The Samoa Agreement & Neocolonialism in the Caribbean

On 15 November 2023, the signing ceremony for the Partnership Agreement between the European Union (EU) and its Member States and the Members of the Organisation of the African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS) took place in Apia, the capital of Samoa. The agreement, which is generally referred to as the Samoa Agreement, is a legally binding document between, on the one hand, the member states of the EU and the EU itself and, on the other, the member states of the OACPS. In essence, the document attempts to give legally binding force to the political demands of the EU on the OACPS member states which want to access loans from the European Investment Bank (EIB). 

Background to the Samoa Agreement

Although negotiations on the Samoa Agreement began in 2018, the process that produced it dates back to 1957. In that year, the Treaty of Rome was signed establishing the European Economic Community (EEC), the forerunner of the EU. In light of this unification, the newly formed EEC considered it necessary to make new arrangements with regard to their colonial territories. At that time, these were primarily French colonial territories in Africa. As the EEC expanded, eventually developing into the EU, this process also developed and produced the 2 Yaoundé Conventions, 4 Lomé Conventions and the Cotonou Convention which was signed in 2000 and expired in 2020.

The Samoa Agreement is the most recent document in this series and is intended to replace the Cotonou Agreement. Like its predecessors, it is driven primarily by the imperial interests of the EU which sets its political and economic direction.  For example, the OACPS excludes the North African countries of Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Libya and Egypt reflecting Europe’s longstanding racist division of Africa into so-called North Africa and “black Africa” or “sub-Saharan Africa”. Furthermore, the OACPS Secretariat is funded completely by the EU and is located not in Africa, the Caribbean or the Pacific, but in Brussels, the capital of Belgium.

Given the neo-colonial nature of the EU – OACPS relationship, it is not surprising that the Samoa Agreement is itself steeped in Eurocentrism and neo-colonialism. The document, at 403 pages, is a comprehensive set of political demands levelled by the EU against the OACPS states. It sets out in minute detail the political direction that OACPS governments must take on every conceivable aspect of government decision making. The document is divided into 4 sections.  These include a General Part which is made up of 104 articles and 3 regional protocols, one each for Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific. The Caribbean Regional Protocol contains a further 51 articles. This means that any Caribbean state signing up to the agreement is accepting to abide by the demands of the EU as expressed in 155 legally binding articles and the annexes of the document.

The details of the Samoa Agreement

The document has been drafted in such a way that its articles first set out political positions that the OACPS countries must accept in order to demonstrate their commitment to ‘shared values’ with the EU and then itemises certain actions that the OACPS governments must take to operationalise the outlined political positions. Although the agreement makes extensive use of vague language and euphemisms, it is not difficult to identify its Eurocentric underpinnings and neo-liberal orientation. From fundamental issues like democracy, human rights and governance to administrative concerns like how to develop the collecting and reporting of statistical information, the Samoa Agreement is a 403 page long demand that the OACPS countries accept the EU’s Eurocentric and colonialist political perspectives and carry out its neo-liberal economic and social policies. Short of reverting to its previous practice of despatching colonial governors to its overseas territories, it is difficult to see how the EU could exercise such a degree of control over the actions of the OACPS governments. 

Its opening statement declares that the Parties “reaffirm their attachment to the rules-based global order”. The rules-based global order is a euphemism for the global dictatorship of the US and the European powers which emerged during the decline and final collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s. The victors of the Cold War declared that, henceforth, they would decide for the rest of humanity what type of political and economic systems they were allowed to have.  They would make the rules that all other countries would have to obey, whilst these rules would not apply to themselves. In addition, they can change the rules arbitrarily at any time in line with their interests. Failure of any state to comply with these rules results in harsh measures against them, including economic sanctions, political destabilisation and even military attack. Accepting this arbitrary global dictatorship is the first requirement that the EU places on the OACPS countries in the Samoa Agreement.

