A Response to Owen Arthur
Submitted by David Comissiong, Citizen of Barbados
Towards the end of November 2012 the Honourable Minister Louis Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam visited Barbados, and during the course of that visit Minister Farrakhan and his entourage had a meeting with then Opposition Leader, Owen Arthur, at the Opposition Leader’s office situate at Parliament building in Bridgetown. I, David Comissiong, attended that meeting as a guest of Minister Farrakhan.
During the course of that meeting Owen Arthur expressed the opinion that United States President Barack Obama had totally neglected the Caribbean region — had, in fact,done less for the Caribbean than even George Bush — and that it was Hugo Chavez and Venezuela that were making meaningful contributions to the Caribbean.
Owen Arthur also informed us that he had come to the conclusion that he had made a mistake by not having Barbados sign on to Venezuela’s Petro Caribe Energy Cooperation Agreement when he was Prime Minister of Barbados.
He went on to inform us that if his Barbados Labour Party (BLP) won the General Elections that were due in 2013 (and he became Prime Minister again) that he –Owen Seymour Arthur — would be taking Barbados into Petro Caribe.
In light of the foregoing, it is truly remarkable and bemusing to hear the same Owen Arthur now talking about signing on to Petro Caribe as being tantamount to “selling the foreign policy of Barbados”.
Furthermore, the Caribbean countries that signed on to the Petro Caribe Energy Cooperation Agreement were not doing Venezuela a favour. Rather, they were taking advantage of a very generous Venezuelan offer of deferment of payments on the purchase of energy supplies, as well as access to grants, concessionary loans, and social and economic development projects. Indeed countries such as Dominica, St Vincent and Haiti benefitted from literally dozens of developmental projects in the fields of agriculture, education, and the provision of energy-based infrastructure and facilities.
It should be noted that hardly a day passes in Venezuela without the right wing critics of Chavez lambasting Chavez for — in their words– “giving away” Venezuela’s precious resources to the Caribbean nations through the Petro Caribe Energy Cooperation Agreement !
Owen Arthur is therefore playing games with this issue — tawdry partisan political games — and should be ashamed of himself.
The fact is that as late as the end of November 2012 he was raring to sign on to Petro Caribe as a programme that was in the national interest of Barbados and did not need any further persuading on the matter !
Fortunately, there must have been a good twenty or so people in that meeting room in November 2012 — all of whom can verify the truth of what I say here.