Retired trade unionist Ulric Sealy is dismissing any notion that Barbados is a failed state or on the verge of becoming one.
Without naming anyone, Sealy today said “some political commentators” would have people believe that Barbados had failed as a state because of the challenges it currently faces.
However, delivering the weekly Astor B Watts lunchtime lecture at the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) headquarters, Sealy said nothing could be further from the truth.
“What is a failed state? Some people today would like to have us think that Barbados, if it is not one it is close to being one,” the former deputy general secretary of the Barbados Workers’ Union said during his lecture entitled, Developing a Post-Colonial State: The Case of Barbados and the Sterling Work of the Democratic Labour Party.
Defining a failed state as one that has “disintegrated to a point where basic conditions and responsibilities of a sovereign government no longer function properly”, Sealy said he was yet to see any evidence of this here.
He added that common characteristics of a failing state included loss of control of territory, erosion of legitimate authority to make decisions, inability to provide public service, widespread corruption and criminality, sharp economic decline and inability to interact with other states as a full member of the international community.
“I haven’t seen these things,” he insisted, adding however, that some people who ought to know better had made it seem the country was exhibiting those characteristics.
“Many of the so-called right thinking socioeconomic and political commentators in our midst would want us to believe otherwise. The tone of their speeches and the tone of their writings are all geared towards the formation of doubt and disenchantment in the minds of others,” he said.
Pointing to the United States-based Fund for Peace Fragile States Index, Sealy said he could find a listing of examples of failed states and Barbados was not among them.
The 2017 report, which measures the fragility of 178 states, placed Barbados at 139th with a score of 49.6 out of a possible 120.
The higher the score, the more fragile the state is considered. Haiti is ranked the most fragile in the region at 11th position with a score of 105.3, Jamaica is ranked at 117th with a score of 65.2 and Trinidad and Tobago had a score of 56.7 to rank 128th.
The state considered most fragile by this survey was South Sudan with a score of 113.9, while Finland was considered the least fragile with a score of 18.7.
Sealy insisted that the DLP was responsible for a number of developments and achievements since 1961, including leading the country into independence, the introduction of free tertiary education and free school meals, improved health care, international partnerships; public sector reform, constituency councils and the Social Partnership.
“The above listing of achievements is not exhaustive. There are many other pieces of legislation, buildings, road and other infrastructure developments under the DLP. What gives the greatest satisfaction however, is the impact it has had on the lives of ordinary Barbadians . . . . We are proud of our record,” Sealy said.
“Barbados is a small developing country, which by international standards has performed very well over the past four decades. The country has achieved very high human development status . . . . Barbados still works. It is still held in high esteem and it is still the model for small developing countries in a post-colonial background,” he added.
Meantime, retired trade unionist and diplomat Robert Bobby Morris said while it was important to acknowledge the achievements made over the years and to chart a new path, “the big question is, does it still model the colonial period too much?
“Has Barbados shown it is willing to move away from the old colonial model in terms of our intellectualism and our relationships?” Morris asked, while warning the authorities to avoid going too far off track as the country moves “off the old track and go on the new track”. (MM)