Watchers of news media and political elites stunned as one of Barbados’ major newspapers apparently ceases censorship of story.
For years the oldstream Barbados news media has censored and politically-spun stories about the environmental and foreign investment disaster at the Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary and the Canadian eco-tourism investor who is claiming mistreatment by two successive Barbados governments. This censorship and agenda-driven reporting by the Barbados news media includes…
– completely ignoring major story developments, including the launching of an international treaty complaint.
– re-wording nature sanctuary press releases to remove references to government incompetence or wrongdoing.
– failure to fairly report the central issues being contested between the government and the sanctuary and how these issues impact the Bajan public.
– failure to report the government’s removal of environmental protections for Graeme Hall lands so developers can profit from a national public treasure.
– false reporting designed to conceal the public support for the sanctuary and the proposed Graeme Hall National Park. (For instance, reporting that “hundreds” attended special Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary free day when TEN THOUSAND supporters attended.)
– re-writing history: falsely reporting that the new shorebird sanctuary project is a “first” for Barbados (Ya. Right) while not mentioning Graeme Hall.
– refusing to confront elected and appointed government officials for their agenda of putting corporate profiteering before the long-term interests of our country.
News Media Agenda of Deceit
This news media agenda of deceit in support of the interests of business and political elites was interrupted yesterday when the Barbados Advocate published a fair and accurate report of a press release issued by the Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary. (Press release and Barbados Advocate story both shown below.)
Frankly, we were surprised and incredibly pleased to see the Barbados Advocate story “Ministry not supportive of Nature Sanctuary”, but we don’t know if this is a major change in policy by the Barbados Advocate – or perhaps the mistake of a junior editor on the weekend who didn’t know the “official” position of silence on this story.
I guess we’ll find out in the coming weeks what happened to cause the Barbados Advocate to print … (gasp!) the truth! We’ll also see if any reporters ask Barbados Environment Minister Lowe about the total disconnect between his version of events and that being claimed by Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary.
Here’s the Barbados Advocate article… (240k to download)
and here’s the original press release from the Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary…
The Future of Graeme Hall: Setting the Record Straight
[ Christ Church , BARBADOS , February 14, 2010]
The Government of Barbados has not responded to requests for constructive meetings with the owner of Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary to discuss the future of Graeme Hall in over a year.
“Except for an introductory meeting in January 2009 with Minister Denis Lowe of the Ministry of Environment, Water Resources and Drainage, nobody from government has called back and agreed to substantive meetings,” said Stuart Heaslet, the owner’s representative for the Sanctuary. “This is despite our outreach efforts and multiple trips to Barbados .”
“We have personal knowledge that Minister Lowe cares deeply about the future of Graeme Hall and the people of Barbados . Minister Lowe knows that we are available at any time, and we agree with him that talking together in good faith about a way forward would be welcome.”
As to government’s claim that the final say in the reopening of the facility would be completely up to the owner of the Sanctuary: “We believe that conclusion is not accurate,” said Heaslet. “The Sanctuary investment and survival depends unconditionally on a healthy ecosystem. A healthy ecosystem is impossible under the current circumstances that are controlled by Government.”
“Because of the government-run sluice gate being in total disrepair for years, the ecosystem is dying. And because of government policy to dump sewage and allow continuous pollution to run into the wetland, the ecosystem is dying. And now all environmental buffers and adjoining parklands have been rezoned for urban development in the new Physical Development Plan. Both Government and the Sanctuary are stakeholders, it’s not just up to the Sanctuary to preserve the ecosystem and parklands at Graeme Hall.”
Heaslet disagreed with Minister Lowe’s claim that Government offered a million dollars to the Sanctuary to save jobs.
“No offer or proposal detailing terms and conditions of such an offer ever came to the Sanctuary from Government. Long after the Sanctuary closed and employees were laid off we did read a press article about a million dollar budget for Graeme Hall, but nobody from Government ever talked to us about what it was for or how it would work.”
Heaslet confirmed that nearly 6 months have gone by without Government acknowledgement of a Treaty dispute filed by owner Peter Allard under the Agreement for the Promotion and Reciprocal Protection of Investments between Canada and Barbados . The dispute alleges that the Government of Barbados has violated its international obligations by refusing to enforce its environmental laws, thereby allowing increased pollution and land development to damage the Sanctuary. (www.graemehall.com/legal/papers/BIT-Complaint.pdf)
“Our message to Government is that we will meet with them when they are ready,” said Heaslet.
Since 1994 the owner of the Sanctuary has invested more than US $35 million in the 35-acre Sanctuary to preserve the last significant mangrove woodland and wetland on the island.