Members of the BU household attended the viewing of a 30 minute documentary titled On The Map produced by Annalee Davis at Solidarity House tonight (15 July 2008). The night’s proceedings was moderated by the ubiquitous Peter Wickham. The viewing although not a full house attracted a cross section of Barbados. Before we comment on the actual 30 minute ‘piece’ we should clarify a few matters which have been given rise by tonights proceedings. Norman Faria, Barbados Guyana Consul during the feedback segment of the night’s event launched a broadside at the blogs, we believe he meant BU given our persistent blogging on the Barbados immigration issue. He called on the authorities to censor us. He referred to the vile, racist and xenophobic positions taken on the blogs regarding the issue of migrant labour with a focus on the Indo-Guyanese.
Norman Faria we hope that you are reading very carefully what we are about to write:
All of our blogs to date on the immigration issue are built on two positions 1) the lack of a managed immigration policy in Barbados and 2) the socio-impact of large inflows of Indians on a predominantly Black host population. We have reread many of our blogs on the subject of immigration and we have struggled to discern any xenophobic meanings on our part. We must admit that some of our commenters have sometimes crossed the line by engaging in racial rhetoric. However Faria, Ricky Singh and others should not mistake the comments of a few commenters to represent the views of the BU household. We believe in free speech and while we don’t condone all the comments on BU we will always seek to protect freedom of expression. We believe that Barbadians are educated enough to filter racist and xenophobic nonsense from the real fears and concerns of Barbadians. The fear was very eloquently expressed by Caribbean Broadcaster Corporation broadcaster Jewel Forde and Sydney Simmons, now retired. The issue of migrant labour is a topic which is currently occupying the many countries in the world, the developed countries being no exception.
To respond to Keith Nurse who we understand is a lecturer at the UWI and who sought to scare Barbadians by referring to the Dominican /Haiti experience by mentioning the word genocide, it will not work!
To comment on the first effort by Annalee Davis to produce, we have to compliment her on the attempt to highlight a concept which is of value to our small region, i.e. migrant labour. The Caribbean was built on the backs of migrant labour and we have no doubt that this will continue. The BU household fully supports the free movement of people within a managed immigration policy. Contained within that policy must be how ethnic populations will be absorbed by our host population. It seems like we have made this point ad nauseam since our launch but some people prefer to ignore it. The construct of the presentation was woefully inadequate to deal with such a complex topic and Davis located the story mostly in the Guyanese experience and more specifically Indo-Guyanese which led to a perceived bias by the BU household. For the benefit of Davis we should provide one glaring example. The documentary featured resident Indian lawyer Bacchus, who may have some Guyanese origin speaking to the incident dubbed ‘terrible Tuesday’. The BU family may recall that the Barbados authorities sent back 20+ Guyanese who intended to visit Barbados a couple years ago. In the film we listened to Bacchus castigating the Immigration Department and by extension the Barbados government for allowing such to occur. To our surprise the documentary failed to extract an official response from the Barbados Immigration Department to bring some balance to the issue. Instead Ms. Davis film which is a collection of disadvantaged Guyanese grieving served to build the plot for her 30 minute effort.
The feedback session which followed the viewing spanned the gamut of rubbish to insightful but that is to be expected, it is a free country. We should make mention of Ricky Singh’s contribution when he passionately asked government to reverse its current policy on immigration. Ricky seems to know more than the average Barbadian because the promised White Paper on a new immigration policy is yet to be made available for public consumption. BU took umbrage to the tone of his presentation which expressed discuss at how Barbadians and the region have been slow to adopt CSME. He also had some lashes for the media of which he is a part. Whether he likes it or not, the concerns of Barbadians are being echoed all around the Caribbean. Again the concerns of Barbadians were represented two weeks ago by the action of our Caribbean Heads to delay the roll-out of CSME until 2012 because of the very same issue for which we have concerns, movement of people.
Lastly we wish to remind Peter Wickham of the days leading up to the last general election when the Nation newspaper frustrated his effort to publish articles, the blogs assisted him in the cause. Now we have seen him betray us by agreeing with Norman Faria that the blogs need to be censored. Although he did not actually say it he did not offer a denial when Faria made the comment by co-opting his support. We take that Mr. Wickham as acquiescence. Like your former colleague Dr. Don Blackman who lauded the discussions on the blogs prior to election as healthy but recanted soon after, both of you may realize the error of your ways. To reinforce the point we had an email sent to Peter Wickham recently requesting some information to which he has refused to respond, as we said this is a departure from the recent past.
The same behaviour has occurred from someone we thought was a friend of BU, Mr. Stephen Worme of the Barbados Light and Power Company. BU will remain in the wings and quietly observe because as the Bajan saying goes, God does not like ugly.