EDITORIAL: A View Of The Panama Papers From Sunset City

The hottest topic for those looking for a story to report at the moment is quite possible the ‘Fonseca Leak’ or ‘Panama Papers.’ The leak is said to be revolutionary, containing millions of files of banking details of some of the richest people in the world, including sports persons, artists, actors, foreign investors, criminals and even world leaders. Of course it is a concern for security of the organization that had its documents leaked, the feeling must be uncomfortable. It is not only a cause for concern for the country, but also for the region. It is a period which encourages academics to learn as much as they can from the current situation (translated locally on the street, that means: ‘those who are interested could read up about it’).

Here in the western hemisphere, as lucrative as the stories around leaked documents, and as revolutionary as the leaked information, may be, western societies see the individuals or organisation responsible for the leak as criminal. Individuals in society may see these individuals or organisation behind the leak documents as villains or heroes, for whatever reason they choose. The conclusion remains that there exists information in circulation that can drastically change the perspective of things, if a dynamic approach is not tabled to deal with the emerging information.

Taking the story home, we have very wealthy people in the developed countries, using cheaper banking services in less developed countries such as the Caribbean and Latin America for whatever reasons. We have legislation in place that allows it to happen.

In the Caribbean, we have a less developed economy, and the majority of residents are uneducated in these aspects, with many living ‘hand to mouth’. Any opportunity for a work that would help keep a roof over one’s head, and food in one’s tummy is welcomed warmly. We are after all comparing economies that are ‘centuries years old’ to economies that are forty years old without a long established education system and which are trying to educate the younger generation who are still at the college level. So let us wipe out forty years from the developing country’s economy, and we are left with no economy, whilst on the other hand, we have a mature well educated economy in the developed nation.

EDITORIAL: A View Of The Panama Papers From Sunset City 1
Grenada Invasion: Image From Creative Commons

Let us pause and take a snapshot here, a snapshot in history. The year would be nineteen hundred and seventy six (1976). Grenada would have been a two year old sovereign nation, under the leadership of Sir Eric Matthew Gairy after successfully cutting ties with the mother nation Great Britain. It would be a year history records as having the most contentious elections in Grenada. It would be three years before the March 1979 Grenadian revolution which saw a revolutionary government toppling the leadership of Sir Eric Matthew Gairy. It would be seven years before the United States of America invaded the sovereign nation of Grenada Carriacou and Petite Martinique.

Russell Burril in his book The New World Order – What’s Behind The Headlines wrote, ‘Who could have predicted that in one decade, America’s prospects could change from humiliation to glory? Yet they have. In 1980 Ronald Reagan was elected president of the United States. Reagan inspired hope in Americans once again, despite the fact that many disagreed with his policies. America began to take pride in itself. Many subtle changes during these years led America once again to the forefront of world power. Reagan initiated one of the largest peacetime military buildups ever. America ‘rescued’ the tiny island of Grenada in the Caribbean from communist control. That appeared to be a turning point.

In the aftermath of Grenada, America gained a new respect in the world – a respect it had lost in Vietnam and Iran. Communism, which had seemed to be expanding in the early 80s with increasing strength, was suddenly halted in the Western Hemisphere. People began to feel that America was once again a force to be reckoned with.’(The New World Order – What’s Behind The Headlines pages 12 – 13).

Now that we have had a snapshot of developing country vs developed country between thirty three to forty two years ago, let us zoom in further into developing country Grenada’s economy and journey a little further before Great Britain granted independence to Grenada. You would find in place of an economy, a country where profits were sent to the motherland in Europe, with the majority of things on the island under foreign control. It was Sir Eric Matthew Gairy who battled the British in Grenada until Great Britain granted independence to Grenada. It was Sir Eric Matthew Gairy who battled to give workers in Grenada better working conditions; instead of working from six in the morning until six in the evening, work was instead from eight in the morning until four in the evening. The Grenada March 1979 revolution sought to grant even better living and working conditions for workers in Grenada.

As it is apparent, even though the British were not there on the ground, the system was already in place, which saw profits from the government and businesses being shipped back to Great Britain. Who knows – maybe there has never been somewhere to store or safeguard profits in a country from day number one hence, the emergence of organisations like the one in Panama to provide a safe place for profits.

The question now is: are we to hold leaders from developing or developed countries responsible for inheriting a system which hides profits? A leader whose only plan before entering the doors of leadership not knowing what is inside these doors was to improve the living and working conditions for citizens? Should the responsibility of a nation not lie in protecting all its citizens? Commendations to the leaders who protect their citizens and look after the best interests of their nation’s citizens.

More on the Panama Papers here: https://panamapapers.icij.org/
More on Grenada history here: http://nowgrenada.com/category/feature/today-in-history/
More on Grenada history here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/1209649.stm
Burrill, Russel. Seminars Unlimited, Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1992. The New World Order – What’s Behind The Headlines (pages 12 – 13)

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