May 21, 2004
Time to get our act together

Our multi-island nation this week plays host to the 39th Meeting of Heads of Government from sister members of the Organization of East Caribbean States (OECS). This meeting is as usual announced as an “important” forum and, as we give a warm Vincentian greeting we are giving early warning to the leaders meeting here that we expect this forum to be so treated, as really important. {{more}}
We applaud the packed agenda as outlined for this meeting. The issue of an OECS Economic Union is particularly important to us. So too is the question of deepening the integration of the sub-regional organization and the process of constitutional review and reform. This, because we feel that the people of the region have for too long been offered hope only to realize that by the inaction of our leaders, the grand agreements were not often worth the paper they were printed on.
When we hear that two companies would be making presentations to the Heads, of designs for an OECS passport, it again offers hope of some seriousness in this area. We do therefore expect positive movement on the implementation of truly hassle-free travel for our own people. It is bad enough that we are fingerprinted on entering foreign ports but being made to feel like strangers when we arrive at Caribbean ports should be something we move to eliminate with all haste. We need to feel more welcome when visiting our sister countries. We therefore need movement and not more deliberations on our single passport, and now! We therefore expect to hear a final implementation date for the introduction of that OECS passport announced at this meeting.
The dictates of the increasingly hostile world situation make it imperative that we embrace the concept of regional integration with more seriousness. We make this point even as we realize that politicians across the OECS are often tempted to forget the broader picture of achieving a real Caribbean unity when they look at the narrower canvas of retaining their personal hold on their local or national seats of power. But the wider effort must be pursued with haste. The world is not going to wait on us to get our acts together.
This week’s coming together of Heads of the OECS is therefore very welcome. We wish this 39th forum of the OECS every success.