The Rebirth of Port Royal
Beatrice E Rangel
In his historic account of the Caribbean epic James Michener presented the regions saga enveloped in conflicts arising from desires of outsider nations to possess the sea lanes that provided the world with the most varied and renewable natural resources . To him the region would always be a much desired damsel in the world power ball. The end of times could come when the Caribbean would fall into sordid hands.
And he was probably right except for the fact that those sordid hands could represent non state actors capable of turning the region described by Christopher Columbus as the gate to paradise into wrecks. Just as the peace loving and industrious Arawaks were driven away or made slaves by the Caribs, three scourges born out of modernity could bring to an end the way of life of the sea basin that rivals the Mediterranean in beauty and abundance . These apocalyptic horsemen are: Covid 19; transnational organized crime and climate change. Each has enough destructive power to turn the rosary of paradisiac island into barren land just as Cozumel was devastated by an unknown disease that forced the Mayas to leave.
Covid 19 not only poses a health care threat to most of the Caribbean but it has dried its sources of income. Out of the 20 countries that derive their living hood from tourism 13 are Caribbean nations. These nations will experience a 70%-80% fall in income from tourism. Lacking safety nets and resources to attempt a rapid switch to other income producing activities they face a period of abject poverty and institutional weakening. This will most certainly trigger a wave of immigration to the larger Islands such as Trinidad and Tobago; Jamaica and the Dominican Republic. Then these waves will turn to the US.
As poverty grows and despair takes over transnational organized crime (TOC) will see the opportunity to take over. It will soon realize that fate has dealt a great hand in terms of diversifying risk for the drug trade. As the US reinforces its land borders and Central American countries and Mexico serve as malefic buffers to the migrant inflows, drug envoys become more costly. And during economic downturns prices must be reduced not augmented. It is thus essential to reduce costs. Taking over Caribbean nations can report great profits, as new delivery routes can be opened and new processing factories as well as storage hubs for counterfeit goods set in place. Sovereignty will protect their endeavors from law enforcement.
Then there is climate change which looms in the horizon like a monstrous Hydra. According to the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre hurricane frequency will rise. Also storms will be strongest while sea level continues to rise at the tune of 2 mts per year . This will not only impact tourism but also food safety as most indigenous crops will be wiped away. Rise in temperature will deplete the fishing reservoirs while more intense rains followed by extended periods of dryness will destroy agriculture. Famine could settle in triggering more migratory outflows.
As organized crime takes over, the region could turn into a hub for delinquent activities impacting the US and Europe. In short , should the US and the larger Latin American countries with Caribbean Shores not come up with a cooperation plan to address the upcoming crisis in the Caribbean, the region will turn into a large Port Royal to be known as “the wickedest region of the world”
Published by laht.com on May 25, 2020
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