The persistent sucking sound of beneficiary dependents who appear to have no intention of being weaned, and who don’t seem to want to grow up and assume responsibility for themselves, could be heard at the United Nations General Assembly in New York last week.
That, unfortunately, appears to be the mindset and policy of most Caricom states whose leaders used the occasion of the General Assembly, which provides an audience of global political leadership, to continue to ask for aid or to be reclassified among the world’s poor countries.
It’s embarrassing, to say the least. For our leaders’ whining is tantamount to an adult saying I cannot make it in life, please treat me as a child.
Donor nations are no doubt fatigued and, in some cases, their foreign aid spend is being increasingly questioned by their citizens who point to great need in their own countries.
Take the case of England, for example, which has been making cuts in essential services, such as health and security as it grapples with a huge debt of approximately £1 trillion. More and more, the British Government’s commitment to foreign aid is being questioned by Britons. And who can blame them for asking?
As we have argued in this space before, Caricom nations would do themselves a favour by organising their affairs in a manner that would avoid them having to seek financial assistance from developed countries.
Being able to stand our own feet brings us respect and avoids insults of the type levelled at Africa by United Kingdom Independent Party member Mr Godfrey Bloom in July this year.
Mr Bloom, readers will recall, attacked England’s commitment to foreign aid by complaining about money sent to “bongo bongo land”.
We would have been pleased had the Caricom leadership used the UN General Assembly to say some of the following. First, Caricom is small, but it has set an example to the world in democracy and, in spite of challenges, we have achieved middle-income status with high levels of health and education.
Second, we support the UN and the rule of international law as it protects small states like ours. Third, we actively join the international community in the fight against transnational crime, drug trafficking, terrorism, and climate change.
Fourth, we will contribute to helping those less fortunate than ourselves by offering technical assistance in tourism management, sports training, health care and education. We are willing to provide teachers, doctors and other experts to help the poor, and in humanitarian situations.
Instead of engaging in cap-in-hand diplomacy at the UN, we should really ask nothing but to play our part in making the world better.
This article appeared in the Jamaica Observer newspaper.