Over the past years GOFAD has featured several outstanding artists, among whom are including Willard Wiggins- Jamaican (4/2/21); Kwame Ryan -Canada/Trinidad and Tobago (9/16/21); Meridith Ezinma Ramsay - Guyanese parent (10/14/21) Wilson Harris, Guyanese (3/26/21); Kevin Isaacs -St Kitts/Nevis (9/24/21)
This week GOFAD features Eleanor Alberga, an internationally renowned musical composer. She was born in Kingston, Jamaican , is an alumna of the Jamaica School of Music. In 1970 she won the biennial West Indian Associated Board Scholarship to pursue studies at the Royal School of Music in London England. How this former guitarist for the Jamaican Folk Singers transformed her career from a performer to a composer is a fascinating story of talent, curiosity, disciple and resolve. Listen to the fascinating and inspiring story which Eleanor Alberga provides https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=0OyCgII4uok
However there is more. Hers is part of a series including five British- Caribbean women composers. The others are Hannah Catherine Jones, Hannah Kendall, Dr. Shirley J. Thompson OBE and Errollyn Wallen MBE, See link for a complete list of works, please visit Eleanor Alberga's websiteIdentity & Aesthetic: Five British-Caribbean Composers
We thank Rev Dr Marjorie Lewis for bringing this intriguing utude presentation to our attention. It is a pleasure sharing it especially with those who may not have been aware of the vast reportiore of her work and international acclaim
International Women's Day, March 8, 2022 was a national holiday in many countries, including Russia, where flower sales normally double during the three or four days around 8 March. Though, perhaps, not this year. International Women's Day has become a date to celebrate how far women have come in society, politics and in economics. Political roots of the day usual manifest themselves in strikes and protests organized to raise awareness of continued inequality. Celebrations were no doubt marred this year as much by the coronavirus that led to virtual events including the one organized by the UN as well as the vision portrayed in the global media of the multitude of women and children that make up the approximately 4 million Ukrainian refugees fleeing the indiscriminate bombings of schools, churches and residential areas by the Russian army. So many of them succumbed to an untimely death. Many knowledgeable military leaders have labelled these atrocities as 'war crimes'. The irony is that Women’s Day in Russia was formalized in the wartime strike in 1917, when Russian women demanded "bread and peace”. Four days into the strike the Czar was forced to abdicate and the provisional government granted women the right to vote. https://www.unwomen.org/en/news-and-events/events/2022/02/international-womens-day-2022
Gender Equality, Peace, and Sustainable Development
The Annual UN event this year reminded the World that gender equality is not only a fundamental human right, but a necessary foundation for a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable world. There has been progress over the last decades: more girls are going to school, fewer girls are forced into early marriage, more women are serving in parliament and positions of leadership, and laws are being reformed to advance gender equality. Yet the results from UN Women Policy Brief written in 2020 are still relevant today. They revealed that despite the gains, many challenges remain: discriminatory laws and social norms are pervasive, women continue to be underrepresented at all levels of political leadership, and 1 in 5 women and girls between the ages of 15 and 49 report experiencing physical or sexual violence by an intimate partner within a 12-month period. The coronavirus outbreak has exacerbated existing inequalities for women and girls across every sphere – from health and the economy, to security and social protection. The hope is that policies to combat the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic could reverse the limited progress made on gender equality and women’s rights.
A recent UN Report describes the situation around the regions of the World. A common feature is that women play a disproportionate role in responding to the virus, including as frontline healthcare workers and caregivers at home. Women’s unpaid care work has increased significantly as a result of school closures and the increased needs of older people. Women are also harder hit by the economic impacts of COVID-19, as they disproportionately work in insecure labour markets. Nearly 60 per cent of women work in the informal economy, which puts them at greater risk of falling into poverty. The pandemic has also led to a steep increase in violence against women and girls. With lockdown measures in place, many women are trapped at home with their abusers, struggling to access services that are suffering from cuts and restrictions. Emerging data show that, since the outbreak of the pandemic, violence against women and girls – and particularly domestic violence – has intensified.
A 2021 Study by UN Women, Measuring the shadow Pandemic Violence against Women in A COVID 19 World is based on surveys in 13 countries. It shows that almost one in two women (45%) reported that they or a woman they know experienced a form of violence during the Covid-19 pandemic. This includes non-physical abuse, with verbal abuse and the denial of basic resources being the most common. Despite concerns over coronavirus, marches took place around the world. In Mexico, women's groups turned metal fencing, erected to protect the National Palace, into an impromptu memorial for the victims of femicides. Meanwhile, women in Poland held protests across the country following the introduction of a near-total ban on abortion. In China, many women were given a half-day off work on 8 March, as advised by the State Council. In Italy, International Women's Day, or la Festa della Donna, is celebrated by the giving of mimosa blossoms. The origin of this tradition is unclear but it is believed to have started in Rome after World War II. In the US, the month of March is designated Women's History Month. A presidential proclamation issued every year honours the achievements of American women. https://data.unwomen.org/sites/default/files/documents/Publications/Measuring-shadow-pandemic.pdf
A UN Policy Brief 2020 shows that women are not only the hardest hit by this pandemic, but they are also the backbone of recovery in communities. Hence putting women and girls at the centre of economies will fundamentally drive better and more sustainable development outcomes for all, support a more rapid recovery, and place the world back on a footing to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. Every COVID-19 response plan, or every recovery package and budgeting of resources, needs to address the gender impacts of this pandemic. It recommends (1) including women and women’s organizations in COVID-19 response planning and decision-making; (2) transforming the inequities of unpaid care work into a new, inclusive care economy that works for everyone; and (3) designing socio-economic plans with an intentional focus on the lives and futures of women and girls. The COVID-19 pandemic provides an opportunity for radical, positive action to redress long-standing inequalities in multiple areas of women’s lives, and building a more just and resilient world. https://www.un.org/sites/un2.un.org/files/policy_brief_on_covid_impact_on_women_9_april_2020.pdf
Among the targeted response to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on women and girls and to ensure that the long-term recovery benefits them, focused on five priorities:
- Mitigating gender-based violence, including domestic violence.
