January 25, 2021

OUR CARIBBEAN: ‘Ole’ politics in Guyana, Barbados

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bloc-ourcaribbean-new2646-450x303By Rickey Singh, From Nation News
In today’s column, my first since health challenges compelled me to suspend my writings while abiding with medical advice at home, I have opted to reflect with readers on a few topical social and political issues of national and regional interest.
For instance, for all the brouhahas about “the need for change” in our governance systems and social relations as multi-ethnic, multicultural peoples of “one ”, so much remains the same in our Community member states, including in this country.
Without engaging in histrionics, the painful reality is that for all the inspiring sentiments expressed in national mottos there remain yawning gaps between reality and practice.
Consequently, successive governments, led by majority parties – based on the standard Westminster system of parliamentary democracy even after occasional bitter complaints in some cases of electoral malpractices – continue to make a mockery of pledges enthusiastically offered the electorate during the ritual five-year “cockfights” – as George Lamming has poignantly noted in reference to scheduled national elections.
Within the next six months both Barbados and will be immersed in a variety of activities to mark half a century of political independence from Britain. Sadly, however, while ruling and opposition parties of Guyana continue to mock the country’s national motto – One People One Nation One Destiny – by their divisive rhetoric and ethnic politic kings, there seem to be no limits to the recurring contradictions of what’s often said, in and out of parliament, and the harsh realities of suffocating experiences by victims of political/racial discrimination.
A riveting case in point is the current double-speak show by President David Granger’s administration over its failure to make public the unedited report of the independent commission (established by the previous PPP government) on the assassination of the internationally renowned historian and crusader for social and political change, Dr Walter Rodney.
Monarchical system
Headed by the well known eminent Barbadian Queen’s Counsel Sir Richard Cheltenham, the commission was emphatic in unanimously concluding that Rodney was a targeted political victim of then controversial president, the late Forbes Burnham. The government has not even bothered to forward a copy of the Cheltenham Commission report to Rodney’s widow, Dr Patricia Rodney, up to the time of writing, even as it continues to criticise the findings.
Here in Barbados, while there continue to be various activities and references with an orientation towards the dawn of the country’s 50th anniversary of political independence, yet to be announced is any initiative to be pursued on constitutional changes to end the current monarchical system of governance with Britain’s Queen Elizabeth as the country’s Head of State.
Trinidad and Tobago – which gained its political freedom from Britain in 1962, some three weeks later than Jamaica, had moved speedily to republican status with the now late ANR Robinson known for his passionate commitment to Caribbean integration – as its first native Head of State.
For her part, former prime minister and leader of the People’s National Party (PP), Portia Simpson Miller, had pledged to move the country towards republican status with a Jamaican woman as its first native head of state – “our Jamaican queen . . . ,” she had declared with customary warm smile and twinkle in her eyes!.
Now that her party has lost the recent general election by a mere one-seat parliamentary majority to the administration of new Prime Minister Andrew Holness, the still popular “Sister P” – as she is often greeted – will simply have to wait for her envisaged “Jamaican Queen”.
Meanwhile, I guess we also have to wait and see for how much longer – beyond the next general elections? – a government of Barbados could avoid initiating arrangements to dismantle the prevailing monarchical system of governance, whatever the preferred model – Trinidad and Tobago’s, Dominica’s, or some other? I know it would not be like Guyana’s.
Rickey Singh is a noted Caribbean journalist.
For more on this story go to: http://www.nationnews.com/nationnews/news/78469/caribbean-ole-politics-guyana-barbados#sthash.WPGRgGOo.dpuf

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