Daily Archives: July 10, 2007

24,000 Bajans Living In Poverty – Why?

Friends at Barbados Free Press:

I was frankly quite shocked to read the front page story in the Barbados Advocate today Poverty, Abuse Still a Problem and especially the conclusion ‘Around 8.7 per cent of Barbadians are living below the poverty line’.

If you take the current population of Barbados at around 278,000 persons that effectively means over 24,000 are ‘living below the poverty line’.

For a ‘developed country’, I find this statistic frightening.

I do not know how the United Nation’s Development Programme defines ‘poverty’ but there must to be comparable criteria.

I am just curious what the average BFP reader thinks?

Best Regards

Adrian Loveridge

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Filed under Barbados, Politics & Corruption

Barbados Slavery Reparations Conference – How Much Money Can We Grab This Time? … Will The Donor Nations Ever Question How We Spend The Loot?

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Will The “Donor Countries” Ever Be Given Any Credit For Good Works Since Slavery?

Will The “Receiving Countries” Be In Any Way Held Accountable For Using Reparations Wisely?

Ah, theory. Pure academic theory is wonderful because it is totally divorced from the nitty-gritty reality of implementation. So it goes with all the discussion on slavery reparations – and, new to the discussion – reparations for centuries of Colonial abuse in Africa. We’ll all be talking for another hundred years and no reparations agreement will be reached – but that doesn’t matter because the reparations payments have been flowing for years and will continue to flow just as long as we don’t kill the goose.

Or, much more worrysome: the goose wises up about the pilferage, wastage and corruption that results in only a tiny portion of the reparations ever reaching the intended beneficiaries, the ancestors of Bajan slaves.

The commemoration of the Bicentenary of the British Abolition of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade is an important moment in history as we reflect how things were, how they are now, and how our western society has progressed when compared with those societies that still engage in legal or socially-acceptable slavery. But the 200th anniversary also presents a convenient occasion to shake the trees a little harder than usual and perhaps have a good harvest of coconuts fall to the ground.

The African leaders know this. Ikael Tafari knows this… and so does our Prime Minister, Owen Arthur.

Whatever your opinion of Owen Arthur, nobody could ever say that he missed an opportunity to grab free money. Whether from China, the USA, the EU or Britain – Owen knows how to put on the squeeze and still look like a dignified Head of State. Attaboy, Owen!

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When Making A Successful Pitch, Staging Is Everything

Prime Minister Owen Arthur “initiated a dialogue” about slavery reparations when he spoke in Hull, England last March. As a follow-up, Barbados will be hosting a Bicentennial Global Dialogue from August 21st to 30th – which, according to Ikael Tafari of the Commission for Pan-African Affairs – “will focus on making reparation for centuries of exploitation of African people on the continent and in the diaspora, beginning with the infamous era of the slave trade and slavery.”

In my opinion, the continuing talk and research and presentations at the start of the upcoming conference are really only the pate and champagne before the main course – which is… how much money can we squeeze from the European Union and Britain during this round of talks?

Dr. Tafari realises this too. As he says in his Nation News editorial

“But the dialogue is no mere talkshop. On August 29 there will be a breakfast for the Reparations Caucus followed by an extensive Business Confab, bringing to the table a number of local, regional and international funding and donor agencies, along with the African Union, CARICOM and the European Union to present ten major developmental project proposals for funding and mentoring over the next three years.”

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Wow… this “dialogue” could be very lucrative!

Tafari and Arthur should be congratulated because it also comes such a short time after we hit up the European Union for some US$20 million or thereabouts for “sugar industry redevelopment” (One could easily say that the EU sugar money is nothing more than slavery reparations. There really is no business case for “assisting” a tiny, primarily black Caribbean nation by giving us $20 million to do with as we see fit.)

Yes, we will probably do well in this round of moral extortion, ah, negotiations.

