Sunday, November 21, 2010

University of the West Indies and Belize Chamber of Commerce bureacrats make a nice try, but NO CIGAR!

Salaried people concoct publicity stunt to show they are earning their salaries.

by Ray Auxillou - Western Belize.

UWI, the University of the West Indies struggles to find relevance in a changing CARICOM. At one time, over a period of 25 years or so, the UWI campus was the only higher tertiary education available to the scattered small island states of what became CARICOM, out of the former failed British West Indies Federation. Trinidad, Guyana, Barbados and Belize have left UWI behind. Each of these Caricom countries now have their own higher tertiary education and each is struggling to make such education relevant to a changing world, a global economy, based on changing technology, which in many instances has made the old colonial European based food and machinery tool supplies import system, fairly obsolete. The European influence and products are rapidly being replaced by Chinese products, and Sri Lanka small food packaged items, with a lot of Brazilian and Mexican food processing exports thrown into the import mix of CARICOM countries. Colombia and Chile have started their own export drives of manufactured products and while little yet reach us here in Belize, their products are going to the larger markets of the industrialized world, particularly in Central and South American markets. The world is changing and so far out of Caricom, only Guyana, Trinidad and Belize are changing with it.
The recent much ballyhooed meeting and Memorandum of Agreement between our Belizean Chamber of Commerce of the port town and the representatives from the Jamaican based, University of the West Indies leave a lot to be desired. UWI are promoting the old Federalism which today is called CARICOM. Jamaica itself has been led by such irrational and ego led politics, that the country once a major player in a more primitive CARICOM has now degenerated to the level of competency of a small island nation of the Caribbean, such as Anquilla, or Dominica. Jamaicans cannot manage themselves and have no leadership material. What once was a proud institution, the University of the West Indies of Jamaica, no longer has any leadership role in CARICOM. They appear to be a throw back to British led academic bureaucracies. Considering the UK itself has degenerated into a 2nd, world country, without the secure markets and commodities coming in from the former Commonwealth dominions and unable yet to meet the challenges from competition, quality, and lower pricing of export manufactured products of other countries; in the main, China, Malaysia and India, in the Eastern part of the world and here in the Americas mainly, Brazil, Mexico, Chile and Colombia. Canada unfortunately concentrates more on USA, European and mostly Asian markets. The educational institution of the University of the West Indies in Jamaica has become irrelevant to Belize economics. In fact, the Economic policies of Jamaica are so bad and outmoded obsolete, that one could consider the academic product of the University of the West Indies as a failed education system. Much like that of the UK. The goal of any small country, be it the UK, or Belize is self sufficiency and to make products for export, that are of reasonable quality and under price in small niche markets, than that of larger more capable industrial countries. Private sector economics is the name of the game. In the UK they are failing. In Belize we are on the cusp of finding our own little niches of economic opportunity in the world. We are moving from raw commodity supplier to processed food exports and the goal nowadays within the limits of our population, to find niche markets for products we can either assemble and export, or manufacture and export. The world game is changing and Belize is changing with it. While the larger industrial countries have advantages, they also have disadvantages in commerce, which is the blood of success that supports a country revenues. The industrialized countries must produce things in the hundreds of millions to export and sell. They have little time or patience with somebody that wants only a dozen, or 100,000 units of a product. That is the specialized niche that entrepreneurs in Belize are aiming for. The small specialized market, in which we can satisfy and under price the larger competition.

Belize on the other hand, now being called the LITTLE SWITZERLAND OF THE AMERICAS has been steadfastly, in fits and starts, been tackling the problems of independence, self sufficiency, educational reform and other matters or organization, to create a dynamic competitive self sufficient small country, on a par with many others of like size who could be regarded as successful around the world. Belize for the most part has broken with the former Caricom countries in policy direction and economic goals and has more in common with Mexico , the USA and Central America.
Belize has a drawback. The country has only a very small population. In return for which we have a fantastic playground and lifestyle. For all that problem of small population size, the country is in a pinch, self sufficient, should the world around us go to hell in a hand basket. Belize is also now touted by other countries, including the United Nations, International Banks, political organizations of all kinds, as a role model, and leader in all things that are forward looking to this changing world. People are flocking to tiny Belize from all over the world, to learn how we are doing things. Tiny as we are in Belize on the world stage, much that has been accomplished here in the past dozen years is leading a reformation throughout backward Commonwealth countries in particular.
The University of the West Indies visit is rather a compliment to our own educational policy reforms and actions. They seek to tap into a successful small state that is meeting the challenge of change in a larger world. Of course the University of the West Indies is a BUSINESS. They are in the business of selling EDUCATION. It is unfortunate their education is largely irrelevant to the CHANGED WORLD that faces small countries like Jamaica and Belize. The main thrust coming from UWI is an attempt to grab onto the train of success that is Belize and perhaps bend the policies of the LITTLE SWITZERLAND OF THE AMERICAS, into their goal of regional integration, in which centrally located JAMAICA can feed off the circle of Caribbean states that surround it, as they did during colonial times and the immediate post colonial era. They are offering our Chamber of Commerce down in the port town of Belize, their computerized data banks of research on things CARICOM. I take that with a grain of salt as to worthiness. It is two years later and I am still waiting for the LIBRARY system of the University of the West Indies in Jamaica, to supply me with the details and uniform sketches of the British West Indian regiment that fought at Orange Walk in Belize, against the native Mayan war chiefs during the CASTE WARS when Marcus Canul, local Northern Belizean Mayan hero was killed by a musket shot at the fort in Orange Walk. They promised me a couple of times by e-mail to do so, but made the usual bureaucratic excuses for delays and for two years I have no longer heard from them. We have enough problems with our own institutional bureaucratic non-performance issues, to bother continuously chasing them over in Jamaica. The country of Jamaica is a failed state, and we will leave it at that.
The recent publicity of the agreement between UWI and our local port town Chamber, was nothing more than a publicity stunt by two sets of salaried bureaucrats to convince the people who pay them, they are earning their salaries. NICE TRY, but NO CIGAR!

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