- Reducing social protection and economic stimulus packages to serve women and
- Supporting people and practice equal sharing of care work.
- Ensuring that women and girls lead and participate in COVID-19 response planning
- Including data and coordination mechanisms in gender perspectives.
Feminist Foreign Policy : New Directions for Breaking the Barrier
A novel recommendation has been put forward by Margot Wallstrom, Sweden’s former foreign minister who launched the idea, that a feminist policy rests on four “Rs”: Rights, Representation, Resources and Realism. Accordingly there are also more inclusive views that, for example, taking intersectional disadvantages into account. But the Swedish formulation provides lessons for breaking the barrier. It advocates for girls and women to have access to the same rights as boys and men; that they be represented at all levels of government; and that adequate resources be allocated to rectifying women and girls’ disadvantages. As a way of solving these problems, the UN SG António Guterres in his 2022 International Women's Day message advocated for more women environment ministers, business leaders and presidents and prime ministers. “They can push countries to address the climate crisis, develop green jobs and build a more just and sustainable world."
Even so, what is the realistic assessment of the likelihood of success when the likes of Putin aggressively pursues the evils of traditional values that trample gender-related rights leaving them shattered for generations to come. Ukraine has demonstrated that in the midst of conflict there is the possibility of transformative change . President Zelensky, the Ukrainian army and citizens including women and girls are waging a war ostensibly to defend democracy but can the expansion of authoritarian power hostile to feminism be defeated? A sanguine view is provided by Yasmine Ergas, a Ukrainian journalist in World View, March 9 , 2022 "Will Ukraine Bury Feminist Foreign Policy or Will it Reveal their Power" She argues that bringing feminist lenses to foreign policy could change the prosecution and effects of the conflict. https://www.passblue.com/2022/03/09/will-ukraine-bury-feminist-foreign-policies-or-will-it-reveal-their-power/?utm_source=PassBlue+List&utm_campaign=1ec41e2e12-RSS_PassBlue&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_4795f55662-1ec41e2e12-55057274
On a happy note - I invite you to listen to a delightful musical Tribute by the Trinidad and Tobago Women’s Police Band in celebration of International Women’s Day.
It is with deep regret that I learned of the death of Professor Emeritus Selwyn Ryan. I extend to his wife Jan, his children Michele and Kwame and other relatives my deepest sympathy at this time of their grief. It is my hope that they will be comforted by reflecting on the many good times they shared and the legacy of his outstanding scholarship and advocacy. Among them were his contributions to public discourse in his weekly columns in the Trinidad and Tobago Express over the decades and his contributions to several national, regional and international commissions and symposia. Indeed, his critical thinking will continue to resonate. He was truly an outstanding political historian who helped us to understand the reality of the Caribbean Region in the context of a changing world.
My association with Selwyn dates back to the mid 1970s, when he joined the staff of UWI, St. Augustine but specifically in the mid 1980s when he was appointed Director of the Institute of Social and Economic Research (ISER) St Augustine while I was University Director for the Institute’s regional programme. Together with Prof. Joycelyn Massiah, Director of ISER Cave Hill, I believe we helped to sustain and even rebrand the Institute as a focal point of new directions in Caribbean economic and social policy research and the use of the new information and data collection technologies. The proliferation of studies, seminars and publications attest to the Institute’s critical role. Also, the ability of the Institute to attract endowments to support research for the Faculty of Social Sciences and for its outreach and partnerships with institutions and agencies regionally and globally are worthy of note.
Central to these feats were Selwyn’s abounding zeal and intellectual leadership. What better illustration than his prolific scholarship including 25 books; his contribution to the viability of the Caribbean Studies Association, of which he was President 1990-1991; his acclaim as a pollster through the St Augustine Research Associates (SARA); his nurturing of young scholars by his engagement in the classroom. In addition to his assuming the role of University Director of ISER in 1994, he oversaw its transition to The Sir Arthur Lewis Institute of Social and Economic Studies (SALISES) in 1999 in a merger with the Consortium Graduate School in the Social Sciences established in 1985.
Beyond the world of academia, Selwyn reveled in the cultural expressions of the Caribbean. He played mass at Carnival with fervor; was a fanatic of steel band music and the annual panorama. He was indeed a raconteur with a cutting wit, whose company was a delight to share.
GOFAD is pleased to reproduce the review of Ryan Recalls by Professor Compton Bourne carried in its Blog November 11, 2019. This last of his 25 books is a fitting tribute which at the launch, his last public appearance, he referred to that book as his best work and on whose ideas he hoped young scholars would build. For all these reasons and more he will live on in our memories as the man in truly was: a treasured mentor, colleague and friend.
Ukraine 's Tragic Theatre: "End of Post -Cold War Era?"
Major summits across the globe continue to denounce the Russian invasion of Ukraine and to increasingly support Ukraine's sovereignty . These include the UN General Assembly; President Biden’s State of the Union address to the US Congress; the Emergency EU parliament and parliamentary sessions of the EU, Germany, UK; the consolidation of NATO’s unity including Finland and Sweden, and in partnership with the US focusing on deterrence and defense without conditions; and the Regional groups of the CARICOM Community and the African Union, among others. At the time of writing, there are planned meetings of the UN Foreign Affairs Council and the G7 with the likely announcements of additional sanctions against Russia as well as Belarus.
Ukraine’s display of strength of its nationalism and the defiant war leadership of its President Zelenksy are among the amazing features of the country’s resilience against Putin’s nuclear threat and intent to take control of all Ukraine. The preoccupation from the summits across the globe is finding the formula to stop Russia from further aggression and countering Putin’s insistence on the need to “denazify Ukraine” which is a illegitimate attempt to undermine the sovereign rights of a state with implications for the survival of democracy worldwide. Among the questions: Does Russia’s brutal assault now raging on Kyiv and Kherson signal the end of the post Cold War era? With widespread calls for investigations of war crimes by the International Court of Justice in The Hague materialize? What will it take to abate the indiscriminate bombing of civilians and aggression by the Russian state to create genocide?.
