“If you were on the ground in Barbados in recent days, you would have heard people quietly commenting on the fact that there was an extraordinary number of sudden deaths and people wondering what was it that was causing all of the stress and that people who you didn’t expect to be dropping dead were suddenly dropping down dead . . . . Underlying the concern in all of this is the state of the economy . . . The economic underperformance is now affecting the social sector” Opposition Leader Mia Mottley, in an interview with journalist Tony Best in New York last week.
The United States, and in particular New York City, has always held a certain allure for Barbadian politicians of all colours, creeds and persuasions, at least on the face of it, when one considers a well documented pattern of behaviour among leaders and would-be leaders alike, which dates back to our achievement of political independence.
In fact, history will show that there was hardly ever a Barbadian political leader who was immune to the practice of journeying to the Big Apple or Miami, Florida, only to be heard making one pronouncement or another that could well have been, or was better suited to be made at home.
And so it would be last weekend as Leader of the Opposition Mia Mottley journeyed to New York.
Though we were not at all surprised by her announcement that she would take on the role of Minister of Finance should her number one political wish be fulfilled in the next general election, we were stunned by her naked political attempt to link the recent “sudden deaths” of several Barbadians to the current economic situation in the country, and by extension the policies of the ruling Democratic Labour Party.
For it is one thing to blame Prime Minister Freundel Stuart for the current malaise in the country and quite another to pin a series of unconnected deaths to his governance of the country.
But just as we were about to dismiss Ms Mottley’s utterances as a clear case of political jet leg, up stepped Member of Parliament for St Thomas Cynthia Forde to the microphone during a joint meeting of the Opposition’s St James branch meetings two days later to sound the same senseless warnings, confirming our worst fears that the BLP had sunk to a new and unprecedented low in its quest to see the back of the ruling administration at all costs.
To press home the point annunciated by Ms Mottley in New York, Ms Forde would go further to suggest that the stress of not knowing where their next dollar will come from and from being unemployed, was behind the recent sudden deaths, never mind that our health officials have been at pains to point out in recent days that those deaths were caused by non communicable diseases.
Furthermore, from our recollection, very few of those who recently died “suddenly”, were unemployed.
But why let the facts get in the way of a good story? Ms Forde certainly did not as she went further to suggest that this was the first time she could remember hearing people just collapsing and dying as has been happening in recent times.
“And I don’t believe it is [the] water. A lot of it, for me, has to do with hypertension and stress,” she declared, as she told stories of people who were years away from paying off their mortgages, only to lose their jobs.
To further illustrate the BLP’s position on the deaths, the St Thomas MP went as far as to say that “Barbadians have never been like this even when they were slaves ‘cause they still had a potato . . . they still had some butter beans.”
We are appalled by Ms Forde’s comments, which when combined with her leader’s statements in the Big Apple, amount to an alarming signal of political desperation, coming as they did from the lips of the person who is considered to be our alternative prime minister of this country and a senior member of her ‘shadow cabinet’.
Which leaves us to wonder why did Ms Mottley feel the need to go there in the first place, given her own recent suggestions that Barbadians have had enough of this Government already, which would suggest that she is already a shoo in to Bay Street?
But as shameful as these comments would seem, who can forget what our Attorney General had to say last week about the cases of two murder accused men – Everton Gittens and Andre Lord Evil Jackman.
It leaves us to wonder what’s being served up in the water at Parliament that could explain the current pervasive case of “foot and mouth” disease that has apparently hit members on both sides of the parliamentary isle.