The recent IMF Report (July 8, 2020) projects global growth at - 4.9 percent in 2020. This is 1.9 percentage points below the April 2020, World Economic Outlook (WEO) forecast. This is attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic that has had a more negative impact on activity in the first half of 2020 than anticipated. The conclusion from the IMF report is ominous: ”recovery is projected to be more gradual than previously forecast. In 2021, global growth is projected at 5.4 percent. Overall, this would leave 2021 GDP some 6½ percentage points lower than in the pre-COVID-19 projections of January 2020. The adverse impact on low-income households is particularly acute, imperiling the significant progress made in reducing extreme poverty in the world since the 1990s.”
There are several common challenges posed by these trends to countries globally but are particularly relevant to the small Caribbean Countries.
Flattening the curve as a basis for stimulating the Economy
Flattening the curve is associated with reducing the spread of the virus. The WHO tracker reveals that even though coronavirus cases are low in the Caribbean relative to its small population size, in several countries the curve has begun to flatten. Yet there is still need for caution. Although the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) health experts say social distancing and quarantines are critical, the economic uncertainty that comes with those measures provides a powerful counterweight – particularly in communities where reliance on face-to-face transactions is high and where living and other socio-economic conditions preclude all but the privileged to confirm to safe spaces for physical distancing and opportunities for working and studying from home.
The CARICOM Statistical Unit explains some of the difficulties with establishing trends for the Caribbean due to inaccuracies in country reports including limited information on sex , by hospitalization and number of person tested. It identifies the causes for sharp increases during March-April 2020 in some countries like Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago with specific events resulting in 700 new cases over 24 days. Yet with the exception of four-five of the 22 CARICOM Community Member and Associate countries experiencing an increasing trend in transmission by May 2020, there has been a relatively low rate of transmission reflected in new cases.
Execution of protocols such as increased randomized testing, closing of borders , applications of contact tracing and quarantine measures have led to optimistic signs that more countries are ready for a phased opening of their economies. There are also positive signs with respect to the education sector by the recent signal from the University of the West Indies that its campuses are being readied for on campus classes and from the new Vice Chancellor of the University of Guyana that that institution is considering a blended learning environment that includes both online and on campus course delivery.
Revamping the approaches to attract Intra Regional Tourism
According to the IMF Report (July 8, 2020) there is a possibility that tourist arrivals could drop by as much as 75% in the last half of 2020. With the sector screeching to a standstill, the repercussions are already enormous, especially given the already high debt-GDP ratio in the region. A compounding factor is that GDP relative to pre-crisis expectations is likely to fall by 10 percentage point for Bahamas, 6.5 % for Barbados and 5.4% for Jamaica. In all three countries tourism contributes between 34-48% of GDP. Because most Caribbean islands have seen relatively few cases of COVID-19, the main concern is keeping infections out which may prove to be an anomaly if not an impossibility with the aim to bring tourists in. During the peak tourism season for example, cruise ship tourists number approximately 20,000 per day. Under these circumstances the largest single untapped source of business for Caribbean tourism is the Caribbean itself. It leaves as a policy option for consideration, the possibility of tapping into tourism from within the region.
The "Syndemic" of COVID 19 and Climate Change
Occurrences of various natural disasters that exacerbate major pandemics is referred to as a “syndemic”. With the hurricane season on the horizon, any natural disaster will only add to the impacts of a pandemic that is already converging with economic recession. The most recent reminder is the disastrous effects which Hurricane Dorian inflicted on the Bahamas included losses that amounted to $3.4 billion, or 27% of GDP. The most comparable are the effects of climate change and COVID-19 in that they both require urgent society wide responses mainly through social cooperation and behavior modification. In the case of COVID - social distance, hand washing and mask wearing. Responses to climate change require managing extreme disasters, protecting coastlines, preventing sea level rise and protecting energy and public infrastructure. Both COVID -19 and Climate Change require placing emphasis on a viable health care system for the public and planet, respectively.
Health essential to Economic Growth
The COVID-19 pandemic has fully demonstrated the importance of health to economic growth. GOFAD will follow up on this policy debate which often focuses on controlling healthcare costs rather than on the bigger picture. A recent Mckinsey Global Institute study Prioritizing health: A prescription for prosperity, shows that the bigger picture shines light on the pandemic and its effects that will cost the global economy up to 8 percent of real GDP in 2020. Yet each year, poor health costs twice as much—around 15 percent of global real GDP from premature deaths and lost productive potential among the working-age population. At the same time, organizations around the world are looking for tools to speed up economic recovery, rethink health as an investment, not just a cost. This is a useful mantra that countries in the Caribbean and elsewhere should consider for accelerating growth for decades to come, even in the face of a pandemic and a 'syndemic'.
This week GOFAD shines its light on Professor Paloma Mohamed Martin and offer warmest congratulations on her recent appointment as the 11th Vice Chancellor of the University of Guyana. The new Vice Chancellor brings to the position some spectacular attributes as an academic and a proponent of the dynamics of the arts and culture of the Caribbean. She was educated at the University of Guyana, Harvard and the University of the West Indies and has published extensively in the fields of social and behavioral change, communications strategy, and education policy and practice. Her 11 books and numerous articles in academic journals in addition to a wide range of children’s books and collections of poetry fully demonstrate her talents and productivity. What is more, she comes to the position with a highly rated reputation of academic leadership at the University of Guyana: as Director of the Centre of Communications Studies, Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences, Deputy Vice Chancellor of Philanthropy, Alumni and Civic Engagement and over the past year, Chair of UG’s Transitional Management Team. She is also Adjunct Professor of Cultural Diplomatics at Trent University, Canada.
