The Problem With CARICOM – Barbados Culture Is Not Jamaican Culture

An interesting article from today’s Jamaica Gleaner illustrates a concern that many Bajans have with CARICOM – although we might share common origins and history with our Caribbean neighbours, there are some cultural manifestations that we would just as soon not import to Barbados…

The article’s author, Stephen Vasciannie, is Deputy Solicitor-General for Jamaica. He laments that one day last week while Jamaican newspapers printed story after story about Jamaican murders, rapes and violence, the Barbados Daily Nation printed frontpage stories about school track and field competitions, cycling and a lady left homeless by a house fire.

Although the article wanders around a bit, Mr. Vasciannie’s main point seems to be that Jamaica is getting an unfair shake as the only stories about Jamaica in Barbados’ Nation Newspaper concerned drug trafficking and money-laundering.

Mr. Vasciannie talks about how, under the Caribbean Single Market and Economy, there is a notion that there will be an economic integration – but that it would be beneficial if there was also a social integration…

“But even if the impulse to integration is essentially economic, it will help if the Caribbean people perceive themselves as part of a broad social unit, with a core set of shared values, and with common objectives. It will also help if the social unit has a similar set of interests, is attentive to similar cultural developments, considers itself as having commonly held historical experiences, and recognises the need for the countries of the unit to respect each other.”

Sorry, Mr. Vasciannie, but many Bajans are hard-pressed to perceive themselves as “part of a broad social unit, with a core set of shared values…” with Jamaica. Simply put, the problem is the horrific rate of violence that seems to be endemic to Jamaica. (Some samples here, here and especially here.)

Murder Rates – Jamaica vs. Barbados

Jamaica: 63.4 murders per 100,000 population.
Barbados: 7.47 murders per 100,000 population.

(Other comparative Interpol stats here.)

And here is a typical street scene in Kingston, Jamaica after a bad night…


No need to say anything more.


Filed under Barbados, Crime & Law, Culture & Race Issues, Island Life

18 responses to “The Problem With CARICOM – Barbados Culture Is Not Jamaican Culture

  1. Pingback: Global Voices Online » Blog Archive » Barbados: The problem with Jamaica

  2. Actually, the last point is not true… thats a typical street scene of certain parts of Kingston, and not the majority of Kingston either! Where I used to reside, that view would be most uncommon!
    Still, the murder rate is way too high, so….

  3. stephen vasciannie

    Dear Sir/Madam,

    I would encourage you to have another look at my article. I was trying to convey the very point that you say I was not trying to convey. Alas — I am sorry to be such a poor writer.

    Stephen Vasciannie

  4. Pingback: Barbados Free Press » Blog Archive » More CARICOM Cultural Conflict: Barbados Police Move To Ban Jamaican Passa-Passa Fetes

  5. Rockstone

    Anybody who suggests any sort of closer integration of our island with especially, Jamaica needs his head examining!

  6. TJ2

    I was doing some CARICOM research tonight and I came across this post. You could not have said it better free press. A marriage made in hell if there ever was one!

  7. Rumplestilskin

    While it is a basic concept that the an integrated Caribbean acting as a group of Nations will have greater bargaining power in today’s environment and the ability to direct resources economically and politically to achieve common goals, unfortunately I cannot see such a grouping coming to pass.

    Owen Arthur (and others such as Patterson, although Arthur seems to have been the fire under the burner), has thus far gone against the experience of history re the Federation experience and is aiming for an effective grouping.

    I believe that this attempt will sadly fall apart eventually. Maybe not in such a defined manner as it appears the last did, however in time the cracks will become apparent and ultimately, although there may be a semblance of a remaining grouping in name, there will be no effective economic and social grouping.

    It may appear that the effective grouping is already being challenged, for example Trinidad’s treaties with Venezuela coming at a time when the Caribbean grouping should be at the fore of the T&T govrnments thought, if indeed it is serious about Caricom.

    In my opinion this is one instance that almost appears as a slap in the face for integrationists.

    Further, T&T’s refusal or delay to enter the CCJ is clearly indicative of a line of thought which precludes any effective integration among these states.

    There are other examples in respect of other Caricaom states.

    On a more philosophical level, Stephen Vasciannie makes an important point that should not be taken lightly.

