This blog was written in an airport soon after Prime Minister David Thompson intervened, at the very final hour a few weeks ago to avert a threatened national strike over a matter which many Barbadians feel was an ‘over reaction’ to a storm in a tea cup situation. This matter could backfire for Sir Roy because the rich tradition of ‘across the table’ discussions to manage industrial relations matters in Barbados is being challenged in some quarters to be replaced by an Industrial Court.
Prime Minister Thompson being introduced to Minister of State Mariano Browne by PM Manning
We understand that the national strike has been averted and Prime Minister David Thompson and his high powered team have proceeded and returned from their obligatory trip to the land of calypso and flying fish, in case you are puzzled we are referring to Trinidad & Tobago. Former Prime Minister Owen Arthur did it before him and as far as our memory can recall, all previous Bajan Prime Ministers have felt obligated to make the trip.
The economies of our islands and people have become so interdependent that when Thompson arrived in Trinidad & Tobago on an official a few weeks ago, he arrived to a red carpet reception. Of interest would have been that Mariano Browne, who a short time ago was a close confidant to the late Prime Minister Owen Arthur and a protagonist of the man Barbadians love to talk about Leroy Parris. Interestingly, Parris is a close family friend of the current Prime Minister. Barbadians understand that Prime Minister David Thompson voyaged to Trinidad & Tobago on a private jet. Enough has been said about this matter. It seems that the inefficient regional air transportation system is being used by our leaders to engage the services of private jets. Last week we read of the Trinidad government supporting a scheme for the national airline Caribbean Airlines to lease a private jet to be used for government travel.
We have read the joint communiqué arising from the David Thompson/Patrick Manning discussions. With a heavy dose of cynicism we hope that the discussions will bring positive outcomes to the many issues which remain unresolved between the two countries. At the top of the list is the fishing agreement issue. It seems laughable to write about this issue which has been kicked about like a football. It has become blatantly obvious that the ‘fishing dispute’ between Trinidad & Tobago and Barbados is reaching the point where it is ‘unresolvable’. The ‘oneupmanship’ which the late Prime Minister was able to achieve with his T&T counterpart has now become legendary. It culminated in the formalization of Barbados lodging a case with the International Maritime Court regarding maritime limits being demarcated between the two countries. This from all accounts has left a very bitter taste in the mouth of Prime Minister Manning and most Trinidadians.
Our position is reinforced after reading the Trinidad & Tobago News blog which has offered an argument to support an unflattering legacy of our late Prime Minister Owen Arthur. In Barbados some of us have been struggling to define what Arthur’s legacy will be. According to Trinidad & Tobago News blog, Arthur’s legacy among Trinidadians may best be described as perpetuation the traditional belief of the ‘Baje’ who continues to trick Trinidadians.
Here is an excerpt from the T&T News blog:
PM Manning visited Bridgetown on 16 February 2004 at the head of a T&T Delegation appointed to conduct on-going bilateral maritime boundary negotiations. On that very day and while PM Manning and his delegation were in a hotel in Bridgetown waiting for the meeting, Arthur was in contact with the UN lodging a unilateral formal action to haul T&T before compulsory UN arbitration. There was no meeting. He insulted PM Manning by not having the courtesy to inform him of this action. Manning returned home a sorry sight with diplomatic bruises.
During the boundary impasse Arthur threatened the security of our huge investments made by T&T nationals in the economy of Barbados. He even threatened to repatriate our nationals and appropriate our substantial $60bn stake that props up the Barbados economy. Our vegetable farmers and fruit exporters who sustained the Bajan tourist industry with a reliable supply of high quality products were arbitrarily denied further access to the Bajan market without licences in clear and naked violation of the rules of Caricom free trade.
Barbadians who are concerned about the large number of T&T companies gobbling-up local companies, they should not despair. In five to ten years Barbados maybe returning the favour when we have the “black gold” in abundance.