There has been a wide array of reports on 'the Ukraine tragic theatre'. This Blog has identified some that provide informed lessons learned from the history of wars and future prospects of reforms to global governance. Among them is an excellent analysis by Bruce Golding, former Prime Minister of Jamaica, now a resident scholar at UWI. He refers to the frightening parallels of mindsets between Hitler and Putin as well as between Adolf Hitler’s invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1938 and Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. “Both were preceded by the bloodless invasion and annexation of adjoining territory — Austria by Hitler in 1938 and Crimea by Putin in 2014. Both were claimed to be justified in order to counter what was perceived to be a security threat — the “encirclement policy” by Britain, according to Hitler, and the presence of NATO forces in central and Eastern Europe, according to Putin” See Beyond Russia’s invasion of Ukraine -
Putin’s speeches prior to the invasion clearly help to place in perspective that the invasion of Ukraine constitutes the most serious challenge to global peace and security since Hitler’s campaign to conquer Europe in the late 1930s. In this regard, Golding’s conclusions are pertinent. Putin's obsession with Russia restoring the power and influence formerly held by the Soviet Union; he cares little about being branded a pariah; and has total disregard for international law. His haunting question is worth much consideration "Could this be a signal to other countries that seek to assert claims on other sovereign territory. China’s eyes on Taiwan and those of Venezuela on Guyana come quickly to mind.”
In the Atlantic, February 19, 2002, Tom McTague revealed the possibility that Putin’s next steps in Ukraine may be predicated on the assumption of slippage in America’s global leadership, especially after the debacle in Afghanistan. He graphically describes how the West today, is trapped between an old world that no longer exists and a new one that has yet to fully take shape. “This realization of how little has changed in terms of the fundamental anchor of European security applies to Europe’s “big three” as well. Each of these powers—Germany, France, and Britain—is playing a role coordinated by Washington. Germany as economic leverage, France as diplomatic lead, Britain as the intelligence and military hawk. "Although each might have minor quibbles with the American approach, they have all largely stuck to their script.” But there is a difference. In an extraordinary statement to the Special Session of the German Parliament, Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced a one time increase of 100 billion euros ($113 billion) for defense spending of more than 2 percent of Germany’s economic output annually on defense. See what the Ukraine Crisis reveals about American Power.
Putin’s miscalculation is evident in the thrust of Biden’s State of the union address and the sequence of more recent events in NATO , EU and most of the Global community. They have so clearly demonstrated USA’s pivotal role in Europe and a more global unified position on Ukraine through ‘careful and conciliatory diplomacy’. The biting and widespread nature of economic sanctions including coordinated fiscal policies, export controls and planned high tech takeaways for a post fossil future development are major signals for the reemergence of vibrant multilateralism that even includes Switzerland and Monaco. Putin’s isolation is like a self inflicting wound. But there are several ironies.
UN Security Council in need of Radical Change
One irony is the United Nations General Assembly rare emergency session to discuss Russia's invasion of Ukraine while members of the UN Security Council met to discuss the humanitarian effects of the crisis after Russia vetoed a resolution deploring its actions. This situation highlights once again that the veto power of the Security Council’s five permanent members—China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States — is a major stumbling block to peace. It means in this case, the U.S. and its allies can impose sanctions only through a “coalition of the willing.” A Brookings op ed March 3 by Kendal Dervish and Jose Da Campo, aptly justifies the need to change the system: “the fact that an increasingly illegitimate and ineffective Security Council lies at the heart of today’s multilateral system is all the more unfortunate given the growing range of threats to peace and security. These include not only conventional acts of aggression of the sort the world is witnessing in Ukraine—and which could yet escalate to nuclear exchanges—but also other security threats posed by new technologies”. This means advocating radically for changing the way the Security Council operates, by adding a clause to Article 27 that would allow a large double majority—representing, for example, at least two-thirds of member countries and two-thirds of the world’s population—to override a veto.
The Possibility of a China-Russia Alliance
Another irony is, that by tacitly backing Putin, Xi has all but confirmed Western hawks’ greatest fears about an authoritarian arc stretching from St. Petersburg to Shanghai, harking back to the Sino-Soviet alliance of the 1950s. Stronger Beijing-Moscow ties, simply provide democratic rivals— US and Europe — a rallying point together with a consolidated and coordinated NATO. Foremost in Xi’s mind might be what the Ukraine crisis means for his desire to recapture Taiwan, the self-ruling island that broke from the mainland following China’s 1945-49 civil war, and whose unification he has repeatedly called “the great trend of history.”
Russia and the Pervasive pursuit of Domination
Ironically, one of the most philosophically poignant evaluation of the Russia-Ukraine issue was presented by Martin Kimani, the Kenyan Ambassador to the United Nations. He explicitly linked the colonial history of his own country to that of Ukraine in a speech to the Security Council on February 7. He drew a parallel between Africa and Ukraine locating deep historical, cultural and linguistic bonds of people across their borders that they had no role in drawing. “The Ukrainians as with many families, including my own, have been split across the Russia-Ukraine border. “These separations are largely accidents of history, one of the lasting effects of the collapse the Soviet Union. But this sense of kinship, cannot justify invasion: “We must complete our recovery from the embers of dead empires in a way that does not plunge us back into new forms of domination and oppression.”
Conclusion: Zelensky rising star in the Global Theatre
War in Ukraine escalated by the Russian leader in an unacceptable manner has led to an estimated one million of refugees from Ukraine escaping especially to Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Hungary, Moldova. But the people of Ukraine are showing that principles of freedom and democracy are worth fighting for and its national anthem “Ukraine has not yet Perished” is at the top of the charts in Europe and elsewhere. Putin is no doubt enraged by Ukraine’s affirmation of the liberal democratic project. Yet, of all the ironies is President Volodymyr Zelensky astutely honing his skills as an actor and comedian and communications savvy to galvanize the national Ukraine spirit and sway global audiences. With unprecedented grit and determination he has transformed the imagery of his leadership into an unlikely champion for Ukrainians and the World.
