Caribbean: Watching, Waiting…

A small portrait of the translator

November 5, 2008 @ 2:29 UTC

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Countries:
none
Candidates:
Barack Obama, John McCain, Joe Biden, Sarah Palin
Issues:
Diaspora, Economy & Trade, Civil Rights & Ethnicity, History, Human Rights, Media & Internet, International Relations, Government & Politics
 

The region (and indeed the world) thinks it knows who has won the race to the White House, but the suspense is killing Caribbean bloggers. Seriously. The mood in the blogosphere is positively electric, with (almost) everyone catching Obamamania…

Diaspora blogger Signifyin' Guyana did her civic duty and voted earlier in the day. While she says there was “not much excitement” to the voting process, the anticipation in her household has been building as her son “has caught the spirit”:

He's only five years old, but he knows something big may happen tonight. So as he waits to go to the polls with his dad, dressed in sweats and a red, white, and blue t-shirt (he dressed himself), I watch with pride, and I hope and pray he's not disappointed.

Another diaspora blogger, Liza from Puerto Rico, said that the voting process was emotional for her:

I got so overwhelmed by this historic moment that I totally lost it. I came out crying from the voting booth.

All my neighbors were asking what was wrong. I couldn't say anything and Mark, who was still around, just said: ‘She's having a moment.'

I just never thought I'd see the day…I can't wait for the election results and for the words ‘Barack Obama is officially the next president of the United States'. I will have lots of tissues handy this time around.

Meanwhile, both Cuban diaspora blogger Babalu and Letters from Grenada are liveblogging the election, one on either side of the political divide. But Barbados is firmly on the Obama bandwagon, with Cheese-on-bread! saying:

Well, this is it. As the pundits like to say, no matter the outcome, history will be made. Apart from the obvious history that would be made with a win by Barack Obama, if John McCain were to (gasp) win he would be the oldest candidate to assume that position.

As Obama himself said yesterday, it will be fun to see how the story ends. His campaign has been phenomenal, and he has certainly gone the distance, something few of us could have dared to dream.

So, as we await the outcome of this heated race, I'll wish both the candidates luck…

The Bajan Dream Project echoes her sentiment:

Barack Obama has already done much for the African American community in the United States, and continues to draw admiration and inspire hope in millions in diverse regions of the World - Barbados not excluded. Whether he wins or loses, a lesson can be learnt from Barack Obama’s candidacy, and his message will redefine history for many minorities who once felt - but can no more feel - that their history as underdogs would forever cement their future as such. For that reason alone - for helping so many to ‘emancipate themselves from mental slavery’ - this candidacy transcends politics.

Havana-based Generation Y notices a change of mood in Cuba:

The street is not the same, nor are the neighbors who usually gossip in the lines at the markets; today they speak of universal themes. They raise their eyebrows and point towards the north, while they make predictions about who will be elected at the polls in the U.S. I don’t remember having lived through such a commotion during the Cuban presidential elections last February.

The cobbler in my building took a stand for one candidate and the old woman who sells flowers has been wearing a shirt with the Obama logo. Our boring trajectory of two presidents in fifty years has exacerbated the curiosity over foreign elections. We also know that the decision of U.S. voters will reverberate here and not so metaphorically as the flutter of a butterfly in the Amazon. he remittances that allow thousands of Cuban families to get to the end of the month come primarily from the other shore, where a portion of this Island lives, and where the insults—“worms,” traitors” and “mafiosos”—have not managed to sever our emotional and family ties. The political discourse of our own leaders would lose effectiveness without the United States in the role of the enemy. Never, as today, has the destiny of Cuba been so clearly separated, and yet so dependent, on what happens ninety miles away.

Still, she has her reservations:

In the face of the “uncertain prognosis” we show inside our country, there are those who assert that today’s results will either launch or derail, definitively, the cart of reforms in Cuba.

I would prefer that we drive ourselves, but very few want to exchange the work of the forecaster for the hard task of making things happen. So when I write this post, the capricious vehicle of change seems to be stuck in a rut at the side of the road. I have my doubts about whether what happens this Tuesday will get it moving.

Bahamian Nicolette Bethel is thrilled to be in New York City for this auspicious day:

Being in the US on election day, especially this election day, is historic.

This election is historic. It’s already been so — the fact that two major contenders for president were visible minorities, albeit in the same party. Whoever wins will make history — the first black president, the first female vice-president, the oldest president. But history has already been made.

She also thinks that the Bahamas could stand to learn a few lessons from the US:

Being on the outside in American elections, watching a fraction of the American people go to the polls and elect leaders whose impact resonated far beyond the borders of the USA, and suffering the consequences of those choices, has not been easy…yes, I voted in the if-the-world-could-vote poll, and yes, I voted for Obama. But I’m above all a Bahamian, and Bahamians above all are pragmatic people, and fundamentally what matters is what have we learned from this process? What have we learned from the involvement of ordinary Bahamians in the Obama campaign? What have we learned from the real chance of real change, and how will that affect us at home?

Because our last election was a joke. We never questioned our candidates about anything likely to affect us and our nation in the long run. We never demanded from them what we have seen from the American candidates. We never dissected the spin, if spin it was; we never educated ourselves in any general sense on issues, on anything that might actually matter. No. We preferred to go along with what the newspapers said, with what the talk shows said, voting from emotion rather than reason, allowing both parties to get away with sheer idiocy that has very little to do with the world in which we find ourselves.

But fellow Bahamian Rick Lowe is not quite convinced:

It looks like Barak Obama will win the presidency of the United States today and history will be made…There is no doubt that he has a great delivery and a pleasant way about him. But that does not change the circumstances he will face in office which will all but guarantee he cannot fulfil his promises.

I'm willing to bet dollars to donuts that he starts to back track in his inauguration speech as the economic reality of his political promises start to set in. And this I believe will lead to dissatisfaction with his presidency sooner rather than later. At the end of the day we all need to wish Obama well, and hope that his economic advisors steer him away from these self destructive policies as The Bahamas is highly dependent on the US, and this is unlikely to change in the years ahead.

As the night wears on, the Caribbean, like the rest of the world, will need to wait and see.

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