UK’s New Statesman Magazine: “Barbados Citizens Living On The Edge Of Darkness” Due To Violence

In our opinion, the New Statesman goes overboard in lumping Barbados in with Jamaica and Trinidad – but
author Darcus Howe does cause a few shivers to run up my back when he says that Barbados is where Trinidad was ten years ago with the onset of gang violence.

Come to think of it, did we ever hear of tourists being stopped and “tolls” demanded even five years ago? It is a daily occurrence in the north of our island now.

You may not agree with everything that Mr. Howe has to say, but I’ll wager you won’t disagree with much either.

Also quoted is Christ Church East MP Denis Lowe, who said this about violence in his constituency: “In the Silver Sands/Inch Marlow area there is now a proliferation of intercommunity rivalry [by which he meant gang violence involving guns and knives] . . . and it is reaching dangerous proportions. In Parish Land the same is true, and that has reached boiling point now, where residents are being affected by it.”

New Statesman: When Law and Order Break Down

31 Comments

Filed under Barbados, Barbados Tourism, Crime & Law, Traveling and Tourism

31 responses to “UK’s New Statesman Magazine: “Barbados Citizens Living On The Edge Of Darkness” Due To Violence

  1. J

    I read Darcus Howe’s article Thursday morning and what he has said about Barbados is mostly untrue. If as he said Barbadians are living on the edge of darkness how come it is midnight and my windows are open. No bars, no husband, no electronic security, no dog, no gun, no car. I walk about Barbados at all hours of the day and night and I am always safe and I am never afraid. I have lived like this in Barbados for more than 40 years and “no” I am not afraid and “no” I am not quivering on the edge of darkness. What edge? What darkness? What quivering? is Mr. Howe talking about.
    How much time did Mr. Howe spend in Barbados anyhow? Did he talk to the police? Did he compare statistics for Barbados, Trinidad and Jamaica? Does he know that Jamaica’s murder stats are 10 times greater than Barbados’? Does he know that in Barbados more than 98% of murders are solved? Does he know that in Jamaica the number is in the region of 50%? Does he understand that in Barbados people are still not afraid to testify in court? Does he understand that in Barbados pepole are still not afraid to serve on juries? A close relative served on a jury this year, a murder case, and she did her duty (the man was convicted) and she was and is not afraid.

    PLEASE TELL MR. HOWE THAT I DO NOT WANT HIM OR THE NEW STATESMAN INTERPRETING MY REALITY FOR ME.

    Barbados is not going to hell in a hand basket.

    If the Barbados Free Press is afraid to live as freely in Barbados as I do, then the Barbados free press is free to leave for safer shores. We welcome all and we detain none.

    Maybe the Barbados Free Press should get out of its car from time and walk about Barbados. Maybe BFP should get the bus sometimes, and the yellow mini buses and the ZR vans. Maybe the BFP should stop shutting itself in a cocoon come out of and mix with some ordinary unafraid Bajans.

    Look you the New Statesman, and Mr. Howe hasve smoke coming out of my ears!!!!!

    And to’besides I think that when all is said and done Mr. Howe is just a jealous Trinidadian who cannot understand why Trinidad does not work in spite of its oil wealth and Barbados in spite of its lack of oil and other wealth works fairly well. And “no” I do not hate Trinidadians. All but 2 of my paternal first cousins are Trinidadians.

  2. Red Lake Lassie

    The “tolls” that BFP speaks of are real and frightening. The unprecedented robberies of the 4×4 tour and shootouts aren’t yet Jamaica, but they aren’t the Barbados of ten years ago either. Things are changing and not for the better. The New Statesman is exaggerating but his warning is valid.

  3. Ady Hotep

    J – Darcus Howe has really got your back up.I wouldn’t worry about him too much,he tries to be controversial and if you see the rubbish he has on Channel 4 from time to time you will get the measure of the man.His home country England is more affected by West Indian criminals than Barbados.Ask him about the Trinidadian who kill a police in Nottingham or the 2nd/3rd generation Jamaicans who shoot and kill with impunity in Moss Side,London,Toxeth etc.Yes,Barbados will have problems in the future but hopefully we will not go the same way as some of the other islands.

  4. liz

    J
    The signs and symptoms are there. We can ignore them, like we ignore anything that we do not like to face, or we can try and stem the inevitable tide. We are being well taught by those from Trinidad, Jamaica, Guyana and the amazing “have to have” television.
    I was told once many years ago – join the real world of Barbados. I was offended at the time. Now I know what the gentleman meant. J, You may not be a part of it. You are lucky. I may not be a part of it, I am lucky – but it is there.
    A minister of government some years ago said “There are no gangs in Barbados”.
    He was not part of the real world of Barbados either.

