Skip to navigation

Skip to main content


January 2013, Volume 20, Number 1

Caribbean: Migrants

The Caribbean Community ( is an organization of 15 mostly English-speaking nations and dependencies created by the 1973 Treaty of Chaguaramas that aims to promote economic integration, including freedom of movement, between member states. The population of CARICOM was about 16 million in 2012, including nine million in Haiti, 2.8 million in Jamaica, and 1.3 million in Trinidad & Tobago.

The free movement of skills initiative originated in the 1989 Grand Anse Declaration. Article 45 of the revised Treaty of Chaguaramas asserts: "Member States commit themselves to the goal of the free movement of their nationals within the Community." CARICOM began the freedom-of-movement process with five types of workers: graduates of approved universities, media workers, musicians, artists and sports persons certified by national professional bodies. Haiti is not included in this freedom-of-movement list of countries. (

Former Barbadian Prime Minister Owen Arthur has several times criticized the slow pace of implementing freedom of movement. In March 2012, Arthur said that only 4,500 CARICOM nationals had moved under freedom of movement regulations, while almost 64,000 work permits were issued by CARICOM member states to non-CARICOM nationals, so that "the main movers in CARICOM in the past decade have been non-CARICOM nationals." ( On July 4, 2012, Jamaican Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller called for adding security guards, household helpers and caregivers to the occupations in which there is freedom of movement in CARICOM. (

The Caribbean is the most popular destination for cruise ships, but most tourist spending leaves the region. Victor Bulmer-Thomas of London University concluded that less than five percent of cruise-ship spending, and only 20 percent of the revenue at all-inclusive Caribbean hotel-resorts, remains in the region, largely because most tourist spending goes to out-of-region firms.

The Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association estimated that cruise passengers spent $1.5 billion during port calls in 2011-12, but noted that almost $600 million was for watches and jewelry bought from firms such as Diamonds International that are controlled by out-of-region firms. Less than $100 million was spent on local crafts and souvenirs.