Last week’s Blog highlighted the success of the Inaugural Global Energy Conference held in Guyana February 15-18, 2022. It examined the aspirations for sustainable development presented by President Ali and the verbal commendations, counseling and warnings by keynote speakers, the Presidents of Ghana and Suriname and Prime Minister of the new Republic of Barbados. However two topics — full coverage insurance by and renegotiation of the contract with EXXON - essential aspects of the complex conversation to which PM Motley referred, were off the table and swept under the conference carpet. It is to be expected that changes will be stimulated with sustained advocacy from civil society, the media, a wide cross section of the Guyanese private sector and respected regional and international policy makers, among whom are Government of Guyana advisors. These are essential ingredients of equity and the “inconvenient truths” for not “leaving Guyanese as tenants in their own country”.
It is clear that Guyana today is in a competitive position. IHS Markit Petroleum Economics and Policy Solutions [PEPS] ranks the country as the 10th most competitive jurisdiction for upstream oil and gas exploration & production investment out of 45 countries. Moreover with its current estimated 10 billion barrels of recoverable oil and gas, Guyana is likely to be a major international player in energy corridor with Brazil and Suriname. Among the more specific highlights of the conference that attracted attention and to which we address in this Blog are the roll out of low carbon development strategy, local content to include training, investing in the supply chain, growing the non-oil sector and accelerating access to capital for Guyana’s sustainable development within the CARICOM region.
Rolling out the Low Carbon Development Strategy
The Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) released for consultation in December 2021, establishes Guyana’s commitment to a net zero emissions target by 2050 thereby adding to the urgency of getting new exploration of oil and gas underway. It places emphasis on leveraging Guyana’s “world-class forest, biodiversity, water and marine resources” to build a “low-carbon ecosystem economy” using mechanisms such as carbon-pricing. It argues that these resources have, historically, been undervalued and ignored. For example, in his presentation President Ali placed an annual value on Guyana’s forests of US $40 billion. Consequently creating a low carbon economy presents enormous and complex challenges. It means grappling with the climate change agenda with respect de-carbonizing existing sectors of the economy, business-models, lifestyles and practices. The presentations recognized that among the prerequisites of LCDS is to upgrade Guyana’s physical capital: its energy, transportation, digital, water and housing infrastructure”.
Local Content Linked to Improving Business Competitiveness and Reducing Poverty
There has been a recurring discussion on what does local content actually mean. From the discussion during the parliamentary session that approved the local content legislation and more so during the Energy Conference, the message was clear. While ensuring greater access of local workers and businesses to opportunities from the oil and gas sector will be guaranteed, attracting foreign investments is equally important. However, more implicit than explicit is the extent to which local content applies to skills and business enterprises within CARICOM. Among others, this requires unmasking more clearly the statement by President Ali at the opening session that Guyana is intricately linked in CARICOM since Guyanese prosperity is linked to the prosperity of the Region. The more fundamental aspects of local content, often neglected, is that of ensuring the emergence of the oil and gas sector is a catalyst for expanded business opportunities, and fostering a giant leap to a diversified economy and alleviating poverty.
The 2022 Budget, initiated in Parliament in January 28, 2022, was the first time that a budget was being partially supported from the National Resource Fund. It included a series of tax measures focused on improving the ease of doing business, increasing disposable incomes, easing the cost of living and supporting the vulnerable. These include Tax concessions for local content, supporting the renewal of the industrial and commercial fleet, promoting farmers markets, reducing import duties and VAT charges, increasing 'we care' cash grants to children in public schools, support for health care, reducing the cost of fuel, increasing public assistance and support to the elderly.
Investing in Human Resource Development
Presenters at the Energy Conference repeatedly referred to investment in human resource development as a critical spinoff of the potential wealth from oil and gas. Illustrations of these intentions were provided by EXXON with respect to its over 60M investment in education and Training including its partnership with the University of Guyana. EnerMech is another initiative of over $20 million invested into the training center in Berbice. It is intended to provide Guyanese with key skills and training certifications that are required to work in the offshore environment and combines training facilities, blended learning software and technology, as well as fully immersive simulators for high hazard activity learning. Then there is CGX and its JV Partner, FEC, that has invested $5 Million Canadian in the Guyana Advanced Academic Training and Research Program in Sustainable Transformation. This is intended to support the educational and innovative skills of Guyana’s future leaders in fields crucial for the development of the sustainable sectors of the Guyanese economy. Professor Suresh Narine's presentation revealed that the first five students are already studying at Trent University in Canada and additional students will be selected this year as candidates for advanced degrees with requirement for them to become lecturers and professors at the University of Guyana for a period of five years. Much more investments in education and training are needed as part of local content mission. At the same time, a much more cohesive approach is required to education and training for the sustainable future of Guyana, its role within CARICOM and as a player in the global arena. But an important statement made by Prof. Narine must be part of the equation. He said that academics need to learn that inaction isn't neutral. This also must be a consideration of governments and the corporate sector and the University of Guyana and other academic institutions whose research and think tanks will no doubt push the boundaries of enquiry and policy making on the basis empirical analysis.
The Challenges of a Growing the Non-Oil Sector
Compared with 2020, GDP growth in 2021 was 20 per cent overall, and 4 per cent for the non-oil economy. For the extractive industries, the mining and quarrying industries were estimated to have grown by 23.1 per cent, with higher output from the petroleum and other mining industries. Manufacturing grew by 23.1 per cent. There was a strong performance in the construction sector, which grew by 25.5 per cent reflecting increased emphasis on implementing the public sector investment programme, as well as increased private sector construction, reflecting improved private sector confidence and optimism regarding the economic outlook. The agriculture, forestry and fishing industries, however contracted by 2.4 per cent compared to a decline of 4.1 per cent. So did the sugar industry by 22.4. Conversely, the rice industry grew by an estimated 7.8 percent , but ‘other crops’ declined by 7.3 per cent due to the floods. Further, the livestock industry was estimated to have grown by 10.6 per cent. However, the fishing industry contracted by an estimated 6.6 per cent. It was reported that total output from the petroleum sector increased by 65.4 per cent when compared to the same period last year.