  5. reality check

    wasn’t the former head of Customs just recently shot dead on the front of his porch?

    Aren’t we still waiting to hear who did it and why?

  6. permres

    I have to agree that the prognosis of our illness is a cause for concern, but prevention being better than cure let us hope we are in a position to do something about it. Government, police, community and church are all already involved. Good luck and God bless them all!

    The main focus of my post, however, having read the said article in the New Statesman, is to entirely agree with J. The article is ill-informed, biased and, I think, deliberately destructive of Barbados. I hope the Barbados Tourism Authority are aware of this article and make very strong representations to the New Statesman for even considering to publish it, in what is a very prominent magazine in the UK.

    I came to Barbados in 1996 as a permanent resident, and we installed burgler bars. Not because I thought Barbados was more criminal than the UK, but out of good sense, in the tropics since we keep our windows open all night. In the UK during a hot spell in the summer, the police are always warning residents not to leave their downstairs windows open at night! I walked around Bridgetown with a new briefcase in my hand, and was told by some of my relatives to be careful as it would get snatched. What nonsense! I take no more precautions here than I would anywhere when walking in town. Of course I would not go into red-light districts late at night, but then I wouldn’t in Liverpool, Manchester, wherever. Tourists are told to exercise normal precautions on the beach, in their hotel rooms, and on the street, normal for any developed regions of the world. Here in Barbados I think we are in one of the safest places on earth, considering its population density.

    In discussion with friends and family here some have suggested we should arm ourselves with a gun, at home. I said to my wife if it came to that we may as well go back to the UK and find a quiet little village to see out our retirement, where the need for such action is just as remote. I was once involved in planning an overland trip from the UK to India. When it was said we would need a gun, that was the end of my planned trip. As J says, if anyone does not like it here, then move.

    I think neighbourhood watch schemes are good, but we do have a small problem. Some Barbadians are a bit nosey, and they seem to want to know what we have got in our house, and since there are always individuals anywhere who cannot be trusted and such information might be seen to be too interesting to some, we are a little inactive in these schemes. Not that we have anything of any real value anyway, but a curious intruder might lead to something worse. Again, this could happen anywhere. The real problem, as I see it, is in the known crime districts, so the solution is simple – stay away. Leave the situation to the professionals, the social workers, community workers, police and the church. We contribute by paying our taxes and hope that these service providers are payed an adequate salary for their tremendous work. Corruption, of course, must be rooted out, so I am very disappointed with the DLP and their lack of intiative regarding integrity legislation.

  7. degap

    The sky is falling! For the 1000th time, the sky is falling!!!

    Obviously Mr Howe hasn’t been to Bim recently. People have been predicting the end of Barbados as we know it for almost a hundred years. First it was Coloureds in parliament, “whoever heard of such a thing. Lord, how will the country be governed?” With the advent of universal suffrage, the specter of illiterate cane cutters with the vote was more than the Anglo Saxons could bear? “The country will descend into barbarism.” Sir Grantley would have us revert to crown colony status rather than go over the precipice of independence with the young turks. At one point over the past 50 years the St. Lucians, Dominicans, Grenadians, and Guyanese have been caricatured as the Mongol hoards who will bring the glorious Bajan civilization to a crashing end. Precipice, precipice what?! Barbados isn’t going anywhere, and the only thing falling in Barbados are the blessings of the lord.

  8. Duppy Lizard

    Perhaps Mr. Howe should visit the BBC News site and read the news for the UK which is broken down into England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The amount of violence reported on a daily basis is truly astounding. But, with light sentences handed out to perpetrators the entire world is becoming less safe.

  9. Happy To Say

    I am happy to say that the social demographics in Barbados are not the same as in Jamaica or T&T. Our crime here in Barbados is highly unlikely to move to the frightening levels seen in those two Caribbean countries. For starters our small size and comparatively small population does not allow these types of criminals to carry out these hideous crimes and go into hiding for any length of time. Of course there is the occasional exception – i.e. Winston Hall. However, it must be noted that most REPEAT criminals are caught. For example the group that recently robbed Richie Haynes, Hans, etc were nabbed within an acceptably short time frame.

  10. Tony Hall

    I agree that things in Barbados are not the same as they were 10 years ago but the same can be said of any country. I believe Mr. Howe is writing out of jealousy. Barbados has always been the envy of many persons and I will leave it at that.