Professor Mohamed Martin has also made significant contributions to the film and theatre industries, especially in Guyana, but also in the Caribbean region and the Diaspora. Her playwriting prowess and theatre productions are highly acclaimed. They include such recognition as a three-time winner of the Guyana Prize for Literature, the City of New York Award for Culture in 2013 and the first woman Caribbean Laurette for Excellence in the Arts and Letters in 2015.
GOFAD is grateful the ANSA Caribbean Awards for Excellence Committee for allowing us to use its video biography to provide a glimpse of the abounding creative talent of UG’s first woman Vice Chancellor.
Over the past month GOFAD has posted several blogs featuring various perspectives on institutional racism in the USA that have triggered protests worldwide. In these portrayals there is a tendency to miss important voices of support for the Black Lives Movement emanating from church leaders. The Bishop and clergy at the Washington National Cathedral in DC for example have been in the forefront of championing the cause in sermons from the pulpit as well as in a series of symposiums "Honest to God" on Wednesday evenings engaging audiences from around the World.
This week we bring to your attention a sample of the vibrancy of the Church's message and the passion and purposefulness that it brings to this discussion. I commend this 18 minute video of a sermon by The Very Rev Randolph Marshall Hollerith, Dean of the Washington National Cathedral. It is a condemnation of the racist system that has persisted for over 400 years in the USA and more particular, an appeal to White Americans to make the change.
GOFAD is grateful The University of the West Indies (UWI) Regional Headquarters, Jamaica, for the following statement issued by Professor Sir Hilary Beckles, Vice-Chancellor of The UWI, President of Universities Caribbean, and Chairman of the CARICOM Reparations Commission. June 11, 2020
Two thousand years ago, a young Galilean in his proselytizing prime was arrested and pinned to a wooden cross by armed imperial police. In full public view, he was tortured until the last breath departed his body. The powerless, passive witnesses to the killing heard him call upon his Father to receive his departing soul.
Two weeks ago, a young, towering but gentle soul from Minneapolis was arrested and pinned to the pavement by a posse of morally impervious police. In full public view he was tortured until the last breath departed his body. Activist witnesses to the killing heard him call out to his deceased Mother. He might have wanted her to come to his aid; instead he journeyed to her side.
In the inhumanity of both events all Heaven broke loose.
With the brutal murder of a ‘Ghetto Angel’ a bright light flooded America that for centuries wore eye masks, but now removed, its citizens are forced to see. The nation was handed its third chance of a last dance to the sweet soul music of justice and fairness. This is the final curtain for a racialized nation that has danced around the sound of black rhythm and blues for four centuries, while in every town shedding the tears of a clown.
Four generations ago, James Baldwin, ‘Ghetto Prophet’, returned to the theology glossary from Galilee, and in anticipation of a flood of Floyds, framed the discourse in terms of “the fire next time”. Near nine Minneapolis minutes now represent the metaphor that is the nation’s clock, and every tick tock counts.
The first American dance with democracy did not end well for the black community that had fought the battle against Britain for freedom and was betrayed by the generals. The first blood to be spilt in the battle at Boston poured from the black body of Crispus Attucks on March 5, 1770. He was the first national hero of American liberty. But in victory, George Washington, first president of the Republic, vanquished the martyrdom of Crispus, and sent the blacks back to bondage, there to begin, again, their own battle for liberty within the nation that dangled the dream before wide open eyes.
The betrayal by the generals—now politicians and constitution framers—bought and booked their place forevermore at Mount Rushmore. Since then, cast in stony silence, they have looked down upon the monumental misery of blacks as if to say, “stay down and get back”. But the crime against humanity reflected in the hubris on the faces on Rushmore has tarnished the varnish. The white supremacy they upheld and enshrined in the culture of America is now crumbling around them in the desert they deserve.
The racist poison they poured into the well nurtured the nation. It is now torn and tortured by the notion that the freedom promised in the 19th century transcends the fear of COVID-19 in the 21st century. No water springs from the eyes of the Rushmore men. And spin, the White House men believe, will enable them to win, despite the protest of the people against the heresy and hypocrisy that produced a White House dedicated to freedom but built on the backs of enslaved blacks.
But the blacks, despite the chains and knees upon their necks, were never the prisoners of their past. The future they imagined is funky, not faked, filled with the promise of prosperity. We fought, fled, and forged movements from every deadly moment, pushing forward like a tidal wave for the free day, keeping hope alive while forgiving the sinners and enslavers, demanding deliverance without vengeance.
Then came the second American dance. The nation divided to the vein split rivers of blood, black and white, to prove that white freedom and black slavery cannot coexist as the basis of anything but death and destruction. And back to battle went the nation. The Civil war took with it millions of women, men and children before chattel bondage was removed from the books of plantations, factories and the Legislature.
