Home collateral The Omicron 2022 Global Experience, Part 2: Preparing the Caribbean for Explosive Collateral Damage!

The Omicron 2022 Global Experience, Part 2: Preparing the Caribbean for Explosive Collateral Damage!

Chronicles of a Chronic West Indian Chronicler by Earl Bousquet

Around the world, CARICOM citizens are following the Russian-Ukrainian crisis with attention, many in “shock and awe” and most very worried about the likely collateral effects on their lives and livelihoods, homes and families. families.

Older generations share memories of World War II (1939-45), the Korean and Vietnam wars (1950s-60s) and middle-aged people remember the Cuban Missile Crisis (1962) to the Granada revolution (1979), while the youngest remember the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the total destruction of Yugoslavia by NATO (1999) and the total devastation of Libya (2011 ) and the continuation of the internal wars in Syria and Libya.

Younger people are more familiar with more recent military confrontations in overnight coups in Africa and the unending global refugee and immigration crises, religious hostilities in Sri Lanka and hostilities against protests. of Black Lives Matter on both sides of the Atlantic.

However, while there is a thirst for region-wide information on “How we got here”, it is crucial for a better appreciation of the response, the speed of developments and the endless flow of “live” “What’s Happening Now” information from vast mainstream media networks and social media sources through continuous “breaking news” reports, also contributes to confusion and militates against uninitiated or curious discoveries or by giving time to go back in time.

Each such crisis brings effects and lessons worth learning in the Caribbean and calls on CARICOM and national governments to ensure that their responses always contribute to the common desire for peaceful solutions to the conflict while mitigating the effects on the citizens.

Global oil, gas and energy supplies will certainly be affected, with Russia, Europe’s largest single supplier and a major player in the global oil scene, taking the lead.

The United States has assured that it will not impose sanctions on Russian oil, while OPEC+ (non-OPEC oil producers, led by Russia) has pledged to increase production in the coming months between 400,000 and one million barrels per day, to soften the blows of the crisis in Europe.

The United States also pledges to help keep oil flowing, pledging to contribute 30 million barrels to the 60 million barrels put on the world market to mitigate the effects of rising prices, with sales no more than US$100 per barrel per day.

But the US still hopes that Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) will join with other OPEC nations to squeeze Russia out of the equation – a highly unlikely option.

It is easy for citizens of the Caribbean to wish that Guyana could tomorrow automatically fill the fuel tanks in CARICOM or that Suriname or Trinidad and Tobago would just each press a button to help Guyana protect CARICOM, but the common wish of the citizens of the Caribbean is that there has never been such a crisis.

Older CARICOM nationals (over 70) recall shortages of imported staple foods during World War II, on which the West Indies depended, forcing people to depend, without choice, on what could have been produced locally, which also led to the creation of new foods and beverages now only recalled.

They also remember the introduction of new varieties of fast growing imported food and nutritious tropical fish like the now exotic species of Tilapia Mozambica.

The shortages also created avenues for the development of regional trade, with Guyana’s rice, sugar and “BG Plantain” joining the wide range of agricultural products traded in the region through inter-island ferries and later by the two ships (Federal Palm and Federal Maple) donated to the region by then Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau to facilitate intra-regional (mainly inter-island) passenger and trade services between Jamaica and Trinidad -and-Tobago.

Supply chain problems created during World War II were such that freighters were able to ply Caribbean and Atlantic waters despite the presence of Nazi submarines, but not the current equivalent created by COVID and be further aggravated by the growing economic sanctions against Russia.

But today’s problem is felt more and more daily in people’s pockets and incomes, with prices rising with every shipment of raw materials.

Nevertheless, a major wheat shortage is looming on the horizon, with quite serious implications for all CARICOM countries, as Russia and Ukraine are the world’s largest suppliers and any shortages or disruptions are sure to drive up prices. staples like flour and all the other popular wheats. rice products of nutritional value, especially in rice-intensive CARICOM countries such as Guyana, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago.

Whether it was visionary planning, rapid response or pure coincidence, the Eastern Caribbean Enterprise Group (ECGC), one of the leading exporters in the Organization of Caribbean States (OECS), announced in late February that it would invest more than EC$12 million ($4.5 million) in a new flour mill and other supporting projects in 2022.

Scheduled to enter service in mid-2023, the increased capacity of its St. Vincent-based Eastern Caribbean Flour Mills will now allow it to increase production capacity by 30%.

But here too, the effects of the impending crisis will be felt long before.

The Caribbean’s response to the Ukraine crisis will be measured less by what regional governments say and more by the mechanisms they put in place at the national and regional levels to cushion its effects.

Responses will differ, but will still be largely negative at the broader regional level, coming just as believers around the world and across the Caribbean thought the proverbial “wages of sin” was death by COVID-19.

In this sense, every Head of Government and State with regional responsibility at the Presidential or Prime Minister level for various sectors at the CARICOM level faces the challenge of doubling the region’s responses at each level.

But it’s not just governments, as all other national and regional entities committed to increasing the Caribbean’s appreciation of the nutritional and economic value of Caribbean products must also do far more than before to encourage citizens to eat what that the region cultivates and to cultivate what it eats.

And preferably buy from the Caribbean.