St Lucia’s Prime Minister Dr Kenny Anthony says that there is a grave economic crisis gnawing away at Caribbean countries and “governments are busy looking inward – each busy with their own agenda rather than pursuing a Caribbean solution to the economic crisis”. Not for the first time Dr Anthony has dared to tred where many other Caribbean leaders have shied away.
Describing it as a “tragedy of the times”, he charged that governments are “engaged in one form or another of self-denial” while the Caribbean is “in the throes of a major crisis like it has never ever experienced before”.
Dr Anthony did not say something not previously said by regional commentators, foreign aid agencies and multilateral institutions. But now it has come from a Prime Minister who was previously Legal Counsel to the Secretariat of the 15-nation Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM) and, earlier, a lecturer at the University of the West Indies deeply immersed in the many challenges and limited prospects of small States. His remarks, therefore, come with a special authority and should be a reality jolt for all Caribbean leaders in government, opposition political parties, the private sector and the labour movement.
Dr Anthony’s comments are of greater significance because they were a spontaneous response to a question after a lecture he delivered on “Education in the Caribbean” at the Barbados campus of the University of the West Indies on 29 October. In this context, his observations have to be regarded as coming from that inner place in the soul that confronts reality when all other options have been exhausted.