In 1994 a greenhorn politician who had the reigns of the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) thrust upon him adopted what then seems to be a visionary strategy today, he designed the DLP election campaign on a platform of Crime and Violence. At that time the Barbados Labour Party (BLP), led by the young and bright economist who was anointed by the late Tom Adams, proceeded to decimate Thompson at the polls. It is academic to debate whether the Thompson led campaign was relevant, what BU undoubtedly know is that it is most relevant NOW. Barbadians wake-up almost daily to news of criminal acts perpetrated in ways that are foreign to our beautiful island. These acts if allowed to escalate seem set to destabilize generations of prosperity and commit future generations to poverty.
BU could focus on the current state of affairs at play in Barbados and proceed to write a long winded essay citing all manner of theories why the country finds itself in a troubled position. We however cannot resist offering a casual comment. It has been our view that Barbados with a ministerial “front bench” heavily populated with economists have become too fixated with building a “modern, technologically dynamic economy”__ it has now done so at the expense of a program of socially geared policies. Economists have always attempted to offset the impact of sterile economic policies by factoring and inducing positive externalities. Enough of the lingo! A survey of the populations in our Heights and Terraces which have replaced our Villages and Districts appear to be devoid of spiritual and philosophical moorings.
To digress a little__some years ago it maybe remembered that the USA hoodwinked some Caribbean islands into unilaterally signing-off on the Ship Rider Agreement. Trinidad was one of the islands which elected to depart from a one CARICOM foreign policy on this matter. BU believe that Trinidad and Tobago elected to serve its national interest which fitted nicely with its strategy at the time to become the business centre of the Caribbean. It saw being on the right side of the USA as a prerequisite to easily penetrate their markets with cheap Trinidad products. Bear in mind that at the time of signing the Ship Rider Trinidad would have successfully repositioned its economy in the aftermath of the oil crisis of the 70s and early 80s. To make a long story short, Trinidad and Tobago has become the business centre of the Caribbean and visitors to the twin island are confronted with country with a North American look, high rises and all. The sad reality however is that the rampant crime situation in Trinidad and Tobago has in the view of many pundits threaten to derail their economic prosperity. BU know of several Trinidadians who have migrated to Barbados and Canada to be satisfied in the knowledge that their children will benefit from an upbringing in more wholesome environments.
The above is a very long lead-in to what is BU’s substantial point. Prime Minister Owen Arthur as enunciated to the world that his government is focused on rolling-out policies which will drive Barbados towards first world status by 2012. Barbados is currently building a “flyover”, state of the art prison, world class air and sea ports, implementing liberal immigration and land policy to support mobility of labor among many other projects. The economy of Barbados is heavily dependent on the fickle tourist dollar and the supporting industry of IBC’s. While this development is happening criminal activity is similarly on the rise in Barbados. What is happening in Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica with escalating crime must provide the opportunity to our leaders to see the effect crime can have on our islands. There has been neglect of our police force by the current government. We have seen a great exodus from the force which has coincided with a lack of interest by John Public in joining the force. In a nutshell what we are seeing is a Royal Police Force which has become irrelevant to the current needs of Barbados.
We do not intend to be alarmist in the prevailing climate but some urgency is required by the directorate to address the social appetite of our country. The cosmopolitan profile of our country today will eventually lead to a police force which will have to change to become relevant. We have already seen St. Lucia, Jamaica, Trinidad and other Caribbean islands infusing their police forces with expatriate labor. The time for Barbados to follow suit must be very close. It will be interesting to observe how Barbadians react to such an event when it does occur. BU urge the Arthur administration to refocus on what is required to build a prosperous society. It CANNOT be done by focusing on things which are inanimate. Barbados has boasted that its greatest asset over the years has been its human capital__have we forgotten?