The World Is Changing – Governments Might Have To Account For How Reparations Are Spent

All of this money flowing in is, in part, based upon the guilt felt by some of the nations that were involved in the North American slave trade over the past three centuries. Much as Germany still considers it a moral duty to assist Israel in an attempt to somehow makeup for the past, the European countries and to a lesser extent, the USA, believe they have a moral duty to assist former slave nations and Africa.

So even if all the involved nations are never able to arrive at a “just” amount or solution that would financially compensate for all past wrong, the European nations will continue to remain a lucrative source of ongoing “reparation” funds for the foreseeable future. The only problem in the works is that the donor nations are starting to get the bright idea that they should be able to see where and how the reparations money is being spent. If the reparations are being stolen by corrupt governments, wasted or misused – if there is no measurable improvement in peoples lives as a result of the continued reparations – there will be increasing resistance by the citizens of the donor nations to sending their tax dollars to former slave colonies like Barbados.

Our Little Bajan Secret

Readers might recall that when we last hit up the European Union for the millions to “reinvent” our sugar industry, there was a big controversy over the EU trying specify how the aid money would be spent. Well, Owen Arthur hit the roof over that one! Sources tell us that the EU eventually caved in, changed its reports and feasibility studies – and fired a couple of contracted ethanol consultants so as not to incur the wrath of the PM. (The EU ethanol consultants had written that Barbados’ ethanol plan was not feasible.) The diplomats were then able to give Arthur the money with no strings attached – exactly as he wanted.

But that was just a little taste of what is coming down the road as the British and EU citizens increasingly call for accountability for their foreign aid dollars. We also saw some of that sentiment in Canada where a Senate Committee concluded that Canada’s gift of $12.4 billion dollars in foreign aid to Africa has been “entirely wasted”. Similar comments have been coming from American citizens and lawmakers and even Africa…

Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo says corrupt African leaders have stolen at least $140 billion (£95 billion) from their people since independence. The World Bank estimates that 40 per cent of wealth created in Africa is invested outside the continent. Even the African Union, in a stunning report last August (2004 ed), claimed that Africa loses an estimated $148 billion annually to corruption – or 25 percent of the continent’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Rather than plug the huge hemorrhage, African leaders prefer to badger the West for more money. And the West, blinded by its own racial over-sensitivity and guilt over the iniquities of the slave trade and colonialism, obliges. This is the real tragedy of Africa.

… from Africa Unchained (article here)

No Accountability Or Transparency By The Barbados Government Puts Foreign Aid At Risk – Except For China’s Money

The corrupt Government of Barbados has not introduced integrity legislation, conflict of interest rules or freedom of information requirements in 13 years of majority rule – nor will it. Owen and the gang have a free hand to do with our monies as they see fit – without accountability. Why would they want to change that?

This tin pot sugar republic “steal all you can” mentality is wearing thin with the nations that provide foreign aid dollars to Barbados – except, of course, China. China has no pretense about wanting to “do good” or make “reparations” – it simply wants to purchase political influence in the Caribbean and could care less how much of its foreign aid ends up in the offshore accounts of Barbados government ministers.

So let’s make this reparations dialogue a good one. Ikael and Owen… we’re counting on you to grab all you can before the tap runs dry. Just try and leave a little for the good of the Bajan citizens, OK?

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What’s In It For Those Still In Chains Today?

You will also note that reparations discussions never target those Middle Eastern, Asian and African nations that played key roles in the trade of African slaves. That is a strategic decision based on the fact that these nations would tell us to “stick your claims where the sun don’t shine.”

What will the conference do to address contemporary slavery, to free the hundreds of thousands still enslaved in Africa and the Middle East?

Nothing. Nada. Zilch.

During this conference, Ikael Tafari, Owen Arthur and the African leaders will be much too busy trying to grab money for their own priorities than to devote any effort at all to free the millions of our fellow human beings who are still enslaved.

Spend The Reparations Money To Free Today’s Slaves

Free The Slaves

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Filed under Africa, Barbados, Culture & Race Issues, Politics & Corruption, Slavery