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January 01, 2010

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The case for some sort of regional federation in the eastern Caribbean makes sense, especially if it would create actual economies of scale. The geography's more workable than it was with the West Indies Federation. Tight associations with a post-colonial metropole on the US or French models would probably have been more productive still, but that doesn't seem to have been a likely outcome of British colonial politics.

What would Trinidad and Tobago get out of a Greater Trinidad _sensu strictu,_ or even a Trinidad-dominated eastern Caribbean federation? The smaller polities, all widely dispersed islands with smaller populations and less developed economies than Trinidad's, would presumably benefit from the infusion of the dominant partner's funds and expertise, but would Trinidadians actually be living better? Or do some people in Port of Spain like the idea of being the metropole of a mini-empire?

(As a related aside, Wikipedia's OECS page mentions Venezuela's interest in joining the OECS. What does Venezuela have to do with the region, anyhow?)

Patrick Manning has an interest in being the head of a mini-empire. Trinidadian voters, not so much. Which is why I doubt that T&T will join the OECS, let alone get the political union that he wants.

Caribbean Airlines would get some help from a unified air space, but much of that is already in the CSME. Ditto movement of skilled labor. Not too much in it for them.

Venezuela. Ah, Venezuela. Randy, you're assuming that Mr. Chávez has a strategy. He clearly has a liking for anything that smacks of continental union, which is why he wants to join Mercosur. Joining the OECS would, well ... Chávez has no idea what that means, since he clearly does not want to adopt the Eastern Caribbean dollar or submit himself to the rulings of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court. But it sounds nice.

As for its interest in the region, see here. It does have a long border, after all.

All the Bolivarian aid programs are still in place, and support to Cuba continues. Yet what he gets is unclear. My previous categorization was: "Too serious to be costless domestic posturing, not serious enough to actually extend Venezuelan power." Which kind of leaves me at a loss.

Ideas?

So does Barbados not belong to this OECS outfit because they think they're doing well enough on their own?

Congratulations on joining the world's leading ideological project! In many ways, with the ACP agreement, it's not that far off setting up interworking with the EU itself. We're going to encircle the US, once the EU-Canada agreement goes through...

If an unelected body has the right to take governments to court to enforce its own laws against those of elected governments, then it does in fact have the effective power. There are clear dangers involved in giving unqualified welcomes to the end of democracy and the end of the rights of the people (even of small countries) to decide their own futures. Big supra government organisations like the EU are the way of the past. Just look a the extraordinary mess of agriculture and fishing in the EU - the worst man made eco disaster of the 20th century is how these policies have been described (and they are totally controlled by the EU and no elected government can change the rules to make them better or more fair). Do be careful what you call for. Barbados is not part of the OECS btw and is proof that small works well.

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