Article 11(3) of the General Part commits the signatories to “foster multi-party democracy”. This demand contradicts the sovereign right of each country to establish a political system of its own choosing without foreign interference. It reflects the racist position of the EU that it has the right to define for others what type of political system they can have. With regard to the Caribbean, the so-called multi-party democracy is completely discredited. People across the region have become disillusioned with this political system because they have seen from their lived experience that this system marginalises and disempowers them, and has evolved into a cesspit of corruption and cronyism which routinely fails to address the problems the country faces. People are searching for an alternative that empowers them and enables them to govern in a way that meets their needs. Article 11(3) is intended to block this path. 

Article 11(4) of the General Part calls on the OACPS states to “preserve and broaden an enabling space for an active, organised, transparent civil society”. This demand also constitutes an unwarranted encroachment on the sovereignty of the OACPS countries. In reality, it reflects the EU’s Eurocentric view of the political role of citizens. Implicitly acknowledging that their multi-party democracy excludes the vast majority of citizens from political participation and involvement in key decision making, the EU seeks to paper over this reality by creating and funding a range of so-called NGOs and labelling these as ‘civil society’. They can then use their financial control of this ‘civil society’ to further interfere in the political life of the OACPS countries. 

Article 12(4) of the General Part demands that the OACPS countries agree “to cooperate in the fight against money laundering and terrorism financing”. In this way, the EU seeks to drag the OACPS states into its so-called war on terror and provide information on the financial transactions of their citizens. Already across the Caribbean, banks and other financial institutions are demanding proof of source of funds for deposits in excess of certain amounts. Article 12(4) is intended to reinforce this practice.

Article 12 (6) of the General Part commits the signatories to “ implementing the principles of good governance in the tax area, including the global standards on transparency and exchange of information, fair taxation and the minimum standards against Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS)”. This reinforces the legal basis for the EU to further harass various countries in the region, accuse them of acting as tax havens and add their names to various lists for punishment.

Article 19 (3) demands that the OACPS countries fully cooperate with the International Criminal Court (ICC). The ICC has a long track record for harassing Black political leaders for war crimes while turning a blind eye to war crimes committed by western countries and Israel. Participating in this organisation is against the interests of the people in the Caribbean. 

Article 20 (1) commits the signatories to “work together at all levels to prevent and combat terrorism, violent extremism and radicalisation”. Since the document offers no definitions of terrorism, violent extremism or radicalisation, it provides the legal basis for the EU to export into the OACPS its practice of singling out for repression individuals and political organisations with which it disagrees.

Article 41 (1) demands that the OACPS states “establish a conducive investment climate, which attracts domestic and foreign investment”. This demand reflects the EU’s discredited neo-liberal dogma that economic and social development is dependent on investment of private capital and the role of the government is to offer as many concessions as these private investors demand. The experience of the Caribbean with this approach has been painful including the low waged Free Trade Zones and concessions for hotel chains and cruise liners. It is an approach that has signally failed to provide the region with sustainable development.

Instead it has been a mechanism through which trans-national corporations plunder the region, leaving large numbers of Caribbean people mired in poverty. The cruise ship tourism sector is an excellent example of this. This sector is dominated by 3 main monopolies – Carnival Corporation Plc, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings. In 2019, the last year before Covid, the global cruise ship industry carried 29.8 million passengers producing a gross income of just over US$ 40 billion, or equivalent to US$1346 per passenger. The Caribbean region, which, along with Bermuda, remains the premier cruising destination, with 39% share of the market in 2019, attracted some 12 million cruise passengers that year.  This volume of visitors generated revenue of US$15.6 billion. 

However, the port head tax for cruise passengers collected by governments across the region in 2019, amounted to less than US$ 1 billion or around 6% of the total revenue generated. Across the region, port head taxes for cruise passengers averaged around US$9, varying from a low of US$1.50 in the Dominican Republic to a high of US$18 for The Bahamas and The British Virgin Islands. The loss of revenue to the region can be clearly exemplified by the following example. In St Lucia, the port head tax was US$5 and they received 786,743 cruise ship passengers. Out of the over US$ 1 billion generated by these passengers, the St Lucian government received taxes of around US$ 3.9 million or less than 0.5% of the revenue generated by the arrival of the tourists. This picture is played out across the region and is one of the reasons why Caribbean governments generally lack the resources to carry out their responsibilities to society and are, therefore, trapped in the never ending cycle of borrowing money and sinking ever deeper into debt.