But they were betrayed once again by the dream of a multi-colored democracy; America refused to let its blacks go and instead created Jim Crow, a creature designed to incarcerate the emancipated under apartheid laws that said blacks are at liberty to run loose but not free to forge the life snuffed from George. The second betrayal spread its evil acrimony across the United States now characterized as chokehold communities for persons branded by color.
The blacks fled the South, headed north and pushed west to Minneapolis where they stopped a while to breathe the fresh air denied them in the valley of the Mississippi. It was here, in Minnesota, in the middle of America, that the man George was crucified on concrete, so cold and calculated!
But the ‘Ghetto Angel’ unleashed the wrath of the wise world upon the wicked and their worshippers, and is now from above calling the nation to account. The man in the bunker is now like the boy on the moon, looking down from under, ‘biden time’, and hoping that the marches of millions, from Minneapolis to every other metropolis, can be halted by soldiers with his preference for dictatorship over democracy.
This is America’s third and last dance! There shall be no fourth. This is the beginning of the new ‘hope opera’. One way or another, it’s the end for ‘Uncle Ben’. For the concrete, it too shall crumble, and dust to dust, the dawn of a new dance to the peoples’ song; the melody of Martin, the exorcism of The X, and the drum base for the waist of Mosiah Garvey.
Professor Sir Hilary Beckles
Professor Sir Hilary Beckles, 8th Vice-Chancellor of The UWI is a distinguished academic, international thought leader, United Nations committee official, and global public activist in the field of social justice and minority empowerment. He is also the President of Universities Caribbean, and Chairman of the CARICOM Reparations Commission.
As we witnessed the worldwide avalanche of demonstrations in the aftermath of the murder of Mr. George Floyd by a member of the Minneapolis police force in the USA, I had intended to write a Blog this week on "Stimulating a Worldwide Response to the Pain of being Black in America." However, I recalled correspondence sent to me by my Granddaughter, Chelsea and her Dad/my son, Abi. Their testimonials are the main features of this Blog. They assist more than any analysis I could have proffered in helping us to understand the lingering pain of experiencing injustices and the need for taking action now. The statement from Patrick Gordon, nephew and young advocate for the welfare of underserved youth advocates for harnessing the power to create change, banishing silence which comes from a place of fear and taking action that comes from a place of Love. In addition, the video clip sent to me by my colleague and friend, Prof. Compton Bourne, is an essential part of this blog. It shows his granddaughter, Darcy, leading a demonstration in London, England, that drew nationwide and worldwide attention and support. Darcy's and Chelsea's bold activism added to Patrick Gordon advocacy for change, give meaning to 'youth- taking action' and the hope for a future of Justice for All.
Letter from Chelsea Greene to the Principal and Staff of her All Girls Catholic High School in New Jersey and to Colleagues, Friends and Family
Hi Everyone, June 4, 2020
I just wanted to share the words that I sent to my high school due to their lack of response and the silencing of Black students. Many of our comments were removed from posts and they have yet to acknowledge anything that has been said on social media from their Alumni. Alumni of my high school and current students have finally decided to speak out against the school as their lack of support is now public. Alum from 2001, 1998, 2016, and more have shared their stories. Statements have been sent in by Black Alum, including one who currently is the only Black person on their alumni board.
We are still waiting on a response to any and all comments made. According to a friend whose mother is currently the president of the board, Sister Fran (the principal) said she has no plans on addressing us.
My name is Chelsea Greene and I am an alum from the Class of 2016. I'm reaching out to again share the statements made by myself and many other Black alums. Many of us faced discrimination from faculty, staff, and students at The Mount. I can say for myself; I am still processing the horrible things my friends and I experienced during our time. High School is a very important time in a young woman's life and what I learned in that time is that my skin color and what people thought of it always went over who I was as a person. Things were allowed to happen to Black students that would never happen to White students. Yesterday, my friend, Jeana Henderson, and I were extremely disappointed, but not surprised by the school's silence on what was happening in our country. Your alumni were looking for you, your current Black students were looking for you.
I can say for myself, that yesterday was the most therapeutic way of processing just a part of what I experienced. While I was there and spoke out about these issues, I was ignored by faculty, and bullied by classmates (called a liar, a horrible role model, and more). I wanted the sisterhood that was on every poster and an ad but never got it until now. I found sisterhood in the Black Alums sharing their stories of discrimination. I found sisterhood in current Black students messaging me and sharing their stories.
We are looking for you. We are looking to see you turn a new leaf. Leaving these comments unaddressed will continue to prove that Black students are not supported at this school. Your core values are "pride diversity and inclusion", but we have never seen them. Start the change. We begged for a change in 2016 and women before us probably did the same. I can only speak for myself, but I know some teachers want to do the work. Allow them. They are crucial to making the change. I know from my experience I can say that Ms. Zosche was a teacher that can help with this change. She was a crucial part of my high school experience. I know that she wanted to do the work. need everyone (board, administration, faculty, staff, any person involved, and connected to the school) to read every word. Read every word. Read the experience. Read the truth. Read the words of students.
Comments made and stories shared are included on my Facebook page
Your students. Your sisterhood.
