Barbadian youths joined in the celebration of Commonwealth Day today with the staging of a Youth Parliament in the Senate Chamber.
Speaking on a resolution that it “be it resolved that Barbados take the lead to convince its CARICOM neighbours to explore and adopt a Commonwealth Of Nations Model to facilitate and foster regional integration as envisioned by the forefathers of the West Indian Federation”, Government spokespersons stressed that no one on their side was asking them to abandon the CARICOM model, while Opposition spokespersons held up the Organization Of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) as a more suitable model to emulate.
Speaking on behalf of the Opposition, Ade O’Neal argued that the wider region should examine the operations of the OECS because it had achieved more than CARICOM.
Dismissing the “Government” proposal that the region should explore and adopt a Commonwealth Of Nations approach to regionalism, O’Neal argued that the Commonwealth had been established to mask the decline of Great Britain.
Lauding the achievements of the OECS, O’Neal noted that the grouping had been able to establish a regional Supreme Court, one Central Bank and a single currency, and had encouraged the free movement of capital and labour.
Presenting that CARICOM had been experiencing several shortcomings, O’Neal was, however, optimistic it would overcome them in the future.
He said when people spoke of the Commonwealth, they were usually thinking about the British Commonwealth, but he pointed out that there were also the commonwealths of Dominica and The Bahamas.
All of the speakers, who included Graham Belle, Roshanna Trim, Travis Gardiner, Dia Parris, Juanna Bovell, Katani Lewisa and Chelsea Jordan, agreed that as sovereign states we should not uncritically adopt models from abroad, nor genuflect to experts brought in from metropolitan countries.
Travis Gardiner pointed out that even though the union carried the name Commonwealth, there were great disparities in the quality of life being enjoyed by the residents of the grouping. It was suggested the British Commonwealth should be seen as a relic of a colonial past.
Chelsea Jordan complained, though, that after several rounds of discussion at CARICOM Heads of Government conferences, very few of the decisions were ever implemented.