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A Comic's View – Big News In Barbados: That Coulda Been Us . . .

By Inigo “Naughty” Zenicazelaya

THIS week, something abnormally fantastic happened. The decision was made to ‘fire’ the Queen (sorry, Elizabeth R), decriminalize small amounts of marijuana, and move forward as an island nation that can stand on its own legs.

Before you get too excited, none of this happened here. Instead, it was our Caribbean neighbour Barbados that got tongues wagging and Twitter twittering with its bold moves.

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Queen Elizabeth (AP Photo/Chris Jackson, File)

When news broke of all these plans Barbados put into the ether, I couldn’t help but think of that famous meme: This could be us...but Bahamians joking.

Supermajority Superpowers

The Prime Minister of Barbados, Mia Mottley, ascended to power in Barbados in 2018 with a super majority. Her party won 30 out of 30 seats up for grabs and 70% of the popular vote. Around here, that’s what we call “a good cut hip” for those running against the Barbados Labour Party (BLP).

No doubt any government that finds itself with a supermajority in parliament finds itself with not only a clear mandate but the weapon it needs to see its goals through. Unfortunately (as we Bahamians know all too well) not every supermajority means the people will actually benefit from it.

But – bless their Bajan hearts – it looks like Barbadians may actually win for reposing so much faith in Mottley’s crew.

On Bay Street (theirs, not ours), where their government headquarters is located, their Governor General, Dame Sandra Mason, ironically used the country’s ‘Speech from the Throne’ to let it be known they are soon doing away with speeches from ‘The Throne.’

Barbados will become a republic by next year, she said. To quote their First Prime Minster, Errol Walton Barrow, Barbados will no longer “loiter on colonial premises.”

And so it goes, the country (and our neighbour) which is only a wee 7 years older than The Bahamas in terms of age since Independence, will accomplish something we have not even seriously begun to consider.

But wait, there’s more!

It seems Barbados will not only become a republic but will also decriminalize small amounts of marijuana possession by its citizens, taking a decisive stand on an issue we in this country have not even seriously begun to debate.

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The Prime Minister of Barbados, Mia Mottley.

Barbados will also make provisions for a referendum on same-sex marriage (though there is doubt it will pass), an issue and decision I can confidently say is decades upon decades away for Bahamians.

What is clear, though, is that Mia Mottley is making the most of her time in leadership.

While the Amazon, Australia and California were on fire, and as climate change continued to threaten small island nations, Mottley formulated her plan. Her idea was to drop a natural disaster clause into sovereign debt contracts. The long and short of it is that should a natural disaster occur, the country would have breathing room to service their debts.

In October of last year, while we were literally picking up our shattered pieces from Hurricane Dorian, Mia Mottley and her supermajority government got their creditors to accept those clauses.

Now I know it’s never a good idea to compare yourself with others, but it’s hard to resist. So, just to see if there’s anyway to have even rhetorical bragging rights against Bajans, I had a peek at their COVID-19 response.

According to the latest information, Barbados, a country with a population of around 290 thousand, has recorded 185 cases with 171 recovered and 7 deaths.

So they’ve got us beat there too.

Although we have been busted for ‘sorta copying’ off Barbados with the suggestions made by our economic recovery committee, it’s been quiet here as far as our politicians go with all this ‘big’ news coming out of that island.

Can a country enamored with pomp and circumstance, white wigs and ‘royal traditions’ even begin to contemplate full self-determination?

The only politician who has gone on the record congratulating Barbados (as far as I know) has been the leader of the Democratic National Alliance, Arinthia Komolafe.

Not only did Mrs. Komolafe express support for Mia Mottley’s move to become a republic, she also spoke of “progressive minded leadership in the Caribbean” and highlighted reasons why she too envisions a republic government one day for this country.

Honestly, listening to Komolafe lay out her plans had me thinking about what life would be like for us with ‘natural disaster clauses’ or ‘marijuana decriminalization’ or even just a government that made plans and followed through.

But the truth is we are currently stuck in a two-party system which basically means we are just stuck.

We are on a merry-go-round, and most people are scared to jump off.

I wish I knew what to tell you. Maybe I’ll find the right words soon. For now, all I can say is, “That coulda been us, but ‘y’all joking!”

Comments

Roman 1 month ago

Having a British monarch as the official head of state, is a relic from a colonialist past. It is also fundamentally undemocratic - as the position is an inherited one completely divorced from the merit principle. National dignity demands that a Bahamian should be the official head of state and not an official representative of a foreign monarch.

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DDK 1 month ago

I don't think Barbados is doing quite as well as you think, Mr. Inigo. Further, the very mention of the idea of a republic is shockingly chilling and, if ever seriously even contemplated, would trigger a mass exodus of the increasingly fine thread that is holding this Country together and some how, so far, preventing it from falling into a state of complete anarchy.

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trueBahamian 1 month ago

I'm not sure what the impact of this will be for Barbados. But, if they embark on this journey it would be the textbook for other nations as to what the implications are in taking such moves.

From.my vantage point, I see the monarchy part of our nations as simply window dressing. It would be good to get a lesson on what are the advantages of being a democratic monarchy vs. a democratic republic.

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SP 1 month ago

Look at the previous 50 years and Imagine the Bahamas with complete government autonomy and lead by the PLP and FNM, with no-one to answer to!

"Mass Exodus" isn't the words. Everybody with any means whatsoever will have the Star Ship Enterprise beam them somewhere else PDQ.