Response to Chelsea from her Dad Abi Greene June 4, 2020
This is powerful and well said. I am sorry that you experienced this trauma. I am so proud of the person you are today and what you have accomplished while facing these obstacles. You gave me the strength to open up on a company forum and talk about my experiences with law enforcement since I moved to this country. Below is my email to my team inspired by you:
Love you always
Testimonial from Abi to the Team of Technology/Engineering Systems Designers he leads at a Financial Company in New York
Hi Team June 4, 2020
I just wanted to reach out and apologize for not being fully committed this week as I have been unable to focus. The incident that happened to George Floyd caused old wounds to resurface which I thought were a thing of the past. As a young college student (New York) doing everything right, I was removed from a bus and placed in handcuffs for running to catch that same bus to get to class. The explanation was that running with a big backpack full of books seemed suspicious. From that point on, I cut up my textbooks and only carried the chapters needed for class, stopped wearing hats, and made sure that my winter coats never had a hood. Needless to say, there were more encounters. The irony of this all is that I am alive today because of a good police officer who did everything to stop his partner from shooting me because I matched the description of an African-American FIVE FEET ELEVEN INCH male with a gun.* What happened to George Floyd brought the memories of steering into the gun and the police officer’s fingers on the trigger while clenching his lips in anticipation of the recoil, his partner screaming at the top of his lungs stand down, don’t shoot. I never reported any of my incidents out of fear and thinking what’s the use. My silence brings a great deal of guilt as possibly I could have been a voice for George Floyd and so many who have perished for being a person of color.
Again I apologize and am trying desperately to refocus
* Abi is 5feet 6.1/2inches
Patrick Gordon Co-founder and Executive Director | YES Initiative
Dear YES Community,
I wanted to take a moment to share some thoughts regarding the nationwide protests against racism and police brutality. I do not want to recite a standard corporate statement which looks good on social media, I want to tell you how I feel.
My heart has been bleeding and crying for my people these past few weeks. The pain of seeing someone that could be me, my mother or my niece. I have experienced every emotion from grief and anger to optimism and courage. But even now, when I feel most disillusioned with the notion of progress towards racial and social equality, I find hope. How? Because I choose to have hope. My mom said it well: “As a Black people in America, hope is all we have. If you’re not going to hope and keep fighting for a better future, you might roll over and go six feet under.” While the murders of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd are at the forefront of the news cycle, the protests are not just for them. This is why the conversation will continue. A 400+ year old problem cannot be solved with a few kind statements, money committed to fighting systemic racism, or changes in legal policies. It will take all of those elements and more, but most important it requires individuals to commit to changing actions and perspectives. It requires engaging in hard conversations, it requires sacrifice. Why do I choose hope? I choose to keep moving forward for our scholars who I love as if they were my younger siblings. I choose to keep going for my 2 year old niece Alex, My 8 month old nephew Deven, and my 2 day old nephew Taylor. Hell yes I am scared. I cannot bear the thought of losing one of them to an act of racist violence — but I will not let fear rule my actions. Now, now is the time to stand tall. To have courage, conviction, to be willing to do what is required of leaders, and we are all leaders. I believe every single person is a leader because there is at least one person in the world who will take your opinion to heart and truly listen. I believe in times of crisis it is simple, we either choose fear or we choose love. Accept the power you have to create change, there are people who will listen to you that will not listen to me, conversations you can have I cannot hear, spaces you will be in I will never walk in, take responsibility and be willing to do not what is easy but what is right. Get into action in your own circle, your own community, you don’t have to look much farther than what and who is immediately in front of you. Silence comes from a place of fear, Action comes from a place of Love - choose Love.
Darcy Bourne Leading a demonstration in London and Inspiring the World
Darcy’s leadership and her slogan “Why is Ending Racism a Debate?” has now gone viral in the United Kingdom and other countries. It is being promoted by models, movie stars, pop artists and sports stars around the world. These include footballers, David Beckham and Nikita Parris; athlete, Dana Asher-Smith; and formula 1 Champion, Lewis Hamilton. “Why is Ending Racism a Debate ?”is a profound question, perhaps, the most pertinent. it is inspiringly bold. Small wonder it has been posted in almost all the British newspapers, carried in news releases around the World, posted in British Vogue with other photographs on its Instagram. The image has also been tweeted by Malcom Luther King III, son of the late civil rights activist. Eighteen year -old Darcy Bourne is a member of the English under 21 English Hockey team in which few young blacks participate and indeed only four black women have represented Great Britain at the senior level. Darcy makes the point that the photographs of her slogan captivating the world "shows that no matter how big your platform is you can make a difference" . She certainly is.
Darcy Bourne, Chelsea Greene and Patrick Gordon
Regional Headquarters, Jamaica, June 1, 2020. The following statement is issued by Professor Sir Hilary Beckles, Vice-Chancellor of The UWI, President of Universities Caribbean, and Chairman of the CARICOM Reparations Commission.
Martin Luther King Jr, when he felt he could not breathe came to Jamaica. When the threats to his life were constant and closing in around his neck, he took this measure to maintain his life. His visits to Jamaica’s north coast filled his lungs with the ‘freer’ air of our space. He returned to the mainland more battle ready for the struggle to achieve the God-given right to the dignity of black life.
