Jamaican drug gangs, failed sugar economies and cheap worldwide tourism: Globalization has not been kind to the Caribbean

UPDATED: August 31, 2011

Our current article about the Barbados Tourism Authority Deputy Director, Austin Husbands, telling folks to keep quiet about bad beaches and environmental problems reminded one of our readers of this past post.

Thanks to reader “J” and yes, we think this story is worth another read…

Caribbean’s “special privileges” disappearing as our former Colonial masters push “Globalization”

Three of our readers alerted us to a newspaper article by Jorge Heine, co-author (with Ramesh Thakur) of the forthcoming book: The Dark Side of Globalization.

Although Mr. Heine focuses on the Jamaican gang situation to make his current newspaper article topical, he makes some interesting big-picture points – one of which is that our former Caribbean Colonial masters built their countries on our backs and our sugar economy. When the sugar money dried up they gave us, or agreed to, our “freedom” and “independence”. Of course our populations bought into “independence” at the time. Tourism was good and our former masters sweetened the pot with some special agreements to help our economies along.

For a time.

Now that time of “special help and consideration” is over as the new religion of Globalization (or Globalisation) becomes the mantra.

DLP & BLP politicians at work

Sadly, it can rightfully be said that for the most part our own leadership squandered over 40 years of what could have been. The BLP and DLP thought the good times would never end… or perhaps they knew the money would end and that’s why both parties adopted a piggies-at-the-trough style of government when in power.

Over the years Barbados begged for and received hundreds of millions in sugar and other subsidies, grants and forgivable loans from Britain, the USA and the EU. Did we diversify our economy? Did our leaders show fiscal restraint and prioritize spending? Did we build a good foundation of water, sewer and health care infrastructure?

Nope… we had half-a-billion dollar cricket parties while old women still carried water from the standpipe. We ended up hiring unqualified Nigerian nurses because the supply of British and North American nurses wanting to work in the tropical paradise of Barbados dried up when the toilets stopped flushing and surgical gloves became a rare commodity at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

And now the Caribbean “special privileges” as (Jorge Heine calls them) are disappearing as the new god of Globalization reveals a dark side.

Can’t wait to read Mr. Heine’s new book, but in the meantime here’s an excerpt from his Star.com article…

Jamaica’s assertive gangs symptom of deeper crisis

Effects of globalization have left Caribbean region vulnerable to organized crime

“Since its inception, the Caribbean has been the most globalized region in the developing world — in terms of the powers that made it, the populations that formed it and its integration into the world economy as “King Sugar” financed several European empires. After independence, the islands latched onto special access and privileges in the markets of the old and new colonial powers.

Yet with globalization and liberalization, these privileges evaporated (the banana regime with the EU comes to mind; tax havens may be next), and Caribbean nations have been left holding the bag. Even tourism, hailed as the region’s last best hope, is succumbing to global trends. As the airfare share of a travel package gets lower, a Thai vacation can be cheaper than a Jamaican one.

Globalization embraces some and tosses out others. The Caribbean is being tossed out. The dark side of globalization then takes over. Organized crime, drug trafficking and gun running step into the vacuum. Jamaican gangs (“posses”), spread throughout North America, are among the fiercest, most effective and most difficult to infiltrate by the police. Variously defined as the United States’ “third border” or its “front yard,” the Caribbean is becoming something else entirely — a convenient drug hub to North America, its last remaining comparative advantage.

The English-speaking Caribbean is one area of the developing world with which Canada has strong bonds. Some 200,000 West Indians live in Canada, many of them in Toronto. Urban warfare in Kingston is not an odd anomaly. It may well be a harbinger of things to come as the crisis unfolds throughout the archipelago.”

Read the whole article at Star.com


Filed under Barbados, Barbados Tourism, Corruption, Crime & Law, History, Jamaica, Political Corruption, Politics, Politics & Corruption, Slavery, Sugar

24 responses to “Jamaican drug gangs, failed sugar economies and cheap worldwide tourism: Globalization has not been kind to the Caribbean

  1. victor

    The UK fought long and hard to maintain subsidies over Caribbean bananas and was taken to the cleaners over it by the US because of their own banana monoplies in South America. In the end the UK had to bow out or face all kinds of sanctions on products sold to the US. However, the British public took a stand and chose to ask at the market stall, where the bananas came from before buying. There’s still a loyal following of Brits who choose Caribbean bananas in preference to the frightful Chiquita brand as we have been told about the activities of that company for the last 30 years. Slave labour of South Americans producing bananas cheap. Look at the chain store Waitrose, one of the most successful brands in the UK, putting up billboards about buying bananas from the Carribean. Even if the rules have been laid down by international bodies, it is still up to the individual to choose where their bananas come from. Be rude about the British Empire if you want but watch the ordinary British shopper choosing Caribbean bananas over any other out of a sense of loyalty to our Caribbean cousins.

  2. Syn

    Thank you – but the trend of globalization will hopefully spur the one saving grace of the Caribbean and that will be integration whether because we want to or we are forced to we will realise that the only way to survive will be to embrace one another and what we have to offer and realize that the US, UK, Canada anywhere will only be able to help us for as long as it serves their own national interests – we cannot rely on a man to shit in his own house to allow us to clean up ours that we should have cleaned a long time ago

  3. HMMM

    reading this article i just cant understand why that headline on jamaica was necessary lol

  4. You can’t go forward while looking backward !

  5. Concerned Citizen

    I was only designed to be kind to China, your new rulers.

  6. iWatchya

    The writer was illustrating the socioeconomic impact of globilisation by referencing the rise of the Jamaican gangs (Yardies).

