A deal that will live in infamy (Part I)

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The American President, Franklin D Roosevelt, referred to the Pearl Harbour attack thusly: “Yesterday, December 7, 1941 – a date which will live in infamy – the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by the naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.” The date and the expression is one that is indelibly etched in the minds of Americans who consider it a most dastardly deed. In like manner, we here in Antigua and Barbuda have a date and an agreement that will be forever seared in our minds. We can describe it by borrowing an adulterated version of Roosevelt’s aforementioned expression: “On September 20th, 2021 –  a date that will live in infamy, our Prime Minister signed an agreement that gave away so much of that which is rightfully for Antigua and Barbuda, in exchange for NADA (Nothing)!” Sigh! It is a head-scratcher.

Indeed, experts and pundits, here and abroad, are still baffled as to why a sovereign government would yield so much for so little. It brings to mind another altered version of a speech by Sir Winston Churchill when describing the sacrifices made by the British soldiers during World War II: “Never in the field of human economic deals was so much given up for the benefit of so few.” Seems, our administration has lost possession of its negotiating faculties, such as they were.

In the history of grand deals here in Antigua and Barbuda, this Western Imperial Special Economic Zone agreement is a new low, in terms of how our genius administration, got snookered by a band of uh . . . well . . . ‘artists.’ Of course, the artists are laughing all the way to the bank. They are pinching themselves and can hardly believe that they were able to take an administration supposedly full of brilliant minds, and headed by a self-described financial wizard, so easily to the cleaners. It was much like an adult taking candy from a child. Seems, the national bully got bullied! Big time!

In a riveting appearance on yesterday’s VOICE OF THE PEOPLE radio broadcast, the political leader of the United Progressive Party, Harold Lovell, gave a clear-eyed denunciation of the offensive deal, focusing on many of the lowlights. Consider his remarks, if you will. “The most disturbing matter is the so-called Millenium . . ., what’s it called, the Western Imperial Special Economic Zone; I think that that is something that all Antiguans and Barbudans and all who live here should be concerned about; it is something that is being widely discussed and the sheer brazenness of the way in which this administration, in particular the Prime Minister, has literally given away powers that rightfully belong to our people, it’s a shame, and it’s a shame especially because we are now entering our fortieth year of Independence, and this should be a time when we would be celebrating increasing local participation and control in the economy of Antigua and Barbuda, building blocks for sustainable development, and where we should be looking at projects and policies which are aimed to empower Antiguans and Barbudans, instead, what we have here is a situation where the government appears literally to have thrown its arms into the air and surrendered all the rights of development to a group that none of us actually even know anything about, using a failed model – a model that was tried with YIDA, where they promised two billion dollars over ten years, two hundred million dollars per year, and they have delivered nothing. They promised a mountain, and they delivered a mouse. In this case, again, the same empty promises, but what is more startling is the way in which they have literally said to a group of persons whom we know nothing about, ‘take it, it’s yours, do what you like with it;’ and I have here the actual statutory instrument actual which will be preserved for its infamy, preserved into the future. This will go into a museum to show the people of Antigua and Barbuda the bankruptcy of ideas, the shallowness of this administration, and the way in which they have gone to lengths that nobody could have ever imagined to basically sell Antigua and Barbuda for a mess of pottage, and not even for a mess of pottage because the bowl is empty, so we havn’t even been able to get anything; it’s a shame, it’s a disgrace!” 

As you may be aware, the political leader methodically went through the lowlights of the agreement – the crass and mindless giveways – they are all-encompassing, and we, the people of Antigua and Barbuda, get absolutely nothing! We here at NEWSCO will enumerate the mind-boggling giveaways in part two of tomorrow’s editorial. Suffice it to say, the people of this appropriately-named Western Imperial entity must be still on cloud-nine, awash in euphoria. They cannot believe their good fortune in sitting at the negotiating table across from an administration so utterly daft and feeble. Talk about open sesame! Talk about inviting in the imperialists to well . . . ‘assault’ us again and again and again! To rip us off! The word ‘imperial’ has to do with empire and emperors. It is an anachronism! It belongs to a time and place long past. Well, that is, except here in Antigua and Barbuda, where we are blithely hearkening back to the days of colonialism and imperialism and empire. Sigh! Western Imperial, indeed!

We are reminded of a calypso from back in the day by Singing Diane entitled YOU GOTTA GIVE AWAY. Of course, she is referring to . . .  uh. . . well . . . sexual gratification, but for purposes of this discussion, we’ll cite the words which can also apply: “I don’t care who want to say I am young and foolish / Just because I give away, and I’m never selfish / If a man feeling hungry, he could get anything from me / He will get his wish immediately . . . You gotta give away . . . Help us, lawd! (See Part II in tomorrow’s DAILY OBSERVER)

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