joint-Session of Congress that he would continue with the recently assassinated John Kennedy’s Civil Rights agenda.

This was 1963, 100 years after President’s Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, and the subsequent Civil War. Finally after 350 years of the African Slave Trade, African-American people could start to think of America as “home”. Wow, they could unpack. There was no need to consider any other destination.

It didn’t end there!

This was also the start of other African-ethnic people – in Africa and in the Americas – to start the thinking that America may be OK to emigrate to. They started to pack, while African-Americans unpacked.

One step forward for American civilization, but two steps backwards for Caribbean society.

Our brain-drain and societal abandonment to the US began there-then, and continued unabated down to this day.

Where we are now is a shame-and-a-disgrace – 70 percent of out tertiary-educated – gone! Now we have the report of a 104-year old woman who just naturalized to become a US citizen. Just as much as this is a good story for her and America, this is an indictment for us – the Caribbean – and our failures as individual states.

See the news story here:

Title: Woman at 104 proves it’s never too late to become an American citizen
By: David J. Neal

May Garcia, 104, center, sings “America the Beautiful” after she took the Oath of Allegiance and was sworn in as a U.S. citizen on Friday, Aug. 26, 2016. Garcia attended the ceremony with her daughter, Faye Rochester, right, and son-in-law Denis Rochester. Garcia lives with them in Lauderhill. She passed her citizenship exam early Friday, then was sworn in as a United States citizen at the USCIS Oakland Park Field Office in Oakland Park. Garcia was born on July 15, 1912 in Kingston, Jamaica. She moved to the U.S. in 1993 to be closer to her family and take care of her grandchildren. Garcia has four children, 12 grandchildren, 18 great-grandchildren and eight great-great-grandchildren.
Photo Credit: Marsha Halper.

Jamaica-born May Garcia decided to become a U.S. citizen after 23 years in this country and 104 years on this Earth for the most bedrock element of democracy.

“She had been watching the election coverage and said, ‘I’d love to vote,’ ” Garcia’s daughter Fay Rochester said.

So Garcia, born in Kingston in 1912, 50 years before Jamaica’s independence from Great Britain, started the naturalization process. That path ended Friday for Garcia and more than 100 others from 36 nations who took their oath of citizenship at a naturalization ceremony at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services building in west Broward.

Afterward, she waved her arm back and forth in celebration as Pharrell’s “Happy” played in the Ceremony Room. Several other new U.S. citizens or their relatives stopped by Garcia’s chair to shake her hand.

Garcia, who lives in Lauderhill with Rochester and son-in-law Denis Rochester, said she had no problem with studying for the citizenship exam or taking the exam itself. Then again, activity keeps the mind sharp and as Garcia said, “I’m a busy person. I’m not a lazy one.”

She raised her four children in Jamaica by doing others’ laundry by hand. She came to the U.S. in 1993 at 81 to help take care of some of her 12 grandchildren (who gave her 18 great grandchildren, who gave her eight great-great grandchildren). Now, with her family spread all around the United States, she spends her days at the Sadkin Senior Community Center, where she does Zumba classes.

Saturday, she still does laundry by hand.

“We’re so happy and proud of her,” Rochester said. “At her age, she’s still going strong. She does everything for herself.”

Asked how she has extended her life so long, Garcia said, “I wasn’t a wild person. I like everything that’s nice. I don’t do things that aren’t right. I don’t like anything that’s out of the way.”
Source: Posted August 23, 2016; retrieved September 26, 2016 from: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/community/broward/article98197142.html


Congratulations May Garcia! May you have all that you desire.

This commentary is 3 of 3 from the movement behind the book Go Lean … Caribbean, in consideration of the reasons to consider repatriation back to the Caribbean homeland. The other commentaries detailed in this series are as follows:

  1.   Time to Go: Spot-on for Protest
  2.   Time to Go: No Respect for our Hair
  3.   Time to Go: Logic of Senior Emigration

The Go Lean book was composed with people like May Garcia in mind. In its epilogue, the book makes valedictions to people like Ms. Garcia, on Page 252:

To the Caribbean Resident: Count your blessings, while you work for improvement.
To the Caribbean Diaspora: Come in from the cold.

To the Caribbean Senior Citizen: Thank you for your service. We’ll take it from here.

No one expects a 104-year woman to contribute to her society, to be a mover-and-a-shaker, to forge change in her community and set the path for new advocacies, technologies or systems of commerce. But Ms. Garcia is an inspiration. She plainly demonstrates to the planners of a new Caribbean how acute our failures are. This celebration should have been in her Caribbean homeland, Jamaica. This is our quest!

She should have been like a tree …

… planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither – whatever they do prospers. – The Bible; Psalms 1:3 – New International Version

A “planted tree” analogy relates that she would be firmly established … and others – her children and grandchildren – would come to her.

