We on the margin have been waging our own little campaign about the dangers of Hugo Chavez’ Petro Caribe initiative for the Caribbean, we have been very concerned about the apparent ease with which a number of Caribbean countries were stepping into what we saw as a debt trap which would be very difficult to get out of. Barbados and Trinidad have been steadfast in their refusal to join (even with a change of government in the former) now signs are beginning to emerge.
Bahamas Minister of Finance Zhivargo Laing pointed out the obvious in an article in the Bahamas Journal.
Yes it has to be paid back! And in the meantime you are on the hook to a country that has shown itself to have a territorial agenda that works counter to many Caricom states’ welfare.
We have often asked the question on this blog, “What is it that Chavez gets out of Petro Caribe?” Thankfully it seems that other people are asking the same question.
In an environment of soaring air fares a Trinidadian entrepeneur has taken up the challenge of providing affordable inter island transport.
Now, preparations for ambitious replacement, spearheaded by head of the Port of Spain ship agents Global Steamship Agencies, George James, appears to be going full steam ahead.
Word from James is that the 2 558-tonne steel hulled Canadian-built ferry was due in Trinidad this month to start the service.
The “Caribbean Rose”, as it is called, has been refurbished including installing more cabins in Canada after it was decommissioned from its run among ports in Eastern Canadian provinces. It can carry 300 passengers, both in cabins and seating arrangements. There is also room for 55 vehicles and 400 tonnes of general cargo. Cabin charges per person per night will probably be in the vicinity of US$10 to $15. Meals will be available from an onboard cafeteria. Passages between the islands would be made mainly at night.
James is confident the venture will succeed. Among the reasons is the “skyrocketing cost” of regional air travel.
He also feels the time has come for regional people to once again experience the “unique, exciting experience” of sea travel among the islands.
According to the stories the “Caribbean Rose” will run between Barbados, St. Lucia, St. Vicnent, Trinidad, Margarita, Venezuela and possibly Dominica. Mr. James has already identified shipping agents in the targetted territories.
Mr. James says that he is trying to reduce the “red tape” involved in getting person to bring their car along for their visit. We on the margin wish him well and hope that the powers that be don’t suddenly devise a new departure tax at the sea port!
It has now been more than six months since we posted this article and the Caribbean Rose is yet to put in an appearance (at least in Barbados)
After much song and dance, an involvement of UN Law of the Sea tribunals. Barbados and Trinidad are finally showing movement towards a fishing agreement.
Barbados and Tobago have agreed that a fish stock assessment in the waters between the islands be undertaken by the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO).
This after ten hours of intense first round discussions between high-powered teams from both islands on how to go about the fish stock assessment. The meeting was held at the Mt Irvine Bay Hotel on Tuesday. Tobago was represented by a nine-member team led by Agriculture, Marine Affairs, Marketing and the Environment Secretary Hilton Sandy while the Barbados eight-member team was led by Sir Henry Forde, former Attorney General and Foreign Affairs Minister. Both teams included executive members of their island’s respective fisherfolk associations.
While fish were what kicked the whole boundary dispute off, as you can see from previous articles (
the whole mess had it’s genesis elsewhere.
While most Barbadians seem to be aware that the dispute was never just about fish, if you talk to most Trinis, they still seem to think that this was all about the fish and nothing else. Further there is a firm belief in certain quarters of Trinidad that they “won” the dispute and that Barbados was soundly “beaten”.
Having read the judgment I’d beg to differ with that position. However let’s hope that we do end up with a fishing agreement out of this.
At least then the little guy would have gotten something out of this whole mess.
The UNLOS dispute tribunal has come and gone and it’s decision has been made, however one of the root causes of the dispute stems from a treaty between Venezuela and Trinidad agreeing a maritime border. This treaty (if you are interested in the details) is available on line Here:
Now the reasons for a treaty between Venezuela and Trinidad are perfectly logical. The treaty would allow the exploitation of the oil expected to be found in the area. And the successful exploitation of these resources is what underpins much of today’s Trinidadian economy. The boundary agreed by the treaty is shown in the graphic.
However have a look at where the Guyana Venezuela border is…..
The only way that Venezuela could lay any claim to the eastermost part of the line set out in the treaty would be to operate on the basis of it’s claim of all of Guyana west of the Essiquibo River. Now the Venezuelans were consistent in their claim on this, but what is surprising here is that Trinidad would have known full well that in signing this treaty they were validating the Venezuelan’s claim, but they agreed anyway.
Now this treaty opened the door for offshore exploration of the offshore oil fields, and the Trinidadians pushed their claim further to the north to what is indicated as a purple line on the chart. This apparently went unchallenged by both Barbados and Guyana at the time. However the chain of events that started the whole UNLOS dispute, has it’s genesis in the Venezuelan/Guyanese border dispute.
And I bet that you always thought it was about fish….