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Friday, 21 January, 2022
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Hark, the voices that speak

It was with some bemusement that we heard that he of a high place was bragging that the work of this administration “speaks for itself.“  Talk about self-regard and delusions of grandeur! Whatever it is that this administration has accomplished, precious little, we think that it would be more fitting to look at what it has NOT accomplished. Its myriad failures speak volumes.

Consider, if you will, the vexing failure of this administration to deliver a stimulus to the suffering poor of Antigua and Barbuda, during the height of the shutdown. Many citizens still have not recovered from that economic shock, and it is not difficult to believe that some may never. All they needed was a little help to tide them over, and it was not forthcoming.

Insult was added to injury when the administration did not see fit to provide government workers, especially those on the frontlines, with a decent Christmas bonus, much as did the Timothy Harris administration in St Kitts, which delivered a double pay check to its workers for Christmas. This was in addition to the helpful stimulus delivered by Harris earlier.

Here in Antigua and Barbuda, we were treated to an unconscionable give-away to the Western Imperial Special Economic Zone (WISEZ) folks. That was one of the lowlights of this past year. Every blessed thing that a self-serving investor would want, was delivered to the WISEZ on a platter. We are still scratching our heads at how a supposedly brilliant leader could give away so much in exchange for so little. This brings to mind an adulterated version of Sir Winston Churchill’s, NEVER IN THE FIELD OF HUMAN CONFLICT speech: “Never in the field of human governance, has so little been accomplished by so many geniuses, to the detriment of so many.”

Sadly, in the WISEZ deal, some two hundred acres of wetlands are under grave threat, and again, Antiguans and Barbudans will lose, big time. Thank God for the petition that has already garnered hundreds of signatures, imploring those in high places to stop the desecration in the WISEZ wetlands.

From the unfinished new public cemetery; to the many police stations that are falling apart; to the challenges faced by our fire department; to the urban decay so manifest in the once-beautiful city of St. John’s; to the chaos at the end of each month, what with the uncertainty and delays in delivering wages and pensions; to the lack of a workable plan to pull us out of the downturn caused by the pandemic, never mind the work put in by the Economic Recovery Commission (ERC); to the malicious and spiteful dog-whistle to the good Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), to further harass the United Progressive Party trio of Lovell, Daniel and Quinn; to the vexing water situation; to the mediocre-to-poor internet service; to the dilapidated bus shelters dotting the nation’s landscape; to the embarrassing Choksi matter, what with the allegations against some in high places, this administration just cannot seem to get it right. We’re hearing much sound and fury, and it signifies nothing.

And there’s more maladministration. Just look at the dreadful condition of the National Museum, especially the parapet and the façade. From the failure to give our many roundabouts a facelift; to the brutal manner in which the authorities unleashed tear gas and rubber bullets on picketers on August 8, a day that will forever live in infamy; to the failure to mount  a smart and robust vaccination education campaign that resulted in the administration desperately having to resort to vaccine mandates; to the imposition of the unpopular State of Emergency (SOE), never mind that all that the administration sought to achieve under the SOE, in terms of managing the coronavirus spread, was adequately covered under the Public Health Act, the litany of underachievement and non-accomplishment is as long as it is varied and damning. The unmistakable voice that we are hearing is that those in high places do not care one whit about a betterment for the people of Antigua and Barbuda. 

Take a peek at Labi Siffre’s, LISTEN TO THE VOICES – we’re talking about the voices of protest and discontent that are rising daily in response to the tumult and the noise, the cacophony, from this administration: “Old man your race is run / You think it’s over, it’s only begun / Child is born who has to face the world you’re leaving a dangerous place / Listen to the voices crying to be free / Can we be the promise that we promised to be / Love and understanding are better than a war / People are laughing because they’ve heard it before / Night chills in plenty town, cardboard hotels they sleep on the ground / Hard choices they make, how to respond / Listen to the voices so easy to ignore /  Choruses of old folk scared to open the door /  Living in the shadows dying in the cold  / Inner city jungle ain’t no place to grow old  / Helpless, we’ll never be, though justice is so hard to see. . . . .”

May this administration hearken to the voices. But then again, we highly doubt that those in high places will lend an ear, after all, they are tone deaf – deaf to the suffering of the people. Deaf to the daily hardship. Deaf to the lack of opportunity. Deaf to the cries of our brothers and sisters in Barbuda. Deaf to those who are concerned about our stewardship of the environment. Deaf to the concerns of those who observe the giveaways of land and opportunity to people of foreign lands.

Meanwhile, we are being treated to a daily diet of pablum. As Shakespeare’s Bassanio once said of Gratiano in THE MERCHANT OF VENICE: “They speak an infinite deal of nothing. Their reasonings are as two grains of wheat hid in two bushels of chaff. We shall search all day ere we find them, and when we’ve found them, they are not worth the search.” He of a high place has said that his administrations deeds speak for themselves. Sadly, they are not saying much.

      We invite you to visit www.antiguaobserver.com and give us your feedback on our opinions.

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