This scenario paints the picture of “prospering where planted“. This is the underlying vision of the Go Lean book. Emotionally, this is in direct contrast to the psychological trauma of “Longing for Home“. This is a real problem for people in exile communities; normally this scarring bears on a subject’s emotional and physical well-being. The experiences of the subject in the foregoing article is very unique, Ms. Garcia seems to have all of her 4 children, 12 grandchildren, 18 great-grandchildren and 8 great-great grandchildren all in the same country. Assuredly, in most other cases, some of the offspring are in the home country and some are in the exile country. There tends to be two moving targets, itinerant children with an iterant parent. This is the opposite of planted.

This lack of planting can create a sense of urgency to reform and transform. Many Diaspora find that urgency expressed in the statement:

Time to Go … home”.

To satisfy the wishes of a special person like Ms. Garcia could be motivation enough to forge change in the Caribbean, to allow these seniors the opportunity to prosper where they were planted all their lives. This is the quest of the Go Lean book.

The Go Lean book and movement serves as a roadmap for the introduction of the technocratic Caribbean Union Trade Federation (CU). The CU is set to optimize Caribbean society through economic elevation, security empowerment and governing engagements. Therefore the 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 economic engines.
  • Improve Caribbean governance to support these engines.

The Go Lean book presents a plan of hope for the senior citizens of the Caribbean.

But this is not just an altruistic dream; it accepts the reality that the economic, security and governing optimizations must be enabled, not just hoped for. It is Time to Go; our aging parents and grandparents are waiting on us to execute; they may not have as much time to wait, to see this quest fulfilled.  The book (Page 225) described the urgent commitment to the Caribbean Seniors as follows in this advocacy: 10 Ways to Improve Elder-Care:

1. Lean-in for the Caribbean Single Market & Economy (CSME) initiative: Caribbean Union Trade Federation. The Caribbean Union Trade Federation (CU) will allow for the unification of the region into one market, thereby creating an entity (42 million) big and consequential enough to negotiate Treaties with the US, Canada, and Europe for more consideration for the needs of the Caribbean’s baby boomers in the Diaspora. In addition, while the US enjoyed its Baby Boom during the 2nd half of the 20th century, the Caribbean region kept pace. So now there will be an enlarged single market needing CU elder-care and support services, plus public-private initiatives as the pool of contributors/benefactors will now be maximized. The end result is a reversing of the “brain and capital drain” that plagued the Caribbean recently. There are no labor issues for this age group, as they are in retirement and not competing for jobs in the local market.
2. Tax Benefit of Dependents in Family Trusts Many Caribbean ex-patriots emigrate to earn more money to send back for their aging parents. Yet the foreign taxing authorities (i.e. IRS) do not give dependent tax credit if the dependents are still in the Caribbean. Therefore, many Caribbean ex-patriots try to relocate their aging parents back to their new home – this further exacerbates the “brain and capital drain”. The CU will lobby to grant a dependent care credit for up to 4 living parents per couple with a Tax ID Number in an organized Family Trust “vehicle”. The CU will disclose all death certificates back to the Sourcing Countries, much like the Social Security Administration does in the US today.
3. Repatriate Retirement Benefits The CU wants their former citizens to return “home” and many senior “baby boomer” ex-patriots want to spend their golden years “back home”. The CU Banking system will allow for (free) direct deposit of retirement and pension benefit payments to the repatriated Caribbean residents. Social Workers will be trained to advocate and engage the “Source Countries” bureaucracies to remediate disputes and optimize services on behalf of the participants.
4. Repatriate MediCare Benefits The decision to return/repatriate “home” is more complicated for those with health issues as they fear the lost of medical benefits from their National Health plans in their emigrated countries. With licensed and accredited Caribbean doctors and facilities meeting the standards of the Sourcing Countries, repatriated Caribbean [seniors] will have access to their medical benefits even though they are abroad. This will increase the revenue base of the medical establishments and advance the standard of care for all.
5. Medical Training, Accreditation, Advocacy and Quality Assurance of Gerontology Support Services Promote and incentivize medical careers for doctors, nurses, therapists and CNA’s (Certified Nurse Assistants) with scholarships, grants and forgive-able student loans. Plus the CU will license, accredit and facilitate the Continuous Education requirement for the industry participants. For ongoing operations, patient advocacy, Quality Assurance programs and mediation/ arbitration/dispute resolution will facilitate world-class service delivery.
6. Deploy Disease Management Programs for Gerontology Afflictions Disease management programs can be implemented specifically for gerontology ailments like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Degenerative Eye Diseases and other chronic afflictions. The goal is to identify, educate, and treat patients with ailments that tend to have no cure, but the afflicted could prosper with proper management.
7. Caribbeans with Disabilities Many times seniors become challenged in their mobility or disabled requiring aid and transportation services. Most Caribbean public buses (Jitney) do not allow for wheelchair/scooter access. The CU will overseer the Taxi Commissions, to include Para-transit services for non-ambulance transport. The Caribbean [persons] with Disabilities Act, modeled after Americans with Disability Act, will allow CU residents (and seniors) with physical and mental disabilities to have equal access rights/provisions of “reasonable accommodations” by CU institutions and establishments.
8. Public Health Extension The CU will prioritize vaccinations (flu shots) for seniors, and regulate easy access at clinics, and pharmacies. One strategy is to grant credits and discounts for senior participants.
The data associated with flu shots and vaccinations will be collected and mined, then aggregately published by the CU.
9. Wellness, Nutrition, and Fitness Programs A successful deployment of a Government Wellness program calls for a reboot of cultural habits in terms of nutrition, physical therapies and exercise in Senior Centers, Rehabilitation facilities and Nursing Homes. Programs like “Silver Sneakers” (walking clubs) and bicycle paths to encourage more exercise will be implemented at the CU level. Where air-conditioned shopping malls may be minimal, the ideal island climate allow for tree-lined walking paths to be identified, developed, maintained and policed-enforced by CU institutions.
10. First Responders Regulated by the CU Emergency Management operations will factor in the needs of Seniors during Disaster Response (Hurricanes) and normal day-to-day operations. Hurricane Shelters will prioritize seniors first. Medical Alert Notifications via bracelets or home monitoring equipment require a monitoring industry on the “other end of the line” and physical First Responders.