Island and mainland have always been a common survival space. Borders cannot contain consciousness nor isolate the intellect. Martin was retracing the footsteps of Marcus, his mentor, the incomparable Mosiah Garvey who also travelled from this north coast—his ancestral home—to Harlem, there to dedicate his life to the struggle for the dignity of black life.
Garvey’s Jamaican voice was heard in every American community where the dignity of black life was denied. He would have flown to the side of George Floyd, and embraced his forlorn family while preparing to prosecute those who demeaned his dignity and denied his ‘livity’.
Marley, the Buffalo Soldier from this said north coast, was idolised by every African American who was empowered by ‘old Marcus Garvey’ to get up and stand up and defend their right to life with dignity.
Malcolm, socialised as an X West Indian, took up the struggle of the islands on the mainland, connecting the legacies of Marcus and Martin to the West Indian commitment to rightness, fairness, and dignity in plantation America.
Where there were plantation overseers there are now police officers. Through them, black life remains prime for deletion as if on the plantation.
This Minneapolis fight was Marcus Garvey’s fight; it was Martin’s fight; it was Malcolm’s fight; it was Marley’s fight. It’s a Caribbean fight and it’s a global fight.
West Indians have been in it all along. Professor Orlando Patterson, Harvard don, but bred and adorned at the Mona Campus of The UWI, told his MSNBC interviewer that what we have seen is a special breed of evil from the depth of hell. We must exorcise it, he said, and return it from whence it came.
Patterson spoke as a Caribbean scholar in America, the finest sociologist they have, on loan from us to them. His classic work, The Sociology of Slavery, shows us how history can haunt communities; how privileges from the past become the pain of the present.
From that horrible history when Europeans stole 15 million of our ancestors from Africa and scattered them across plantation America—the Caribbean getting the lion’s share—shattering family bonds, the future was cast in the concrete again, in which the face of George was crushed.
From that moment, when the British government in 1636, took the first step to legally classify all blacks in their colonies as non-human, chattel, property, and real estate and proceeded with their European partners to build and manage with it a global business model for 400 years, the greatest ‘financial juggernaut’ of world history, humanity was poisoned with the toxic pandemic of race hatred.
And from that date in 1783, when Chief Justice Mansfield of England, in the Zong Trial, boldly proclaimed that the blacks in the case before him are no different from so many horses, sheep, and goats, the poison had permeated every community in the western world.
It is this culture of centuries upon which the American nation is built that continues to choke the air from black lungs. The Americans won their national independence from Britain, and proceeded to retain slavery as the development model of the nation; the same model in which the western world defined and treated black people as animals. It is the legacy of this model, embedded in a national security institution that took the life of “Big Floyd”.
It is this licence to treat animal life as dispensable that led the pack of hunters to pin a citizen to the concrete, using the knee like a blunt knife to the throat for nine minutes, while posing and posturing like a fisherman in triumph over his catch of the day for all to see!
It is this cultural triumphalism of killing black prey that has caught afire the heart of a hitherto race hardened world made to participate virtually in an actual live extinction of life; typified by a dying man calling out for his deceased mother who at the moment answered her son because she knew it was time to call him home.
The UWI, too, has heard the call of George. We wish to invoke the memory of Marcus and Martin to bring to the islands young African Americans, here to breathe before returning to the mainland fight for dignity. We owe it to Martin, to Marcus, to Malcolm, and to Marley; and to all the ruptured minds of Minneapolis.
This is our cause. Every university that stands for freedom, justice, and the celebration of human dignity must stand up like a gorilla for justice for George. Minneapolis is just another place where our eyes have detected evil, beyond hate, that has erupted from the depth of hell.
Not only the souls of black folks have been scared forever by this latest event in the genocidal war against young black men; the soul of the world is awakened.
This week, every person on the planet who carries a spirit of love for humanity has become a protesting priest. We need our prophets now more than ever. The ‘old pirate has robbed I’ once again. And yet we shall rise!
The Blog this week is written by Prof Jorge Heine, former Chilean Ambassador to China. He is a research professor at the Paradee School of Global Studies, Boston University, a Wilson Center global fellow, and a non-resident senior research fellow at the Center for China and Globalization (CGC) in Beijing. This article was published in: Global Times 2020/5/26 to whom we are grateful.
The recent resignation of World Trade Organization (WTO) Director-General Roberto Azevedo, effective in September, one year before the end of his second term in office, has thrown a monkey wrench into the world trading system. With the WTO already in serious trouble, this resignation could not have come at a worse moment.
World trade fell in 2019 for the first time since 2008, pulled down by both the US-China trade war and Brexit. According to the WTO, world trade might fall by as much as one-third in 2020, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. This is a perfect storm.
The former president of the World Bank, Jim Yong Kim, stepped down from his post on February 1, 2019, three and a half years before the expiry of his term in 2022. Azevedo says he has nothing lined up, but quits to facilitate the process of electing his successor, whatever that may mean.
Both Kim and Azevedo jumped ship at critical moments when a steady hand at the wheel was most needed.
Member states wage yearlong campaigns to elect their candidates to head key international institutions, to occupy prestigious and handsomely paid positions. Once elected, why do such leaders quit ahead of time, leaving others to deal with the current mess in crucial areas in world affairs?
