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A GRAVE DECEPTION ON THE EVE OF INDEPENDENCE By Alvette Ellorton Jeffers

posted 2 Nov 2018, 13:06 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 2 Nov 2018, 13:08 ]
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At this moment, in 2018, ours is not an “anticolonial’ struggle. Our enemy is not some alien force that has invaded Antigua and Barbuda to impose ways of living and thinking inimical to our collective aspirations. This is not the 19th century or pre-1967.

People who were born a few months before 1967 and those born in 1981 have never experienced white, political rule in Antigua or Barbuda. They have never lived under a plantocracy or know what it means not to vote or denied the right to choose which trade union to belong to. They grew up knowing the Antigua government owned all the lands in Antigua

Since 1962, Caribbean people have gown up with, in the main, a black professional and political elite charged with administering the islands of the Caribbean. One could say, a reactionary Black Power, interpreted as blacks replacing whites as ministers, managers and administrators and advisors, have been quite successful. For most people living today, their only knowledge of colonialism is what they read in books or from stories told by their great grandparents.

It, therefore, confuses a lot of Antiguans and Barbudans when they are told that they are still engaged in an “anticolonial” struggle in this the 21st century when all they see are black and brown faces in high places making a lot of mischief. They are acutely aware that the “anticolonial” banner is a ruse specifically intended to obfuscate the real agents responsible for their social problems.

To dig now for reasons to raise high the “anticolonial” banner after fifty six years of independence in the English, speaking Caribbean is proof that the political leaders with the willing connivance of the professional elite have betrayed the mission of independence or independence as conceived by the leaders of the independence movement was bound to end in disappointment for the people. It is an admission of colossal failure on their part.

On the eve of Independence, CLR James in “Party Politics In The West Indies’ (1958), described the problem the new nations had to solve. “The difference between the mentality, the desires, the needs, which are the result of the kind of life the people live, and the limited resources of the economy is a very serious one. It is not only an economics question” and “…in a few years (it) can become the source of the greatest political disorders.” (p.89) Take note!

CLR James articulated the view that the people of the Caribbean were historically prepared to face the difficulties associated with economic reorganization; and in 1986, he stated in an interview carried in ‘Plantation Society’ that “…economic development must be 
Image result for antigua and barbuda mapdecided by the mass of people and its representatives. And that, in the Caribbean islands, might not be happening, but it can.”

It has not yet happened. Instead, what has emerged is a degenerative form of politics which preclude any discussion of peoples’ participation or management of the economy as a prerequisite for economic transformation and development. And the political parties are seeing to it that this kind of politics never happens.

As a consequence, “Politics,” notes Norman Girvan in 2013 speech entitled ‘Assessing Westminster in the Caribbean: then and now’ “has become “…a perpetual game of alternating ‘ins’ and ‘outs’ and Winner Takes All. It is characterized mainly by mudslinging, sensationalism and pursuit of trivia. Every five years, a cornucopia of election campaign promises is routinely made. Few are kept. People participation is limited to cheering at election rallies and a ten-second act of voting every five years. Government is reduced to Prime Ministerial dictatorship. Long term issues of development are hardly ever on the agenda of popular discourse.” Antiguans and Barbudans are quite familiar with this pappy show.

Since independence, nevertheless, the Caribbean people have continued to demonstrate their displeasure with the restrictive conditions into which they have been forced. On every occasion, except for 1968 when a mass movement and a general strike in Antigua brought down the Bird government and the 1979 triumph of the Grenadian revolution ended the rule of Eric Gairy, governments were successful in temporarily halting popular rebellions in places like Guyana under Forbes Burnham, Trinidad under Eric Williams and Jamaica under Hugh Shearer.

In Guyana, under Forbes Burnham, Walter Rodney, leader of the Working Peoples Alliance was murdered in 1980 for his politics and Maurice Bishop’s father was also murdered by agents of the Gairy government and Black Power and union activists were rounded up and imprisoned in Trinidad in the 1970s. The same in Antigua and Barbuda! The truth of the matter is that State sanctioned violence and murder was significant in the arsenal of State repression. Nothing prevents its reoccurrence.

Today, 2018, as in 1962 and in 1981, we still have to ask what does independence require of us? The economic problems and the attendant social problems have multiplied. Here are a few mentioned in the speech by Norman Girvan referred to above. “First the plunder of state resources by politicians and their cronies. Second, the insidious and largely invisible influences of money in politics and the determination of state policy. (Lack of transparency and accountability); Third, the problem of unchecked executive power. Fourth, emasculation of the legislative branch.”

All the above takes place while our Black leaders are selling off our resources to foreign investors; and when that does not help to mitigate the financial crises and recurring unemployment problem, they choose to run to foreign entities, the IMF and the World Bank, to tell them how to fix things on the backs of the masses of people. And in the meantime, they, the professional and political elites, turn the great masses of people into spectators of history unfolding in front of them but of which they are not its makers.

Ours is not a fight with the colonialists long removed from Antigua, Barbuda and the Caribbean. Antiguans and Barbudans are clear about that. They see the enemies of progress. They know them. They grew up with them. They haunt their dreams. Whoever tells the people that the enemy is “colonialism” is engaging in a grave deception. Antiguans, Barbudans and the people of the Caribbean know they are not fighting ghosts.

Their fight is against the very “anti-colonialists” who are quite eager to encourage Chinese, Russians and people from the United Arab Emirates to own and manage Antigua’s and Barbuda’s limited resources. The professional elites don’t mind this at all because something is in it for them. They have always been duplicitous with no real interest in the liberation and empowerment of workers, peasants, women and the unemployed. To guarantee this, “we have to become the change we want to see.”
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