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Collapse of Caribbean Regional Group Not a Good Sign

Saaed Shabazz, Special to The Informer from The Final Call | 4/10/2013, 9 p.m.
The 15-member Community of Caribbean States and Common Market (CARICOM) released a report in the first week of March stating ...
Alfonso Múnera, Secretary-General of the Association of Caribbean States, signs the CARICOM Secretary-General's guestbook during his visit to the Secretariat headquarters on April 11, 2013.

A Western-controlled development bank for regional nations was downgraded twice in 2012 by Standard and Poor because borrowing governments were unable to pay their bills.

A review of the CIA Factbook for several Caribbean nations illustrates vividly Min. Farrakhan's concerns: Jamaica with a population of 2.8 million people has an external debt of $14.6 billion; 16.5 percent of Jamaicans live below the poverty line and the unemployment rate is 14.2 percent. Youth unemployment is 27.1 percent. According to an article in Huntington News.Net, Jamaica is awaiting the approval of a new $750 million loan from the IMF.

Barbados with a population of 287,733 people has an external debt of $4.49 billion. Overall unemployment is 11.2 percent, youth 26.2 percent. Belize with a population of 327,719 has an external debt of $1.4 billion. Unemployment for youth is 19.5 percent, overall 13.1 percent and with the region's second highest per capita income, four out of 10 people live in poverty.

Tiny Antigua & Barbuda, with a population of 89,018, has an external debt of $458 million, while youth unemployment is 19.9 percent and overall unemployment 11 percent.

How can the region with a population of over 15 million and vast natural resources such as oil, gas, diamonds, gold, bauxite, financial services, fisheries, agriculture, forestry and potential for renewable energy right itself? "What is needed?" asks Mr. Commissiong rhetorically. "CARICOM needs to rethink its direction — a need to deepen our integration in the region—needs to be a greater emphasis on developing our own structures of production," he said.