Daily Archives: October 20, 2006

Caribbean Splash Waterpark Developer Kerins – Ugly American, Or Just Losing It?


Hello folks,

We’ve been meaning to say something about that terribly insulting advert last week by Caribbean Splash Water Park developer Mathew Kerins, and we’ve been a little busy with our day jobs.

Fortunately, Peter Simmons sent us the following open letter to Mr. Kerins, which says about 75% of what we were thinking. We’ll get to the other 25% as soon as we can, but meanwhile, here is Mr. Simmon’s open letter…

Mr Kerins, Your Slip Is Showing

Mr Matthew Kerins who wants to build something called Caribbean Splash Water Park adjacent to the Errol Barrow roundabout at Graeme Hall, seems to be a very angry man. 

Confronted by a barrage of cogent criticism and sustained opposition from residents and the wider public culminating in a petition to the Chief Town Planner, signed by over 420 residents who in its place, are proposing a National Park, he blew his cool. Mr. Kerins anger is perhaps understandable.  It is alleged that he has already spent almost BDS4million on an Environmental and Social Impact Study, has laid out other fees and has not even received outline planning permission. 

Sadly, his anger inspired him to place a large paid advertisement in the Advocate of October 11th and 12th captioned “LET THE TRUTH BE TOLD.”  All Barbadians should read this work of a kamikaze pilot.

He sets the tone for his polemic in the opening paragraph which states:” As my grandmother Sissy once said, if you want to catch snakes in a cane-field, then light a fire.” 

My initial reaction was how dreadfully insensitive this American man who wants to do business in our country can be towards loyal sons and daughters of this fair land guilty of nothing more than exercising their inalienable constitutional rights. However, since I have to ensure that my response remains publishable, I restrict myself to the following comment.  If the grandmother is still alive she should put young Matthew across her knees, his capacious frame notwithstanding, administer the rod of correction for his indiscretions and endeavour to bring him to some semblance of Christian understanding, if not full redemption.

His rave continues with an accusation against the NATION newspaper of “media manipulation” because he says, 99 per cent of every article it prints about the water park is “decidedly negative.”  I am sure that the NATION will defend itself. 

Let me say to Mr. Kerins, however, that if his claim is factual then the NATION may only be reflecting the strong national consensus and he should know precisely how to proceed. I find his assertion that he “did not come to Barbados to fight or be a punching bug ’{bag?}most instructive.  I ask you, Mr. Kerins:  Did you come here expecting the docile natives to genuflect in your awesome presence and say “go ahead, massa, all Barbadians are behind you, cane-field snakes et al.” 

Barbados is indeed not what Mr. Kerins oxymoronically termed “an elitist democracy.”  It is a robust democracy where, the citizens cherish certain fundamental rights and freedoms, including the right to freely and fearlessly express ourselves. It is in this spirit that we respected your right to bring an idea here and canvass it.  In the same spirit, the residents made it pellucidly clear at your church hall meeting and through the media that even if
Barbados wants a water-park, Graeme Hall is the most inappropriate location imaginable.    
We were strident, but always civil. Your reaction has been one of petulance and ugly fretfulness, culminating in your paid advertisement pregnant with pejoratives, including the following: “Heaven help us all if you and your cabal are forced to look down and watch Bajan families enjoying themselves at the water-park or perhaps it would be the appropriate penance for this friendly committee”. 

Mr. Kerins, as one of the members of the Friends of Graeme Hall Committee, I wish to leave you in no doubt that to categorize us as “a cabal,” is deeply, crudely and unpardonably offensive. It is the language of the jungle.

My Funk and Wagnalls dictionary (American) describes the noun “cabal” as: (1) a number of persons secretly united for some private purpose. (2) an intrigue; plot. (3) a group working together for some sinister or underhand purpose.(4) a gang suggesting criminal intent or blind  obedience of underlings to a leader.(5) a gang of hoodlums. 

Mr. Kerins, the context in which a word is used is a central consideration to those familiar with the use of language.  Readers may judge for themselves your intent in this instance. What I find painfully ironic is that ever since your petulant performance at the church hall, one colleague, against my continuing calls for restraint, has referred to him as the ”prototypical ugly American”.  Now, with the benefit of that paid advertisement I may have to reconsider my restraining influence. 

Let me ask Mr. Kerins the following questions:
(1)                Senators Ivan Lynton (BLP) and Frances Chandler (IND) have come out publicly, cogently and persuasively against the water park. Are they too snakes in the cane-   field running from your fire?
(2)                Members of Parliament for the area, Dr Duguid and Mr Edghill, have also taken a strong public position against the water park. Are they too snakes in the cane-field? 
(3)                Have your minders not told you that there are countries here in this region where, based on your published pejoratives, you would be told that we do not do business with your type, please take your bundle and go!
(4)                Have they also not told you that your ad is in bad taste and bad for business, since should you get permission to set up a water-park, you could hardly expect the native snakes in the cane-field to frolic in your waters for a fee, thereby guaranteeing failure. 
(5)                It is laughable that he accuse us of a land grab when we are seeking to use the people’s land for a national park to complement the Nature Sanctuary, and suggests a price of $20 per square foot when he is seeking to lease 17 acres of the same land at a peppercorn rent, 5 acres of which he proposes to take out of agriculture and put into concrete as the largest car park in Barbados to accommodate 2000 motor vehicles?     
(6)                And just as laughable is his advice to Hartley Henry and myself to choose our words more carefully?

In closing, lest you forget, Mr. Kerins, the Prime Minister of Barbados, on the Sunday Brass Tacks program dedicated to the water park issue said that the views of the residents must be heard and will be taken into consideration.  That is why we are confident that as long as there is a God in Heaven we shall, as you gratuitously stated in your advertisement, continue to enjoy our view from the ridge uninterrupted by grotesque carbuncles on the landscape.
Christ Church, Barbados


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