The images are disturbing. They are all over YouTube and other forms of social media, and they tell a dastardly story of how our government invaded a legitimate, privately-held property, strolled all around it as if it were its own, yanking at doors and engaging in insensitive conversation about whether the people to whom they were showing the property were pleased with what they were seeing. On a Sunday. Without consultation or prior notification to the proprietors. Talk about kicking at tires and peeking under the hood, without the owner’s knowledge and consent! Hardline communists from back in the day would be proud – this naked attempt to seize private property.
Of course, it has certainly been a while since we’ve seen anything so high-handed here in our fair State. Well . . . . actually, if truth be told, this pathetic administration, much like the wicked authoritarian leaders of yesteryear, that would shoot and water cannon their citizens, and seize private property at their will and pleasure, has been overreaching in numerous and varied ways, and turning off some of its own supporters. Who can forget August 8, last year, when in a fit of pique, the administration unleashed tear gas on innocent picketers? It was a day that will long live in infamy, and many of this administration’s erstwhile supporters vowed that they will make those in high places rue it.
Clearly, this past weekend, the administration outdid itself in its bid to put the decent, law-abiding citizens of this fair State under heavy manners a la a feckless oligarchy. Oligarchs usually rule by whim and fancy. They are not beholden to parliaments, never mind that their parliaments are kangaroo parliaments, designed to rubber stamp and acquiesce to the leaders’ vain wishes. They do not recognise laws and conventions. They will tear up contracts and agreements. They will seize property that they deem necessary for their personal enrichment and advancement. They are laws unto themselves. We ought to be afraid, very afraid, of these types of leaders, because they can victimise Joe Blow today, and then unleash their predatory proclivities on Jane Everywoman tomorrow. We believe that WISEZ (Western Imperial Special Economic Zone) and YIDA ought to pay attention to what is happening with the University of Health Sciences Antigua (UHSA) at Dow Hill, Picadilly. Especially YIDA.
Why do we say, “Especially YIDA?” Because the pretext proffered by this administration for the way it bullyragged UHSA a few days is that it has underperformed for years. Ah, ha! So too, has YIDA! Indeed, YIDA HAS NOT PERFORMED AT ALL! Let YIDA beware the bullyraggers!
UHSA has served Antigua and Barbuda faithfully these past several decades. In addition to the medical instruction that they have expertly provided to hundreds of medical students, they have been good corporate citizens, participating in many aspects of our culture and civic life. They have done right by us since that day in 1982 when they first arrived. On account of the coronavirus pandemic, they have switched a great deal of their medical instruction online, as have a number of other tertiary schools around the world. That those in high places would malign UHSA with idle and unprofessional chatter about the place looking unkempt, and that there are no students on site, and that they can’t pay their bills, is so utterly disrespectful and speaks rather poorly of this administration’s mindset. It is not a stretch to suggest that prospective investors looking to do business with this administration will be given pause by the shabby way in which UHSA is being treated. We mean, who shows a prospective tenant a piece of property while another is still legitimately occupying the site? Sigh!
Under the United Nations Declaration on the Rule of Law, the General Assembly reaffirmed that “human rights, the rule of law and democracy are interlinked and mutually reinforcing . . . .and all persons are entitled to just, fair, and equitable laws, and equal protection before the law, without discrimination . . . It is as essential within countries as it is among the family of nations.” Hmmmm! We are persuaded that the treatment being meted out to UHSA is hardly fair or just or equitable. We believe that the UHSA folks have a legal leg on which to stand in this matter.
And we will stand with UHSA. After all, today it’s UHSA, but tomorrow, it could be you or me.
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