The sketches provided on the various issues raised at the Guyana Energy Conference, are exactly that. They are just part of a scenario for which deeper examination is required. Among them are evaluations of the outcomes from the goals established for LCDS, local content and the diversified non-oil economy. Most important is the access to capital, the beneficial use of the National Resource Funds, the nature of the partnerships for advancing Guyana's economic prospects and indeed how these are truly integrally linked to the CARICOM region. Perhaps the second iteration of the Guyana International Energy Conference set for February 14, 2023 will provide an opportunity for a score card highlighting levels of efficiency, growth and equity from the El Dorado Corridor.
The Inaugural Guyana International Energy Conference held at the Marriott, February 15-18, 2022 was an overwhelming success. This is based on the wealth of information, analysis and policy pronouncements on several topics including the energy transition; the health, safety and environmental culture, opportunities for members of the Diaspora, plans to ensure the transition away from heavy fossil fuels; local content in principle and practice; and updates from oil operators in Guyana’s waters. The Conference organizer reported 800 registered delegates from 25 countries, and 1,500 visitors to the Exhibition Centre and widespread sponsorship from international corporations and the local business community.
Since 2015, oil companies operating off Guyana’s coast have found more than 10 billion barrels of recoverable oil and gas, accounting for a tenth of the world's conventional discoveries. A consortium with Exxon Mobil Corp (XOM.N), Hess Corp (HES.N) and CNOOC Ltd expect to produce 1 million barrels of oil and gas per day by the end of the 2022. In addition, more oil finds projected for the Stabroek, Corentyne, Canje, Yellow Tail, Unity and Conuku blocks will enhance outputs from Guyana's oil and gas sector further.
What resonated from the opening to the closing session was that this was not an Oil & Gas conference per se. It was an event that showcased opportunities for Guyana’s sustainable development with the oil boom being the pivot for the viability of other sectors. It was indeed reminiscent of the panel presented at the University of Guyana Green Institute conference in October 2021, that identified how Guyana could be a global model of aligning oil economy with a green economy.
Highlights from the Keynote Opening Panel
The tone was set at the opening session when the President of Ghana, Nana Akufo-Addo insisted that local content development must place emphasis on the public interest, transparency and accountability; and the oil and gas sector must enhance local content in all aspects of the industry’s development. This is illustrated in Ghana’s local content law which is not about nationalization but partnering to bring benefits to its citizens who own the resources that are being developed. Hence energy sustainability must translate into social and economic benefits for the citizens as it transitions from fossil fuel to green energy.
President Chan Santokhi of Suriname stated that in utilizing the new found wealth, it is important to take into account the impact of climate change and looming global instability on the oil and gas economy which need to be developed in an environmentally friendly manner. He advocated that sustainable development must place emphasis on functional cooperation in infrastructure, environment, marketing and energy as the framework for securing the economy for future generations. The Guyana-Suriname Corridor offers a rich potential for rapid growth.
For PM Mia Motley of Barbados energy is integral to the sustainable future of CARICOM and there is need to engage in the ‘inconvenient truths’ about the perpetuation of inequities and disparities without a reparatory process. Consequently, there is need to ensure that at no stage must citizens be left as tenants in their own land. She recommended an investment of 10% of the oil and gas bonanza to finance renewable energy, education and health and pointed to Barbados’ initiatives including the establishment of green bonds and a green development bank, local ownership and entrepreneurial development. She advocated for the world to pause for the complex conversation since 'net zero does not mean zero'.
President Dr. Irfaan Ali stressed that the major aims of the exercise are situating Guyana’s energy transition in the wider development plan, building partnership and removing barriers for bringing people together and working to develop the Corentyne as a new frontier. He was emphatic that local content must include welcoming foreign investors. He highlighted that Guyana is intricately linked in CARICOM since Guyanese prosperity is intertwined with the prosperity of the Region. He presented the emergence of the oil and gas sector as a catalyst for expanded business opportunities, a giant leap to a diversified economy and an opportunity to invest in human resource development with special reference to education, health, training and the enhancement of competences for the future world of work. The President emphasized Guyana’s contribution to global solutions as exemplified by the worth of its standing forests, which has one of the best deforestation rates at less than 0.53% valued at approximately US$500B.
Platforms for Moving Forward
The keynotes from the primary speakers above provide the broad frame of reference for the take-off of the Conference which focused on the issues that by and large optimistically pointed to a bright future that is happening now. The areas that were covered by plenary sessions revolved around issues to be further explored. They include:
This month is dedicated to celebrating the achievements by African Americans. It provides an opportunity to recognize their central role in U.S. history and impact globally. The annual celebration also known as African American History Month, grew out of “Negro History Week,” the brainchild of noted historian Carter G. Woodson and other prominent African Americans. Since 1976, every U.S. president has officially designated the month of February as Black History Month. Other countries around the world, including Canada and the United Kingdom, also devote a month to celebrating Black history.
GOFAD in its exploration promoted by a question from a 10 year old boy in Guyana discovered what many may already have known but is worth sharing:
Today, Black History Month is a time to honor the contributions and legacy of African Americans across U.S. history and society—from activists and civil rights pioneers such as Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, Marcus Garvey, Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X and Rosa Parks to leaders in industry, politics, science, culture and more.
The theme of Black History Month 2022 “Black Health and Wellness,” According to my primary source Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH), it is intended to focus on: ”the legacy of not only Black scholars and Medical practitioners in Western medicine, but also other ways of knowing (e.g., birth workers, doulas, midwives, naturopaths, herbalists, etc.) throughout the African Diaspora. The 2022 theme considers activities, rituals and initiatives that Black communities have done to be well."
What is intriguing from the historiography is that Black people have embarked on self-determination, mutual aid and social support initiatives to build hospitals, medical and nursing schools. Among, most notable of such institutions are: Meharry Medical College, Howard University College of Medicine, Provident Hospital and Training School, Morehouse School of Medicine, etc.)
In addition, clinics were established by individuals, grassroots organizations and mutual aid societies, such as the African Union Society, National Association of Colored Women and Black Panther Party, to provide spaces for Black people to counter the economic and health disparities and discrimination that are found at mainstream institutions.