In 1993, to address this clear ruthless exploitation of the region, CARICOM proposed a standard US$10 port head tax for all CARICOM destinations. The cruise ship monopolies opposed this measure and eventually defeated it. Today, 30 years later, most Caribbean cruise destinations have port head taxes below the US$10 demanded by CARICOM in 1993. Article 41 (1) of the Samoa Agreement is intended to maintain this situation and further facilitate the plunder of the region by the trans-national corporations.  .

Article 32 (1) of the Caribbean Protocol commits the signatories to “aim at achieving universal health coverage”.  Universal health coverage is a neo-liberal euphemism which attempts to hide the fact that it is an attack on the right to health care. At its 1978 conference in Alma Ata, the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared then that “health is a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity……is a fundamental human right and that the attainment of the highest possible level of health is a most important world-wide social goal whose realization requires the action of many other social and economic sectors in addition to the health sector”. The WHO declaration further stated that “An acceptable level of health for all the people of the world by the year 2000 can be attained through a fuller and better use of the world’s resources, a considerable part of which is now spent on armaments and military conflicts”.

However, the IMF and World Bank opposed this approach to human health and through their neo-liberal loan agreements and structural adjustment programs replaced it with the concept of universal health coverage. This views government expenditures on the health of the population as a ‘waste of public money’ and instead pushes for a health care approach based on the US system. In this approach, health care is seen as a market commodity, just like any other, which individuals should pay for. Governments are expected to maintain a rudimentary health care system for those citizens who are too poor to access the private one.

The majority of the population are expected to pay for health care themselves or take out health insurance. Obviously, this opens up different countries as lucrative markets for the profitable entry of the trans-national health insurance monopolies. This system is one which the people of the region know only too well as it operates across the Caribbean, apart from in Cuba. It means that people often neglect early signs of ill health because they cannot afford the fee to see a doctor; that they are denied expensive treatments because the insurer refuses to cover the cost and that people die prematurely because of lack of access to health care. For example, non-communicable diseases (NCDs), like heart attacks, stroke, diabetes and cancers, are the major cause of death in the Caribbean. The Healthy Caribbean Coalition reported in 2017 that 40% of these deaths were potentially preventable. They further illustrate the problems with access to health care across the region by pointing out that in Jamaica, at the time, 50% of people  did not know they had high blood pressure, 25% did not know they were diabetic and 80% were unaware that they had high cholesterol. Article 32 (1) is intended to reinforce this situation.

The examples cited above are but a small fraction of the numerous anti-people perspectives and actions that the EU seeks to bind the OACPS countries to through its Samoa Agreement. It is illustrative of the nature of this agreement that its General Part contains 1 article dealing with heath but 14 dealing with migration.

As compensation for signing up to this document, the EU offers the OACPS states access to loans from its European Investment Bank (EIB).  The EIB describes itself as “the largest multilateral development bank” in the world and currently boasts financial resources of 248 billion Euros (US$ 270 billion) which are contributed by the EU member states. However, it points out that for the purposes of making loans, it raises these resources from the international money markets. So the EIB is a link in the international chain of parasitic moneylenders which funnels wealth from the people of the world into the pockets of the financial oligarchs.  In any event, the money the EIB actually makes available to the non EU states such as those in the OACPS is pitiful. For example, in 2022, the EIB disbursed 72 billion Euros (US $ 82 billion). Of this 83% went to EU member states, while 12% went to non EU states. On a per head of population comparison, each person in the EU received US$154 while their counterpart in the non-EU states received US$9. That is the price the EU places on the OACPS submission to its political agenda.

