Political activist Cheryl Moore says Barbados is firmly locked in the grip of a culture of fear which is preventing residents from speaking out publicly on issues that affect them.
Moore, a final year student in political science and international relations at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill, made the assertion in the wake of her participation in two demonstrations in the city, the most recent against the Municipal Solid Waste Tax.
She said attorney-at-law and political activist Robert “Bobby” Clarke, who organised the demonstrations, “is at the age where you say what you feel and think because you are almost fearless”.
“Generally persons in their late teens and early twenties are also fearless. Clarke and [David] Comissiong are both fearless and have the interest of the common man at heart. They actually believe in creating a better Barbados, which includes every person regardless of their station in life. I come from a very poor background. I do not have a godfather. I have basically done everything on my own. Under these circumstances it is difficult for me to align myself with any other world view,” she said.
Moore, who also goes by the name Oyo Ololara, said that being self-employed gives her a measure of freedom, though this does not protect against victimisation.
“Participating in protest action is a risk you take even as a self-employed person. It is unfortunate that Barbados is the way it is. It is unfortunate that you always have to be mindful of victimisation. People should be able to air their views or get involved in whatever movement. I believe that we have to change the system of governance. Under the Westminster system of government people are confined to minimal participation in the governance of their country.”
Asked about the non-participation of her schoolmates in the demonstrations, Moore said: “Initially, some of the students wanted to participate, but their parents told them ‘look you do not know why those other students are marching. They may have their bread buttered’. These were the warnings their parents were giving them. Their parents were afraid of losing their mortgages and the cars they were driving. Parents were telling their children do not engage in any protest action because it is not the thing to do in Barbados. Not willing to speak out in your own interest is a very backward mindset. It is also a backward mindset for society at large to condemn people for wanting better for themselves.”
Meantime, Moore said she would welcome participation from the opposition Barbados Labour Party or the ruling Democratic Labour Party once there was acceptance that the policies their parties may be backward and counter-productive to long-term national development.
“When a person supports something that basically goes against them, they enslave themselves all over again. That person should ask himself the question: ‘Am I on the right side of history?’”