Residents collect water for showers in the Sandy Ground neighborhood at Marigot, one week after the passage of hurricane Irma on September 13, 2017 in Saint Martin, French Antilles, France. (Photo by Aurelien Morissard/IP3/Getty Images)
By NAN Editorial Team
News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Fri. Sept. 15, 2017: In case you missed it in all the Irma Caribbean coverage, CARICOM and CARICOM governments have quietly said the are working on a plan to rebuild after Irma. We say quietly because not even the link on the CARICOM website works and that is the only place we’ found any report on this. So from the brief we were able to read, it seems the “bright” solution of these ever, so smart leaders to the devastation that Hurricane Irma has caused in several Caribbean islands it decimated, is to host a “donors” conference.
In other others, stretch forth their hands and hope something drops into the begging bowl – except this time it is to the tune of USD billions.
So where is that going to come from? I’m sure our smart leaders are still scratching their heads over that one; especially since the harsh reality is they cannot really ask the United States government.
The US has its own problems thanks to both Harvey and Irma and Donald Trump has made it clear it is America First from election to now.
Millions have already gone to aid Americans affected here in the mainland and millions more is still needed to help them and now the territories of both the USVI and Puerto Rico, so that eliminates them.
Additionally, the other major European governments that always help the former British colonies are now busy with their own territories.
The UK has to try to figure out how to help rebuild the BVI and Anguilla while assisting the Turks & Caicos; France has to find money to help rebuild Saint Martin and the Netherlands have to help rebuild St. Maarten.
So who does that leave? Not a whole lot of willing donor nations for sure.
By the Antiguan Ambassador to the US’ own admission, no major international nation has pitched in to help yet. The only immediate aid came from – get this – struggling Venezuela. Taiwan has also pitched in somewhat to those who have diplomatic ties with them – St. Kitts and Nevis, the Dominican Republic and Haiti.
There has not been a peep yet from economic giant China, which has significant investments – privately and through the government – in many of these islands and more plans to expand that economic take over. But so far not a dime!
So what about the millions of companies who are domiciled in many of these islands that were devastated and turned to rubble by Irma’s wrath?
There has been little to no response so far except of course to evacuate their people; no serious financial donations are flowing from these companies to date. Nothing we have heard of from the many companies who do business in the tourism sector either and who have become enriched from tourism in these islands.
Where is the financial donation from the cruise companies, outside of the humanitarian offer of some aid and evacuation days later? Where is the financial donations from the airlines including AA, BA and Jet Blue in all this?: Where are the donations from the beneficiaries of the Citizenship by Investment programs and where are the donations from those who get mega contracts from these governments, including the many PR and Advertising agencies; law firms and lobbyists?
With the exception of Richard Branson, Tim Duncan, Mike Bloomberg, Kenny Chesney and the Band Phish, not many of the celebrities, who often vacation in these islands, have bothered to pitch in.
The true helpers in all this have been regular, poor and middle class people and churches, who don’t have a lot but have jumped in to give what they have.
They include many in the often dismissed and overlooked Caribbean Diaspora, who are desperate to get help to their family and friends in the affected islands. Many groups in the Diaspora, including the Antigua & Barbuda Diaspora had gathered before the storm to start collecting aid and donations to help what they knew was coming.
Yet these are the same professionals and talent who are overlooked by these countries for contracts and jobs but in crisis, are the first ones who are expected to help.
It is time Caribbean governments wake up out of their self-serving slumbers and put in place a proactive vision plan on this. This includes the following:
1: Instituting a small natural disaster tax into the port tax on all coming into the islands – at all ports. This should apply to airlines, cruise ships and yachts.
2: Implementing a clause in every contract to a foreign agent that requests an annual donation to the natural disaster fund.
3: Including a clause that every foreign registered company who comes in to benefit from all the free tax incentives does so with an impact investment plan in mind – meaning they contribute to an annual fund that goes to the natural disaster and rebuilding effort.
4: That every person who wants to buy your passport also make an annual donation to the natural disaster fund.
5: That that fund be actually used to make more money annually as every pension fund does because we know each year the storms are coming and it will only get worst.
6: Getting on the long talked about but never executed, Diaspora Fund that can be used to raise money for the rebuilding effort.
7: And finally taking the initiative and showing some balls by getting quickly on the medical marijuana bandwagon and being so bloody dependent on one sector that was wiped out in a few hours in many islands.
These are our free ideas to you all Caribbean leaders. Let’s hope Irma finally wakes you all up from your slumber and you do what you were elected to do – lead from the front and quit selling out the nations you were elected to lead until like now – there is nothing left!