The awkward silence

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He is infamous for weighing-in on everything. Yes, nothing is too trivial or too low-brow for him to avoid. Every bit of melee, every piece of gossip, he has to throw in his two-cents worth of commentary. Usually, his two-cents worth is something nasty, demeaning, malicious. It is almost never encouraging, uplifting or edifying. It is never an appeal to our better selves. In other words, much like Master Willy, the pig of the Nelson’s West Indian Reader fame, he relishes a roll in the mud. Never mind that Mother Hen, and other right-thinking folks will exhort him to “Come out of the mud, you big, fat pig,” he will not. He chooses to abide in the muck and mire.

So there he is, notwithstanding his many important portfolios, spending an inordinate amount of time on Social Media, denigrating and maligning, minding the inconsequential business of other people, like a fish vendor. So petty and puny!

Which beggars the question: How can someone given to “ponging so much melee,” not weigh-in on the extremely grave issue that is now facing the nation of Antigua and Barbuda. Why is someone who is so very loquacious and opinionated, silent on the African migrant crisis? One would have thought that by now, He of a High Place would have scheduled a nationally televised address, complete with the National Anthem and all the obligatory pomp and circumstance. At such a press conference, He of a High Place would clear his throat with an exaggerated sense of self-importance, and a serious affect, then proceed to utter his usual litany of lame excuses, half-truths and downright lies. He would throw his colleagues under the bus, and would NOT accept any responsibility for this debacle. And, yes, he would find some way to blame the United Progressive Party (UPP) . . . casting about for scapegoats, and prattling-on, blah, blah, blah, ad infinitum . . .  they were duped, blah blah blah . .. they honestly thought that the Africans were “wealthy investors” . . . . blah, blah, blah .  . . that they were bonafide “tourists” . . . yada, yada, yada . . . . that they would be returning to Africa after a short stay in Antigua . . . yida, yada, yida . . . they had no idea that they were facilitating human trafficking . . . never mind the hoopla and the fanfare, complete with a water cannon salute of the fly-by-night Antigua Airways on its arrival at the V C Bird Airport on Independence Day last year . . . And the mysterious cargo in the plane’s cargo bay . . . and the great travesty of the enormous sums of money paid by the African migrants to the heartless operatives in Africa who promised them a bridge to the land of milk and honey, only for their hopes to be dashed on the rocks of Devil’s Bridge? This genius in a High Place is now pleading ignorance.

Of course, nobody believes the malarkey that could come from the appearance of He of a High Place at a nationally televised press conference. Not even the holder of the press conference would believe his own crap. Hence, his reluctance to come and face the public with any sort of plausible explanation as to how the smartest government in the Caribbean could be supposedly so easily duped by a gang of two-bit human hustlers. Again, nobody believes the “we were duped” story.

Meanwhile, the sadness of the tale is that the Africans were clearly duped. They are the forlorn victims. They did not want to stay in Antigua and Barbuda. They were told that they would only be here for two days. They had never heard of a place called Antigua. They were taken advantage of, they were robbed.

Now, here is what our highly-esteemed and erudite Ambassador Bruce Goodwin, in an appearance on yesterday’s OBSERVER AM with Dr Jacqui Quinn, had to say on the matter of African migrants arriving on our shores: “You call it a saga, it is a bit more than that; it’s a fiasco, it’s a scandal, and it is possibly a crime of major proportions, and I will expand more on the aspect of the possible criminal nature of this whole enterprise . . . You know, over the years, the Labour Party government in Antigua has been involved in many, many criminal aspects, criminal types of behavior, and then they would come out and say, ‘Oh, we were duped! We didn’t really intend to become involved in this type of criminality or activity that could really have been considered to be criminal offenses’ . . . Now, this time I heard you mention earlier that it is the Africans who think that they have been duped, and of course, we know that the government has come out with various excuses, they have said very little on this matter, indeed, and we certainly would have expected some more fulsome explanations with respect to their involvement in the whole affair . . . but I think it’s because the matter is so very serious in terms of its possible international implications, both for our government and for other governments in the region and across the world, because it is such an extremely SERIOUS  matter, that they have chosen to remain fairly silent on the whole affair. Now, I want to look at this within the context of offenses that can be referred to as crimes of universal jurisdiction, and we are well aware that a Court was set up in The Hague in the Netherlands to adjudicate such types of offenses, and that of course, as you are aware, is the International Criminal Court at the Hague, and the types of crimes of universal jurisdiction that are adjudicated there include money laundering, human trafficking and war crimes, and what we have here, with respect to the situation here in Antigua, are offenses that could possibly come under the heading of money laundering and human trafficking . . .” Hmmmm!

Seems, all’s not well in Mudville, and Those in High Places are acutely aware of that fact. Suddenly, articulation fails them. They are stuttering and stammering and deferring to each other. Especially He of a High Place, who can wax idiotic about panties and petticoats and assorted personal trivia about other people, but on this enormously grave matter, “cat got his tongue.” Whatever happened to the noble notion that the buck stops with the leader, or that the captain will accept responsibility, or that the leader will face his people like a man. No hiding behind a cloak of silence. Talk about a yellow-bellied sapsucker!

Of course, notwithstanding his silence, the burning questions remain. What happened to the ten or twelve passports that were given to the African entities who brought the Antigua Airways here? What about that high agricultural official who was so intimately involved in this fiasco? Was any money paid to Antiguan operatives to facilitate the movement of so many Africans from Cameroon by way of Nigeria to Antigua? Are there any implications for the legitimate holders of Antigua and Barbuda passports? Will this have an impact on our Citizenship by Investment product? Whatever happened to Marvelous Mike Printing Press? Will we sever ties to this whole Antigua Airways operation? Can this entire sordid affair suddenly be made clean by our hasty (and desperate) move to regularise the African migrants? And will the eyes of the international community be averted by this desperation ploy? Questions on the minds of the people.

No wonder that thousands of the outraged citizenry will gather en masse in front of the Prime Minister’s office on Queen Elizabeth Highway today to demand answers, and to make it clear to this MINORITY government that it cannot do what it likes, and give away Antigua and Barbuda unilaterally, at its own whim and fancy. It is accountable to the people of this fair State.

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