The Beginning of 2024 in Houston, TX was a great opportunity to dive in the Ultimate Frontier: The Caribbean Platform.
In one sentence, Everything Happens in this Space!!
As we described in our original post (8 Global Platforms) the geopolitics of this platform is the most relevant of all.
Any instability in this US "lake" will distract American resources, focus and engagement in every other space around the World. This would be the most relevant prize for any US Adversary.
The impact of such "migration" is reshaping the US politics and deepening the gaps between various groups.
At present, we believe that there are a few points of instability in this region.
The largest pressure on the Mexico-US border can be estimated by identifying the population of Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua living at the "Bottom of the Pyramid".
Bottom of the pyramid (Millions)*
*estimated according to statistics by IDB, FAO, World Bank and other institutions.
In 2023, approximately 2.5 million people entered the US from the southern border illegally. That means that there is a potential base more than 30 times larger (or present for the next 30+ years at constant rate) to maintain pressure on the US border states: far and foremost TEXAS!
Panama Canal water level
When on July 12th 1920, President Woodrow Wilson signed Proclamation 1570 - Opening of the Panama Canal - he was not just expanding the global business routes, he was uniting the two US coasts.
Without the Canal, the US Navy would have completely different roles and the US would be challenged like France, Spain, KSA and most of all Russia with multiple coasts to be managed separately. The interdependence of the 3rd and 4th fleet would not be possible.
The present water level issues in the Canal, as highlighted by Maersk, are becoming a limiting factor for vessels transit, including limitation to the largest Panamex 2000.
Another "choke point" that can become critical (check our next post on the Mediterrean Platform).
Russian-Chinese Influenced countries
Within the Platform, there are 3 countries historically and presently aligned and advised by Russian and Chinese operatives: Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua.
The tensions between Venezuela and Guyana (a UK protectorate) are an indicator of pinching points. Particularly, offshore Guyana is the location of one of the largest oil and gas discovery by Exxon, Chevron, Hess (now Chevron) and Total.
Furthermore, the field is next to Trinidad and Tobago waters; a country with depleted resources whose economy was completely disrupted by the US shale revolution. At present China has been active in the island with more significant presence.
The three countries form a triangle enveloping the center of the Caribbean.
The recent uprising in Ecuador, however, is likely to change the above Polygon impacting the 3 items above.
Ecuador is a Dollarized country, which has replaced its currency (the Sol) with the US Dollar in the year 2000.
If Ecuador falls into instability, it can attract the above-mentioned influences and together with Nicaragua and Venezuela it will form a triangle where the Panama Canal is at the center.
Furthermore, with a population of 18.2 Million with more than 40% conservatively at the bottom of the pyramid, additional pressure will potentially be adding towards the US southern border.
Moreover, there would be another hotspot for African and Arab people to land in a country "close enough" to the US accelerating the process of transcontinental migration.
There are, though, a series of great potential growth points which would require a shift in regional politics and strategies.
Let's dive deeper in a few of them:
Beyond the Panama Canal, extremely relevant are internal waterways. Although the Mississippi-Missouri system is thoroughly developed, others in the region could be drivers of growth. The main example is the Magdalena River in Colombia which can foster sustainable development for the country and for the inland all the way to Brazil, Ecuador and Venezuela. (Similarly we will discuss the Regional Innovation Ecosystem of the Hidrovia in the Rio de la Plata platform)
Cape Canaveral in Florida is a global icon of mankind expeditions beyond the Karman line. Recently, mainly the Space X developments in Boca Chica, TX near the US Mexican border are adding additional focus to the Space strategy.
Additionally, the activities in Costa Rica, by Ad Astra Rocket under the leadership of Franklin Chang Diaz, PhD can become a focus point for the entire region, fostering a novel industry and supply chain with LEO.
Energy and Agriculture
To improve the bottom of the pyramid conditions, basic services are necessary. It is evident that the Caribbean Platform is rich in various sources of energy being conventional or renewable.
Access to reliable power will foster growth in multiple sectors, primarly agriculture. Improved food conditions will improve the basic health conditions and will discourage a section of these populations from migrating.
Lastly the growth of an entrepreneurial middle class that can actively push each country up it is likely to be the natural outcome.
The bottom line is that this First Platform is sitting on a wedge point that can drive generalized destabilization (and associated violence) or growth into the future of key technologies.
Wise leadership will be necessary to design, share and implement an integrated vision across the region.