Monthly Archives: January 2006

Barbados Politics: Too Much Confusion, So Much Frustration

Our friend Titilayo runs Gallimaufry*, “A blog about nothing in particular.” This week, SHE (corrected!) sums up the political feelings of many Bajans with his post “Too Much Confusion, So Much Frustration“…

All of which just leaves me shaking my head. As I said, I try not to get tie up with politics, but I found myself unaccountably let down by Mr. Mascoll’s move to the ruling party… I had always thought of him as a man of some integrity, a man who would be directed by principle and not by political expediency. And now, much like Jeannette Layne-Clark, I find myself somewhat dismayed and disappointed.

Gallimaurfry reader Sungoddess commented… “My concern is that there is no real opposition in Barbados. It’s very close to a political dictatorship, because there is no opposing view.”

Yes, indeed, Sungoddess. Yes, indeed.

*Gallimaurfry: A hotchpotch, jumble or confused medley.


Filed under Barbados, Politics & Corruption

Self-Destruction of Barbados Opposition Could Impact Foreign Investment

Leonard Shorey has an interesting piece in The Barbados Advocate today, wherein the dear doctor writes about the dangers to democracy when the opposition tries to muzzle its members and self-destructs at the same time.

The highlight…

(We need to remain) constantly alert to the risk of encroachment on our rights as citizens of Barbados.

We are often inclined to say, “It can’t happen here”, but we would do well to remember Mr. Burnham’s Guyana, where citizens increasingly tolerated such encroachments until, eventually, protest was made only at great personal risk. We must not let this happen here. We ought therefore to be very concerned about any action which would appear to place unjustifiable constraints on the speech and/or actions of citizens, Parliamentarians or not. Consequently, a party which would seek to do this to its own members must inevitably cause one to wonder what it might seek to do if elected to govern the country.

Moreover, the manner in which Mr. Clyde Mascoll was removed, indeed ousted, from office, will for a long time leave a bad taste in the mouths of Barbadians, including many who are not party members. Of even greater concern is the absence of a strong and well-functioning Opposition party; something that is absolutely essential to the proper maintenance of our democracy.

Full article here.

Missing from Doctor Shorey’s analysis is the fact that any instability in the political system of Barbados – even lack of effective opposition – causes concern to offshore investors.

Already there are some foreign governments and investors who are looking at Barbados a little more closely than is desireable (1). The perceived chaos in Bajan opposition politics is also being reported in the foreign media (2) and brings another element of negative attention to our country.

We can argue about politics, rights and societal issues in private all we want, but the minute we take our conflicts to a public stage, we must remember that the world watches us far more than is justified simply by the beauty of Barbados and its people. We do not have a self-sustaining economy without foreign investment, and stability is the life blood of foreign investment. All politicians and politicos would be wise to consider that before continuing the verbal slug-fest on public radio.

(1) Examples of Negative Foreign Attention Towards Barbados

Wall Street Journal Writer quotes “Gems of Barbados” sources…

“Imagine the Prime Minister appoints a board to run a private-company, Hotels & Resorts Limited; the board appoints his best friend to the post of CEO without his knowledge; he allows over $190 million to be spent on the project; and then proceeds to use taxpayers’ money to pay off the company’s debt.”

The Hollinger Scandal in the New York Times…

A unit of Hollinger International made bonus payments totaling $3 million in December 2000 to Conrad M. Black, Hollinger’s former chairman, and two of the company’s other top executives, wiring the money to the Barbados unit of a Canadian bank. The complex transaction, recorded in documents described by people…

Recent speech in Canadian Parliament…

As a result of the tax convention between Canada and Barbados, Barbados has become the third ranking destination, after the United States—understandably—and Great Britain, for direct Canadian investment. If I remember correctly, the amount going to Barbados is around $25 billion or $30 billion.

Is that small island capable of supporting such large investments in terms of manufactured goods or services? Certainly not. We are not fools, and neither is the general public.

Full text here.

Barbados’ Credit Rating In Danger of Downgrade

Unless Barbados reduces both its pace of government spending and its pile of national debt, its high credit rating may be reduced in the next 12 months.

