To those who have not been engaged on the slow process of Caribbean integration, it would appear that this journey commenced at Chaguaramas a few short months ago, and like a race which takes place in a stadium, the end is where the start was.

But the process, as far as three of us, I would say all of us here, certainly the four Prime Ministers, are concerned, goes a long way further back than that.

To the Chairman of this meeting, and the distinguished Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, it started with his struggles at the University of Oxford, when I can truly say, he wrestled with the beast at Ephesus. That chapter in his life has not really been written, but some of us are aware that those who would distort the whole course of West Indian history set out to thwart the attempts of our distinguished Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, to put the West Indian history in its proper perspective, and to give new hope to the people who had been subjected to colonial tutelage for such a long time.

I think that the writings of Dr. Williams, the economic researches of Professor Arthur Lewis, were the first faint glimmerings of the indication that the Caribbean people were capable of managing their own affairs.

We have been a people imbued with a sense of our own inadequacy. Half a generation later, the Prime Minister of Jamaica, who is on this platform, the Prime Minister of Guyana who is on my left and I, under the leadership of the Prime Minister of Guyana, who was the President of the first West Indian Association founded in the United Kingdom, that was the West Indian Student’s Union; we staged the first public meeting on Caribbean integration in the United kingdom, and we followed the biblical injunction by staging that meeting in the lion’s den itself in that bastion of imperialism which is described as Trafalgar Square.

A lot of our fellow West Indians were rather amazed at our temerity, and we solicited the assistance of our colleagues from other parts of the world in making a bold stand on the need for West Indian integration. I should like to pay tribute to the President of the West Indian Students Union - the first President, the former President, my colleague, Mr. Linden Forbes Sampson Burnham, on having the courage and the foresight to lead us on these bold excursions which we followed from time to time, in protesting against conditions in the West Indies, and indeed, supporting our comrades from Africa and other parts of the colonial empires in their protests against the conditions under which our people suffered.

The problem which confronts the West Indian people today, is one of persuasion, to persuade people of the calibre of the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago and other distinguished people who have contributed towards the success of this experiment to remain with us and to make a further contribution so that our countries will be able to progress, not because of any predilections on our part to preside over the destinies of our peoples, but it will be dependent upon the willingness of the people of the West Indies to recognise the quality and the nature of the leadership which some of our countries enjoy and that does not necessarily include Barbados, but it does not necessarily exclude Barbados either.

So, Mr. Chairman, it was on the 4th July, 1965 one small step for two countries. Today as a signatory to this agreement, I should like to paraphrase the words of Mr. Neil Armstrong and say it is a giant step for all of us.

[Late Errol Barrow was former Prime Minister of Barbados]

A Giant Step For All Of Us

Address at the signing ceremony of the Treaty of Chaguaramas

Errol Barrow

Address at the signing ceremony of the Treaty of Chaguaramas