Letters & Opinion

2022 – A Year Like None In A Time Like Never

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Chronicles Of A Chronic Caribbean Chronicler By Earl Bousquet

Global events of 2022 included the lingering effects of COVID-19, growing costs of Climate Change, the unending proxy war in Ukraine and effects of politically-induced economic sanctions, implications of the US mid-term election results, record inflation, deepening poverty and costs-of-living rising beyond affordability in Europe and the US, Britain’s three successive dismissals and selections of elected and unelected Prime Ministers, looted art finally starting to return to Africa from metropolitan museums, the death of Queen Elizabeth and accession of King Charles III, election of China’s President Xi Jinping for a third term – all alongside the likes of the shifting sands of global power realignments in and between North and South, expanding influence of the BRICS alliance, external stoking of tensions in the Korean Peninsula and growing signs of militarization of Taiwan’s separatist politics — and the geopolitical attributes of each and all.

In 2022, China continued its relentless speed of accumulated influence at home and abroad, as a dependable and irreplaceable partner in world trade and global political affairs, while Washington, London, Paris and other G-7 member-states grappled with unprecedented multiplicities of crises largely rooted in their own political and economic responses to Russia’s presence in Ukraine.

Russia is closing 2022 having earned more ‘petro-dollars’ from Europe this year than ever; and nine months of US and EU sanctions hasn’t dented Moscow’s ability to realign its ties with China and India, while contributing to the de-dollarization of the world energy market; and France is now Europe’s largest purchaser of Russian natural gas.

At a continental level in 2022:

Africa bore the brunt of the food crises that followed the COVID-induced supply chain problems worsened by the Ukraine fighting and related sanctions, but African leaders refused to take sides in the Ukraine conflict and instead sent clear messages to the world that the continent is coming of age in its defense of People of African Descent everywhere, including support for the Caribbean’s bid for Reparations for Slavery and Native Genocide.

Asia had its unfair share of the economic, social and political burdens, with poverty worsened by higher prices and yielding political upheavals like that which crippled Sri Lanka, but India also expressed interest in Reparations for Indian Indentureship.

Europe and North America, separately and together, experienced the worst climatic conditions on both sides of the Atlantic: forest fires and heatwaves burned and baked the former while the latter faced a ‘Blizzard of the Century’ through a ‘Monster Storm’ that took dozens of lives and left hundreds of thousands of families without electricity; and the richest nations on both sides all face their worst ‘Winter of Discontent’ in living memory, many governments quickly returning to fossil and nuclear fuel and energy options they only recently pledged to scrap.

Latin America awoke to all of the above realities and the realization finally hit the world’s richest and biggest contributors to climate change that they are just as prone to effects as the developing nations that have forever lived in these parts with storms and hurricanes, earthquakes, volcano eruptions, floods and drought, troughs and rising sea levels — and forcibly adapted to everything thrown their way from El Nino and La Nina to Global Warming, in the region that’s ‘Home to The Amazon’ (the earth’s nostrils) and the election of ‘Lula’ Da Silva to Brazil’s presidency, along with many other elections of progressive popular governments, have shifted the popular power base across Latin America.

The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) hosted two British Royal Visits this year, during which London flexed its stiff colonial muscles in the British Virgin Islands (BVI) and the US mounted a sting operation that jailed its premier; but more Caribbean nations joined the efforts to make something more out of the UN’s Decade for People of African Descent (before it ends in 2024), including Colombia where the new administration has also strongly embraced the need to give greater respect and observance, voice and visibility to Afro-Colombian descendants, one of who was elected Vice President earlier this year.

In 2022, Latin America and the Caribbean came closer to achieving the greater levels of cooperation necessary to tackle common challenges and benefit from the common opportunities they brought, from jointly tackling crime and corruption to resolving to resolve Caribbean air transport problems by making flying affordable again; and Saint Lucia outperformed Barbados and its Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) partners on the estimated economic growth front.

But perhaps the biggest positive 2022 story on the global stage was a Caribbean one that (regrettable) the Caribbean media has also largely either not seen or yet understood: Guyana’s emergence as the world’s fourth-biggest oil supplier, with an estimated capacity to produce one million barrels per day by 2026.

The current Guyana government, midway through its five-year term, set out this year to spread and share more of the new oil and gas spoils with and for Guyanese at home and abroad, President Dr Irfaan Ali’s PPP/Civic administration also developing local capacity and acquiring greater interest in the fast-emerging local and global energy market, increasing its capacity to manage Guyana’s transition from the Caribbean’s second-poorest nation after Haiti (between 1964 and 1992) to the region — and the world’s — fastest-growing oil economy, just three decades later.

It’s taken 58 years for Guyana to extract and extract from its abundance of natural resources, levels of capital commensurate with its size and capable of assisting in joint development of an entirely new Caribbean.

Same with Surinam after four decades of independence, now also with the new wealth and possibilities of, with Guyana, Trinidad and Brazil, along with Cuba and Venezuela, working together on common issues ranging from Agriculture to Energy and Trade, towards construction of the new platforms and structures that will allow the Caribbean and Latin America to enhance joint regional and global cooperation for mutual benefit, like never before – in a time like never before!

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