    While there are similarities between the island states, there are also tremendous political, culural and economic differences between the island states.

    Thus far, our elections are one example. In Barbados we expect a violence free election. In Guyana one may guarentee deaths from shooting around election time. Is this violence just a ‘heat of the moment’ example of their election structure or an example of a broader internal social divide and accepted culture in those islands?

    Trinidad’s social and justice system is under tremendous pressure today, with both the Law Association and Director of Public Prosecution virtually calling it a collapse of the criminal justice system.

    This is based on the ingrained criminal element making it very diffiuclt to prosecute cases due to witness interference.

    Is this isolated to the prosecution of witnesses or an example of the broader social problems in T&T currently?

    I say the latter.

    So how do we integrate effectively without sever culture shock and serious challenges to our youth, Police, criminal justice system and social leaders.

    What we expect to gain economically may be lost to social problems and battling those occurring as a result of newly accepted behaviour.

    Do we go ahead and bulldoze through anyway despite the challenges?

    I do not think so. There is always a time to assess our status and act accordingly.

    How will the concerns raised above be dealt with on an island level and then a group level?

  8. Out Dey in Bim

    Why you think the caribbean leaders put Owen Arthur as tthe one to have lead responsibility for CSME?
    Obviously they know he suffers from short man syndrome and likes to feel important,so secretly they were laughing behind his back while he rushed ahead bulldozing his bajan citizens with ‘CSME or you die’ attitude while the other regional leaders breached the agreement and did everything to protect their citizens,e.g St Vincent,Antigua,St Kitts and even St Lucia.

    Who is the joker here?ha ha ha .Owen take a bow.

  9. Cherysh

    Though I could share the view of others that there is no way Barbados should integrate with the other Caribbean islands – it becomes more and more apparent to me everyday that integration is the only way for ANY country of the Caribbean to survive and by survive I do not mean maintain the standard of living that Barbados currently enjoys but rather – avoid the problems Haiti has today and still be able to eat on a daily basis. Many Bajans walk around in a blissfully ignorant state not realising that our country gets weaker and weaker and because of what we have become accustomed when the axe falls our heads will be the first to roll. I don’t believe the CSME will work – not because we can’t integrate – but because the grouping at the CSME level is still too small to matter in the world economy, Barbados would be better served if their leaders were to do as Trinidad did and focus instead on integration at the ACS level – harder, yes but far more beneficial than the CSME will ever be. The sooner Bajans realise that we can’t survive on our own in this new world – the better off we will be.

  10. Zeigy

    So, Barbados wants to go it alone because they’re enjoying a relatively strong economy and strong currency? Sounds like the same error Jamaica made when they broke free from the Federation. Jamaicans blinded by their prosperity, Bajans blinded by their prosperity…

    Personally I think CSME is too ambitious. The islands are culturally diverse, I don’t want to see any of our individual cultures lost in the integration. After all, some cultures are best left in their resident island…Jamaica…Guyana…

    Let us take this in small stages. A single currency is a good short term goal.

  11. ROY

    Barbados is a very violent place in the caribbean, the paper dose a good job of not reporting the numbers, because they want to look good in the eyes of the world to draw tourist from the other islands. so they shine the light on others like jamaica which draws more tourist than any other caribbean island.

  12. jay

    Bajans just freshhh (i.e. arrogant), thinking they better than all other caribbean islands. enough with the ALTitude!!

  13. Rhonda

    could some on tell me what is th real issue here.I need some hardcore facts. what is really the problem with Caricoms. Please someone help me i need info for my final exam next week 24th november

  14. Straight talk

    If in your final year you still need help in your chosen speciality, no-one on this board can, or would want to, assist you in your independent thoughts.

    Best of luck, but my advice is to channel your studies into a more esoteric discipline from which you may be able to offer some payback from our investment in your education.

    Kindest as I can be regards.

  15. isis

    Every island has violence but the jamiacans have been trying to show off for many years now and they even say we are trying to be like them – yes we liked the music -once and it was only ever about the music. Jamaicans do the most foul things and they don’t want it done back to them…too bad.
    don’t even try to blame the reporter because you can check reports from canada, britain and anywhere else they are and it reads like a horror story.. they have entirely too much mout. Even honest jamaicans would report the same thing because they’re sick of the plantation politricks and violence!

