White Knights in the Caribbean
Populism, God, religions, capitalism, imperialism, socialism, communism, Bolivarianism and all other “isms” that dominated the Caribbean society in the past are like mummies in a museum. Any political movement on the islands that wants to survive has to adapt to the ways of the modern world, no matter what language it uses to justify its policies.
Caribbean islands as such are unable to provide for their own populations, so they needs “ White Knights” to rescue, bail them out and create wealth.
In the 20ste century, the petro-industry provided such an immense opportunity with eleven large and small refineries in the Caribbean. The new industry brought tens of thousands of highly educated and qualified ex-pats and their families to the islands, as producers and consumers. It was also the start of the next invasion of White Knights; the tourist industry and offshore banking and trust services. Quickly new wealthy professional classes formed next to the closed elites of land owners, trading- and shipping families, and with the new showers of wealth, all got wet , at least a little.
Soon the Caribbean was blessed with a standard of living higher than Europa and at least equal to that of the USA. Unfortunately, most of the poor Afro-Caribbean communities remained disenfranchised and segregated. To free themselves from the traumatic past of indentured labor and slave trading seemed too much of a challenge and hardly possible.
Nevertheless, in the 1990’s, a next White Knight stood up from their midst and focused on unchartered waters of nacro trafficking. It turned out not to be an open market with access for all and a level playing field in spite of its illegality, as it looked as first. Soon rival closely knitted gangs were fighting ruthless bloody battles for territory and hegemony. A new social class of ruthless thugs, and corrupt civil servants emerged.
The lawlessness, violence, money laundering and corruption have become so disruptive on the Caribbean islands that they seriously threaten the continued existence to the rest of the economies, whether it is tourism or financial services.
Now, many people are loudly calling for change, for law and order, either from their own endangered and beleaguered positions, or on moral grounds. But local governments of the Micro States do not have the tools to fight international border crossing crimes. They cannot do much more than make some slow incremental changes in the margins, and on most islands they are far outmatched by the might of the new narco economy.
So the Caribbean is in desperate needs of new “White Knights in Shining Armor” to rescue the suffering and tyrannically repressed. Although in disguise, several are waiting on the sidelines.
Could the disintegration of the Venezuelan economy become the new wave of immigrants and investments? Could the entire oil industry revamp itself, like we now see in St. Croix? Could the mega cruise ship industry be increased dramatically? Could massive hemp culture with export into the USA give a new impulse to agriculture? Could mega ship building for the New Panama canal become an industry again? Could the Caribbean become the National Tropical Park of the world?
By Jacob Gelt Dekker, opinion columnist for Curaçao Chronicle.