Barbadians must be willing “to risk our lives” to stop a “very dangerous and small element” of society that threatens to cause untold damage to the country’s reputation by resorting to violence to settle disputes, Prime Minister Freundel Stuart said today.
“Let’s be very frank about it; these people have the courage to fight for what they want, to lose their lives for what they want. What they want is the wrong thing [and] those of us who want the right thing have to be equally determined to fight for it as well, and to risk our lives if it is necessary,” Stuart told the media at the Barbados Workers’ Union Labour College in Mangrove, St Philip, shortly after delivering the feature address at the Reynold Weekes Primary School graduation ceremony this morning.
The Prime Minister said there was a worrying trend of human life being devalued in cold blood, and he was prepared to lead the charge against it because those who wished to do the right thing should not “hide in some corner, unwilling to fight” or too afraid to fight.
“We have to fight back in this society. As Prime Minister I am prepared to lead that because I don’t think that that direction [things are going] in this society is going to pay off in the long run.”
A chilling message over the weekend on the social media message sharing platform Whatsapp threatened a “bloody disruption” of the annual Fore Day Morning parade, allegedly to avenge the recent murder of jockey Rico Reid 23, of Brittons Hill, who was shot execution-style while waiting to board a cruise on the Jolly Roger.
Police have since launched an investigation into the posting, promising that “all appropriate measures would be taken throughout the Crop Over season to provide a safe environment for all persons in association with other law enforcement agencies and private security.”
Stuart, who has responsibility for defence and national security, said in his call to arms it was important that the entire nation recognized that crime was an issue that affected every element of society.
“The society has to come together at all levels [and] recognize that we are all under threat if this approach to life takes hold in Barbados,” the Prime Minister declared.
He was forceful in stating that those behind the violent acts “were not flown into Barbados by night when we were all asleep” but were products of communities, homes, schools, and in some cases, “products of our Sunday Schools”.
It was clear, Stuart said, the country had failed “at some levels of our social interaction” if, having gone through these processes, “this is what we end up with”.
He called for a return to the drawing board, with programmes that pay greater attention to what was happening to children from as early as nursery school.
Stuart also called on parents to be more vigilant, even while acknowledging that there were households where the guardians had to hold to jobs in order to provide for their children.
Speaking directly to the parents during the feature address, the Prime Minister warned against teaching children to adopt the “get rich quick” mentality or to take shortcuts instead of working hard and making sacrifices in order to achieve success.
“As I said recently, if as a nation we are materially successful but in terms of the values, in terms of the character, then are deficient and wanting, then all of our material can be destroyed overnight,” he said.