New year’s resolutions

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We here at NEWSCO take this opportunity to wish all Antiguans and Barbudans a safe, healthy and productive 2021. We suspect that this year will be one filled with many challenges, but by God’s grace, and our firm resolve to fight the good fight, we are confident that this island nation is equal to the many tasks ahead. As our national anthem exhorts, “[We shall] ‘gird our loins and join the battle ‘gainst fear, hate and poverty.” In that spirit, here are some resolutions, in no particular order, that ought to inform us in the days and weeks and months ahead.

For whereas our brave Customs officer, 46-year-old Cornell Benjamin, an upright limb of the law, was accosted by persons unknown when he went to check on a disturbance on his lawn on the evening of October 13, 2019; and whereas the brazen assault on Benjamin occurred some three days after it was revealed from on high that there was serious criminal ‘hanky-panky’ at the port, amounting to some $3M; and whereas schoolchildren are suggesting that the alleged ‘hanky-panky’ is much more than $3M; and whereas the identities of those involved in the shenanigans are known to those in high places; and whereas those in high places have steadfastly refused to name those suspected of malfeasance; and whereas those in high places have said, for reasons that leave many scratching their heads, that they are not interested in prosecuting those involved in the misdeeds; and whereas our police, and the investigative arm of the Customs and Excise Division cannot seem to make head or tail of this rather straight-forward case (sigh!), BE IT RESOLVED that all men and women of goodwill here in our fair State, keep the pressure on this deliberately clueless administration and the ‘see-no-evil’ Customs officials in demanding answers to WHO SHOT CORNELL BENJAMIN, AND WHY?

In that regard, we are heartened to note that the United Progressive Party (UPP) is staging a picket this morning in front of the Governor General’s official residence on Independence Avenue. This picket comes a year to the day, and on the very spot, after the UPP’s first picket calling for JUSTICE FOR CORNELL BENJAMIN. We support this effort, and we urge all the good citizens of this country who care about justice, so to do. Let us take to the street en masse to protest this inertia and malingering on the part of those in high places. This assault on our senses and sensibilities, our very security; this egregious attack on the very fabric of our society MUST NOT STAND! After all,on October 13, 2019, it was Cornell Benjamin. Some nine months later, it was Nigel Christian. At any given day in the future, it could be you or me. We refer to His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie’s prophetic words to the League of Nations in 1936, after Mussolini invaded his country: “TODAY ME, TOMORROW YOU.”

Consider, if you will, our paraphrased version of the Reverend Martin Niemoller’s rueful confessional about cowardice, apathy and narrow self-interest in the face of victimization and brutality in high places: ‘First they came for Observer Radio, and I did not speak out, because I was not Observer Radio. Then they came for the Barbudan lands, and I did not speak out because I was not a Barbudan. Then they came for Cornell Benjamin, and I did not speak out, because I was not Cornell Benjamin. Then they came for Nigel Christian, and I did not speak out because I was not Nigel Christian. Finally, when they came for me, there was no one left to speak for me.’ In this year, 2021, may we never look back with those sad words of regret. BE IT RESOLVED that in Antigua and Barbuda, in this year, 2021, “Judgment [must] run down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream.” [Amos 5:24]

Meanwhile, whereas our pensioners have been treated like dirt, by an administration that was extremely puffed-up with delusional notions of its own wonderfulness; and whereas the long-suffering pensioners were in no mood to abide the disgraceful treatment at the hands of this piteous administration; and whereas the pensioners registered their disgust by giving our good Prime Minister a dose of his own aloes, to wit, they essentially ‘mooned’ him; and whereas our PM, God bless him, for the first time in a long time, saw what it was like to be ‘mooned;’ and whereas it is a truism that there is nothing to concentrate the unfocused mind like a good ‘mooning,’ BE IT RESOLVED that pensioners, and all other workers who are owed monies by this feckless administration join hearts, hands and heels to demand that which is rightfully theirs.

Mind you, this administration has the nerve, the unmitigated gall to borrow money to bail out a colleague; this administration can find money for all sorts of boondoggles that will benefit itself and its cronies, but nothing for the pensioners and working stiffs in this country. Nothing for the mud, dirt and pothole-riven roads; nothing for improved water delivery; nothing for improved internet service; nothing by way of a stimulus for the thousands of displaced poor people. It is pathetic! As the great Leonard ‘Tim’ Hector was so very careful to remind us in this paraphrased version of the Marxist international call to workers, “Pensioners and working people of Antigua and Barbuda unite, you have nothing to lose but chains cast off!” Be it so resolved!

And whereas our brothers and sisters in Barbuda have been disparaged in a most unseemly manner by those in high places; and whereas the Barbudans have responded by standing their ground and shaking their fists, and perhaps, even a finger, at this combative, bullying administration; and whereas people all over the world are mortified at the language and tactics being used against the Barbudans; and whereas they are not unmindful of the similarities between the treatment dished out to the Barbudans, and the dispossession and other inhumane treatment meted out to some minorities in other enclaves around the world; BE IT RESOLVED that the Barbudans continue to stand fast in their liberty and their legitimate expectations and traditions spanning centuries.

And whereas, as was so eloquently articulated by the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly;”and whereas when the good Reverend King was branded as an interloper, meddling in the affairs of Birmingham, he boldly responded with the aforementioned quote; BE IT RESOLVED that all Antiguans and Barbudans must stand together in solidarity against the machinations and failures of this administration. Nothing turns on whether one is a pensioner or not. Nothing turns on whether one is related to Cornell Benjamin or not. Nothing turns on whether one was born in Barbuda or not. As Peter Tosh declares, “I and I can never hold I peace while wrong is going on.”

In this year 2021, BE IT RESOLVED that we shall “Take arms against a sea of troubles, and by opposing, end them.” [HAMLET, William Shakespeare]

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