Welcome to the ‘banana republic’ of Barbados

I was really pressed for time this week but after a conversation with my wife a couple days ago, I had to share some of her sentiments.

Many of you know that Barbados never had much of an association, if any at all, with bananas. Whilst periodically, there has been some conversation about becoming a republic, that too has never fully taken root in the consciousness of the average Bajan.

My wife reminisced earlier this week about when we were growing up in the 80s and the imagery that the term “banana republic” conjured in our minds back then. She then remarked that Barbados is today exhibiting some characteristics that define the term “banana republic”.

My wife rarely engages in political discussion, so anytime she ventures near the subject, I listen very attentively as any husband ought to anytime his wife speaks. We both agreed that typical banana republics have dictatorships and/or autocratic leaders. Their will is imposed on the people with impunity and there is little by way of strong democratic institutions or civic society to act as a counterbalance.

It is true that Barbados has elections where people vote freely. One can also point to certain institutions which appear to keep a façade of democracy. However, when one looks deeper and critically analyzes certain actions, then one cannot help but conclude that many of our public officials behave in much the same way that authorities stereotypically behaved in banana republics.

Here are some examples. Only in a banana republic could officials refuse to give account of public expenditures under their watch without sanction from the leader.

Only in a banana republic too could an official be told in a court of law to return that which is not his and there is no sanction from the leader, much less be advised by said leader to get a lawyer.

Only in a banana republic would officials, whose responsibility is to serve the public interest, be allowed to own and operate businesses without sanction from the leader. Only in a banana republic could officials lease vehicles for their personal use from firms directly benefiting from Government contracts without some form of sanction to avoid even the appearance of any potential conflict of interest.

Only in a banana republic, too, could public monies not be used for the stated purpose and there is no sanction. Only in a banana republic would officials raise their salaries without any consideration for the suffering of others who have not had an ease in nearly ten years.

Further, only in a banana republic would a Government sell lands earmarked for poor people for commercial purposes.

Only in a banana republic too could a situation arise where an official is acting in a position for a number of years, oversees promotions within the institution and yet does not have the qualifications required for the top post.

On behalf of the people of Barbados, I humbly apologize for this shambolic state of affairs.

This has easily been the hardest article I’ve written to date. The level of introspection is heart wrenching when one thinks about how just ten short years ago in February 2007, we were getting ready to host the Cricket World Cup and there was such a buzz across this country.

There was a sense that Barbados could do anything it set its mind to and everyone was involved in some form or fashion. Back then, the country had purposeful leadership with a vision to move Barbados up to a different level and a higher standard of operating.

Our task as citizens now is to resolve very clearly in our minds that regardless of whether you vote or not, whether you support a particular political party or not, whether you like a particular personality or not, that we would never again allow our officials to lower our accepted standard.

As such, we must be prepared to make changes now to save our beautiful Barbados before it becomes a full-fledged banana republic.

(Ryan Straughn is an UWI Cave Hill and Central Bank of Barbados- trained economist and endorsed Barbados Labour Party candidate for Christ Church East Central. Email: straughn.ryan@gmail.com

20 Responses to Welcome to the ‘banana republic’ of Barbados

  1. Beresford Franklyn February 11, 2017 at 1:11 pm

    I just don’t understand it … why do reasonable people keep blowing in the wind … poor Barbadians do not have any leaders and rich Barbadians do not need any leaders…

    Reply
  2. Rawle Spooner
    Rawle Spooner February 11, 2017 at 2:03 pm

    Yip for once someone calls it like it really is Barbados is nothing but a rotten banana republic forget crap about democracy it’s a friggin dictatorship with zero accountability or transparency from slimy politicians and higher-ups in government.

    Reply
  3. jus me February 11, 2017 at 2:05 pm

    Yes but in 2007 its wasn’t Barbados as the driving force it was outsiders.
    Didn’t we add a cruise ship that was moored in the port to handle ALL THE EXCESS TOURISTS and received nary a won nothing ZILCH.
    I try to make just a few points trying to illustrate we NEVER have the REAL truth told to us by ANYONE.
    WE get stilted statements ,dependant of how the self interested , purveyor wants us to think using his or her alternative TRUTHS.

    Barbados IS NOT a DEMOCRACY or will ever BE a democracy.

    We are just some twisted conglomeration of devious SELF INTERESTS .

    We will deteriorate much much farther, as all of the involved factions, will never release whatever self interested hold they have, until it breaks under them and we all decend into the Abyss.
    Who do you wish to look at and deny my words.??
    The people of Barbados are lost, and finding a saviour is not something available to them, as the Cliques ,that have control of our society, will forever stand in their way.

    DONT be confused in your mind or betrayed by a false loyalty, were there an election tomorrow NOTHING would change.

    Do not even contemplate the thought ,that we will rise Phoenix like from the ashes.

    If you see a family wherin the father and mother are Criminal and prostitute, do you really expect from that environment the children to be of Virtuous intent and impeccable honesty.

    WE all learn from EXAMPLE.

    Look around you, WHAT EXAMPLES are we set.
    We are led by deviants, who require us to be as they are to unsure the continuation of a society that benefits only the twisted desires of these same deviants.

    They show NO compassion NO love NO good examples to we ,who should be their brothers.
    They squabble, and lie and manipulate , for NO OTHER Reasons than SELF ENGRANDISMENT and FINANCIAL gain.

