In a last minute appeal to the spirit of patriotism, General Secretary of the ruling Democratic Labour Party (DLP) George Pilgrim is urging Barbadians “not to further tarnish brand Barbados by participating in Saturday’s march of disgust” organised by the Opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP).
Speaking at a news conference at the party’s George Street, St Michael headquarters Friday morning to launch the DLP’s E-Facts campaign, Pilgrim accused the BLP of working overtime to cast the country in a negative light to the international community, and charged that those who participate in Saturday’s march would be guilty of doing the same.
An unabashed Pilgrim also claimed to have received reports of Opposition attempts to bully and bribe people to attend the protest.
The DLP spokesman, who last October had wrongly predicted that the BLP would emerge from its annual conference with three leaders after an internal coup, provided little to no evidence to back his claim, other than to charge that people were being “harassed by BLP representatives via telephone and called pigs if they did not agree with the march, or were offered money” to participate.
“To those of you who are marching, ask yourself whose backs are you marching for as a result of this money spent. We accept that the times are not ordinary but by marching, you are accepting money and supporting a new dimension in political life. Barbadians, do not destroy Barbados through politics.
“There are challenges and there will be challenges, but what has happened in this country with the proliferation of online activity and spending of money to carry a narrative that things are falling apart in Barbados and this is simply not true. It has really come to a head in recent past when you realize the extent the Opposition would go by stirring the emotion of people and attempting to ride on the backs of Barbadians. I think it is wrong,” Pilgrim said.
Nonetheless, the DLP General Secretary refused to comment on any possible links between existing negative perceptions of the country and the spate of downgrades since his party assumed office in 2008, the most recent of which took place within the past week by international ratings agencies Standard and Poor’s and Moody’s.
It was only Thursday that Moody’s downgraded Government bond and issuer ratings to Caa3, placing Barbados on the same level as Greece, the Ukraine and Venezuela, and all but stating that the home-grown austerity programme had failed.
The downgrade came six days after Standard & Poor’s last Friday reduced the country to ‘CCC+/C’ on account of its limited financing alternatives and low international reserves.
The financial watchdog Bloomberg also reported yesterday that the island had joined the beleaguered group of countries whose dollar bonds yield more than ten per cent after Moody’s Investors Service said the island was likely to default.
However, Pilgrim maintained that the Freundel Stuart administration was being socially responsible amid the tough economic climate.
He also accused the BLP of lacking social conscience, reiterating his contention that the Mia Mottley-led Opposition had expended considerable sums of money in soliciting support for the march- money he said that could have been otherwise utilized.
“The country is served a diet of gloom and doom by an Opposition party that refuses to tell the truth about their intentions. They have asked Barbadians to protest and pull down this country, but I have checked and I have done the maths. My additions online alone, I have counted five ads per day for the last five days,” he revealed, speculating that the BLP would have spent $20 thousand with a single online entity.
He further estimated that “coupled with the radio ads and other forms of engaging the public, the BLP would have spent over $100,000 in one week in a campaign to sensitize people about the march”.
The DLP spokesman opined that the amount of money spent was shocking given recent staff cuts by the BLP at part of a restructuring exercise.
Barbados TODAY made several attempts reach BLP General Secretary Dr Jerome Walcott for a response to Pilgrims claims, but was unsuccessful.