Op-Ed: From Haiti to Cuba, A Vision For the Caribbean in 2030

By: Caribbean Journal Staff - May 9, 2013

By Michael W Edghill
Op-Ed Contributor

AS A REGION, the Caribbean stands at the threshold of opportunity. As with all moments of opportunity, they also come with the simultaneous risks of not achieving the possible and instead, sliding backwards and losing the chances that were once so readily available.

In looking towards the year 2030, the Caribbean region exhibits many signs of positive change in the areas of good governance and sound economics that can create an overall improvement in the quality of life for the people.

In regards to sound economics, focusing on the positive signs may appear to be “ivory tower” thinking.

Jamaica is currently working to stabilize its financial future through the IMF yet again, in the hopes of avoiding a collapse like that which was seen in Greece.

However, that in itself presents the opportunity for Jamaican leaders to focus on a restructuring of the Jamaican economy and government financing. If the current leaders in Jamaica can prove that they have learned the lessons, not just of their own past, but of the recent global economic crisis, then Jamaica can find itself on solid ground economically by 2030.

Haiti, too, finds itself currently facing a monumental task in continuing to try and rebuild the nation following the devastating earthquake of January 2010. Yet again, this crisis has forced the leaders of Haiti to focus on a restructuring of the economy and systems of governance.

Positive signs exist when you look at IMF projections that suggest economic growth at 6.5 percent in 2013 after experiencing 4.5 percent growth in 2012. If these small trends can gain momentum and grow further, then Haiti in 2030 stands to be a nation with a hope that it has not had in over 200 years. Beyond these two flash points of economic strife, the region as a whole has exhibited many positive signs over the last decade with economic growth rates of 4 percent – 6 percent consistently.

To achieve what is possible in terms of good governance by 2030, the Caribbean has two problems that, if solved, will provide for more stability, growth, and prosperity for the various citizens throughout the region.

The first is the opportunity to tackle corruption in government. Even the most prosperous nations of the region seem to be wrestling with the problem of elected officials being found to be corrupt.

Government corruption erodes public confidence and undermines the legitimacy of government itself. It suffocates any progress that can be made in strengthening the rule of law in the Caribbean. All of those outcomes; stability, growth, prosperity; that are a desire of the people of the Caribbean are reliant on a prerequisite that the government itself be stable and just and that the laws of the land are upheld.

Without stability and justice, growth and prosperity are limited which, consequently, provides opportunities for lawless elements to prey upon and recruit to their ranks people who feel that there is no hope for a better future.

The second is the opportunity that a more liberated Cuba will provide. By 2030, the Castros will no longer be directing Cuba’s destiny.

A new era of Cuban leadership will emerge and with it, a new model of Cuban government. Over the next decade, as the presidency transitions away from Raul Castro and the financial benefits of friendship with Venezuela start to recede, look for a continual moderation of the Cuban economy to be followed by a slow liberation of Cuban society.

It is expected that the Cuba of 2030 will more akin to what is seen currently in Latin America: a government with a strong hand in economic affairs but one that makes allowances for private capital investment; a society that allows for elections, even if they aren’t completely fair elections; a people that has hope for a prosperous future that they do not currently possess.

There are no guarantees that the possibilities that we see regionally will all be achieved by 2030.

Unforeseen events occur and a more interconnected world means events outside of state borders and beyond government control can have a devastating effect.

But as we look forward, let us see the opportunities that exist and strive towards that better future for the people of the Caribbean.

Michael W Edghill teaches courses in US Government & in Latin America & the Caribbean in Fort Worth, Texas. He has been published by the Yale Journal of International Affairs, Diplomatic Courier, the Trinidad Guardian, and others.

Follow Michael W Edghill on Twitter: @MichaelWEdghill

Note: the opinions expressed in Caribbean Journal Op-Eds are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Caribbean Journal.

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