    Our House is DIVIDED and a House DIVIDED cannot stand.

    Reply
  4. Santini More
    Santini More February 11, 2017 at 3:03 pm

    It is not a pretty picture…2007 feels like a century ago.

    Reply
  5. Glenn Carlo Theopholus Watson
    Glenn Carlo Theopholus Watson February 11, 2017 at 4:53 pm

    Omg, thought this meant the store or some facsimile was opening in Bim. Lok

    Reply
  6. Mikey February 11, 2017 at 6:34 pm

    Mr. Ryan Straughn, it is now your duty and responsibility to see that Barbados stops being the “banana republic” your wife has been seeing.
    Please keep the promises You and You Team say will be done in the name of the citizens of this country.
    Remember, there is need for POLITICAL CHANGE in Barbados.
    NEW THINKING, NEW BEHAVIOUS, INITIATIVES FOR THE ORDINARY MAN IN THE STREET TO OWN SHARES IN THE PRIVATIZATION OF BUSINESSES BOTH PUBLIC AND PRIVATE ENTERPRISES etc etc etc…

    Reply
  7. Joel C. Payne
    Joel C. Payne February 11, 2017 at 9:05 pm

    Shucks we need the non-partisan British to bring a new modern constitution and let us start again.

    Reply
  8. Ali Baba
    Ali Baba February 11, 2017 at 9:11 pm

    we gone pass ah banana republic by milesssssssssssssssssssssssssss

    Reply
  9. RC February 11, 2017 at 10:15 pm

    We were a Salt fish mentality for 14 years. Several projects started then seem to have run out of money. We were the laughing stock of the World in 2007 when we hosted a World Cup Cricket final in darkness due to the lack of lighting in our Stadium.
    Only in Barbados could we build a U.S. dollar Jail.
    Only in Barbados could we build an International Airport where you needed Umbrellas to check in due to lack of covered Arrival space.
    Only in Barbados could we build a multimillion hole in the ground in the middle of a National Park designated area to create a landfill.
    And the list goes on Mr Straughan.

    Reply
    • miche February 12, 2017 at 3:36 pm

      Dem fellows got convenient memories,,,,In don’t forget de problem struct building cross country road,,, ,,,Nor dem blue skip Trucks dat ,,One uh dum ministers uh health did own while holding the office uh health ministuh

      Reply
  10. seagul February 12, 2017 at 8:18 am

    Only in Barbados could we build an International Airport where you needed Umbrellas to check in due to lack of covered Arrival space….because of this thousands of middle-age Swiss Austrian and Italian tourists are turning away from the gem of the Caribbean….. Swiss Travel Agents.

    Reply
  11. Hal Austin February 12, 2017 at 11:03 am

    We are not a Banana Republic because we have no bananas.

    Reply
    • miche February 12, 2017 at 3:39 pm

      Dem fellows got convenient memories,,,,In don’t forget de problem struct building cross country road,,, ,,,Nor dem blue skip Trucks dat ,,One uh dum ministers uh health did own while holding the office uh health ministuh,,,,,,There is none so blind ,,as he who fail to see

      Reply
    • miche February 12, 2017 at 3:41 pm

      Hal,,, There are no Indians in Indian Ground,,, No Rocks in a rock cake,,,And no whites in white hall,,,but does that stop them from bearing the name?

      Reply
  12. miche February 12, 2017 at 3:26 pm

    Ryan seem to be what my grand father would call an Educated ,one eyed ,short memory, A.. ; he seem to forget when in a pass government, a minister of health also operated a fleet of trucks that were used in the healthy living arena.

    Reply
  13. miche February 12, 2017 at 3:28 pm

    Ryan seem to be what my grand father would call an Educated ,one eyed ,short memory, A.. ; he seem to forget when in a pass government, a minister of health also operated a fleet of trucks that were used in the healthy living arena.,WITHOUT BEING SANCTIONED,So lets talk banana republic ,,

    Reply
    • Tom February 12, 2017 at 4:27 pm

      miche, During the last two elections we were promised a break from the past. Is it not time to get on with it and bring about the level of integrity, transparency, open and engaging government that we were promised and is keeping with a more educated populace ? Surely we deserve better than what is on offer after eight years. The government certainly needs to be more accountable,more transparent, more democratic. it needs to secure its ends through a plethora of plural public. It needs to listen, to respond and to harness the energies of ordinary men and women. The disillusionment with politics,has developed on two levels, firstly the politicians have promised us many things and then told us that they are helpless to act, but second, whenever they do act , they seem not to comprehend the complexity of our visceral , flesh and blood concerns.

      Reply
  14. Hal Austin February 13, 2017 at 4:15 am

    miche,

    My apologies. I forgot that Barbadians, like Americans, do not do irony. It was meant was a joke, a play on words. Won’t do it again.

    Reply
  15. Helicopter(8P) February 13, 2017 at 11:29 am

    Remember who ever takes on the responsibility of guiding Barbados for the next five years has to have commitment, foresight, and accountability as the number one goals for the people by the people. All deficits must be address and remedial action taken on the balancing of the economy, so politicians and want to be’s that’s how the story unfolds.

    Reply
  16. Steve Queram February 14, 2017 at 4:13 pm

    Could be worse….. At least you aren’t stick with a Donald Trump like some of us!

    Reply

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