Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Stella Says…When you wish upon a star, peace reigns in the Caribbean

(Originally published in the The Caribbean Voice, December 2005 Issue)

It is difficult to wish upon a star here in the DC area. I live in the thick of it all where lights blaze and traffic roars on a continuous basis. So it is almost impossible to find a star through all of these bright lights and the city haze, but tonight a single star is shining very bright and I intend to make my wishes known.

Actually, I know the star is not even a star; it is the planet Mars. However, I am not deterred from my mission to send out as many good thoughts and positive energy pulses as possible for the Caribbean. Therefore, tonight Mars will be a wishing star and it will listen to my hopes for 2006.

There can be no doubt that this year is destined to be an interesting one for the Caribbean. There are some highlights to anticipate, both as a community at large as well as individual countries. There is also an ample amount of dread in the hearts of many as we consider the violence and poverty that has been plaguing almost every one of the CARICOM nations.

I am not sure if my wishing star cares at all about politics, economic issues, racial harmony or good governance. Even so, the Caribbean can use all the help it can muster in these areas, so here I stand with a willing spirit and an armful of wishes that are ready to be tossed out for the universe to consider.

I will present Mars with my wishes in an orderly manner, so as not to tempt fate by confusing the cosmos. My first wish is small and may seem insignificant to the giant red planet, but it is nonetheless a very important one for the Caribbean – it is for organisation.

I know this seems like a silly thing and a waste of a perfectly good wish, but if the Caribbean hopes to host a good World Cup in 2007, there needs to be a significant increase in the level of organisation concerning almost every aspect of the event. The World Cup is the community’s chance to prove that it is more than just a pretty face. I have heard that wishing stars can be temperamental at times, so I hope a small wish like organisation does not seem too trivial a wish to ask of Mars.

The next wish I want to toss out into the galaxy is for a high level of trust and cooperation between the countries in regards to the new Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME). This year is the dawn of the CSME; January 1 being the official start-date of this joint venture. On the 23rd of this month at least nine community leaders will gather in Jamaica for a ceremonial signing of the initial component of the single market aspect.

There are a number of views on the necessity, plausibility and potential of the CSME – some are positive and others are not. However, with the European Union’s sugar cuts hitting the region hard and ongoing violence putting a damper tourism, the community needs for the single market economy to work. And if it is to succeed, the community leaders need to extend an unprecedented amount of trust and cooperation to each other during 2006.

The CSME can bring the community several steps closer to stamping out poverty. The Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) cited in its December 2005 report a decline in overall poverty in the region since 2003. However, it also said that 41 percent of the region’s population remain in poverty and 17 percent live in conditions of extreme poverty. I trust that my wishing star understands how much the Caribbean needs an economic stabilising force – and soon.

We need to pause for just a moment while a cloud passes in front of my celestial guardian. (Pausing) There it is again! Shining bright as ever and waiting patiently for my next wish, which is for the various governments to realise the ongoing value of their Diaspora. I do not know one Diaspora who would not move heaven and earth to help his/her motherland. As such, the establishment of a reciprocal relationship could connect the human, financial and logistical resources of the Diaspora with their beloved homeland to promote regional development and investment. I truly do wish such a connection could be made that would bring those who are separated by distance back together under one vision for progress and prosperity. My star twinkled in response. I do hope that is a good sign.

My final wish is a doozy, but I am hopeful that the universe will be able to muster all of its cosmic power to handle such a large request. I wish for peace in the Caribbean. I wish for an end to disunity along racial lines. I wish to see the kidnappings stop, the random robberies and murders cease and for the rapists to completely disappear from the face of the Earth. Maybe Mars can make some room on one of its moons for those who commit these barbarous acts so they will be far, far away from here.

Crime can be directly linked to many of the ongoing Caribbean woes. Persistent criminal activity chases off both local and foreign investors, which leads to a depressed economic state, which creates a feeling of hopelessness and desperation in the people, which contributes to the deterioration of social values and increases the drive for multilateral corruption, which causes a breakdown in good governance and the solidarity of national infrastructures, which forces the citizens to move to another country that is safer and promises a brighter future. It is a cycle of despondency.

Crime has infiltrated almost every aspect of life in the Caribbean to the point that it now controls the hearts of the people and the streets on which they walk. From the random bombings in Jamaica to an unbearable influx of rapists region-wide, crime has a strangling grip of fear on the entire community.

I am not asking for a miracle from my wishing star, because although I want peace to reign in the Caribbean for a change, I know it needs to come by way of the people. So when I wish for peace, I want the cosmos to know that my definition of the word is an awakening of the citizens to their responsibility as members of society to demand an end of this constant onslaught of misery and pain. Lasting peace can come by no other means.

Therefore, although I suppose there is nothing wrong with tossing my wishes out to the universe and hoping something good will happen, perhaps it would be better to put my hope in the people. The hope we have is found in each and every citizen of the Caribbean and I believe 2006 is the year when the people will stand up and say, “Enough is enough!”

Therefore, each time you look to the stars this year let them remind you that the mankind has already conquered space. Let the stars tell you of the remarkable intelligence and the sea of courage it took to overcome the tremendous obstacles of the universe for the sake of exploration. In this you will find the hope to believe that the Caribbean can overcome its own tremendous obstacles for the sake of peace and prosperity.

Please feel free to borrow my star anytime since it is the brightest one in the sky right now. Just be sure to return it when you are done so it is ready for me whenever I need to find a little more hope too.

Email: stellasays[at]

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