The Barbudans are a tough, resilient people. They have been disparaged, disrespected and manhandled in every which way. They have been called all manner of pejorative names, (which we will not repeat or give any currency in this upstanding paper), been the butt of mean-spirited jokes and the recipients of assorted threats and much psychological abuse. The Lords on Mount Olympus, in their wisdom, or lack thereof, have seen fit to speak down to the Barbudans telling them, in not so many words, that since the ouster of the government lackey, Arthur Nibbs, in favour of Trevor Walker at last year’s general election, there will be no more coddling and pampering of the Barbudans.
Anyway, in the spirit of no more pampering, Barbuda has, for all intents and purposes been neglected. Indeed, the inordinate haste and sense of urgency that was so manifest (bulldozers and other heavy equipment working late into the night and disturbing the peace) in raping Mother Nature and deflowering her to build this new airport, was shockingly absent when it came to the rehabilitation of the Hannah Thomas Hospital, the Post Office, the APUA office, the Holy Trinity School, the Health Center, the Police Station and a host of other essential buildings and services (the pillars of a modestly functioning society). Dionysus, the god of the vegetation, and Gaea, the goddess of the earth and its personification, weep! (Greek mythology) As do many, here and abroad, who have watched with righteous indignation the harsh treatment being meted out to Barbuda and the Barbudans.
And yet they rise! And they stand! They have been knocked down, but they have not been knocked out! Consider some of the body blows. Many, like Mr. John Mussington, the principal of the Sir McChesney George Secondary School, and a visionary and true patriot, who will not be denied in his tireless and forthright efforts to do right by Barbuda, were removed from Barbuda during the evacuation at the point of a gun. Others were later removed from the National Technical Training Center under duress and an ultimatum from law enforcement. And the remnants (30 persons all told, including children) down at the Barrymore Hotel, were yesterday locked out of their living quarters under the watchful gaze of law enforcement. Well, not just the ‘watchful gaze.’ One lady alleges that police officers dragged her from her abode. There have been other allegations of intimidation and harassment. And even as the terrified Barbudans were watching the locks being changed on their homes, notices were being posted telling them that in order to get their personal effects and worldly possessions, they must contact the Ministry of Works.
Needless to say, Hades, the god of the underworld, rejoiceth! He who swallowed his own kin, and was quite the despised, must be rubbing his grubby palms with glee at this manifest lack of soul and compassion, and that milk of human kindness in we mortals!
Look, we are not saying that the Barbudan occupants at the Barrymore Hotel were to be accommodated there to infinity and beyond. As a matter of fact, we believe that the time had come and gone for them to return to Barbuda to assist in the rebuilding of Barbuda or to move on. Of course, we are not privy to all their circumstances, so we will refrain from uttering condemnatory language. (We understand that some of the Barrymore occupants were actually renting in Barbuda, and since Irma, they have no home to return to). Having said that however, we believe that the process was handled badly by officialdom and made for rather poor optics.
It was not so much what was being done, but rather the heavy-handed and distasteful (arguments and yelling) way in which it was being done. Which is nothing new for this administration where diplomacy, negotiation and consultation are anathema. Seems, much like a bull in a china shop, they are incapable of statecraft and statesmanship and the give-and-take of governing. Consensus-building and the search for the happy medium are lofty and noble notions that seem to elude officialdom.
For example, Attorney Ralph Francis, a concerned Barbudan, and the son of the great and brilliant former MP for Barbuda, Claude Earl Francis, suggests that there could have been a meeting of all the stakeholders and perhaps an agreement to rent the renovated Barrymore Hotel spaces that they now occupy to the remaining Barbudans. Sigh!
And so it goes! An administration that seemingly ventures “To and fro like a roaring lion, seeking whom it may devour’ (mangroves by YIDA, our ports by Global Ports Holdings, taxpayer’s money by eBooks). Funny thing though is that Barbuda and the Barbudans refuse to be devoured, notwithstanding the venom and the biting remarks from officialdom. They simply refuse to stay on the canvas! The indomitable Rocky Balboa is proud!
We here at NEWSCO certainly wish the Barbudans well, and we will continue to stand in their corner. After all, we know a little something about being knocked down, but not being knocked out!