The Times (of London) has a sobering editorial today about the level of crime in the Caribbean, following the recent murder involving a married couple on their honeymoon in Antigua. Jamaica has already developed a fearesome reputation for violence – Kingston is a particularly unpleasant place – and the problem is spreading. In its history, the area has been touched by violence, stretching back before the dark stain of Western-imposed slavery, of course. The pirate gangs who raped and pillaged their way across the area were not lovable rogues with parrots on their shoulders but brutes.
Of course, when it comes to recent times, experiences vary. I went to Barbados with friends several years ago and had a wonderful time and was struck by how friendly people were. Barbados is a great place, although I am rather saddened that the youngsters are not as keen on cricket as they used to be, but perhaps that is inevitable as sporting fashions change.
The Times argues that some folk have blamed the problems on tourism as something that has widened the gap between rich and poor. This seems a bit of a strange argument. Surely, without tourism, the region – assuming there was no other source of wealth – would be even poorer, making for an ever more desperate situation that there is now. More pertinently, the editorial argues that a major cause of violence are drug gangs. The Caribbean is a crossing point for the drugs that are exported by gangs out of South America, such as Columbia, and then on to the US and elsewhere. At no point does the Times address the issue of whether the illegality of drugs might be fuelling the criminal gangster culture that is allied to it.
And there is something else to consider. Since Britain joined the-then EEC, now European Union, the old British connections to the trading interests of the UK’s former colonies have been weakened. Imports of sugar and other produce were placed at a competitive disadvantage because of Britain’s membership of the absurd Common Agricultural Policy.
Finally, one of the latest issues to rear its head is the ongoing attempt by Western governments, such as the US, to crack down on tax havens such as The Cayman Islands. If a left-leaning, high-taxing Democrat administration gets into power with Mr Obama in the White House, life for such havens could get much tougher, with attendant impact on their business activities.