At this point in the 21st century, our understanding of Black health and wellness is broader and more nuanced than ever. Social media and podcasts, such as The Read, hosted by Crissle and Kid Fury have normalized talking about mental health and going to therapy as well as initiatives such as Therapy for Black Girls.
In the still overhanging shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic, Black people are increasingly using data and other information-sharing ways to document, decry, and agitate against inequalities intentionally baked into systems and structures in the U.S. for no other reason than to curtail, circumscribe, and destroy Black well-being in all forms and Black lives. Moreover, Black History Month provides Black communities with the opportunity to look to the past to provide the light for the future. This may mean embracing the rituals, traditions and healing traditions of the ancestors. These ways of knowing require a decolonization of thought and practice.
China and the return of the Left in Latin America
Global Times, 27 Jan 2022
The landslide election of Gabriel Boric as Chile's youngest president ever followed closely that of Xiomara Castro, Honduras´s (and Central America's) first female president. In their own way, each of these newly elected leaders reflects the powerful currents of change sweeping the region. After a hiatus of right-wing governments, the Left is also back in power in Peru and Bolivia, and, according to current polls, may elect Gustavo Petro to the presidency in Colombia in May, and Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva in Brazil in October. This represents a major change and opens new possibilities for the region's role in world affairs, as well as opportunities for its relations with China. Just as the "Pink Tide" of the 2000s was a reaction against the Washington Consensus, the current trend to oust incumbent rulers is a reaction against their incompetence in handling the twin challenges of the pandemic and the recession that hit the region in 2020.
In the nineties, observers, mesmerized by the supposed "end of history," concluded that people were, in Latin America and elsewhere, also at the end of ideology. Thus the Washington Consensus proclaimed "There is No Alternative" (TINA) to neoliberal solutions. Yet, the ostensible failure of radical market policies (most evidently in Juan Carlos Menem's Argentina, culminating in the country's sovereign default in 2000-2001), opened the doors to a different approach, with a "Pink Tide" washing across South and Central America.
Helped by the commodities boom (2003-2013), leaders like Lula in Brazil, the Kirchners in Argentina, Lagos and Bachelet in Chile, Vázquez and Mujica in Uruguay, as well as Correa in Ecuador and Morales in Bolivia, gave a new impetus to social and economic progress, however haphazardly and unevenly. They also worked together to build new regional schemes, in economic integration and in political cooperation, of which UNASUR and CELAC are the most prominent. That said, it is also true that the legacy of those years is mixed. Despite the increased inflow of foreign exchange from the export boom that took place, the region's low investment rate hardly budged, from 18 percent in the nineties to 19 percent in the 2000s, while the tertiary sector (i.e., manufacturing) shrank as a share of regional GDP, with a surge of extractive activities like mining and agriculture. The sad fate of UNASUR, which no longer exists, is also testimony to Latin America's troubles in establishing long-standing regional bodies. The telling inability to agree on a candidate for secretary-general of the organization contributed to its subsequent demise.
China's policy toward Latin America, of course, is based on the principles of state-to-state relations and non-interference in internal affairs. That said, it is important to understand how, in this new phase, China can best work with Latin American countries in fostering their growth and development. The 2000s were marked by growth in Sino-LAC trade and from 2010 onwards we saw a steady increase in Chinese FDI and finance flows, as well as a shift from investment exclusively in mining and extractive activities, towards physical and digital infrastructure, as well as energy. Although welcome, it should be complemented by incentivizing Sino-LAC joint ventures in manufacturing and adding value to the commodities which abound in the region, especially in South America. This would break new ground, and would also be in keeping with China's shift toward a service economy and away from heavy industry.
The case of lithium, the "white gold" of the new century, is emblematic in this regard. While the so-called "lithium triangle" in Argentina, Bolivia and Chile holds a significant amount of the world's lithium reserves, key to the e-mobility sector in which China leads, efforts to generate Chinese investment in the manufacturing of lithium batteries have not born fruit so far. This perpetuates a pattern in which South American countries export mostly commodities to China while importing manufactured products, accelerating the trend to what Castillo and Martins Neto have referred to as the "premature deindustrialization" of countries like Argentina, Brazil, and Chile. In Argentina, in 1950, 26 percent of the jobs were in industry, but fell to 10 percent in 2010; in Chile, they fell from 20 to 9 percent in the same period.
The new wave of progressive governments is much more aware than its predecessors of the need for industrial policies to foster development and growth. The dire predictions for the region's economic performance in 2022, when it is projected to grow a mere 3 percent, the lowest of any region, reflect not just the impact of the current crisis, but a broader failure. As the region enters a new political cycle, there is an opportunity to break out of the vicious circle of "boom and bust" that has led Latin America from one lost decade to another. In this, China and Chinese companies can and should play a significant role.
Jorge Heine is research professor at the Pardee School of Global Studies, Boston University, a Wilson Center global fellow in Washington D.C. and a non-resident senior research fellow at the Center for China and Globalization (CCG) in Beijing.
We start with a rejoinder to the Blog last week written by Professor Havelock Brewster, a most respected scholar and friend, in which the liberty is taken to share his poignant ideas in their entirety. He challenges “Quintessential Leadership” to launch bold new enterprises and prompts our indulgence of sketches for making democracy a reality.
A quintessential leader needs to launch a bold new Barbadian Enterprise—A Rejoinder by Havelock Brewster
Yes, there are very challenging - perhaps bordering on existential- problems of sustainable economic development facing Barbados, under Mottley’s leadership. From the little I know, Barbados policy seems to be like more of the same. I don't see new, course- changing orientations., learning from new models - Iceland, Croatia, Switzerland, Lithuania, Singapore, Malaysia, Mauritius …..,
Yet, this is the most propitious time for a quintessential leader to launch a bold, new Barbadian enterprise. There being zero opposition in Parliament, and a virtual absence of dissent or alternatives anywhere in society.
