The emperors have no clothes

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They all sowed to the wind, and they are now reaping the whirlwind. We’re talking about all those clueless world leaders who preened and posed for the cameras while blithely discounting the gravity of the Covid-19 threat to their peoples, indeed to humanity. We’re talking about the world leaders who spoke in grandiose terms of how capable they were in managing their countries. We’re talking about those who sidelined the experts (See President Trump and those of like ilk here in the Caribbean) and hogged the spotlight in a naked attempt at self-promotion. Ah, yes! Their eyes were glued on the next election and how they could make political hay out of this crisis. You see, incumbent politicos, those who have imbibed of the goblet of power, are loathed to relinquish it easily. Thus, every utterance that proceeds from their mouths is calculated with an eye on preserving their shelf-lives. We’re talking about those vain-glorious politicos who were so infatuated with their own wonderfulness that they told world bodies like the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, to take their nostrums and remedies and “shove it up where the sun don’t shine!”

Sadly, for the populations in countries ruled by these emperors, the chickens hatched by their follies and foibles are coming home to roost. The populations suffer. Some people will die. Consider, if you will, many of the countries in Europe. In the early hours of this Covid-19 threat, the honchos in Brussels asked the emperors of those countries if they were sufficiently prepared to handle the nascent Covid-19 crisis. To a man/woman, they all airily brushed off the threat, and assured the bureaucrats in Brussels that they had all the necessary supplies and equipment to handle any eventuality. Turns out, they were woefully unprepared.

Ironically, it was not only the emperors of the various European member countries who were naked. Nay, the European Commission itself was slothful in its response to the burgeoning Covid-19 outbreak in Europe, especially in Italy. According to a Reuters report which was carried in our DAILY OBSERVER dated April 3, 2020: “The head of the European Commission apologised to Italy on Thursday for a lack of solidarity from Europe in tackling its coronavirus crisis, but promised greater help in dealing with the economic fallout. There has been widespread dismay in Italy over Europe’s response to the pandemic, starting with an initial failure to send medical aid, followed by a refusal amongst Northern nations to endorse joint bonds to mitigate the cost of recovery. The far-right League Party has jumped on the discontent to call into question Italy’s continued membership in the 27-nation bloc, and even staunch pro-European [Unioners] have expressed consternation at the lack of empathy and support [from the Union]” Sigh! So much for the noble ideals of solidarity and shared sacrifice. There they are, leaders of straw, in all their nakedness. It is not a pretty picture!

Consider Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, who has been soundly criticised for not responding with alacrity to the spreading problem.  Or the Chinese authorities who have been accused of covering up the threat. Or how about the government of Trinidad and Tobago that turned its back on its own citizens by refusing permission for them to enter the land of their birth? That was a low-down dirty disgrace! And how about the Brazilian President, Jair Bolsonaro, who belittled the coronavirus as just a ‘fantasy?’ Say what? Or the American president who once referred to it as a ‘hoax.’ Indeed, so flippant was the president, he joked that even if someone was dying of the virus, he or she should hold on for a few months so that he or she could vote for him, come November. Tsk! Tsk!

To be sure, the jury is still out on the performance of this administration during this very real and immediate crisis. For one thing, there is some concern that the people of Barbuda seem to have been left out of the grand Covid-19 strategic plan. As the Member of Parliament for Barbuda, the Honourable Trevor Walker, declared, Barbuda was never mentioned in the grand pronouncements about our Covid-19 response. Thank God, the people of Barbuda and the Barbuda Council took matters into their own hands.

There is also much discontent over the fact that the administration cannot seem to get a handle on providing the citizenry with a reliable supply of clean water, especially since the washing of hands, and worn articles of clothing, are prerequisites for neutralising this dreaded disease. The failure to set aside an emergency fund for an event such as this Covid is also quite disturbing. How could an administration pooh-pooh the setting aside of a rainy day fund, especially since we face annual threats from increasingly ferocious hurricanes?

The belated emphasis on agriculture and backyard gardening also does not inspire confidence. Neither does the failure of the government to come up with a detailed and robust stimulus package such as the $120 million package proposed by the Timothy Harris administration in St. Kitts / Nevis. The ever-shifting dates as to when facilities (eg. Margetson’s Ward) will be completed, and when Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and other critical supplies will be available, is also cause for concern. We are hearing rumblings from Clarevue, the nation’s lone psychiatric facility, that supplies are woefully lacking. We here at NEWSCO urge the government to redouble its efforts in these areas of concern. This is not an attempt to second-guess the administration, because there will be time enough for that when this crisis is over. We fully support every measure taken by the administration to rid our fair State of this horror, and we stand ready to continue playing our part in disseminating vital information and allaying the very real fears of the people. And mind you, the above-mentioned vexatious areas, are simply those from the concerned voices of the people. We are merely the messengers – relaying a sentiment that the administration’s slip is showing. It has a hole in the centre (See King Obstinate’s LAZARUS). Unlike the science deniers and the world leaders who initially joked in collaboration with their media sympathisers, our emperors here are not fully disrobed. Heaven forfend! But we will keep the fig leaves at the ready a la Adam and Eve. Just in case.

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