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Chucky 1 month ago

You guys who suggest the “monarch “ relationship is what keeps us intact and prevents a mass exodus are fooling yourselves.

We are a banana republic with a corrupt judiciary, any benefit of stability that could be derived from membership has long since been lost in our country.

As yourself where you would like to live if good government was the only criteria for the decision. Nobody but a criminal crony of the politicians would choose the Bahamas.

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xtreme2x 1 month ago

I don't think Barbados is doing quite as well as you think, Mr. Inigo. Further, the very mention of the idea of a republic is shockingly chilling and, if ever seriously even contemplated, would trigger a mass exodus of the increasingly fine thread that is holding this Country together and some how, so far, preventing it from falling into a state of complete anarchy.

Are you talking for talking sake or do you have verifiable facts to backup what you are saying? I want proof.I know any other Bahamians hoping same that Bahamas will do well if was Republic. I for one hoping same.

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benniesun 1 month ago

Everyone should get a copy of " Who Owns the World: The Surprising Truth About Every Piece of Land on the Planet" by Kevin Cahill and Rob McMahon. After reading that you will understand that in the Bahamas the Crown owns all of its land - we only have the right to use and occupy it re 'in fee simple'. So how can you take something that is not yours? Both South Africa and Dominica are Unitary parliamentary republics and are members of the Commonwealth of Nations headed by "The Crown". The queen is only the face of the crown. Talks about republic versus communism versus democracy are just concepts to immerse and engage to obscure the true reality.

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sheeprunner12 1 month ago

The 242 suffers from the disease of "Bahamian exceptionalism" ............. fooling ourselves that we are better than the rest of our CARICOM partners ........ now that the Dorian & Covid double whammy has exposed just how fragile and unprepared we are to external shocks, we better take time to reflect and change our haughty ways.

But then again, changing the window dressings will not solve our chronically bastardized inept and obsolete "Westminster" model

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BONEFISH 1 month ago

The view is the propaganda taught by bahamian politicians whether UBP,PLP and FNM. Outside of tourism and financial services, the Bahamas has no real economy. If you ever travel to the south eastern islands except Inagua, you will see this.

The westminister model of governance is not obsolete. Rather you have an undereducated and under exposed population. Bahamians are not taught much in terms of civics.

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jamaicaproud 4 weeks, 1 day ago

Respect Sheeprunner. Good to see you are surviving Corro. You are correct. Speaking specifically of our geographical bandwidth we are all victims or beneficiaries of how we were born. I seems that the Covid measures in the Bahamas have been more drastic yet less effective. Statistics for example show almost as much cases as Jàmaica and more deaths, yet from what I read there is a severe clampdown in movement and commerce combined with agressive policemen. Why is this?

Leaders should be collaborating but ......... I pray for the Bahamas. It's gonna be tough because most other island are better prepared to handle this. 1. Most have a vibrant homegrown food program. Food importation in Jamaica and Trinidad for example is a matter of taste and choice but both places can feed themselves. 2. Remittance infrastructure. most islands are setup for Inflows. The Bahamas is the converse. Plus I suspect there is not a culture of Inflows. God Bless Bahamas.

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joeblow 1 month ago

What's the point of becoming a republic, a pig in a dress is still a pig! Until we accept that all political systems are man made and therefore subject to being corrupted for the benefit of a few very little will change. What we need are leaders who actually have character, integrity and the national interest at heart not merely those who project the image that they do!

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sheeprunner12 1 month ago

You hit the nail right on the head ......... Titles do not make a leader "competent" or "honourable" ........... cowardly & hollow

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Dawes 4 weeks, 1 day ago

No doubt we will one day be a republic. Unfortunately people who think this will solve our problems will be disappointed. On the issue of crown land, technically this is owned by the Queen of The Bahamas (not the Queen of the UK), which means it is up to the country to do with it as they want. There is nothing stopping our Government from giving the land to every Bahamian today, as the Queen would not be able to stop it. But they won't, it is just easier to have people believe all the problems are caused by outsiders and not them.

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benniesun 4 weeks, 1 day ago

Let me spell it out clearly to you. The Crown in a business entity, and the queen is the face (visible front person) of that business entity. I guess that you actually believe that the Bahamian government can do something about aragonite mining in the Bahamas. In a prior post I gave out the position our politicians are in re:

"...our leaders are like kindergartners competing with a professional football team - the same team that designed and created the football game (the field, the football, and its rules). The turf of the field is composed of an intricate tapestry woven with the threads of the United Nations, Secret Services, The Crown, City States, The Bank for International Settlements (Basel), Mafia and Other Criminal Organizations, armed forces, International Corporations, NGOs, etc.... The kindergartners do not understand the relationships between those threads let alone understand their true functions. The football is made of banking, capitalism and the stock market. Our ignorant ones do not fathom the functioning of the ponzi scheme called capitalism and the casino called stock market; both controlled by the competition taking the roles of houseman and initiator."

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Dawes 4 weeks, 1 day ago

Sounds like if they that powerful its best not to go against them then

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themessenger 4 weeks, 1 day ago

'Many forms of Government have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.… '

Winston Spencer Churchill.

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longgone 4 weeks, 1 day ago

Seeing the becoming of a Republic as a panacea to removing all our problems is absolute rubbish---Until we are in a position to elect honest, reliable and competent individuals to run our Country we will continue to remain in a crock of s+it!!

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