Opposition to the Samoa Agreement

At the signing ceremony in Apia, the EU and its member states signed the agreement but only 44 of the [79] OACPS members did. Signers in the Caribbean included Belize, Barbados, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Suriname, while non-signers included Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Cuba, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia and Trinidad and Tobago (T&T). When asked to comment on the failure of 35 of the OACPS member states to sign the agreement, Georges Chikoti, the OACPS’ secretary-general replied that some countries needed more time to debate and approve the agreement in their national parliaments. For her part, the European Union’s chief negotiator, Commissioner for International Partnerships and colonial overlord for the project, Jutta Urpilainen, warned countries which have not yet signed the document to do so before the end of the year or face the consequences of losing access to funding from the

In the region, a number of religious organisations have been prominent in opposing the agreement and calling on Caribbean governments not to sign it. These groups, which appear to have links to the so-called religious right in the USA, have focused their criticism mainly on the documents demand that the signatories should ensure “universal access to quality and affordable comprehensive sexual and reproductive health information and education” which is embedded in Article 40 (6) of the African Protocol and Article 48 (7) of the Caribbean Protocol and with a slightly different formulation in Article 49(6) of the Pacific Protocol. 

Leela Ramdeen, a consultant at the Catholic Commission for Social Justice (CCSJ) in Trinidad and Tobago supported the decision of the T&T government not to sign the document, arguing that its inclusion of “sexual and reproductive health and rights and Comprehensive Sexuality Education” represented a threat to T&T’s sovereignty. She explained that she first became aware of the issue when she received an urgent alert from the US based Family Watch International (FWI) on the day before the signing ceremony. This alert read, “Abortion/CSE/Transgender/Sexual Rights Treaty with the European Union!”. Archbishop Gordon, also of T&T, voiced his opposition to the document, stating that any government which signed the agreement would have to “impose abortion legislation, transgender, LGBTQ, comprehensive sex education…”. He claimed that signing the document would impose foreign values on the Caribbean.

In Jamaica, the Jamaica Coalition for a Healthy Society (JCHS) raised its voice in opposition to the agreement. This organisation describes itself as “a group of Christian persons who envision a Jamaican society in which Judeo-Christian values nourish and enrich the social, spiritual, physical, emotional and mental health of the society”. Its charter says that the organisation is not committed to eliminating poverty because the Bible never makes this explicit demand. The activity of these groups is being presented by some people as part of the struggle of the Caribbean people against EU neo-colonialism, but this assertion is false.

First, the Catholic Church itself, with a bloodstained history in the region as a result of its involvement in indigenous genocide and mass chattel enslavement of Africans and with its headquarters in Europe, can be said to be the embodiment of the neo-colonial relationship between the EU and the Caribbean.

Secondly, the links between these regional groups and US based organisations like Family Watch International (FWI) and Mass Resistance further demonstrate this. For example, FWI’s president, Sharon Slater, is a Mormon, a religion established by the European settlers in North America that embraced the racist idea that African people were “cursed by God”. FWI has a long history of peddling Eurocentric ideas about family structure, attacking women’s rights to make decisions about their bodies and spreading LGBTQ-phobia. Mass Resistance has a similarly sordid history and some of its activists are also involved in racist anti-immigration campaigning in the USA. Obviously, political forces like these have no place to play in the struggle against neo-colonialism in the Caribbean. Those in the region who are linked to them are using the Samoa Agreement to recycle their own ignorance and backwardness, incite disrespect for LGBTQ people and present this approach as the values of the Caribbean people. Given this, it is not surprising that in their criticisms of the agreement, they are silent on the real threats that it poses to the economic and social rights of the Caribbean people and those matters that mostly affect their daily lives.

The Samoa Agreement can best be understood by listening to the words of Josep Borrell, the EU’s foreign policy chief. Speaking at the inauguration of the European Diplomatic Academy in Belgium in October 2022, he declared, “Europe is a garden…. the rest of the world is the jungle… The jungle could invade the garden and the gardeners should take care of the garden but they will not protect the garden by walls, by building walls. A nice small garden surrounded by high walls in order to prevent the jungle coming in is not going to be a solution because the jungle has a high growth capacity and the wall will never be high enough in order to protect the garden. The gardeners have to go to the jungle”. The Samoa Agreement is one of the tools that the EU gardener is using to manage ‘the jungle’. Along with the rest of the neo-colonial international architecture like the IMF, the World Bank, the Commonwealth and La Francophonie, it is designed to keep our countries vulnerable and dependent while our wealth is plundered and enjoyed by others. The people of the Caribbean should reject the Samoa Agreement with its neo-colonial, Eurocentric and neo-liberal prescriptions and oppose those who, under the guise of rejecting the agreement, engage in divisive actions aimed at promoting backwa

