King Sugar At Death's Door In Trinidad & Tobago~Will Barbados Follow Suit?
Prime Minister Patrick Manning has vowed that sugar workers will never return to cutting cane as long as he is Prime Minister. “That is going back to slavery,” said Manning, whose statement brought strong criticism from two of the major stakeholders in the industry yesterday.
Source: Trinidad Express
It seems that Prime Minister Patrick Manning listened to the now deceased Prime Minister Errol Barrow of Barbados when he delivered the ‘no cane blade’ speech. The announcement by Prime Minister Patrick Manning that his party, the People National Movement (PNM) is committed to dismantling the sugar industry has sparked a raging debate in Trinidad and Tobago on the eve of a general election to held on November 05, 2007. As you would expect the rival opposition political parties, the UNC Alliance and the COP have announced differing positions; if elected they have promised to pump millions of dollars into the gasping sugar industry. Our readers should be interested in this development because there is a parallel that can be drawn to what is happening in Barbados. The Barbados government has been struggling to make the correct decisions concerning the future of the sugar industry over the years. Depending on whom we listen to they are some who suggest that Barbados should follow T&T’s lead.
Maybe we will when we find the OIL!
Readers of the statement quoted above maybe startled by the colorful language of Prime Minister Manning given the association with the word slavery. It does not take much for black people to react emotionally at the mere mention of THAT word. We are aware that Prime Minister Manning’s statement must be contextualized given the cosmopolitan landscape of Trinidad and Tobago. We made it our business to canvas our friends in Trinidad and Tobago and to monitor discussion on the ground, people seem to be split on Manning’s PNM plan for the sugar industry. Trinidad and Tobago is in the privileged position of earning high revenues from oil and therefore has the luxury of being able to trash the sugar industry. Barbados unfortunately is not in the same position and we have had to find ‘bogus’ reasons to justify the existence of an industry which has lost its way. We expect to hear the tired argument that sugar is responsible for generating much needed foreign exchange for the treasury of Barbados, and in the absence of an alternative crop we should continue to prop-up the sugar industry.
Even if BU is persuaded and buys into the argument that sugar equates to much needed foreign exchange for the coffers of Barbados, we would still agree with Patrick Manning that the legacy which King Sugar has for islands like Barbados and T&T is highly destructive and can retard the transformation to the touted service economy. The sugar industry symbolizes the pain and suffering of our ancestors by white people, SLAVERY. How is the continued support for the sugar industry affecting the psychological health of our black societies? Why should our islands continue to prop-up the sugar industry which reminds us of so many things we wish to forget? We agree 100% with Prime Minister Manning to jettison the sugar industry which has outlived its value in the era of globalization.
Prime Minister Owen Arthur is known to be a man who believes in using ‘symbols’ to promote awareness of our black heritage among Barbadians.We all know that our government continues to support the sugar industry which is on it death bed, for political reasons. We anticipate that Sir Roy would be pissed if Arthur showed the same ‘balls’ as Manning.
We have never been a great admirer of Prime Minister Manning but he has grown in our eyes given his commitment to ‘burn Mr. Harding’.