It is surprising now how we ignore the flaws of (Western-type) democracy, even when as in the US they are up in our face, and assert its perfection in ubiquitous application, to the exclusion of all else. We overlook how much such systems demean the ideal of government by the people for the people. Might one not then be a little hesitant of the praiseworthiness of a system that results in zero representation in Parliament of a half or more of the population. This faux democracy is a condition that micro-States seem particularly susceptible to. A small space is the ideal milieu for a charismatic Hero, whether benign or malignant, to mesmerize a captive Crowd. We’ve seen this play many times in several of the Eastern Caribbean States, and in Barbados. And in some of these cases we have witnessed over long periods of time “elected” dictatorships descend into exclusive, cruel, abusive, corrupt regimes. True, there are safeguards on the books- the rule of law, human rights, non- discrimination, equal opportunity, and so on. But surely these desiderata cannot replace representation of the people by the people.
There is a regrettable paucity of research and analysis of these “democratic” aberrations. It should surely be possible to come up with ideas to ameliorate their shortcomings. For one thing, the present system of Western-style democracy in micro-States seems altogether out of date. It does seem feasible/ realistic/ cost effective, especially in these days of efficient and fast transportation and communication technologies, that, as a minimum, participatory (Swiss-style) democracy- as a proxy for government by the people for the people, could actually be implemented in the micro-States of the Caribbean.
For those who speak of the Caribbean as a (new) “Civilization”; for those who voice their disaffection with how the world is run by a handful of large, wealthy, and powerful countries in their own interest, what better way to Lead the World Community than to put their money where their mouth is, by moving beyond the Republic and Westminster, towards the creation of Real Democracies.
PM Mottley’s New Regime
Since this rejoinder was written Prime Minister Mottley has announced the appointment of a Deputy Prime Minister, a smaller Cabinet of 20 members, from 26 in 2018. It includes four Senior Ministers each to coordinate the work of a cluster of ministries. She also announced that she will be seeking an amendment to the Constitution to reduce the age from 21 to 18 years for eligibility for appointment to the Senate. She has also institutionalized a system whereby each parliamentarian is to spend a prescribed period per week (1/2 a day) in his/her constituency and hold regular constituency forums. These policies are not novel nor do they meet the transformational levels for a bold new Barbadian enterprise. But they are at least some steps toward making a difference. And despite the low voter turnout which is increasingly the trend in “COVID elections“, in Barbados no attempt was made to recapture power through denying access to the ballot box in general. Without survey data, it is difficult to ascertain if the low voter turnout at 45% percent was due to COVID restrictions, apathy or alienation.
Making Democracy Real
Consideration must seriously be given to the kernel of the Rejoinder’s argument that there is need for research and analysis on the “political aberrations” of western style democracy especially in micro states like Barbados the pivot here is to consultation and advocacy, open government and public ethics.
First, reforms must be driven by the idea of expanding and strengthening democracy and citizen participation. This means systematically examining the important features of constitutionalism which include openness toward the recognition of collective rights of citizens as distinct from the underestimated tension between constitutional reforms and state reforms driven by international financial institutions.
Second, little scholarly attention has focused on the importance of the role of deputy prime ministers. In the case of Barbados, the appointment of a Deputy Prime Minister may be interpreted as a clear signal of succession planning. According to a comparative study on political leadership this will depend on a display of qualities such as temperament; relationships with the Cabinet and caucus; relationships with the party; popularity with the public; media skills; and leadership ambition. See Political Leadership: A Comparative study
Third, is the case for proportional representation the essence of which is that all votes contribute to the result—not just a plurality, or a bare majority. Its application will surely eliminate the faux democracy that results in zero representation in Parliament of a half or more of the population as in the cases of Barbados and Grenada. Of course there are other variations such as consociational democracy as in Switzerland, the Netherlands and Suriname that forges coalition governments and power sharing.
Fourth, reforms should seek not only to restore representative democracy—which is itself momentous in overcoming military dictatorship especially in the political history of Latin America — but also to create new spaces for citizen participation. Such reforms may be achieved through the recognition and expansion of direct-democracy mechanisms such as popular consultations and referendums and second, through the creation of citizen bodies to control public affairs such as associations of users to oversee the management of public services. In this regard, the new Bolivian and Ecuadorian constitutions stimulate new forms of participation—which seek to overcome the limitations of liberal democracy—and incorporate the recognition of the community democracy developed by indigenous peoples.
USA - a Democratic Aberration
Ironically, Professor Jay Mandle in a very interesting blog "The arc of Justice" in Democracy Matters, January 2022, places in stark relief the "aberration of democracy" in the USA. As was the case after reconstruction, he identifies today's anti-democrats as explicitly attempting to purge the voting rolls by making registering and voting more difficult, by corrupting election administration, and by falsifying the counting and certifying of votes. His synopsis is blunt:
"When people say that the arc of history bends towards justice, what they really mean is that the extent to which justice prevails depends on whether a population can defend itself against oppression. But successful defense requires political power, and political power means having access to the ballot box. That is why the opponents of voting rights have always fought so hard. In the past, they have restricted the right to vote to protect their privileged access to power. Today, their attacks on voting rights seek to recapture the power that they fear they are losing.”
"The arc of justice" - Money in my Mind Democracy Matters, January 2022
As yet there is no evidence of this form of "democratic perversion" in Barbados and most of the Caribbean. But it is fair to say that quintessential leaders like Prime Minister Mottley can launch a bold new enterprise in Barbados and inspire a new politics in the Caribbean and beyond.
Basking in her second straight landslide clean sweep victory, Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley made her recurring promise to uphold the values of Errol Barrow, the first post-independence prime minister of Barbados, who said Barbados would be “a friend of all and a satellite of none”. Consider the significance of this BLP leader removing the political sand under the platform of her opposition by aligning her vision with that of the former DLP leader. Her decision to call a snap election reinforced her acute political sensibilities. When matched against her spectacular articulation for social justice on the international stage, it elevates her already high regard as the Prime Minister from a small viable state with an incomparable global acclaim. Most recently in November 2021, she was the breakout star of COP26, in Glasgow taking global leaders to task for their inaction on climate change. Hers is an innate gift of creative leadership for which the Caribbean and the world are blessed to behold. Barbados is indeed fortunate and from the results of the elections on January 19, 2022 Barbadians know it all too well. At the BLP’s final rally on the night before the Elections, Liz Thomas, Barbados’ Ambassador for climate change graphically summarizes Mia Motley’s star qualities: “White people from all over the globe say to me: how do I get a Barbados passport? Caribbean people say to us: ‘How do I get a Mia Motley?’, ‘I wish we had a Mia, give us Mia, lend us Mia’, but Barbados got Auntie Mia,” she said.
