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Prime Minister of Barbados, the Honourable Mia Mottley, who is on the cusp of being recognised as the Caribbean foremost Statesperson waxed poetic, including salutations of Love for her fellow statespersons (Ali, Addo, Santoke and especially Jagdeo) as she addressed the Opening Ceremony of the International Energy Conference in Georgetown on Valentines` Day. This came after her recent presentations at the Conference of African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development in March of 2021; the First African-CARICOM Summit in September of 2021; and the COP 26 UN Climate Change Conference in November of 2021; and her recent absolute landslide electoral victory in Barbados.
Much of what Prime Minister Mottley articulated at the aforementioned conferences brilliantly reflected the application of the South-South Cooperation, and the Centre and Periphery Dependency paradigms as analytical tools. Unfortunately, she seemed unaware of or unprepared, by analogy, to apply the same methodology to the analysis of the internal dynamics of Guyana. This is demonstrated in her statement that “there are even regional and local conflicts and disagreements and it is our duty to be able to smooth that over” (author`s emphasis). Such sentiments lead to the trivialization of the nature of conflict in Guyana. Consequentially, Guyana`s internal antagonisms/conflicts are treated as minor or mere irritants and responded to nonchalantly; with a shrug of the shoulder; and the non-application of her, otherwise, profound analytical methodologies.
In her presentation at the Energy Conference Prime Minister Mottley posed the question: “Will the world make the same mistake of 1945 or will the world accept that equity (author`s emphasis) demands of us, conversations that allow those whose poverty has been cemented by centuries of extraction and exploitation by a few to catch up with those whose per capita income is multiple times that found in … others. Or will the world just simply ignore the reality of the disparity and perpetuate the hypocrisy that regrettably has become too familiar with our condition as people”. An analogous application of that statement would cause one to pause and pose the question as to whether the evolution of the Guyanese society does not mirror that inequitable development, starting with the attempt to enslave the Amerindians that crescendoed with the enslavement of people of African descent and the institutionalisation of disparity and inequity to the extent that a conversation is urgently required to redress that legacy.
The United Nations by virtue of its declaration of a Decade for Peoples of African Descent has acknowledged this need. However, when this scenario was brought to the Her Excellency`s attention, by the International Decade for Peoples of African Descent Assembly-Guyana, in the height of the 2020 election crisis, she was unresponsive and simply sought to “smooth that over” as a matter that merely required arithmetic rectification. May I hasten to apologise to Her Excellency, if by chance the CARICOM secretariat, through which an appeal was made to her good office, failed to transmit the SOS. Alas, there has been no conversation and the situation festers even as solutions are proffered for the analogous global situation, while there is political gamesmanship, in Guyana, in relation to the constitutionally required conversations.
It is to Prime Minister Mottley`s credit that in Barbados, which is largely an ethnically homogeneous society, she has sought to provide for conversation, which signifies her commitment to Good Governance, inclusivity in this instance. Although her party won all of the seats in the recent elections, she announced her “Government`s intention to reach out to the Opposition parties to appoint senators in the Upper House” although the result of the elections nullified what would normally be the entitlement of the opposition.
Speeches like those made at the Energy Conference if not cognizant of the local conditions and not aimed at addressing the local realities may well be classified as pitfalls in the form of ignorance, or hypocrisy as expressed by the Caribbean premier statesperson herself in relation to the posture of others.