Fixing the Caribbean eco-system has always been a mission of the Go Lean/CU roadmap, to dissuade the propensity for so many Caribbean people who flee from their Caribbean homelands to foreign destinations like the US. In addition, there is a mission to invite many Diaspora members to repatriate, to declare that it is Time to Go . The book contends that the Caribbean must prepare for the eventual return of these native sons and daughters back to our shores. This point is pronounced early in the book with the Declaration of Interdependence (Pages 12 & 13) that claims:

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.

xiii. Whereas the legacy of dissensions in many member-states … will require a concerted effort to integrate the exile community’s repatriation, the Federation must arrange for Reconciliation Commissions to satiate a demand for justice.

xviii.  Whereas all citizens in the Federation member-states may not have the same physical abilities, reasonable accommodations must be made so that individuals with physical and mental disabilities can still access public and governmental services so as to foster a satisfactory pursuit of life’s liberties and opportunities for happiness.

xix. Whereas our legacy in recent times is one of societal abandonment, it is imperative that incentives and encouragement be put in place to first dissuade the human flight, and then entice and welcome the return of our Diaspora back to our shores. This repatriation should be effected with the appropriate guards so as not to imperil the lives and securities of the repatriated citizens or the communities they inhabit. The right of repatriation is to be extended to any natural born citizens despite any previous naturalization to foreign sovereignties.

xx.  Whereas the results of our decades of migration created a vibrant Diaspora in foreign lands, the Federation must organize interactions with this population into structured markets. Thus allowing foreign consumption of domestic products, services and media, which is a positive trade impact. These economic activities must not be exploited by others’ profiteering but rather harnessed by Federation resources for efficient repatriations.

Preparing the Caribbean region for the return of the aging Diaspora, means fixing the regional defects to make our homeland a better place to live, work and play for everyone. This quest must first be in our hearts – the seats of motivation. The book explains (Page 20):

… the approach to forge change for an individual is defined as “starting in the head (thoughts, visions), penetrating the heart (feelings, motivations) and then finally manifesting in the hands (actions). This same body analogy is what is purported in this [Go Lean] book for how the Caribbean is to embrace change – following this systematic flow:

Head – Plans, models and constitutions
o  Heart – Community Ethos
o  Hands – Actions, Reboots, and Turn-arounds

The book details that first, there must be the adoption of new community ethos – fundamental spirit of a culture; the underlying sentiment that informs the beliefs, customs, or practices of a society. In addition to these new ethos below, the executions of the following strategies, tactics, implementations and advocacies are needed to impact the region’s elevation hopes:

