Going down, down
Small group makes loud call for govt to answer the people’s plight
More than 100 placard-bearing demonstrators took to Bridgetown today to deliver a strong message to the Freundel Stuart administration: the country is going downhill fast and something needs to happen to stop the slide.
Led by political activist Robert “Bobby” Clarke, ordinary Barbadians joined with prominent people, including University of the West Indies lecturer Dr Rodney Worrell, pan-Africanist David Comissiong, St Michael East MP Trevor Prescod and consumer activist Malcolm Gibbs-Taitt, chanting: “The country ain’t well”, “Better must come” and “We want change now”.
Clarke told Barbados TODAY the lack of progressive policies under the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) and Barbados Labour Party (BLP) administrations had put the country on the wrong path.
But, he said, “in the last six years it has become worse”.
Clarke said that while people were laid off, Barbadians were being highly taxed; Government had adopted a “non-caring” attitude.
Clarke chastised Stuart for saying in Parliament on Tuesday, that when history is written his Government would be proven to be the best this country has ever had.
“You can imagine that attitude to the people of Barbados? People can’t eat, people can’t get work . . . and all of them carrying home more than $15,000 a month,” he said.
“People have to say to the Government, ‘You cannot continue this nonsense . . . . We’re not asking for a violent overthrow of the Government. The Government will fall if it is told by the people, ‘We can’t put up with this any longer’.”
Saying that the present administration had to be replaced by something different, Clarke added: “We don’t want this Government to fall and then another Government similar to this Government take over. We are talking about a whole new system of government.”
Clarke stated his case before the marchers moved off from Independence Square after 10 a.m., lustily singing as they marched through the City streets.
No More Lies, We Want Change Now. How Long Have We Been Silent? They Killing We With Taxes Integrity Now, and Bajans, Wake Up were among the chants and messages on placards they carried as they moved along The Wharf Road, Hincks Street, St Mary’s Row, through Mason Hall Street, Tudor Street onto Broad Street, across the Charles Duncan O’Neal Bridge and back into Independence Square.
What started as a modest crowd gradually built up as the march entered the busier sections of The City like Mason Hall Street, Tudor Street and Broad Street.
Several shoppers came out of stores to offer words of encouragement, as the more vocal members of the demonstrators led in expressing protest.
Along Broad Street where a larger number of shoppers stood on the sidewalk to witness the demonstration, an onlooker was heard saying “Go, David go!”, referring to Comissiong who was holding one of the placards aloft.
Clarke, who recently underwent knee replacement surgery in Cuba, led the demonstration until it reached Upper Tudor Street when he was taken away for a rest. He later rejoined the demonstration in .Independence Square
Today’s march attracted such individuals as University of the West Indies lecturer Dr Rodney Worrell, St Michael East MP Trevor Prescod, consumer activist Malcolm Gibbs-Taitt, former talk show host Marsha Hinds-Layne and People’s Democratic Congress leader Mark Adamson.
Asked to comment on the impact the demonstration would have had on a people who are usually seen as passive and conservative, Dr Worrell said: “This was a positive indication of when a people are misled by a group of misleaders in the trade union movement and the political class. It shows the heroic working people can rise to the occasion at this last moment without the kind of organization that would have normally gone into an event like this.
“This augurs well for the future and I hope that it is the beginning of things, because the people must work in their own interest, since the institutions that they had previously put faith in – the trade union movement and the political parties – have betrayed that trust,” he added.
Comissiong expressed a similar view.
He said those who got involved in the march had sent a strong statement to the people of Barbados that the country does not belong to any political party.
“It does not belong to any House of Assembly. This country belongs to the people of Barbados. If things are going wrong in the country, the people have a right and a duty to wake up, get up and do something about it. This morning’s activity is a demonstration of people’s power,” he said.
Meantime, Marsha Hinds-Layne, who is communications director of Refocusing Barbados, said Barbadians must stop being afraid to speak out.
“We are the cure we are looking for. We need to stand up and stand for something and protect the democracy we live in, as well as future generations. It is my future I am fighting for. I have had the opportunity to live and work in Jamaica and Guyana, and I have seen what it is when a people lose hope and feel there is no way out. We need to work to ensure that we do not reach that point.”
She argued that with better management and a more competent Government, Barbados would not be so bad off, even amidst a global recession.