Another warning that Barbados must get vigilant about Political Financing
Coming from a similar colonial-slavery background as most of its Caribbean neighbours, Barbados has managed to achieve much greater economic prosperity, peace and political stability. Why is that?
An article in the Khaleei Times looks at the reasons for the differences between Jamaica, Barbados and a few of our neighbours and concludes, among other things, that the cosy relationship between gangs and politicians has much to do with Jamaica’s stalled progress since its independence in 1962.
While I don’t think the article is comprehensive about all the reasons for the differences between Jamaica and Barbados, once again we are reminded that citizens and societies have a vital interest in regulating the money that finances politicians and political parties.
Thanks to both the Barbados Labour Party and the Democratic Labour Party, we in Barbados have no laws, no oversight and no transparency about the millions of dollars received by Barbados politicians for (cough, cough) “campaign financing”.
Simply put, our Bajan democracy is at risk when politicians can secretly receive money from any person or organisation and then secretly spend the money – all without rules, oversight or legal accountability.
And that is exactly the way Bajan politicians and their financiers like it.
Here are a few snippets from the Khaleei Times article…
“For decades (Jamaican) political leaders have used armed local gangs to mobilise voters in their constituencies; the gangs are rewarded with the spoils of power, in particular housing and employment contracts they can dole out. Opposition leaders counter with their own gangs, resulting in chronic violence during election seasons.
These gangs eventually moved into international drug trafficking, with their leaders, called “dons,” becoming ever more powerful. The tables turned quite some time ago, with the politicians becoming dependent on the dons for their survival.”
“To see what happens when a country accomplishes both (economic and democratic) transitions, we need only look at the neighbouring Afro-Caribbean island of Barbados. It has a similar colonial past, and became independent just three years after Jamaica.
Yet Barbados’ per capita income is now more than twice that of Jamaica, its standard of living puts it among the developed world and Freedom House places it on a par with Western Europe in terms of the maturity of its democracy. Sure enough, Barbados also has one of the lowest homicide rates in the hemisphere. Barbados, unfortunately, is not typical…”
… read the entire article at the Khaleej Times Jamaica’s bloody democracy
Further Reading at Barbados Free Press
May 25, 2010 – Barbados roadsign shows support for Jamaica’s Dudus Coke!