Community Ethos – Deferred Gratification Page 21
Community Ethos – Economics Influence Choices Page 21
Community Ethos – Privacy versus Public Protection Page 23
Community Ethos – “Crap” Happens Page 23
Community Ethos – Lean Operations Page 24
Community Ethos – Cooperatives Page 24
Community Ethos – Non-Government Organizations Page 25
Community Ethos – Ways to Impact Turn-Arounds Page 33
Community Ethos – Ways to Improve Sharing Page 35
Community Ethos – Ways to Promote Happiness Page 36
Community Ethos – Impact the Greater Good Page 37
Strategy – Vision – Confederate 30 Member-States Page 45
Strategy – Mission – Reform our Health Care Response Page 47
Strategy – Agents of Change – Aging Diaspora Page 57
Tactical – Fostering a Technocracy Page 64
Separation of Powers – Department of Health Page 86
Implementation – Ways to Deliver Page 109
Planning – Ways to Model the EU Page 130
Planning – Ways to Make the Caribbean Better Page 131
Planning – Ways to Measure Progress Page 148
Advocacy – Ways to Grow the Economy Page 151
Advocacy – Ways to Improve Healthcare Page 156
Advocacy – Ways to Impact Cancer Page 157
Advocacy – Ways to Better Manage the Social Contract Page 170
Advocacy – Ways to Foster Cooperatives Page 176
Advocacy – Ways to Improve Emergency Management Page 196
Advocacy – Ways to Preserve Caribbean Heritage Page 218
Advocacy – Ways to Improve Elder-Care Page 225
Advocacy – Ways to Empower Women – Aging Population Page 226

This Go Lean book asserts that family dynamics will always be placed ahead of any nationalistic objectives. It is simply the fact that people’s priorities are consistent: self, family, and then community. Any societal elevation plan, must consider this reality. This viewpoint – re-uniting the family with a return of the aging Diaspora – has been previously detailed in Go Lean blog/commentaries, as sampled here:

http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=7659 Pre-Fab Housing and Elder-Care Conjunction
http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=6175 Lesson from Japan: Aging Populations
http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=5901 Socio-Economic Change: The Demographic Theory of Elderly Suicide
http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=4278 Businesses Try to Stave-off Brain Drain as Boomers Retire
http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=4222 Getting Rich Slowly … in the Caribbean
http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=2830 Jamaica’s Public Pension Under-funded
http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=2522 Public Health Economics – The Cost of Cancer Drugs
http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=2105 Recessions and Public Health in the Caribbean Region
http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=949 Managing Inflation for the “Golden Years” of Retirement
http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=273 10 Things We Don’t Want from the US – #8 Family Abandonment

The Caribbean has a lot to work with now! It is arguably the best address on the planet. So we are NOT discussing repatriating to places like the Middle-Eastern desert (Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, etc) or Siberia. We have the best terrain, fauna & flora; just think of our beaches. Culturally, we have the best cuisine, rums, cigars and festivals (think Carnival, Junkanoo, Crop-Over, etc.). We also have the best in hospitality, just think of our luxurious hotel-resorts and cruise ships. Longing for any these features of Caribbean life is perfectly healthy. It is Time to Go.

But we are defective and deficient … in economics (high costs of living, investments, jobs and entrepreneurial opportunities); in security (crime and emergency preparation & response); and in governance (education, healthcare and government financing). We need to reform and transform. So underlying to the Go Lean/CU prime directive of elevating the economics, security and governing engines of the Caribbean, is the desire to make the Caribbean homeland, a better place to live, work and play for all, young and old.

Without a doubt, there is value to keeping senior citizens in their communities for these “golden years”; their “grey hair” – poetic for wisdom – is greatly valued for the next generations. There is value for the community and value for the senior citizens. And as related in the introduction, their time-urgency can be an inspiration for change.

We need to spend time with our aging parents and they need to spend time with their children and grandchildren. Fulfilling this simple mission should not be location agnostic, it should be at home, in the Caribbean. As related in the old Calypso song by Harry Belafonte – Island in the Sun:

Oh, island in the sun
Willed to me by my father’s hand
All my days I will sing in praise
Of your forest, waters,
Your shining sand …

This theme synchronizes with the Bible’s precept – Psalms 137: 1 – 4 – of refugees longing for their homeland while in exile:

1 By the rivers of Babylon, There we sat down and wept, When we remembered Zion.
2 Upon the willows in the midst of it We hung our harps.
3 For there our captors demanded of us songs, And our tormentors mirth, saying, “Sing us one of the songs of Zion.”
4 How can we sing the LORD’S song In a foreign land?

This Bible verse is better appreciated as a song. See the VIDEO in the Appendix below.

This commentary posits that it is a psychological torture for elderly people to “ride out” their days in exile. They will constantly long for their homeland; there is the old adage:

When a man longs for the town of his boyhood, it is not the town alone that he longs for; it’s also his boyhood.

Yet still, the longing for home – homesickness – is reason enough to declare: It’s Time to Go.

For this reason, all Caribbean stakeholders – governmental leaders, citizens, residents and Diaspora – are hereby urged to lean-in to this Go Lean/CU roadmap to elevate the Caribbean to dissuade emigration and encourage repatriation. Our senior Caribbean citizens have suffered enough; let’s make their golden years … golden. 🙂

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


Appendix VIDEO – By the Rivers of Babylon ( with lyrics) – https://youtu.be/vYK9iCRb7S4

Published on Jul 27, 2012 – By the rivers of Babylon by Boney M.

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