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Little fiefdom mentality to be avoided

The revamped North American Free Trade Agreement, now called the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, has been established, almost replacing the old agreement without a whimper from the Caribbean, Bermuda or any of the smaller jurisdictions within the region and hemisphere.

No marches with placards such as “What About the US?”. No parliamentary speeches or regional conferences. In short, total oblivion with a display of cumulative narcissism by each respective government.

The idea of Nafta was borne out of the notion of hemispheric co-operation and regionalism. It makes obvious sense from an environmental perspective to develop unified codes and standards because we have a shared ecosystem that requires mutual co-operation.

From a human perspective, when you consider the huge disparity, not just in economic wellbeing, but in intellectual and technological access and abilities, the disparity is unsustainable. Not only that but it is inefficient and a waste of human potential when one country is training its people to occupy space while others are training to work in cornfields and plantations.

One of the dreams of Nafta was to raise the standard of living and education of the entire region so that one day, albeit a distant goal, all people, in particular the children, will have access to the same opportunities, whether they were from North America, the Caribbean or the Amazon.

Nationalism, which is once again sweeping the globe, does none of that which Nafta implies. Nationalism is self-absorbed: each man for himself and the top dog wins. Therefore, it's not surprising but very disturbing when in 2018 you can hear calls for a narrowly focused “flag” of independence.

If I were a leader today, the first thing I would want to create is a progressive movement to establish a vision and understanding among the people of an ideal democracy. I would want my country to be a leader for the hemisphere and go beyond by being the fulfilment of the American political dream.

We would be setting an example to the smaller jurisdictions on how to empower the people of the region with “real rights” and not the post-colonialist attrition they were handed.

Instead, we have multiple jurisdictions that operate like little fiefdoms with no vision for the region or hemisphere and, indeed, little vision even for their own respective territory. Back in the 1950s and early 1960s, whether it was Fidel Castro of Cuba or Sir Eric Williams of Trinidad & Tobago, there was leadership that thought globally if not regionally.

When the invaders began to encroach on the Native American territory, the natives saw the destruction of the buffalo and their livelihood, which they fiercely resisted. The idea intrinsic in hemispheric co-operation was that if Nafta is vital to the future of the region and the entire hemisphere, why don't we have the same sense to protect our future? If we don't sit down and plan together, the alternative is we will fight over everything.

That we hear nothing from our leaders is both ominous and revealing. Ominous because our future is at peril and revealing because it means they are content with ruling little fiefdoms where people are kept ignorant of their human potential and inalienable rights.

We complain about our educational system, which is essentially ineffective and broken. The truth is we don't have the means to fix it.

Education today for jurisdictions such as Bermuda needs a regional approach. We are attempting to create students that will fit into the global environment. Only a regional approach can provide the kinds of resources necessary to take public education to the level that will produce students compatible with the global market.

Doing it alone is an exercise in futility. With such approach, we will scarcely be able to create students to maintain what we have at present.

Done deal: Donald Trump, centre, Canada Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, right, and Mexico president Enrique Peña Nieto at the USMCA signing ceremony last month in Buenos Aires, Argentina (Photograph by Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP)

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Published December 18, 2018 at 8:00 am (Updated December 18, 2018 at 7:54 am)

Little fiefdom mentality to be avoided

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