That negative forecast, warning if you will, for 2006 has come from Standard & Poor’s, the world’s leading sovereign credit rating firm on Wall Street.

Standard & Poor’s Article here.

(2) International Media Coverage – Mascoll Affair

Caribbean News: Former Barbados Opposition Leader Seems Set to Join Ruling BLP

Trinidad & Tobago Express: Bajan Opposition Leader Resigns, Joins Ruling BLP

Jamaican Observer: Ex-Bajan Opposition Leader Heading to Arthur’s Gov’t

Unsheathing the Political Carving Knives


Filed under Barbados, Business, Offshore Investments, Politics & Corruption

My Barbados Blog asks “Is Barbados Over-Priced?”

Our blogging friend Linda Thompkins runs “My Barbados Blog” – a travel and vacation blog that is well-written and always interesting. While Linda’s primary focus is Barbados travel and tourism, she also occasionally looks at economic and social issues.

Here is a gem (“GEM”… get it?) from her post “Is Barbados Over-Priced?“…

But is Barbados over-priced? Well sure it is, but what good things aren’t these days! The Barbados government has gone to great length to court the rich and famous who have been buying million dollar properties like the average person buys house wares. And yes, this has driven up the price of real estate and made it difficult for the average Bajan to keep up their lifestyle.

Courting the rich and famous has made more than a few potential vacationers consider another Caribbean island for their vacation after getting a quote. Can Barbados Keep Up This Pace? Well there’s one thing for sure, as any Bajan will tell you, “there’s only so much of this rock”! Sooner or later, large plots of land will run out. An island only has so much space.

“…there’s only so much of this rock…”

And therein lies the problem. When the government of the day takes the small parcels of lands of ordinary working Bajans for “super projects” the likes of Flyovers and Polo Fields and does not pay the realistic value for the land, it is unjust.

When certain relatives or associates of politicians then profit from the land takeover, or even end up owning the land, that is theft, political corruption and breach of the public trust. Pure and simple.

post by Shona


Filed under Barbados, Politics & Corruption, Traveling and Tourism

Where is the Barbados DLP Website?

DLP WebsiteWhat happened to the Barbados Democratic Labour Party – DLP – website? It has been “under construction” for so long that it seems obvious that the DLP leadership has no concept of the power of the internet. Perhaps with a little work, they can bring the party into the mid-1990’s!

“Under Construction”… just like the DLP itself.

If the DLP cannot get itself together enough to even put up a website, how on earth are the people of Barbados supposed to view them at a viable government-in-waiting?


Filed under Barbados, Politics & Corruption

Barbados Opposition Leader Comes Out Swinging: however…

Newly appointed Leader of the Opposition and MP for St. John, David Thompson, was impressive Wednesday before the media – but our sources say that he was even more impressive in a late Tuesday evening meeting with certain unnamed but well-funded admirers who have previously supported the government!

Does this meeting fortell advance notice of a change in the wind? Or, are certain people just hedging their bets? And the most important question of all… will Mr. Thompson (whom this writer greatly respects) remain true to the principles he so ably espoused earlier that day? Will he be able to ignore the siren call of easy money that has corrupted so many in the current government?

Whatever happens, 2006 promises to be one of the most interesting years in politics that has been seen in Barbados for at least a decade.

posted by Robert


Filed under Barbados, Politics & Corruption

Open Intelligence Database

Barbados Free Press is much more than just another website about Barbados. It was designed from the start to be an Open Intelligence Database: a valuable tool for anyone who needs an insider’s knowledge of Barbados, the people and the invisible networks that often impact life, politics and investments here on the island.

Every article we publish is archived and linked under various categories – and is “free form” searchable by any of our visitors. Outside web links and open sources from the Internet are also permanently archived so that linked sources will always remain available even if the outside website has been taken down.

Our blog format with reader comments also means that anyone can add to the knowledge base. “Open Intelligence” means exactly that: Open and available to all. As the months and years pass, Barbados Free Press will become a major resource for those who love Barbados, and like us, believe that knowledge, transparency and accountability are fundamental to a healthy democracy.