  11. Real Ting

    well well well I cannot believe that sensible people can get so riled when something negative is directed at them. there are two issues here: yes England has much more violent crime than here and no Howe has no right or basis on which he could make these assertions. Although his article is a shot in the dark it is reasonably close to reality in some areas of Barbados. There is a country district adjoining Grape Hall (BFP would know whaere i mean) where feuds with other northern districts occur and threaten the general populace; eg After the Speightstown Calvacade there was general melee with shots fired and brutal fights. nobody under 35 in this district makes complaints to the police ever. Its a case of see no evil hear no evil. Tourism related robberies and tolls do happen and more regularly than you would think. Most of the gang violence is never reported. there are enclaves like this throughout the island; Orange Hill, Maynards, Hillaby, Gall Hill, Ferniehurst, Free Hill, Pine, Carrington village, Back Ivy, Haynesville and many more where drug dealing is open, violence goes unreported and residents turn a blind eye to illegal activities.

    Having said all that these areas and Barbados in general are not very bad compared to other places when it comes to violence but the central point is that the general trend is towards increased violence & lawlessness and a general antipathy towards testimony because of the stigma of being classified an “informer”. It is a slippery slope with dangerous consequences if not arrested or reversed.

  12. Real Ting

    Liz you are correct ; there is a whole other world out there where people sip hennessy with their nines in their lap; where rifle shots ring out at community limes and nobody see or hear anything; where “informers must dead” ; where shots in the night are so common that people steupse and go back to sleep; where neighboring districts are at “war”; where elder family members who should know better watch weed being parceled out on their floors or tables and guns being stashed in the yard; where men gamble and sell drugs on the roadside from evening til morning with impunity because they know that if the police raiding they will get a call; where men tell you “bad man dont ketch AIDS, you only get Aids if you go with a frighten heart” where girls go to dubs and get high and/or drunk and get gang banged and go home happy declaring “the dub was hype”; where 14 and 15 year old girls are happy to run a drive thru on the block: blow jobs for any body in the line; I know, I have lived on the fringe and seen things that would jolt J’s idea of reality. I dont doubt J’s world but just because J hasn’t seen the other world doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. its there alright and becoming more prevalent daily.

  13. Bajanboy

    I’m surprised that no one has taken the time to register and comment on the article on the New Statesman website.

    Here is what I had to say:

    http://www.newstatesman.com/society/2008/05/body-bags-trinidad-police#reader-comments

  14. Hants

    I live in Toronto. In the last 24 hours there have been 2 shootings (1 dead) in areas I drive through almost daily.

    http://www.cfrb.com/node/727214

    I was in Barbados last week for 7 wonderful days with no problems other than stopping myself from over eating.

    Barbados is NOT in danger of becoming like Trinidad or Jamaica.

    The Police and the Defence force will stop any Gang activity that starts to get out of control.

    Then you will hear talk of Police brutality and lack of human rights.

    The BTA needs to be vigilant in defending Barbados against the distorted views of opportunistic journalists.

    Adrian Loveridge please respond.

  15. Adrian Loveridge

    Hants..

    I cannot give you a BTA response, that would have to come from our Chairman or his spokesperson.

    But from a personal perspective, I did not think the New Statesman article was totally balanced.

    To compare Barbados with Haiti and to a lesser extent Trinidad and Jamaica is not, in mind very fair, and yes I have visited all three countries.

    However, there is absolutely no room for complacency, and as we market to a rapidly ageing population, safety and security will become increasingly more important considerations when making destination choices.

  16. J

    The truth is that if you stay away from drug using and drug dealing (and sexually jealous partners) you are mostly safe in Barbados and elsewhere in the world. Some of us and not just the “ghetto youth” like to use drugs; and some of us and not just the “ghetto youth” like to benefit from selling drugs; and we hope to do these things and still have the good family and the good society. But the hard, hard, hard, hard truth is that we cannot have it both ways. “Easy” drug money and the good society and good family life are an impossible combination. Each day we can decide whether to buy to sell or touse illegal drugs or not. The choice is ours always.
    To Real Ting: The bad boys ain’t kill me but I nearly de’d laughing when you seemed to suggest that I am a Hennesy sipping “nines” on my lap kinda person. (never tasted Hennessy in me life. I am more of a local brews kinda person. I have never had a gun and I don’t want one. I am an ordinary Bajan who ain’t afraid to go into Haynesville nor Hillaby nor Grape Hall, and you know why? The bad behaved men and women in those areas (and most of the men and women in those areas are NOT bad behaved) know that there is no way I’ll buy illegal drugs from them and so they keep their distance from me not because they ‘fraid of me (or I of them) but because they know that I will NEVER NEVER buy what they are selling.

    This is the truth.

    Here endeth the lesson.

  17. Hants

    We should not get complacent but rest assured that the Police and Defence Force will deal with the Gangsters before the situation gets out of control.