This is just another symptom of something else: the falling apart of the current liberal international order (LIO) set up after World War II with pillars such as the United Nations (UN), the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. It was also inspired by the principles of free trade, first championed by the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade and later the WTO.
Designed to avoid World War III, with lessons of the failed approach followed by the allied powers in Versailles in 1919, the LIO largely achieved this. On the premise that a rules-based international order is better than a free-for-all and utter Hobbesian system, in the past 70 years, the LIO has brought considerable prosperity to the world. It also avoided a global conflagration between the extant superpowers, such as the US and the Soviet Union — albeit at the cost of outsourcing direct conflicts to numerous proxy wars in Asia, Africa and Latin America.
The current phase of globalization, started circa 1980, in turn, and contrary to what was then the conventional wisdom, ended up giving a big boost to emerging economies in the Global South. The so-called Asian Tigers first, followed by China and then by India, grew in leaps and bounds, attracting much worldwide manufacturing activity. Trade was very much at the heart of this, as global trade grew at twice the rate of the world economy from the mid-1990s till 2007.
The ensuing rise of Asia and of the BRICS countries created a major imbalance in the power distribution and voting arrangements in international organizations (IOs) and international financial institutions (IFIs). Not too long ago, Belgium had more voting shares than China in the World Bank.
To this day, shrinking middle powers like the United Kingdom are among the permanent members of the UN Security Council, whereas emerging giants like Brazil and India are not.
Anachronistic structures that cease to perform their function need updating. But not only have these IOs and IFIs become outdated and unrepresentative.
The WTO has two functions: To liberalize trade and to resolve trade disputes. On the first, the Doha Round, dedicated to foster a global reduction in tariffs, is stuck in neutral since 2008. On the second, its Appellate Body, tasked with resolving trade differences among members, has been rendered inoperative since December 1, 2019, when it was left with just one judge, lacking a quorum to take up new cases. This was the result of a long-standing blocking of such appointments by the US, going back as far as the Obama administration. Although the US has won a majority of the cases it has brought to the Appellate Body, it has also lost quite a number of trade disputes that others have brought against the US, which Washington deems unacceptable.
A dozen-plus WTO member states have set up their own mechanism to resolve trade disputes. Several other states, mostly from the Asia-Pacific region, have come up with a statement in favor of free trade and in support of fostering, rather than hampering, the flow of goods and services across borders. Admirable as these initiatives may be, they don't measure up to the occasion, being the equivalent of rearranging the chairs on the deck of the Titanic. The international trading system is facing the abyss and the double whammy of a supply and a demand shock the likes the world has not seen since the Great Depression.
Some years ago, the argument was posited that the key distinction was no longer between capitalist and socialist states, but rather between open and closed ones. It was said that only open economies and open societies could make the most of what is offered by the Fourth Industrial Revolution and the opportunities it offers on AI, robotics, cloud computing and the Internet of Things.
Today, the irony is that the very countries that once championed free trade and the international arrangements that make free trade possible are closing up borders and raising obstacles to the free flow of goods and services. The last best champions of free trade can now be found in the Global South, rather than in an increasingly protectionist, isolationist and inward-looking North.
· Brexit squabbles block the UK from an important role in the new world trade order
· US trade executive says protectionism "damaging" to world trade
For this week's blog we have the pleasure of a YouTube Tribute to Sir Arthur Lewis by Professor Compton Bourne, former Governor of the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), former Pro Vice Chancellor and Principal of the University of the West Indies (UWI), Trinidad and Tobago and former Chancellor of the University of Guyana (UG). One of the leading economists in the Caribbean , Professor Bourne has written extensively and has been influenced by Sir Arthur Lewis ' work and life. He helps us to remember Sir Arthur, who died in 1991: a St Lucian by birth and Caribbean stalwart with international acclaim. Professor Bourne's reflection celebrates the many facets of Sir Arthur's achievements: as Nobel Laurette in Economics; Vice Chancellor, UWI; Chancellor of the University of Guyana; Governor of the Caribbean Development Bank, Professorships at Manchester and Princeton Universities, advisor to governments and institutions worldwide; author, scholar, visionary, statesman, gentleman and friend. Especially at times like these, when the world over struggles to come to terms with the devastation of COVID-19 to lives and livelihoods, we miss the wisdom of Sir Arthur Lewis. We wish this father of development economics was around to provide the prescriptions for a revival through sound economic planning and the restoration of a viable international economic order. Let's listen to one of his disciples, Professor Bourne.....
GOFAD is grateful to Sir George Alleyne for this week's blog which is being issued on World Nursing Day, May 12, 2020. Sir George is former Chancellor of University of West Indies, former UN Secretary General Special Envoy for HIV in the Caribbean and former Director of the Pan American Health Organization. GOFAD reviewed his most recent book The Grooming of a Chancellor, University of the West Indies Press, 2018 was reviewed by GOFAD on February 14, 2019.
When Lord Nigel Crisp who is co-chair of the global movement “Nursing Now” asked me to write a comment for the international day of the nurse and midwife – May 12, I accepted with alacrity. This was not only because I had agreed a couple years ago to be one of the champions of Nursing Now and its three-year campaign (2018 to 2020) to raise the profile and status of nursing worldwide, but because of a long-held conviction that the critical role of nursing and nurses in our society was not promoted often and loudly enough. I am grateful to Professor Edward Greene for giving me the opportunity to include these comments in his GOFAD blog on this important day.
