Prominent activist David Comissiong believes that it is time for Barbados to have a constitution written and approved by Barbadians, and is recommending that this island follows the lead of deceased Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez.
The outspoken attorney-at-law and president of the Clement Payne Movement made the comments yesterday while moderating a discussion, sponsored by the Venezuelan Embassy, at the National Union of Public Workers’ Dalkeith, St Michael headquarters on that country’s process towards developing a mass-based national assembly that will review its present constitution.
Under the Caracas system, candidates are nominated to fill just over 500 places in a constituent national assembly, which makes recommendations for constitutional change.
Venezuela is currently contemplating its third constitution after a second one was drafted and approved in 1999 by then president Chavez to the original 1960 document to allow for mass-based consultation with the people.
Contending that the Constitution of Barbados was an import from the United Kingdom that has no contribution from Barbadians, Comissiong argued that “we need to follow Hugo Chavez’s example.
“We, Barbados, need a new constitution that is the product of a national constituent assembly – just like what Venezuela is now undertaking – to express the will of the Barbadian people and to let it be a constitution that really belongs to us, that was created by us, that was enacted through the sovereign will of the people of Barbados and their Parliament, our House of Assembly,” he said.
Recalling Chavez’s 1999 constitutional reform that produced a document based on the desires of Venezuelans, Comissiong said, “we in Barbados have not had the wisdom and the self-respect to do likewise.
“We have a constitution today that is the schedule of an order put in place by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and her Privy Council in England that was then laid in the British Parliament and passed in the British Parliament,” he said, adding that since its drafting in 1966, the Constitution of Barbados remains the same in principle, despite the creation in 1998 of a Constitutional Review Commission that has submitted a report.