    Barbados is still a safe place to live and visit.

  18. Owl

    I think that when all is said and done Mr. Howe is just a jealous Trinidadian who cannot understand why Trinidad does not work in spite of its oil wealth and Barbados in spite of its lack of oil and other wealth works fairly well
    ………………………………………………………………………………………………………….
    This sums up the Howe article. Trinidad, Guyana ,Jamaica and Haiti are more or less failed states. Barbados is not in fact its the number one developing country in the world. Dowe the liar should be made to interview Tony Blair for his views on Barbados.

  19. Judging by the comments for and against Darcus’ article, quite frankly I fall short of condemnation on his part.

    The mere fact the MP for Christ Church East made the published remarks leaves one (Darcus or anyone else) to interpret his utterance in a manner that can compare Barbados with the other islands mentioned in the article.

    However, in my view I think the Christ Church East MP committed the cardinal sin by not being more specific.

  20. Sargeant

    Normally I wouldn’t get excited about a column like this except that we as bajans have to be very careful in how we are perceived by the rest of the world. The writer has taken a quote from a politician and god only knows what the full extent of the quote was, in other words there may have been a qualifier i.e. Dr. Lowe may have added “but in general we have a peaceful island”, but then the writer’s point about Barbados would be lost wouldn’t it?. Barbados is not without problems but they pale in comparison to what is going on in the other Caribbean islands with whom we have been so generously included.

    BFP is also guilty of hyperbole with their statement that “Come to think of it, did we ever hear of tourists being stopped and “tolls” demanded even five years ago? It is a daily occurrence in the north of our island now.” Come on BFP daily occurrence? I spent two months in B’dos recently and there was one attempted incident which generated an APB all over the airways. I also remember that some youths were arrested shortly afterwards.

    To illustrate my concern about other people perceptions of us. Sometime in the fifties or sixties a British writer came to Barbados and saw some people with Elephantiasis. He returned to England and wrote an article in which he termed it “Barbados leg”. The name has stuck and if you gooogle “Barbados Leg” you would see that it is another description of Elephantiasis.

    Edge of darkness indeed

  21. Tell me Why

    wasn’t the former head of Customs just recently shot dead on the front of his porch?
    ………………………………………………………………………………….
    Reality Check. The person was a former Immigration Head.

  22. Extorting tolls is common in certain parts of St. Lucy. I have been stopped nearly every time I have visited. A man jumps out of the road in front of your car, and stops you. He may tell you that the bridge is out, beg for a lift, or give you driving directions, but soon he will be demanding money.

    These men are aggressive and will push their heads and shoulders in through the window.

    But yes, Barbados is a LOT safer than St. Vincent, Trinidad or Jamaica.

  23. Living in Barbados

    Darcus Howe, whose name sounds very similar to “darkest hour”, is provocative and controversial; always was and perhaps always will be. I remember him well from my student days. He has opened many eyes to the realities of life for black people in the UK and Caribbean.

    He is right that Barbados is where Jamaica was … but not 10 years ago. In terms of crime Bim feels like Jamaica more than 30 years ago, way before the wave of politics-related and drugs-related killings took hold in the bigger, northern isle. My impression from living in Jamaica in the late 1950s and visiting it from the mid-1970s through now is that in social and criminal terms the distance is about 25-40 years. To me, what that means is that you need to learn from the lessons of Jamaica and do all possible to avoid their repetition in Barbados. Which means not being complacent, because many factors can accelerate the growth of social problems and crime. Size helps but it would not save Barbados. Economic progress helps build social stability and Barbados has on the surface kept well ahead in that race. But as The Bahamas is finding with its rapidly rising murder rate, that is not enough to arrest the growth of crime.

    Solving crimes promptly and maintaining public confidence in the police and justice system are important pillars. Keeping politics and crime separate are also vital. If these pillars start to crumble, then look out.

    Barbados is nowhere near its darkest hour, Darcus Howe, but thanks for shedding some light on what may lie ahead down the road.

  24. theNickster

    Are you people serious?!? I read this article (twice) to somehow see what all the harping was about. More of this “oh don’t lump us in with those other places”, “we keep out dirt in closet” crap.

    Most of the references were to other islands and most of the examples were from other islands. For better or worse we are part of the caribbean and guess what?, crap happens here and other places, you don’t want the precious tourists finding out? tough!

    BTA to do something about it? like what a gag order? you can’t censor every swinging dick because they said something you don’t like. Basing the economy on tourism is a gamble at best in these times and fragile as it may be its not going to fold over a few sentences vaguely mentioning this place (unless it says plague outbreak travel advisory).