On 15 November 2023, the signing ceremony for the Partnership Agreement between the European Union (EU) and its Member States and the Members of the Organisation of the African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS) took place in Apia, the capital of Samoa. The agreement, which is generally referred to as the Samoa Agreement, is a legally binding document between, on the one hand, the member states of the EU and the EU itself and, on the other, the member states of the OACPS. In essence, the document attempts to give legally binding force to the political demands of the EU on the OACPS member states which want to access loans from the European Investment Bank (EIB). 

Background to the Samoa Agreement

Although negotiations on the Samoa Agreement began in 2018, the process that produced it dates back to 1957. In that year, the Treaty of Rome was signed establishing the European Economic Community (EEC), the forerunner of the EU. In light of this unification, the newly formed EEC considered it necessary to make new arrangements with regard to their colonial territories. At that time, these were primarily French colonial territories in Africa. As the EEC expanded, eventually developing into the EU, this process also developed and produced the 2 Yaoundé Conventions, 4 Lomé Conventions and the Cotonou Convention which was signed in 2000 and expired in 2020.

The Samoa Agreement is the most recent document in this series and is intended to replace the Cotonou Agreement. Like its predecessors, it is driven primarily by the imperial interests of the EU which sets its political and economic direction.  For example, the OACPS excludes the North African countries of Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Libya and Egypt reflecting Europe’s longstanding racist division of Africa into so-called North Africa and “black Africa” or “sub-Saharan Africa”. Furthermore, the OACPS Secretariat is funded completely by the EU and is located not in Africa, the Caribbean or the Pacific, but in Brussels, the capital of Belgium.

Given the neo-colonial nature of the EU – OACPS relationship, it is not surprising that the Samoa Agreement is itself steeped in Eurocentrism and neo-colonialism. The document, at 403 pages, is a comprehensive set of political demands levelled by the EU against the OACPS states. It sets out in minute detail the political direction that OACPS governments must take on every conceivable aspect of government decision making. The document is divided into 4 sections.  These include a General Part which is made up of 104 articles and 3 regional protocols, one each for Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific. The Caribbean Regional Protocol contains a further 51 articles. This means that any Caribbean state signing up to the agreement is accepting to abide by the demands of the EU as expressed in 155 legally binding articles and the annexes of the document.

The details of the Samoa Agreement

The document has been drafted in such a way that its articles first set out political positions that the OACPS countries must accept in order to demonstrate their commitment to ‘shared values’ with the EU and then itemises certain actions that the OACPS governments must take to operationalise the outlined political positions. Although the agreement makes extensive use of vague language and euphemisms, it is not difficult to identify its Eurocentric underpinnings and neo-liberal orientation. From fundamental issues like democracy, human rights and governance to administrative concerns like how to develop the collecting and reporting of statistical information, the Samoa Agreement is a 403 page long demand that the OACPS countries accept the EU’s Eurocentric and colonialist political perspectives and carry out its neo-liberal economic and social policies. Short of reverting to its previous practice of despatching colonial governors to its overseas territories, it is difficult to see how the EU could exercise such a degree of control over the actions of the OACPS governments. 

Its opening statement declares that the Parties “reaffirm their attachment to the rules-based global order”. The rules-based global order is a euphemism for the global dictatorship of the US and the European powers which emerged during the decline and final collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s. The victors of the Cold War declared that, henceforth, they would decide for the rest of humanity what type of political and economic systems they were allowed to have.  They would make the rules that all other countries would have to obey, whilst these rules would not apply to themselves. In addition, they can change the rules arbitrarily at any time in line with their interests. Failure of any state to comply with these rules results in harsh measures against them, including economic sanctions, political destabilisation and even military attack. Accepting this arbitrary global dictatorship is the first requirement that the EU places on the OACPS countries in the Samoa Agreement.