May 12, 2020 also has enhanced historical significance because it is the 200th anniversary of the birth of the legendary nurse Florence Nightingale. The theme for the celebration of this year’s international day is “Nursing the world to health”. In a sense this was prophetic, as it was chosen long before nurses and other health workers were thrown into increased prominence and yes, danger by the pandemic of Covid- 19.
Three years ago, I was a co-author for a publication that analyzed the major problems for which the world should prepare – pandemic influenza, antimicrobial resistance, the noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) and of course climate change. It is pertinent to highlight the role or rather roles nurses must play in nursing the world through these challenges. It was not pandemic influenza – at least not yet – but Covid-19 that has shown into the sharpest possible relief one of the most critical roles of nurses that sometimes seems to be taken for granted in the discussions of the technical advances in the profession and the loud and proper cries for them to take leadership roles in for example primary health care and universal health coverage.
In the middle of the pandemic and as there was no known effective treatment, it recalled the medicine of the pre-antibiotic era when successful outcomes of disease often turned around nothing more, nothing less than good empathetic and compassionate care. It brought back to me the end of Florence Nightingale’s nursing pledge of 1893 in which the nurse “pledged to devote myself to the welfare of those committed to my care”. I also recall the comment made by Prime Minister Boris Johnson about his stay in hospital and his deep gratitude to the nurses who stayed by his bed and cared him through the worst of his illness. When we laud and salute the nurses and healthcare workers as heroes of this pandemic for their courage in the face of personal danger, we also do so for the care they give to the sick in the face of uncertainty and unfortunately in the frequent assistance in helping to die with dignity.
Of course nurses in their many other roles as educators, advocates, practitioners, leaders, policymakers, teachers etc. have multiple parts to play in nursing the world to some semblance of health through prevention and therapeutic initiatives in the other three areas of challenge.
There are numerous data on the state of nursing globally and regionally and they all show the picture of a gendered workforce that constitutes almost 60% of the total health workforce and one that is projected to have a shortfall of some 6 million by the year 2030. There are many good plans and policies for helping countries to address this gap but the one that seems almost intractable is that of the migration of nurses from the less developed to the more developed countries and the often ignored fact that even in the developed world the majority of countries are both recipients and senders of their trained health workforce.
Nursing holds a special place in the annals of Caribbean health. There is justifiable pride in the Jamaicans Cubah Cornwallis who treated a future King of England and the legendary Mary Seacole – a practitioner who saved the lives of many in the cholera epidemic of 1850-1851 and achieved international fame by using private funds to go and nurse the wounded in the Crimean war of 1853-1856 . And the 20th century saw Barbadians Nita Barrow and Ena Walters excel from the base of their training at the local Barbados General Hospital. The career of Nita Barrow is a storybook journey from the local nurse to the international civil servant to being President of a major International non-governmental Organization and finally being Governor General of her country. Ena Walters similarly rose to be Matron of her hospital for some 26 years, was a major educator and has the distinction of being the founding president of the Regional Nursing Body – a professional entity which is arguably the most successful and best organized of all the health professional organizations in the region. But these only a few of the many who have brought credit to their profession through the years, but they demonstrate that a good nursing training can be equipment for excellence in other fields.
The local application of the theme for this year’s day must embrace at least three problems. First, there must be preservation of the health gains which have been made primarily through the devotion and caring of magnificent cadre of Caribbean public health nurses who have not occupied the spotlight and gained enough encomiums for their heroism. Theirs has been a meritorious constancy of community practice which is reflected in such data as the number of children who live and thrive past their first birthday. Second, nurses must be part of the advocacy that the region, while maintaining these gains, must now address the current pandemic and then ensure that the frequently used words “never again” refer to the resolve to establish the framework to deal with future epi and pandemic threats. Nurses must also be actively involved in addressing the epidemic of NCDs which do not evoke the public hysteria caused by the diseases of contagion but are equally destructive to life and living of our people.
So, on this International Day, I offer my sincere congratulations to all nurses and midwives and thank them especially for that care which is so central to their ethos and ethics. Finally, let me admit the bias that comes from the fact that my wife is a proud graduate of the school of nursing of the University Hospital of the West Indies.
May 12, 2020
This week’s Blog is being released just ahead of Mother’s Day. We therefore extend our deep appreciation and love to all mothers for their care and nurturing and for being on the frontline of our lives. We hope that the constraints of COVID 19 will provide opportunities for creative celebrations that would be no less memorable for them on their Special Day.
