LOW EARTH ORBIT – Going With the Flow

photot - newportacademy.comAntigua & Barbuda, like the rest of the Caribbean region, is caught up in a process that has lasted throughout our history. Our islands continue to be what they have been since Christopher led his battered little flotilla of vessels to anchor of San Salvador: an entrepot; a crossroads; outposts on an ocean highway; a playground for pirates; a stage for conflicts triggered by the clash of faraway interests.

Once upon a time, the lure was gold and the lumbering galleons that ferried riches to Spain. Later, labour itself became a trafficked commodity, as skyrocketing demand for sugar, tobacco and cotton, among other goods, transformed Europe and fueled the Industrial revolution. Endless wars fought over economics and empire provided ample opportunities for servicing the needs of contending parties, and floods of contraband crisscrossed the region. The “Pirates of the Caribbean” film series is not entirely fantasy.

Today, the flow is all about cocaine, and about the avalanche of rock and white powder that is disappearing down the open maw of that immense narcotic-consuming beast we call Europe and North America. As the 21st century unfolds, the Caribbean is more than ever before what it has always been – a string of outposts guarding an ocean highway that speeds twin flows on their mission to assuage the world’s appetite for a high: narcotic drugs, and the revenues accruing from their sale to eager buyers.

The avalanche of cocaine flowing north from Mexico has turned that country (so far from God, so close to the United States) into a virtual narco-democracy: tearing itself apart in a bloody internal conflict over the right to service America’s hunger for the narcotic experience. Colombia long ago became a byword for cocaine production, and has fought a decades-long civil war to maintain that international status. Latin America from Bolivia and Peru northwards is geared up to supply cocaine to North America and Europe. Once again, an accident of geography has placed the Caribbean athwart the sea-lanes that move valuable contraband around the globe.

This accident of location has placed immense burdens on small island states in this region. Our tiny nations are now forced to contend with the quite irrational demand from North American and European countries that we be seen to act energetically to interdict the flow of narcotics through our region. That our islands are neither major producers nor consumers of narcotics is not deemed relevant to the overbearing powers of the world. The irrational attitude displayed by the drug-consuming markets of Europe and North America is justified by a consciously contrived blind spot.

Interests in Europe and particularly in the United States have self-servingly blinded themselves to the glaring truth that it is the ravenous demand for narcotics in Europe and North America that is driving the despised drug trade. These hypocritical countries, having manifestly failed to tackle their own drug problem on the consumption side, are attempting with equal futility to interdict the production and transportation of narcotics. They base this impossible mission on the totally insane premise that if only somehow supply can be choked off demand will miraculously disappear.

The naked eye can see that this approach is clearly not working – so the consuming powers have shifted their tactics. These days, their attention is focused on following and interdicting the money-flows that result from trafficking narcotics: and here is where Antigua & Barbuda has run afoul of powerful international interests.
At a moment in history when the mighty United States of America is running a high blood-pressure reading over the issue of international terrorism, our tiny twin-island paradise has managed to feature highly on the radar as a facilitator of international money laundering. The connection is damaging, in that the United States has identified international money laundering as a close partner and financier of international terrorism – the two go hand in hand. To the US and its European allies, the equation is clear: the way to end the threat of international terrorism is to deprive Al-Qaeda and affiliated groups of their sources of finance.

It most definitely has not helped that Antigua & Barbuda has become closely identified with R Allen Stanford during this critical period. In the absence of the flamboyant Stanford as a major figure in our local economy this country would have played a relatively minor role in the annals of international money laundering. The major part that Mr Stanford once played in regulating our national financial services sector has also placed an incriminating mark against Antigua & Barbuda’s name. As a result of the Stanford connection, this country has much further to travel to achieve respectability in the world of international finance.

As the United States and its EU allies press on with establishing the brave new world of ever more stringent international financial controls, Antigua & Barbuda must be seen to jump through any and all hoops arrayed before it by a keenly observant international community. This country has been enjoined to step up to the challenge of transforming itself into a “Clean Money” jurisdiction, taking heroic action to shed its bad old Stanford image. There are, we are told, opportunities for our financial services sector to thrive as a center for non-narcotics-related, above-board money flows. Antigua & Barbuda is encouraged to catch the new vision and ride a wave of clean money into a bright new future.

Of course this wicked old world will keep right on being what it is, with human nature not having changed appreciably since the dawn of time and with economics working out its own inexorable will in its own creative way. It will be most interesting to see the types of new, elusive mechanisms that evolve to convert the future proceeds from servicing the world’s insatiable demand for narcotic drugs into spendable assets.

We may be certain of one thing: the Caribbean region, Antigua & Barbuda included, will be what we have always been: an entrepot; a crossroads; outposts on an ocean highway; a playground for pirates; a stage for conflicts triggered by the clash of faraway interests.

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3 Comments In This Article   


Going with the flow

#3 Celia » 2013-04-08 22:14

You all better stop going with the flow . If you want to see walking dead that have been with the flow go to New York. Certain things you can learn from other people's experience. So don't go with the FLOW. I love every one of you.


RE: LOW EARTH ORBIT – Going With the Flow

#2 JusLakkaDat » 2013-04-08 12:42

Your assumption that it is only because of the 'Stanford Connection' we have much further to travel financially is overly ambiguous. Antigua has had a reputation for mischief, criminality & basic wrong doing way before Stanford entered these waters. As a matter of fact Lester & his posse welcomed Stanford with open arms just after the British Government had declared him persona non grata in Montserrat. Do you expect us to believe that Lester saw him as a knight in shining armor or as another meal ticket to add to his menu, I prefer the latter assumption. This twin island nation has welcomed underhandedness, corruption, drug dealing & financial impropriety for many years, from the top of the chain all the way down people have dipped into the cookie jar, now it's 'what goes around, comes around time'.


RE: LOW EARTH ORBIT – Going With the Flow

#1 tenman » 2013-04-08 12:26

Colin could not help but copy something I wrote just a few days ago, to a similar issue:
n the arguments against drug use (a topic with some relevance to bribery), have you never heard it stated that the war cannot be won until we deal with it from the consumption end? We need to take the needed policy example from what was followed with cigarettes (education and choice). These kinds of battles are only won via education and (adult)free choice. Read more: http://www.Caribarena.com/antigua/opinions/opinion-pieces/colin-sampson/103585-low-earth-orbit-outside-the-box.html#ixzz2PtE31SNM


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Mr. Colin Sampson

 Mr. Colin Sampson is a Journalist and the host of "The Colin Sampson Show" on Caribantigua TV 



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