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Filed under Barbados, Business, Crime & Law, Culture & Race Issues, Environment, Island Life, Offshore Investments, Politics & Corruption, Traveling and Tourism

Barbados Tender Process Corrupt?

The $120 million dollar flyover project announced last year by Barbados Minister of Public Works Gline Clarke continues to be the subject of rumours and questions about the lack of open process in the awarding of the contracts.

As usual, Oliver Jackman of The Nation was right on the money when he commented

“…there has been no official denial of allegations that the project was not put out to tender. If these allegations are accurate, there arises the question of the legal propriety of the ministry’s actions.”

“…it does seem to me that democratic governance in Barbados would benefit from the appearance of a whistle-blower or two.”

Barbados cannot afford to have international investors wondering about how public contracts are awarded, or how much of their money will end up going into illegal kickbacks. As citizens, we should not have doubts about where our money is ending up.

“Follow The Money” has always been good advice when investigating corruption. At Barbados Free Press, we intend to do exactly that.


Filed under Barbados, Business, Politics & Corruption

Prime Minister Owen Arthur Opens a New Can of Paint – To Cover Old Corruption

After 11 years in power, Barbados Prime Minister Owen Arthur announced he is trying to make some changes to his government and his party – but is this a major rebuild, or just a new coat of paint?

Prime Minister Arthur sounded a note of caution in his message last October to the Barbados Labour Party’s annual conference; in effect, warning some of his colleagues to stop misusing their political office and connections for “personal material gain.” Some at the conference were surprised when he chided them for “an ostentation of manner, unwillingness to accept sacrifice and unwillingness to stay connected” to the party’s founding values.

Barbados Free Press notes that certain BLP politicos and their family members shouldn’t act so surprised. For years, more than a few government contracts have been awarded to a small cartel in a rotation that seems designed to foster the illusion of openness while rewarding certain BLP supporters in their turn.

One can just imagine some of the back-room conversations during the past decade…

“You take the contract this time. I’ll take it next time. You take this piece; my son will take that piece. Your nephew should purchase that property, and my brother will purchase it from you next summer.”

All of which brings us to the issue of contract tenders for the new flyover and highway construction projects – and the lands that will be needed for these and future projects.

Minister of Public Works Gline Clarke appears to be all excited about this major undertaking, and with over US$100 million at stake, who wouldn’t be? (Note for the future – the Government estimate for this one contract is US$60 million, but our sources tell us that the private number being tossed around is US$100 million: thought to be likely after a few more as-yet-unannounced projects are added to the pie. Remember when it happens – you read it here first.)

3S Structural Steel Solutions LLC, of Maryland USA won the major contract for the flyovers, but many Bajan companies will also get a piece of the pie. CO Williams Construction, Rayside Construction and some others are rumoured to be among the lucky lottery winners.

The flyover project has not been without controversy already. With the project now proceeding, and in an effort to smooth the waters, the Deputy Chief Technical Officer of the Public Works Ministry, Cheryl Bennett-Inniss, announced that “Public Consultations” will now take place along with a “public relations programme.”

The last thing that Barbadians need is a “public relations programme” instead of an open accountability about where every dollar is spent.

Prime Minister Arthur is correct: the cartel must stop misusing their political offices and connections for “personal material gain.” Only time will tell if the Prime Minister is really serious about stopping the corruption, or whether, like a used car salesman, he really means “Give her a new coat of paint and some sucker will buy it.”


Filed under Barbados, Politics & Corruption

Welcome to Barbados Free Press

Welcome to Barbados Free Press

If you have stumbled upon our web site, well, we’re not quite ready yet. Give us another few days to get organized around here… maybe even a week or so if our co-editor doesn’t stop bringing a case ‘a Banks to work every day. Could be worse, I guess – could be rum. Now if we could just figure out how to meet the Banks Girl somewhere other than on the brewery website…

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Filed under Barbados, Business, Crime & Law, Island Life, Offshore Investments, Politics & Corruption, Traveling and Tourism, Uncategorized