Saint Lucia
This article was added by the user . TheWorldNews is not responsible for the content of the platform.

Is the Caribbean Moving in Reverse? The Political Discourse that’s Tearing us Apart!

The Caribbean is a subregion of the Americas and it’s really important from the onset that I outline who I’m speaking about. Of the 44.2 million people in this region, Haiti accounts for 25.2%, the Dominican Republic for 24.4%, Cuba 24.1% and Puerto Rico for 7% of the total population. So, for the purposes of this article I am referencing the remaining 8.4 million people who inhabit the English, French, Dutch and Spanish-speaking people of this sub-region. Why, you may ask? Well for starters Haiti, Dominica Republic, Cuba and Puerto Rico all operate within separate international diplomatic channels and for some time now have also operated outside the economic, diplomatic, and cultural conversations of the Caribbean community. But that’s for another article.

A right-minded politician in the English-speaking Caribbean may well ask: How to move millions of people out of poverty? There is also the fact that the vast majority of the population lacks the requisite education and skills to take advantage of the digital revolution unfolding around them. All across the globe the emergence of Artificial Intelligence and other digital technologies are reshaping democracies and other institutions we have always relied on. Aside from the largely digitally illiterate population, there is also to be confronted the question of Caribbean leadership has the requisite leadership to face such global changes is questionable. Like many heads of state globally, most of the current leaders of the region held different jobs before their entry into politics. 

Philip J. Pierre of Saint Lucia was an accountant. Mia Amor Mottley of Barbados was a lawyer. So were Ralph Gonsalves of Saint Vincent, and Philip Edward “Brave” Davis of the Bahamas. Keith Rowley of Trinidad and Tobago was a volcanologist. Mohamed Irfaan Ali of Guyana was a senior project manager and planner. Which should give all of us cause for pause!

For the most part, political discourse in the Caribbean is led by thinkers from a world of the past. They view the Caribbean through a post-colonial lens. Consider the case of Saint Lucia, the country of my birth. Its House of Assembly includes three former prime ministers, including as current holder of that office, Philip J. Pierre, who started his term in 2021. Stephenson King served from 2007 to 2011. Allen Chastanet from 2016 to 2021. Kenny Anthony served three terms, from 1997 to 2006 and again from 2011 to 2016. Rather than moving on to other pastures, Saint Lucia’s former prime ministers, regardless of circumstances, seem determined to die in office. Consequently, the same minds that created the island’s social and political problems are returned time and time again by an electorate that continues to believe in miracles. Small wonder that Saint Lucia has become a basket case, with its four legacy players recycling old ideas that never delivered in the first place. Why are we surprised that together they’ve spent some $800 million dollars over thirteen years uselessly chasing a mirage called St. Jude Hospital? Why has violent crime continued to rise, most of it involving guns not normally available in Saint Lucia?  

Look at the 2023 Saint Lucia Jazz & Arts Festival. After a three-year hiatus, the festival was resurrected by the current government and supposedly attracted record attendance, affording the people an opportunity to forget their troubles and dance. The first Saint Lucia Jazz Festival was held in 1992, so please forgive my own lack of enthusiasm. Would Air France not be screaming “success” if it were to reinstate the Concord? So, bringing back a festival—which was also declared successful in the past by the day’s governments—is like asking Usain Bolt to run the 100 meters and win it at the Olympics. Nothing new or innovative there. Been there, done that. Next!

This grand spectacle not only captured the imagination of the entire population and the political elite but was a mere 0.004% spent of the country’s EC$1.856 billion 2023 budget. In the grand scheme of things, $8 million is merely an attempt to refocus attention from the global issues confronting the people of the country. People don’t like change and feel safe with the past that Jazz represented.

It’s all too obvious that the current ruling party would have escorted the Saint Lucia Jazz Festival to the red carpet of the masses’ memory. This type of national nostalgia not only weaponizes the Jazz Festival but shows the on-going trend to politicize national events like Carnival or the Nobel Laurate Week. Just read the social-media posts and commentaries over the last couple days. It is a back and forth about which political party had the best Jazz and less about the return on investment to the country’s GDP.

This type of nationalism and political discourse fails to address the pressing issues, such as the rising cost of inflation. It fails to tackle the youth unemployment rate, unfortunately points the state’s resources to its supporters, and positions the country’s financial resources into the hands of the country’s elite.   Predictably, over the next couple days the government will be talking about those who had trays and booths. You’ll hear the government trumpeting about how the vendors had never known better days. I beg to differ, I think it is those who were in the business of events—sound technicians, event managers, tent, stage and infrastructure owners, promoters, government agencies and sponsors who never saw better days. Elites were basically bankrolled to the tune of $8 million (taxpayers’ money) for government to host an quasi-public/private event where the risk went to the government coffers, and the profits misdirected to benefit the already socially, politically and economically rich. Talk about naked nepotism

Make no mistake, Saint Lucia is operated by one party. The Business Party. It comprises two factions: the Saint Lucia Labor Party and the United Workers Party. Their mantra is “Line our pockets by any means.” While the political elite continue to be elected year after year and play musical chairs in the House, the rest of the society suffer before a political discourse of nostalgia. Judging by the government’s rhetoric of the last 18 months, little has changed. Never mind the talk about a youth economy, a blooming tourism sector, investment in the health and education sector, it’s the same daily dribble of road-paving, promises of state-of-the-art hospitals, and laptops for students. We have a country so localized by its political solutions that the global economic and ecological challenges are left unaddressed. What is needed is a reimagining of the political system and process. If the major issues of today are global, then the effort at finding solutions cannot remain localized; they must be globalized.

I don’t have the solutions. It is nevertheless important that we address the situation effectively. Where we are in the Caribbean is nowhere. And we must acknowledge this fact. While Mia Amor Mottley may appear to be blazing the trail globally, let’s be clear: her trails are to reform current global institutions and systems. Again, it’s a different type of nostalgia. She is trying to reimagine colonial-era institutions like the IMF, the United Nations and the World Bank. I’d much prefer to replace them altogether with different aspirations.

We need our historians, philosophers, poets to think with minds tuned to the present and immediate   future. Tinkering hopefully with failed systems and institutions have not worked and will continue to fail. The current digital paradigm demands an appropriate approach. This is not a catch-all article. My wish is that it will inspire conversations among our leaders on both sides of the House, as well as among regular citizens. No longer can we entrust our country’s future, the future of generations to come, to medicine men and their well-rewarded accomplices. We the people must see with our own eyes, and hear with our own ears. We cannot continue to follow emperors who pretend to be clothed in finery when we can see for ourselves how naked are these emperors!

Publisher’s note: ADÉX LAVA is a writer and visual artist.  He is available to travel for speaking engagements, artist works, and event curation. You can contact him @adexlava (Facebook, Instagram & Twitter) or via