If you are lucky to have Vincentian prime minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves on your Whatsapp contact list, you can’t help but be reminded daily of one of the important mantras our politicians really ought to live by.
It is that “loose lips sink ships”.
But after last week’s “fake news” report about 19 Barbadians being detained in the United States as part of the Trump crackdown on unwanted immigrants – served up to our Prime Minister by no less than his ‘trusted’ Minister of Foreign Affairs Senator Maxine McClean and immediately regurgitated by him to reporters on the sidelines of the CARICOM intersessional summit in Guyana – we are left to conclude that our Prime Minister really would have done better had he chosen to read Gonsalves’ Whatsapp status instead.
For when our Minister of Foreign Affairs, at no less a place than a regional heads of government summit, at which she is a silent participant, chooses to break her leader’s concentration on matters of regional import, we would expect that, at the very least, the information provided would first be fact-checked, especially given the implications of such an alarming message in terms of her own ministry.
But alas! There was no fact-checking by our ‘diplomat-in-chief’ and this would prompt our ‘commander-in-chief’ to issue the following news flash:
“In the meeting this morning, the Foreign Minister [Maxine McClean] showed me a text message or an email message she had just received saying that 19 Barbadians had been identified in this whole process.”
He had also said Government would be investigating the reports even as he expressed surprise that Barbadians and other Caribbean nationals were being rounded up by American authorities in keeping with Trump’s January 27 order, which was intended to keep terrorists out of the US.
“We did not see ourselves as threatened,” said a seemingly surprised Stuart, adding that regional leaders would now be forced to address the issue during their Georgetown deliberations.
As it turned out, there were no Bajan detainees to speak of, only a note from an unnamed Barbadian living in New York, which up to the time that McClean communicated it to Stuart, was not even cleared with this country’s resident diplomat in the Big Apple but yet our Prime Minister was simply allowed to run with it only to wind up with egg all over his face, and worse yet, sounding like Trump when he reported on a ‘fake’ terrorist attack in Sweden.
As the former Swedish prime minister Carl Bildt wrote on Twitter last Sunday: “ . . . What has he been smoking? Questions abound.”
Which takes us back to that whole Shanique Myrie mess, when our goodly Ms McClean seemingly jumped out of nowhere, armed with anything but the facts, but proclaiming loudly: “There is absolutely no truth to a story carried in a Jamaican newspaper on Thursday March 24  that a female citizen of that country was body searched by an Immigration officer on arrival at the Grantley Adams International Airport.”
Talk about recklessness at the highest level!
Knowing what we now know of the Myrie affair, we can only hope that her very latest misstep does not come back to bite us as well.
At this stage, one can only hope, given the temperament of US president Donald Trump, that her latest faux pas never reaches his ears, lest he may attempt to teach little Barbados and its illegal immigrants a thing or two about what happens when you cross ‘The Donald’.
Heaven knows we have enough problems as it is, without Trump breathing down our neck too.
But even if the US is not in need of an apology at this stage, surely one must be in order by Ms McClean to the people of Barbados for giving us reason to doubt anything our Prime Minister now has to say.
Ironically, the one occasion when perhaps he chose to shoot from the hip, to measure once and cut at the same time, it winded up being a case of him engaging in misinformation and slander against a friendly country, while obviously relying on sources of the quality of a “Fox News” that at best could be described as dubious.
We can only hope that the Prime Minister was not reading from Senator McClean’s notes when he recently promised that there would be no currency devaluation.