Article 11(3) of the General Part commits the signatories to “foster multi-party democracy”. This demand contradicts the sovereign right of each country to establish a political system of its own choosing without foreign interference. It reflects the racist position of the EU that it has the right to define for others what type of political system they can have. With regard to the Caribbean, the so-called multi-party democracy is completely discredited. People across the region have become disillusioned with this political system because they have seen from their lived experience that this system marginalises and disempowers them, and has evolved into a cesspit of corruption and cronyism which routinely fails to address the problems the country faces. People are searching for an alternative that empowers them and enables them to govern in a way that meets their needs. Article 11(3) is intended to block this path. 

Article 11(4) of the General Part calls on the OACPS states to “preserve and broaden an enabling space for an active, organised, transparent civil society”. This demand also constitutes an unwarranted encroachment on the sovereignty of the OACPS countries. In reality, it reflects the EU’s Eurocentric view of the political role of citizens. Implicitly acknowledging that their multi-party democracy excludes the vast majority of citizens from political participation and involvement in key decision making, the EU seeks to paper over this reality by creating and funding a range of so-called NGOs and labelling these as ‘civil society’. They can then use their financial control of this ‘civil society’ to further interfere in the political life of the OACPS countries. 

Article 12(4) of the General Part demands that the OACPS countries agree “to cooperate in the fight against money laundering and terrorism financing”. In this way, the EU seeks to drag the OACPS states into its so-called war on terror and provide information on the financial transactions of their citizens. Already across the Caribbean, banks and other financial institutions are demanding proof of source of funds for deposits in excess of certain amounts. Article 12(4) is intended to reinforce this practice.

Article 12 (6) of the General Part commits the signatories to “ implementing the principles of good governance in the tax area, including the global standards on transparency and exchange of information, fair taxation and the minimum standards against Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS)”. This reinforces the legal basis for the EU to further harass various countries in the region, accuse them of acting as tax havens and add their names to various lists for punishment.

Article 19 (3) demands that the OACPS countries fully cooperate with the International Criminal Court (ICC). The ICC has a long track record for harassing Black political leaders for war crimes while turning a blind eye to war crimes committed by western countries and Israel. Participating in this organisation is against the interests of the people in the Caribbean. 

Article 20 (1) commits the signatories to “work together at all levels to prevent and combat terrorism, violent extremism and radicalisation”. Since the document offers no definitions of terrorism, violent extremism or radicalisation, it provides the legal basis for the EU to export into the OACPS its practice of singling out for repression individuals and political organisations with which it disagrees.

Article 41 (1) demands that the OACPS states “establish a conducive investment climate, which attracts domestic and foreign investment”. This demand reflects the EU’s discredited neo-liberal dogma that economic and social development is dependent on investment of private capital and the role of the government is to offer as many concessions as these private investors demand. The experience of the Caribbean with this approach has been painful including the low waged Free Trade Zones and concessions for hotel chains and cruise liners. It is an approach that has signally failed to provide the region with sustainable development.

Instead it has been a mechanism through which trans-national corporations plunder the region, leaving large numbers of Caribbean people mired in poverty. The cruise ship tourism sector is an excellent example of this. This sector is dominated by 3 main monopolies – Carnival Corporation Plc, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings. In 2019, the last year before Covid, the global cruise ship industry carried 29.8 million passengers producing a gross income of just over US$ 40 billion, or equivalent to US$1346 per passenger. The Caribbean region, which, along with Bermuda, remains the premier cruising destination, with 39% share of the market in 2019, attracted some 12 million cruise passengers that year.  This volume of visitors generated revenue of US$15.6 billion. 

