The small islands in the Caribbean look like tiny portions of land spread on the open sea. There are historical reasons why the natural links between them were broken, but once they conquered their independence, those links had become green again. Many people agree that the Caribbean is more than a geographic area; it is a cultural region in urgent need to alliances and integrations.
An example of viability is the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) qualified by Dexter E.M. Rose, the ambassador of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines in Cuba, as the driving force of this greater determination that is CARICOM, the Caribbean Community that groups 15 territories in this area.
Dexter E. M. Rose addressed a group of diplomats and specialists at Alba House, in Havana, an institution that has organized a group of conferences with the goal to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas’ foundation (ALBA).
OECS, whose precedents are in the Western Indies Federation in 1958, grouped in seven countries as full members – Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, Saint Lucia, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Montserrat (British colony), —and two as associates— Anguilla and British Virgin Islands (also British colonies) —. “We hope Barbados will return to the OECS, because it is a natural environment,” the ambassador said.
The organization was founded on June 18, 1981. Its principles were expressed in Basseterre’s Treaty, in honor to the capital of Saint Kitts and Nieves where the opening ceremony was held. Since them, the strategy for the regional integration was outlined.
One day, the peoples from the Caribbean will be like one ––Dexter predicted –– and meanwhile this moment comes, OECS advances in the goal of a solid apparatus. We are small States with great dreams and high political conscience. In the United Nations organization (U.N.), and other international spaces we vote in blocks, this way we have learned to handle the situation where we are in front of big and powerful countries.
Among the achievements gained by OECS, she commented, there are regional institutions working like the Supreme Caribbean Court, the Regional Security System (RSS), the Eastern Caribbean Telecommunications Authority (ECTEL), and the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) that handles the fiscal policy of the region and bets for stability of the common currency, the eastern Caribbean dollar (XCD).
The organization has also advanced in the integration of other sectors like importation of medicine, civil aviation, tourism, construction and fishing. Dexter noted the universal Access of junior high education, a reality that goes beyond the goal proposed by the UN, where they only talk about the elementary level.
If we add the surface of all of our countries, she said, the OECS will have an extension of 3, 147² kilometers, less than Cienfuego Cuban province. There is a population of 636, 000 inhabitants, so our strength is in unity.
It is expensive to deal with an embassy, we do not discount then that one day we will have in Havana, for instance, just one diplomatic representation of the OECS, she stressed. We also dream on a customs union, of marketing, of jurisdiction…
“There are still countries of the region that are not convinced about how to we need our brothers, the Caribbean representative commented. Our participation in ALBA is something natural. We should work together in the future. That is why; we are going to arrive to the Summit foreseen for coming December in Havana, with the purpose to concentrate and debate how to keep on in this direction.”