Wednesday, April 24, 2024

OUR CARIBBEAN: Of WI cricket and Obama’s embrace


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Politics is generally filled with surprises, some quite pleasant and productive. Like, for instance, last week’s historic “embrace” by President Barack Obama of Cuba’s valiant efforts to help combat the dreaded Ebola virus plaguing parts of Africa.

But first, it is heart-warming to see the positive responses emerging for a speedy, sensible resolution to the totally unexpected dramatic decision by the West Indies cricket team to suddenly abort their current tour of India.

Except for our traditional seasonal electioneering politics, there is no game, no sport, that so deeply touches our lives in this region with passion and excitement like West Indies cricket.

Hence the prevailing gloom over the threats of a backlash from India because of the West Indies team’s unprecedented decision to abandon their tour of India and the resulting warnings for the future of West Indies cricket in 2015 and beyond.            

In the circumstances, the separate interventions by that recognised statesman of West Indies cricket, Sir Clive Lloyd, who is also the current chief selector, and the prime minister of Grenada, Dr Keith Mitchell, (who has lead portfolio responsibility for regional cricket), to find a sensible resolution deserve to be seriously pursued by the governments of our Caribbean Community (CARICOM.

Like the former long-serving prime minister of Jamaica, P. J. Patterson, Dr Mitchell is well known for his passion, knowledge of and commitment to the development of West Indies cricket.  

Dr Mitchell’s public offer to play a mediating role in the very serious dispute involving the West Indies Players’ Association, the directors of the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) and the Board of Control for Cricket in India, therefore, deserves serious consideration.

Mr Patterson’s years of diplomatic initiatives on behalf of CARICOM and, more precisely, his own report from seven years ago this month on the future of West Indies cricket further recommend him as an evident choice to complement Mitchell’s mediating role for a speedy resolution to the serious problem on hand. Is CARICOM ready for such an intervention?

Late yesterday, in a brief telephone conversation with Mr Patterson, he revealed his “deep hurt and anger” over the tragic development:

“What happened in India is a final act of the humiliation for the people of our Caribbean . . . . I have a feeling of shame and anger, and from very early I came to learn that when you are angry, what you have to say could be most damaging and unhelpful.”

In the circumstances, he added: “I wish to avoid saying anything further at this time, except to extend good wishes for Prime Minister Keith Mitchell’s offer to mediate.”

It is to be hoped that ahead of their emergency meeting in Barbados yesterday, the WICB directors would have made serious efforts, along with Sir Clive, to engage both Dr Mitchell and Mr Patterson to help in finding an urgent realistic resolution.

We need to hear from both current CARICOM chairman Gaston Browne and Secretary General Irwin LaRocque.

In the meanwhile, President Raoul Castro of Cuba was yesterday engaged in a two-day meeting that started in Havana on Monday to coordinate new initiatives by the nine-member Latin American and Caribbean states, known as the ALBA bloc of hemispheric countries, on how to effectively cooperate against the much feared Ebola epidemic.

The ALBA bloc, which originated in Venezuela under the now late President Hugo Chavez, includes Bolivia, Cuba, Ecuador, Nicaragua, and CARICOM countries Antigua, Dominica, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, and Suriname.

Of particular significance is that the current ALBA meeting is being hosted in Havana against the significant intervention last week by President Obama to officially express Washington’s recognition of the vital role Cuba has played in helping to battle the horrible consequences of the Ebola epidemic.

It has taken more than half a century for a president of the United States to come to terms with a Cuban reality that the rest of the global community has long recognised, warmly embrace and continue to applaud.

It is the reality that the little Caribbean island of Cuba, whose 1959 revolution placed it among the more renowned revolutionary movements of the world, has been ready and committed to share the remarkable medical capacities and facilities of the Cuban people in helping to resolve threatening diseases and health problems in various continents, starting in Africa.

• Rickey Singh is a noted Caribbean journalist.


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