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Culture, currency, and Caricom: Former Barbados Central Bank governor reflects on the Caribbean’s evolving unity

Posted: Sunday, August 27, 2023. 6:29 pm CST.

By Breaking Belize News Staff: In a recent article by the Caribbean National Weekly, the transformative journey of the Caribbean’s integration over the past 50 years is brought to light, revealing a path that diverged from the one initially set out by the Caribbean Community (Caricom) leaders.

The region’s profound cultural impact has been felt worldwide. Trinidad’s iconic carnival has painted its colors across diaspora communities, the beats of Jamaican music have echoed across global amphitheaters, and Caribbean authors have garnered an international readership.

The transoceanic migration patterns have further intensified the Caribbean integration, creating bonds of kinship and camaraderie across major cities like Miami, New York, and Toronto, now seen as hubs of Caribbean identity.

In his latest Economic Letter, Dr. DeLisle Worrell, ex-governor of the Barbados Central Bank (CBB), commented on this organic evolution. While appreciating the grassroots growth, Worrell pointed out the disparity between this naturally evolving integration and the more systematic approach initially envisioned by Caricom.

Despite Caricom’s golden jubilee this year, Worrell candidly remarked on the negligible influence of decisions made during these meetings over the past five decades.

The monetary aspect remains a hot topic. Worrell has championed the broad adoption of the U.S. dollar for regional transactions, arguing its potential to unify varying Caribbean currency regimes. As of now, while currencies like the Eastern Caribbean dollars boast a stable peg against the U.S. dollar, others, such as those from Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago, encounter periodic fluctuations.

Elucidating on Caricom’s journey, Worrell described its metamorphosis from a mere free trade entity to a shared economic organization. Yet, in practice, member nations continue to operate under their respective systems with no difference in their external interactions with non-Caricom countries.

Reminiscing about the late 60s and early 70s, Worrell spoke of a time when the newly-formed Caribbean nations embraced collaborative financial strategies, often seeking guidance from experts at The University of the West Indies (UWI) and the then-titled Institute for Social and Economic Research (ISER).

A pivotal moment from this era was the UK’s 1968 pound sterling devaluation against the U.S. dollar. This prompted Caribbean nations to turn to UWI for counsel on matching the UK’s move. This era of active collaboration and research later culminated in the Caribbean Center for Money and Finance, which Worrell led for a short tenure. Its eventual dissolution, in Worrell’s view, mirrors the diminishing regional interest in policy coordination.

This analysis by Dr. Worrell is a testament to the Caribbean’s ongoing journey of integration, balancing organic growth with structured strategies. As Caricom turns 50, the reflections shared by the former CBB governor invite the region to introspect, recalibrate, and envision a future aligned with both its roots and global aspirations.


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