Security in the Caribbean Basin: The Challenge of Regional Cooperation

By Joseph S. Tulchin; Ralph H. Espach | Go to book overview

11
Initiatives for Cooperative Regional
Security: The Eastern Caribbean
Regional Security System
Brigadier General Rudyard Lewis

There seems to be a consensus that ideally the whole security agenda in the Caribbean—the illegal drug trade, gun smuggling, disasters, the brain drain, illegal immigration, etc. —should be approached on a regional or, as some suggest, global basis. I am personally convinced that most of the issues under discussion require a regional approach for solutions, but there are some factors that make the regional approach difficult and demand an initial buildup of confidence, and perhaps also some new approaches to the concept of sovereignty at the national level and the desire not to lose control over one's turf at the official level. The Caribbean region is a complex of governmental systems and cultures, which makes the integration process long, slow, and sometimes frustrating. Basically, what needs to be established is the political will for cooperation, for ceding small elements of “sovereignty” for the good of the region as a whole.

There are some initiatives under way in the Caribbean. While there is some sense of belonging to a wider Caribbean community, primary loyalties are confined to national interest. This lack of full participation and loyalty displayed by regional leaders apparently developed from their experiences of past attempts with integration. It is quite evident that there is an underlying distrust, in some cases aggravated by differences in political ideologies and disparities in economic development.


Unified Response

The decade of the 1970s ended with turbulent political instability in the region. It was the emergence of the revolution of March 1979 in Grenada that caused anxiety among the political leaders in the

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