    This “blinders” mentality is what i find most disturbing. Though you may not have problems bragging about windows open after midnight do realize that some of your countrymen cannot make the same boast (so do spare some sympathy for them), and this place is only 166 square miles so take that into your little equation about this “paradise”.

  25. J

    Dear Hants:

    I agree with you 100% that “the BTA and other Barbados government diplomatic missions have to be vigilant in defending Barbados against the DISTORDED views of OPPORTUNISTIC journalists.

    No Nickster: We do not have blinders on. We do have our eyes wide open. We do live in the real world. And “no” it is not about hiding bad news from the precious tourists. You may be surprisd but it is not about tourists at all. It is about us, and it is about this place that we choose to call home. It is about our children and our grandchildren.

    The tourists may have some place but it is always a second place. What is best for us always comes first

    But we will NOT sit down and have any lying Trinidadian/British journalist slander the good name of this country which we love so much.

    Darcus Howe has to know his place. His place is NOT to tell us how to be.

    Most of us unlike Darcus Howe have never been gangsters.

  26. ROBOT

    reality check

    wasn’t the former head of Customs just recently shot dead on the front of his porch?
    ——————————–>

    NO -it was the former chief immigration officer
    mr hutson

    rumour has it that the bullets were not meant for him but happened because of mistaken identity.

  27. Bimbro

    Post submitted by PAT (then known as ‘Bajans’), to the Nation’s Forum some time ago!

    For anybody interested in objectivity and truthfulness, where this subject is concerned although I don’t expect that to be many!

    *********************

    DeSoldier, this would not have been in any mainstream newspaper. It
    happened in the late 80’s or early 90’s. (If you were here, you
    could have been training at Borden, Shiloh, Chilliwack, Summerside, or
    Petawawa.)

    My friend was President of the Barbadian Association of Toronto. He
    and the head of the Guyanese and the Trinidadians in that City, made an
    appointment with the Toronto Chief of Police, where they made presentations
    and explained their concerns. The Chief was sympathetic and realised that
    they were maligning all blacks in the City. The word went out to
    differentiate/identify.

    When the police started saying a Jamaican, or Trinidian or Bajan was
    arrested for such and such, the local Jamaican newspaper here (Ottawa), the
    Spectrum, was up in arms and wrote an editorial castigating the Toronto
    Chief for racism and for singling out Jamaicans. Why? At that time, it
    was always a Jamaican. His thrust was country of origin should not be
    mentioned. We saw through that, because when a country is mentioned, it is
    easy to collect statistics. This is information no respectable Jamaican
    wanted the public to know.

    **********************

    Keep wearing the rose-tinted-glasses Barbadians youre obviously, happier PRETENDING that what I’m saying is untrue!

  28. canadian bajan man

    you old people really need take your heads out asses and smell real the barbados.I was visting the
    island around chrismas the island is rife would drug dealing each and every where and in every district not just with dope like you old people like to call weed with crack cociane and ecstacy and onetime i was riding the bus in a remote part of the
    island i seen the plain clothes police get on the bus
    in broad daylight and fire there sevice weapons at
    suspects that cleary unarmed that where siting down under a tree and this did not make the news.
    I have a family member that is on the police force
    he tells me that there are number shootings and chopings everyday in barbados that dont make news he is not a front line oficer he works with the major crime unit.You old people dont out a alot
    in the southern part island which the gentelmen is
    talking about there gang markings every where.So dont be quick to blame other island and for real ting your dead on

  29. akabozik

    Black friends of my from Arizona were demanded of a toll last week in St. Lucy. Six or eight bully boys sitting on the corner and they driving a hired auto with a sticker saying who hired from.

    Usually the tolls are reserved for whites but not no more.

  30. Gabby

    I like your response and I just have some idea what the debate is about. I will try to find the article and add my “2cents.”

  31. Gabby

    Finally an honest person. Since I was in secodary school, it was known that Barbados doesn’t report all of its crime for fear of losing visitors. This is what we studied in POB class (Principles of Business). I think people need to wake up and stop bragging about the so called safety.

    Barbados is a tiny island in comparison to Jamaica and T’dad. You can drive the island in a day. It is primarily flat… not many forested areas in which to hide. It doesn not have a complexed and diverse society as does Trinidad and Jamaica and has a very small island population in comparison. It may not have the magnitude of crime but Barbados has crime– and what is terrible it is on the hush. I have visited the island many times and even Barbadians warn me of certain areas. So we as people should not sit on our laurels and raise haughty heads as if nothing is ailing Barbados. It is not a perfect place as is any other Caribbean island. we need to let go of these eurocentric images.