  7. just want to know

    Lets talk about our hospital, do you know the bone scan machine is not working? it is an important piece of equipment for assessing whether the cancer has spread to the bones, and for treating it. It costs $1200:00 to have it done privately, it costs $1800:00 for a CT scan. Can anyone understand what Barbadian pensioners have to pay. You either pay or die. What about the Radiotherapy Machine is it working yet? Let us get some of our priorities right for a change. After this, one has to think of a diet that will assist recovery. God help us!

  8. Bimbro

    Victor, “over a sense of loyalty to their caribbean cousins”? LOL! Doan mek me laugh! It couldn’t b just that they PREFER our bananas to theirs! Steupse, cousins my behind!

    HMMM, the headline on Jamaicans was necessary cos they’re the only ones to have benefited from globalisation! look how many uh dum in Bim! n d Bajee women who luv dem soh!! 🙂

    ‘not bajan’, u CAN, if ur an idiot!! LOL!!

    ‘I Watcha’, their socioeconomic impak has been evident fuh years. They’ve been mugging people, smuggling drugs n being lawless-b**tards, for as long as I can remember, ions before the term globalisation was even dreamt of!

    ‘Just Want to Know’, ur SO right to say, “god help you”! that’s why im keeping my ****side well outa Bim bo! All talk n no shite, is d Bajees, as far as I can c!!

  9. J. Payne

    That’s what they call ‘racing to the bottom’. Because now companies have to build-it: better, faster, cheaper…. All the while they still must maintain themselves with those smaller profits to be made. The current system benefits the largest companies in the world because those large companies can’t be hindered from cherry picking strategic assets around the world to enrich their own bottom-line. A large scale scrapping of the WTO is in order. It was part of the old economic orthodoxy economic structure that existed before the global crash so it needs to have chances made too.

    The global system now means Barbados is going to have these recessions at an increasing pace because whenever any country in the world has a recession to contagion is going to spread around the whole world and hit everybody in this new inter-connected world.

  10. iWatchya

    @ Bimbro

    Only shedding some light on what another reader queried.

    How should we handle the impact of globalisation then?

  11. watcher


    How to handle globalisation? Be the very best in the class your competing in!!! Tourism is so important. Here are some suggestions.

    -get rid of the oil and fume belching Z buses
    -stop dropping garbage all over the place..clean the island up
    -put a freeze on any futher beach blocking condos
    -get the beaches back to being pristine and safe
    -get integrity legislation
    -get all of the uncompleted condos completed
    -get pricing competitive

  12. Bimbro

    hi I Watcha, gallant effort – no problem! as for how to handle it – divest yourself of the Jamaican burden n all shall be well in the land of the living!!! LOL!! 🙂

  13. Bimbro

    Tourism! Tourism! Tourism! is dat ALL dat wunna can talk bout?!! i tired like *hite uh hearing bout ‘Tourism’! Ent Bim got nutten else tuh offer! Steupse, looka, wid all d big-up schools wunna got bout day n yuh mean all wunna can talk bout is tourism? LOL!! Bajees mek me laugh man! Duh mus b SOMEBODY in Bim doing someting udda dan tourism! Anybody know anyone?!!! Hong Kong n Singapore din wait fuh nuh tourism n look where they r now!! Steupse!! Wunna stay day n wait fuh tourism, dependent pun d whims uh d global market!! Steupse!!

    W, those r all excellent suggestions! The unerring question is how yuh does get uh own way, stubborn Bajan populace to observe them without thinking dat dun going mad!!

  14. Bimbro

    Yeh, TOURISM for a people who I hear are so arrogant n unmannerly as Barbadians are, these days!! LOL!! U wait pun tourism!!

  15. Bimbro

    DIVERSIFICATION’s the name of the game!

  16. Bimbro

    I’ve been told that I bestride these fora, like a colossus! Is it true?!!

  17. J. Payne

    Barbados could do Information Technology. It is clean, lends well to telecommuting from home, is a top industry, Barbados has a relatively stable power supply, etc.

    But they have to get off those Microsoft licenses. It ties one arm behinds Barbados’ back. I believe it might have been the government in Italy which called Microsoft a “tax on the nation.” To be competitive Barbados must switch to free alternatives like what Brazil did. And then Microsoft will instantly drop the price of software licenses in the country too like they did in Brazil…

    Furthermore, once you have a populous that is experienced in the Linux operating system then most people know how to design things like Android phones, TIVOs, Dreambox, Amazon Kindle, plus all those other things which are powered by Linux underneath the hood.

  18. Bimbro

    Mr Payne, “well done Sir”, just the kind of idea I had in mind, when suggesting diversification above!

  19. Bimbro

    Mr Payne, do you mean that even our GOVERNMENTS are contributing to Gates’ wealth! Isn’t he rich enough as it is?!!!!

  20. 37


  21. 143

    @Bimbro. You speak of diversification in Barbados as your solution. I would appreciate it if you could atleast indicate or hint at two (2) possible businesses or investments that Barbados could divulge into. Also, makes no sense to bash other countries such as Jamaica for whatever reason. According to you, Jamaica has benefited from globalization and yes this may be true. It is also true for many other Caribbean countries. Therefore, don’t attempt to make it personal or bash this country. Jamaica has also has its fair share of challenges over the years with the same problems Barbados faces. So Bimbro, SOLUTIONS PLEASE!!!! What ideas for diversification would you suggest??

  22. 143

    Ideas, might I add, that are flawless and direct; Minimizing our expenses or spending with other non-Barbadian entities or businesses .

  23. Bimbro, man I would kiss if you wasn’t sooo ugly, but you have hit the nail on the head as arrogance goes in Barbados.

  24. It is so sad how some in Bim pinned all their hopes on a shallow industry like Tourism. You never really hear them talking about science and technology the windows to this new global economy; it’s no wonder why Barbados is falling behind islands Trinidad and the Bahamas .