Those in high places should step down

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In other parts of the world, any right-thinking person in a high place, with a sensitive moral compass, would spare his countrymen further agony by tendering his or her resignation, in the face of the absolute horror that befell so many of our African brothers on the high seas. Never mind the level of his or her involvement in the African migrant debacle, like a real man, and not a pusillanimous little boy, any potentate with a modicum of decency would assume full responsibility for the tragic mess, and declare that the buck stops at his or her desk. No hiding behind other Cabinet ministers. No pushing others up-front to mask his or her involvement. No cowardly casting about for scapegoats, no grasping at straws in a desperation bid to assign blame to others. But here in Antigua and Barbuda, unfortunately, that is a bridge too far.

In other parts of the world, those persons with the authority to appoint a Commission of Inquiry into the sordid and deadly African migrant affair, would do so post-haste. Even if such a one was previously reluctant to set up an inquiry, the recent dastardly manner in which our brothers and sisters perished at sea, would spur him or her into action.  This international scandal cannot be ignored. All eyes are now on our fair State for very, very unflattering reasons. Those with the authority to set up a Commission of Inquiry should act with immediacy so that Antiguans and Barbudans, indeed, the bereaved families in Cameroon and Nigeria, and the rest of the world, can get answers. They cannot bury their heads in the sands of the Urlings shoreline and pretend that a major international problem does not exist.

Consider. In the aftermath of the train tragedy in Greece this past February 28, that killed 57 people and left dozens injured, the Transport Minister, Kostas Karamanlis, immediately tendered his resignation, saying that, his Ministry had not done enough to upgrade the outdated rail system that he’d inherited. If you recall, two trains were travelling in opposite directions on the same track from Athens to Thessaloniki on that fateful day when they collided with each other. Karamanlis, a real leader imbued with that “milk of human kindness and decency,” said that he felt it was his “duty” to step down “as a basic indication of respect for the memory of the people who died so unfairly. Kostas Karamanlis, may your tribe increase.

Closer to home, in 2019, the Governor of Puerto Rico was forced to resign on account of his offensive language. He’d routinely referred to people that he did not like in the ugliest terms. It is not known if he ever used the words ‘deracinated’ or ‘imbecile’ to refer to his fellow citizens, but you get the point. Anyway, here’s what the JAMAICA OBSERVER [July 26, 2019]had to say about the Puerto Rican Governor’s departure from his high place: “Puerto Ricans waved flags and danced to thumping drum beats yesterday [Thursday, July 25], as they celebrated word that their governor, [Ricardo Rossello], will resign over derogatory comments that he and his aides made about women, gays and hurricane victims. . . .” Hmmmm! Seems, people of goodwill have been resigning on account of their own callousness, their insensitivity, their vile and vulgar utterances, their failure to do right by the people who elected them. They seem to have qualms of the conscience. If only . . . .

We have a number of good folk here in Antigua and Barbuda with hifalutin titles as emissaries, ambassadors, and the sort – all kinds of diplomatic appointments to The Motherland. They too should offer their resignations in protest at the horrible treatment meted out to our African brothers and sisters who were brought here by our officials, against their wishes. They were provided with piss-poor accommodation and then ‘marooned’ (the word used by someone in a high place).  They had gotten much less than they’d paid and bargained for. No wonder there were so few takers of this Administration’s lame offer to allow them to stay and work here. They were/are really not interested in making a life in Antigua and Barbuda. By the way, the Administration’s hasty offer to the Africans of a chance to stay here was a transparent attempt to cover its complicity in the original African migration sin. Sigh!

The Africans paid a fortune – about US$5,000 – to get to America, and ended-up in Antigua, under a feckless leadership that recently ‘cussed them-off,’ coldly calling them ‘economic opportunists.’  They were ‘ripped-off!’  They desperately wanted out of this place, even under threat to life and limb. Many were willing to face their fears and brave the waves. So again, they beseeched their family members in The Motherland to send more money so that they could pay to be smuggled out of Antigua into the United States Virgin Islands (USVI). Many took the risky offer of person or persons unknown (fornow), and paid for it with their lives. So very sad!

Which beggars the question: Is this Administration, and those who sang the HALLELUJAH CHORUS on November 1, 2022, in any way responsible for these tragic and untimely deaths? Think about it. When this naïve Administration glibly offered the marooned Africans a chance to stay in Antigua, did they not consider that in numerous and varied ways, the Africans were still going to attempt to make it to America? Even under pain and peril of death?

At the very beginning of this sketchy, shady operation last year, we were insistent that it could not end good. Little did we know. . .

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