  16. shakira

    I am an educated Jamaican American women who has lived in both Jamaica and America. I meet a Bajan who was also very educated and she started to belittle Jamaica in a conversation not knowin g my background. She explained that while being educated in UWI she was afraid of all the Jamaicans and basically she was saying that even our best cant come close to Barbados. Jamaicans are assertive, Jamaicans are proud and will speak their mind. There are good Jamaicans as well as terrible Jamaicans, but we do not belittle Bajans even though they have embraced this superior mentality. I believe that many Bajans are very stuck up and even though I am proud of their accomplishments as a nation, I cant tolerate many of their people. Bajans complain about us but they are far from perfect and this article is correct, these two countries are totally different.

  17. K'Empress

    Bajans are quite xenophobic and it is quite obvious that they fear that their weak culture will be quickly erased by the stronger ones within the Caribbean. Jamaicans have never discriminated in the way that these fickle Bajans have and your insecurities are what will continue to stifle the attempts being made at integration. Your population is small, insular and sufficiently detached from Caribbean realities which is why you continue to resist collaborative efforts because u all simply don’t understand. With all the bad mouthing of Jamaicans and Vincentians we still manage to come to Cave Hill and dominate intellectually while very little can be said for the Bajan sojourn to St. Augustine or Mona. Wake up BARBADOS!!!! Only you think you’re great. As far as the rest of the world is concerned you are simply (and I quote foreigners whom you yourselves give preference to over your own Caribbean brothers and sisters!) “a city in Jamaica”.

  18. B.Scholar

    I been Barbados but I’ve never been to Jamaica. I live in London born & raised. Someone spoke about reports from Europe about Jamaica, from my experiences i’d suggest you do not listen to any European paper in regards to black people as i know very well (and their history also shows) they are liars! England try hard to make sure Caribbean’s (African people) were pushed into the bottom class in the 50’s as well as today, not just physically but in the minds of the world, you and your children. Need i say the Whites in America do the same and the whites globally as well as the Arabs and other races. An example is how the UK media portrayed the London riots to be a all black riot! the issues was about an unarmed black man who was murdered by the police (something that happens often in the UK) They shot him dead, his family peacefully protested in search for answer and for 5 hours they were ignored! People got restless and demanded attention. Police then decided they would beat up a 16 year old black girl with Batons, there was 13 officers on one little girl. The Police then decided to spark tension in other black areas Brixton and Hackney with aggressive stop & search tactics against black youth (something they do all the time). Mark Duggan murdered, Smiley Culture murdered, and another brother murdered who was hand cuffed and in Police custody all in short distances from each other. All races were involved in the riots, even Jews and well off white people (not for black people for some free stuff). But the media will tell you a different story.

    What I find worrying is a growing western ideology which has shown us barbaric traits since it began, yet we endorse their philosophies like it’s our own! We are not GREEK or ROMANS! we are AFRICAN peoples lets not forget that. We should not be “civilised” about anything (Civil law is Roman law), we should be Nubian about our affairs… all this Caribbean talk is just a division… We indirectly endorse homosexuality, child molestation, rape, poor education systems, class systems, social deprivation, self-hate.. all of which are European norms! do your history (before you speak on what you do not know) and you shall see where ever they go, these issues pop up. It cannot be helped until people are aware.

    CARICOM should not focus on social integration yet, maybe they should work as a Think Tank for the Caribbean islands focusing on Cultural Educational (history, family, health), Social, Economical, Political problems & solutions to help each! A long term plan should be to integrate. (You don’t just put fish in the fish tank you let it get used to the waters first). The islands should stop neglecting Haiti. They only suffering cause they won their freedom from white people with swords and guns. We must stop acting like Europeans and more like how we were long before we got to the islands with adaptation to the times. Therefore stop watching European/AMerican TV programmes as they are designed to programme us with their ideology. Why isit you think our youth commit more crimes, want the luxurious fast life style of the Americans? Disrespect their women, and want to own mansions with 20 bedrooms when only 3 people live in the house? Marriages don’t last long anymore, the next step is already in commence where there is no thought to get married or have a bond with a strong family structure (community). This is happening all over the world not just in the Caribbean, there must be prevention! or you’ll see crime rates sore through the roof, with another generation of miss-educated, uncultured black youth who are the future of our Nations. B.Scholar