Mia sees new pathway
How often as we seek to solve problems, or remove people’s pain, we tend to forget the big picture –– reconciliation with the way things were intended to be?
The 2014 town hall meeting organized by A Better Life For Our People –– New York Chapter, the New York arm of the Opposition Barbados Labour Party, was different in structure, perspective, and tone. Indeed, the presentation was consistent with the celebration of Caribbean Heritage Month. Maybe, the politically curious might have even wondered if a truce flag was being flown.
Imagine, for a moment, a picture of the Caribbean islands as a backdrop for a town hall meeting with the banner Hope, Faith And Trust. And the subplots are Functional Cooperation; Rationale Of Government Services Across The Caribbean; Employment Rights Tribunal; and Caribbean Human Rights Commission. Imagine the meeting beginning with this video: the Caribbean waters receding; the islands becoming one, and the world acknowledging the new centre of influence.
Finally, imagine it being mandatory that all TV and radio carry the event live, and newspapers being required to place their reports on their front pages . . .
The A Better Life For Our People event was not exactly like that last weekend.
Yes, the political conversation was carried live on 91.1 True Caribbean Radio, directed by Carl Moore (formerly of CBC, Barbados), and attracting a reported 14,000 listeners, but no such elaborateness.
Opposition Leader Mia Mottley, wearing white, more soberly set the tone for Talk Caribbean, theme of the town hall meeting: “I am here to talk Caribbean. It is easy to talk local, but if we are to create a sustainable pathway that will allow Caribbean people and Barbadians to keep their quality of life 20 years from now, our perspective has to become wider, and it is for that reason that I have chosen Talk Caribbean as the topic for this afternoon. All politics is definitely local, but leadership cannot be constrained by being local.”
Mottley noted that in the past, when communications were far different from what they are today, expressions of discontent had led to the concepts of Federation and Independence. Again today she argued, governments were all facing large fiscal deficits, and having difficulties in making ends meet.
“The difference as to whether we succeed or not will not depend just on policy changes, but how we govern and how we relate to those we govern. The reality is that several islands have had to restructure their debt. They all had to refinance because they were unable to carry the level of debt any more. Barbados remains right there and literally dodging one bullet after another.”
Mindful that the capacity of the creative genius in the people is the region’s greatest asset, Mottley warned that one should not put our people on the front line to bear the brunt of the adjustment, and suggested that the outcome of Caribbean elections over the recent years contained a message.
“The people are sending us a message. How we currently do business is no longer appropriate. I believe the Gaston Browne’s election as prime minister of Antigua signals a change, and within the next five to ten years you will see a new generation of Caribbean leadership . . . .
“A gas tank cannot run on fumes. It must be refilled. The fiscal crisis has compounded our problems, and rather than work collaboratively as a region, we continue to look inward for solutions. When last did a report on a meeting of Caribbean governments make the front page?”
Emphasizing respect for the wishes of the people and the virtue of hope at the centre of a 65-minute presentation, Mottley offered examples of functional Caribbean cooperation, and concrete ways to protect the rights of workers and people; and repeatedly restated the need to change the way in which things are done.
“If we don’t look for meaningful solutions, with every high wind we are going to sway and have to hold on. With faith, hope forms a platform for things to come.”
Talk Caribbean was held at St Leonard’s Church Hall in Brooklyn. Also present were Members Of Parliament Cynthia Forde, Dwight Sutherland and Trevor Prescod. It was coordinated by chairman of A Better Life For Our People, Jessica Odle-Baril.