We have however chosen to dedicate this Blog to Eric Leopold Edwards who died at the age of 95 on April 25, 2020 at his home in Silver Spring, Maryland , USA. He was born in Jamaica and arrived in Washington, D.C. in September 1948 to study at Howard University. The trail he blazed during his more than 70 years of scholarship and advocacy played a key role in winning recognition and respect for the Jamaican and Caribbean communities in the USA and in particular, in the Washington D.C., Virginia, Maryland and the Baltimore metropolitan area. Leo was a font of knowledge. He may have been described as an historical revisionist which is an important, and integral part in seeking to learn the truth, or gain a different perspective on historical events. This orientation was crucial for Leo in presenting an objective, academic, and truth based narrative on historical events which ranged from the breakup of the West Indies Federation, the role of CARICOM, Pan Africanism, reparations, diversity in the USA and globalization. It provided a unique formula for interpreting the role of leadership, especially in the context of a changing world order. It made him highly respected by Caribbean leaders and ambassadors in the USA. And as former Jamaican Ambassador to the USA Richard Bernal recalled in an interview with Vaughan Martin on Caribbeana, on Saturday May 2, an engagement with Leo Edwards was an essential orientation for the Caribbean Ambassadors to the USA.
But his recognition was also international. Nelson Mandela paid his first official visit to the USA in June 1990 after 27 years in prison and before he assumed the Presidency of South Africa. His audience with President Bush and Secretary of State, James Baker was convened despite the fact that Mandela would remain on the Watch List until 2008 when President George W. Bush signed legislation formally lifting restrictions on Mandela and the ANC that had been in place since the mid 1980s. During that visit which included Mandela being hosted at a breakfast session of the Congressional Black Caucus, he requested a meeting with Leo who as President of Trans Africa DC was in the forefront of the struggle to dismantle the Apartheid regime, free Mandela and to remove his name from the Watch list.
Among his notable contributions include: founding Patron of the Washington-based Caribbean American Political Action Committee (C-PAC), founding President of the Council of Caribbean Organizations, Inc.; a founding Member and Secretary of the Jamaica Nationals Development Foundation; and Chairman of TransAfrica D.C. Metropolitan Chapter’s Board of Directors.
Specially Honouring Carmen Edwards
GOFAD joins the multitude of those, whose lives Leo touched, in remembering his enormous legacy. Most of all we extend our condolences and affection to Carmen, his wife, lifelong partner and collaborator at this time of her profound loss and grief. We wish her a Happy Mother’s Day. It is our hope that she and the rest of the family will be comforted by the many glowing tributes to Leo and in remembering the good times they shared during his long and illustrious life. Readers may wish to share their memories of Leo and sympathy with Carmen.
In Leo’s honour, we feature two (2) of the many tributes that have already been disseminated. We have also attached a YouTube interview given by Leo on Caribbean Nation TV which fully illustrates the measure of the man.
Two Tributes as a Pivot
The tribute below paid by Her Excellency Audrey Marks, Jamaican Ambassador to the USA and Permanent Representative to the OAS truly represents his towering contribution and profound impact:
"The late Mr. Edwards leaves a legacy that includes his service as an early president of the Caribbean Students Association at Howard University, from 1949 to 1955 and later in the Caribbean-American Intercultural Organization (CAIO) and the National Coalition on Caribbean Affairs (NCOCA).This has to be a truly difficult a time, especially in the present circumstances restricting us from being able to pay respects in person. Nevertheless, I join with numerous Jamaicans, Caribbean people, and countless others whose lives the great E. Leopold Edwards touched in immeasurable ways, trying to help bear the burden of the loss in this moment of utmost grief.”
See article DIASPORA | Eric Leopold Edwards, 'Jamaican elder statesman' dies in Washington at age 95
Another tribute by Gabriel J. Christian, Esq.Member, Maryland Governor's Commission on Caribbean Affairs 2007-2014, elaborates on Leo’s role as a Leader for Caribbean Diaspora Progress
"History notes that Leo Edwards came to Washington to attend Howard University in the late 1940s. From his student days, he was a stalwart Caribbean nationalist when our British West Indian islands were still colonies. To that end, Leo was an advocate of the independence of the British West Indian colonies, within the construct of the West Indies Federation. Unfortunately, the federation did not last; commenced in 1957 it dissolved in 1962 when Jamaica opted to become independent on its own.
Leo Edwards was born of a generation that saw academic excellence and community service as the norm for those who made up the Caribbean Diaspora in the United States. He excelled on both the academic and community service fronts. He was a firm spokesperson for the uplift of our Caribbean community. Mr. Edwards sought to advance the cause of Jamaica's development, as well as that of the Caribbean and Africa. To those ends, he worked tirelessly all his adult life. In his last years, he struggled out of his home, alongside his beloved wife Carmen Edwards to attend community events. Such was the case last year when I last saw him. Then he was attending the book launch of the memoir of Jamaica's former Prime Minister P.J. Patterson at the Organization of American States Hall of Nations. As usual, he was friendly, jovial, and engaged.
Finally, Leo Edwards was a friend of mine from my days at college in the 1980s, when he freely gave of his advice. Those of us who were fortunate to have known him appreciated the wisdom shared. Though he is gone, the beneficial legacy of Leo Edwards' service to the best needs of our community will not be forgotten. We shall remember him."
Giving thanks for the Inspirational Wisdom
While these two tributes would have provided a broad spectrum of Leo’s attributes, GOFAD extends appreciation to Carib Nations operating out of the University of the District of Columbia, Washington DC for the opportunity to listen to the inspirational wisdom from the man himself. It allows us to remember him as we was. https://youtu.be/42EqTepq9gg
May he Rest In Peace
Edward and Auriol Greene Directors, GOFAD.