Caribbean Destination

Catalyst became involved in Caribbean Economic Development in the wake of our country's unfortunate support for the WTO case against the Lome' Convention that allowed former colonial powers to maintain special trade relations with their former colonies. The WTO case went against the Caribbean, and the banana dependent economies were devastated. Subsequently the US enacted the last of a sequence of Caribbean trade development initiatives that began with the Caribbean Basin Economic Recovery Act of 1983, continued in 1990 with the Caribbean Basin Economic Recovery Expansion Act, and concluded in 2000 with the U.S.- Caribbean Basin Trade Partnership Act.

The immediate challenge for the post-colonial Caribbean has been to evolve indigenous economies based on their local competitive advantage, and to overcome barriers to regional cooperation, notably language, that are the legacy of their colonial past. The long term puzzle that the Caribbean must solve is the development of an economic strategy that will enable small economies to thrive in the global economy. The suggestion here is that the establishment of Caribbean destinations in the world’s global cities meets all of the criteria for a viable economic development strategy for the entire Caribbean: it pulls from the indigenous intelligence, it embraces the entire region, and it defines, owns, and occupies a niche in the global economy. What is proposed herein is the creation of an actual Caribbean destination model in Washington, DC, and the replication of that model elsewhere in the United States and the world as markets dictate.

A Caribbean destination is an area of a city, multiple contiguous blocks, dominated by sights and sounds Caribbean: Caribbean food, Caribbean music, Caribbean art, Caribbean clothing, Caribbean artifacts, Caribbean Culture Museum, Caribbean lifestyle . . . We are familiar with the concept of a destination through our experiences with places like Chinatown and Little Italy. Different cities will have ethnic enclaves that reflect the history of immigration to that city. Chicago, for example, has a section of the city dominated by the culture of the Polish people. Mount Pleasant in Washington, DC reflect cultures of Spanish origin. I am not aware of an ethnic destination created as a result of a conscious effort to do so, but that should be one of the questions addressed as part of the feasibility study for this proposal. The Caribbean culture is rich and vibrant and would lend itself well to such developments. A Caribbean destination would be a win-win development for the Caribbean as well as the host city in that it would provide an export market for products of the Caribbean, while creating a lively tourist attraction for the host city.