Staring down the barrel of a gun while being held hostage in the Parliament Chamber at the Red House in Port-of-Spain, Winston Dookeran introduced himself to the gunman as the Minister of Planning.
“He then said to me ‘I bet you didn’t plan for this!’”
It was the 1990 attempted overthrow of the Trinidad and Tobago Government by over 100 insurrectionists and Dookeran was in the thick of it.
Now, almost 30 years later, he has released a book in Canada that discusses a wave of change in the politics of the Caribbean.
The 74-year old former politician (currently a Visiting Fellow at the University of Toronto), addressed a large audience at the “soft cover” launch of his book, Crisis and Promise in the Caribbean; Politics of Convergence.
“We are going through a profound change, not just in Trinidad but across the whole Caribbean. I am hoping this book will start the dialogue. It will be of interest to students and policy makers alike.”
When the hard cover edition of the book was first released two years ago, the reviews were overwhelmingly positive. The Jamaica Gleaner called it “highly recommended.”
“His utilitarian doctrine calls for a new breed of political leaders unafraid to combat the spectre of corruption and the enduring blight of nepotism,” said the newspaper.
At the launch at New College at the University of Toronto, Dookeran pointed out that this book has three key messages.
“Based on my own political experience and as a scholar,” he said. “I have found that the logic of politics and the logic of economics are not one and the same – the workings of the political situation and the economy are in fact wide apart and it is a widening gap. Politics will not solve the Caribbean problem.”
Second message? He believes that the Caribbean region needs to have economic resilience. “We have to build to refinance the Caribbean. The flow of funds in the region has historically been outside, not inside (more money leaves the Caribbean each year than comes in). How can there be resilience when there is a historic outflow of monies and resources from the islands?”
The third message, according to Dookeran, is that Caribbean organizations like the 15-member Caribbean Community have come to their limit of effectiveness.
“ (Caricom) has achieved a lot. But I am saying it can’t go any further. It has reached its limits in the Caribbean. Converge means moving beyond borders and looking at new relationships with Spanish Caribbean and Latin America.”
Both A Different Booklist and the University of Toronto bookstore are carrying the new soft cover book.
Winston Dookeran (left) is congratulated at the book launch by Vishnu Sookar (right).