COVID, Voter Turn Out and Human Rights
More than 266,000 people were eligible to vote, but preliminary information suggests that only 50% participated. More than 5,700 were unable to vote because of COVID-19 infections which disenfranchised them in accordance with the rules established for maintaining safety during the elections. One opposition candidate brought an injunction to stop the election on the basis that the regulation would prevent those with COVID from voting and is an infringement of their human rights. The court rejected it. Others claimed that calling a snap election, especially during COVID era was an abuse of power and portends to authoritarianism. This notwithstanding the fact that it was within Prime Minister’s constitutional entitlement and she demonstrated shroud judgement.
Several commentators based on idiosyncratic information and speculation, wagered that the majority of the BLP would be whittled away because of disaffection, mainly due to the fact that the Prime Minister foisted Republican status on the country without due consultation. Again notwithstanding that unlike most other Caribbean countries whose Constitutions require a referendum to decide this change, Barbados’ Constitution has no such requirement. In addition, a poll administered by UWI Cave Hill political scientists, Dr. Cynthia Barrow found that while only a minority of Barbadians wanted to retain the British monarchy as head of state, most objected to the lack of consultation.
The objection by opposition groups to holding elections during the COVID era turned out to be a red herring. A December 2021 Report from the International Institute for Democratic and Electoral Assistance (IDEA) for example, showed that 14 Latin America and Caribbean countries had elections during the COVID era. These are prior to those in Barbados. It compared the average of elections between 1990-1999. Of special interest is that information for 10 CARICOM Member and Associate member states revealed interesting results. Belize (+ 9%), Suriname and St Vincent (+7) and the Grenadines (+5) had higher turn outs in the COVID elections while there were lower turn out in others: Guyana (-7%), Trinidad and Tobago (-8%), St Kitts/Nevis (-11%), Anguilla (-13%), Bermuda (-15%), and Jamaica (-21%). If the projected turnout for 2022 in Barbados is confirmed at 52% then its turn out will be 8% lower than in 2018. See Global over view of COVID 19 - Impact on elections International IDEA https://www.idea.int/news-media/multimedia-reports/global-overview-covid-19-impact-elections
A Reemergence of the Hero and the Crowd
Yet the margin of the 30-0 victory a second consecutive time is unprecedented, even though Grenada’s governing New National Party led by Prime Minister, Dr. Keith Mitchel boasts 3 such clean sweeps, the last two in succession. Like Grenada, Barbados benefited from a disorganized major opposition, Democratic Labour Party, whose leadership also lacked widespread appeal. So much so that the opposition groupings and independent candidates that competed against the BLP were unable to ride on the real or perceived anger of those who felt disaffected and or alienated from the government. The inevitability of the opposition’s dilemma is partly due to its failure to learned lessons of pivoting its leadership as the BLP did when in 1993 Henry Forde (now Sir Henry) retired as Opposition leader on grounds of ill health, and made way for Owen Arthur with the talent to consolidate and widen the base of the party. This led to its subsequent success in leading the BLP to power at the 1994 snap poll that resulted from the downfall of then Prime Minister Erskine Sandiford's DLP and to electoral victories in two other consecutive elections that followed.
What is undeniable is that Mia Mottley, more than any other modern Caribbean leader has exuded the Charisma that characterized Archie Singham’s book “The hero and the Crowd” in reference to the pre-colonial leadership, principally of Gary in Grenada, but more so applicable to Eric Williams, Errol Barrow and Michael Manley. These are the heroes whose incarnation is jointly blossoming in the reflected radiance and brilliance of Mia Mottley.
The Challenges Ahead
Despite the BLP’s thumping victory, there continues to be challenges ahead for the Mottley government. Barbados is reliant on long-haul flights and polluting cruise ships for much of its economy activity. These are in jeopardy due to COVID restrictions. Mia Mottley’s second term is likely to be dominated by efforts at recovering and diversifying Barbados’ post-COVID economy. As part of a loan deal with the International Monetary Fund, the Barbados' government needs to achieve a 6% surplus of GDP. This is likely to lead to austerity measures. But the Prime Minister is no doubt aware of the rocky road ahead.
The BLP’s seminal manifesto is replete with aspirational promises including placing priorities on financial security, nutrition, renewable energy, building 10,000 homes, investment in the medicinal cannabis industry, enhancing human capital by accelerating widespread training schemes, attracting more “digital nomads”, and luring back the Barbados diaspora. In this regard, Mia Mottley described the elections in her inimitable style as, ”a stop to refuel and to continue transforming the country”.
It is clear that Mia Mottley more than many other leaders must feel that holding elections is the easy part. With such an overwhelming majority in parliament; without the intervention of an opposition, the challenge will be to sustain democracy to which she pledges is the mission of the new Republic of Barbados. That means among others upholding the rule of law, civil liberties, freedom of the press, gender equality, and government transparency.
A quotation from the book, Eric Williams: The Myth and the Man by Selwyn D. Ryan provides a pertinent refrain for Prime Minister Mottley and members of her government to be sworn in by Dame Sandra Mason not as a representative of Her Majesty the Queen, but in her own right as President of the Republic of Barbados. Democracy means much more than the right to vote for every man and every woman of the prescribed age. Democracy means recognition of the rights of others. Democracy means equality of opportunity for all in education, in the public service, and in private employment—I repeat, and in private employment. Democracy means the protection of the weak by the strong.– Eric Williams, Independence Day Address, 1962.
Edward and Auriol Greene Directors, GOFAD.