However, the port head tax for cruise passengers collected by governments across the region in 2019, amounted to less than US$ 1 billion or around 6% of the total revenue generated. Across the region, port head taxes for cruise passengers averaged around US$9, varying from a low of US$1.50 in the Dominican Republic to a high of US$18 for The Bahamas and The British Virgin Islands. The loss of revenue to the region can be clearly exemplified by the following example. In St Lucia, the port head tax was US$5 and they received 786,743 cruise ship passengers. Out of the over US$ 1 billion generated by these passengers, the St Lucian government received taxes of around US$ 3.9 million or less than 0.5% of the revenue generated by the arrival of the tourists. This picture is played out across the region and is one of the reasons why Caribbean governments generally lack the resources to carry out their responsibilities to society and are, therefore, trapped in the never ending cycle of borrowing money and sinking ever deeper into debt.

In 1993, to address this clear ruthless exploitation of the region, CARICOM proposed a standard US$10 port head tax for all CARICOM destinations. The cruise ship monopolies opposed this measure and eventually defeated it. Today, 30 years later, most Caribbean cruise destinations have port head taxes below the US$10 demanded by CARICOM in 1993. Article 41 (1) of the Samoa Agreement is intended to maintain this situation and further facilitate the plunder of the region by the trans-national corporations.  .

Article 32 (1) of the Caribbean Protocol commits the signatories to “aim at achieving universal health coverage”.  Universal health coverage is a neo-liberal euphemism which attempts to hide the fact that it is an attack on the right to health care. At its 1978 conference in Alma Ata, the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared then that “health is a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity……is a fundamental human right and that the attainment of the highest possible level of health is a most important world-wide social goal whose realization requires the action of many other social and economic sectors in addition to the health sector”. The WHO declaration further stated that “An acceptable level of health for all the people of the world by the year 2000 can be attained through a fuller and better use of the world’s resources, a considerable part of which is now spent on armaments and military conflicts”.

However, the IMF and World Bank opposed this approach to human health and through their neo-liberal loan agreements and structural adjustment programs replaced it with the concept of universal health coverage. This views government expenditures on the health of the population as a ‘waste of public money’ and instead pushes for a health care approach based on the US system. In this approach, health care is seen as a market commodity, just like any other, which individuals should pay for. Governments are expected to maintain a rudimentary health care system for those citizens who are too poor to access the private one.

The majority of the population are expected to pay for health care themselves or take out health insurance. Obviously, this opens up different countries as lucrative markets for the profitable entry of the trans-national health insurance monopolies. This system is one which the people of the region know only too well as it operates across the Caribbean, apart from in Cuba. It means that people often neglect early signs of ill health because they cannot afford the fee to see a doctor; that they are denied expensive treatments because the insurer refuses to cover the cost and that people die prematurely because of lack of access to health care. For example, non-communicable diseases (NCDs), like heart attacks, stroke, diabetes and cancers, are the major cause of death in the Caribbean. The Healthy Caribbean Coalition reported in 2017 that 40% of these deaths were potentially preventable. They further illustrate the problems with access to health care across the region by pointing out that in Jamaica, at the time, 50% of people  did not know they had high blood pressure, 25% did not know they were diabetic and 80% were unaware that they had high cholesterol. Article 32 (1) is intended to reinforce this situation.

The examples cited above are but a small fraction of the numerous anti-people perspectives and actions that the EU seeks to bind the OACPS countries to through its Samoa Agreement. It is illustrative of the nature of this agreement that its General Part contains 1 article dealing with heath but 14 dealing with migration.

As compensation for signing up to this document, the EU offers the OACPS states access to loans from its European Investment Bank (EIB).  The EIB describes itself as “the largest multilateral development bank” in the world and currently boasts financial resources of 248 billion Euros (US$ 270 billion) which are contributed by the EU member states. However, it points out that for the purposes of making loans, it raises these resources from the international money markets. So the EIB is a link in the international chain of parasitic moneylenders which funnels wealth from the people of the world into the pockets of the financial oligarchs.  In any event, the money the EIB actually makes available to the non EU states such as those in the OACPS is pitiful. For example, in 2022, the EIB disbursed 72 billion Euros (US $ 82 billion). Of this 83% went to EU member states, while 12% went to non EU states. On a per head of population comparison, each person in the EU received US$154 while their counterpart in the non-EU states received US$9. That is the price the EU places on the OACPS submission to its political agenda.

Originally published here