Issues with Freedom of Movement in the Caribbean

Faced with the demands of globalization, Caribbean heads of government have sought regional integration for more than twenty years. But, to paraphrase Trinidadian political leader David Abdulah, Caribbean integration cannot occur unless there is free movement of people.

In spite of this, inconsistencies in administrative procedures with respect to freedom of movement in individual countries along with the prohibitive cost of travel between Caribbean territories, strongly discourages and restricts free movement of people within the region.

CARICOM freedom of movement policies are based on the Treaty of Chaguaramas, established in 1973. Axline (1978, 2) states “the more economically advanced members of an integration scheme will be more supportive” so it follows that only Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago signed at that time. Additionally, “individual countries are concerned with impacts at the level of the country especially as it is unlikely that the benefits are the same across all countries in the region” (Velde 2011, 2) which should be taken into account when considering the other CARICOM states would only become signatories with the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas in 2001.

As seen on the CARICOM website, the free movement of skills policy theoretically allows skilled workers “the right to seek employment in any member state and the elimination of the need for work permits and permits of stay.” Currently, ten categories of ‘skilled’ workers are eligible: graduates with at least a Bachelor's Degree from a recognised university, media persons, artists, musicians, sportspersons, teachers, nurses, holders of associate degrees & equivalent qualifications, artisans with a Caribbean Vocational Qualification (CVQ) and household domestics with a CVQ or equivalent qualification who are active in or qualified to work in the respective fields with the specific purpose to earn a living. This excludes other types of workers, notably individuals in the...