Last update: 07-Dec-2013 1:52 am
Saturday, December 07, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
You are here
Daughter of former Jamaican PM: Region must unite to wipe out debt
The countries of the Caribbean are drowning in debt and the only way to address this issue is with a united regional effort. This was the argument of Rachel Manley, daughter and granddaughter of two Jamaican prime ministers—Norman and Michael Manley—as she delivered the 27th annual Eric Williams Memorial Lecture on Saturday night. Manley, a writer, reminisced about growing up around her grandparents in pre-independence Jamaica, to an audience which included Tobago House of Assembly Chief Secretary Orville London and Opposition Leader Keith Rowley, at the Central Bank Auditorium, Port-of-Spain. Manley has written award-winning memoirs about her life with her father and her grandparents. Her paternal grandmother was the sculptor Edna Manley.
She said a united approach to eliminate debt in the region could avoid the chaos that the present course of debt in the Caribbean was headed for. “It can be done. If we think as a region instead of a unit it can be done, and this would be following the charter of Caricom that bears the signature of Eric Williams,” she said. She said Jamaica had a national debt of just over a trillion dollars. This country’s debt is $3.2 billion, a figure that Trinidadian former economist with the World Bank Dr Ridwan Ali described as “very manageable.” Another Caricom neighbour, Grenada, has a national debt of $2.2 billion. Like her grandfather, Manley mourned the end of the West Indies Federation, saying it was as necessary today as it had been over 50 years ago. She said the main issues were the divergent needs of the individual countries of the federation. “The things Williams and my grandfather fought for are now taken for granted but in those days fighting for independence and our right to our own islands, our right to our own traditions and religions and culture, our right to an education, our right to our vote, were hard won freedoms that wise and selfless men—men who could have amassed vast fortunes with their brains and aptitudes—made huge personal sacrifice to secure for us,” she said.
“Today, few young people realise that for two years before independence the islands of the English-speaking Caribbean were in fact federated in a full political union.” She called the federation a marriage without a pre-nuptial agreement, and said following the independence of Jamaica her grandfather told her that “we had all lost.” Manley questioned whether she was a dreamer because she still believed in the federation. She said the University of the West Indies and the West Indies cricket team remained the flagship of the federation and a reminder that the Caribbean could achieve together.
The West Indian Federation
The federation was formed in 1958 but was dissolved in 1962 after Jamaicans voted in a referendum to leave the federation. Norman Manley had campaigned for Jamaica to remain. After Jamaica’s departure, Eric Williams famously remarked, “One from ten leaves nought.” Jamaica’s withdrawal left T&T shouldering a disproportionate share of the costs of the federation. The capital of the federation was Port-of-Spain. Its members were: Antigua-Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Jamaica, Montserrat, St Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla, St Lucia, St Vincent and T&T.
User comments posted on this website are the sole views and opinions of the comment writer and are not representative of Guardian Media Limited or its staff. Guardian Media Limited accepts no liability and will not be held accountable for user comments.
Please help us keep out site clean from inappropriate comments by using the flag option.
Guardian Media Limited reserves the right to remove, to edit or to censor any comments. Any content which is considered unsuitable, unlawful or offensive, includes personal details, advertises or promotes products, services or websites or repeats previous comments will be removed.