Opposition Leader Bishop Joseph Atherley has charged that shopkeepers of former times who helped to raise families, households and villages in Barbados have been “largely succeeded by the drug lords and the criminal element of that ilk, who exercise enormous influence now in the midst of our harsh economic times”.
Bishop Atherley also fearlessly declared in Parliament during debate on the Award of the Pride of Barbados Bill 2019, that criminal elements were also being facilitated by “some who are involved in the political process”.
“At the district community level . . . they are raising districts, and they are raising families and it is a sad thing that we have come to that point. They [the shopkeepers] have now been succeeded in these perilous times by the drug lords who operate at the community and district and village levels in Barbados and I say without fear, facilitated by some who are involved in the political process.
“Since 2008 that has been clear to me, that there are people involved in the practice of politics [at the] elective level in Barbados who are attaching themselves to persons involved in illegal drug activity in Barbados, to help their cause and I dare anybody in here to stand and say that is not true,” Atherley charged.
He described the development as a sad day in Barbados.
“It is something that strikes at the heart of our democracy. It is something that strikes at the institutional heart of our governance process. It is something that strikes at the heart of wholesome community life in Barbados. It is one of the most sinister perils that we face today and I really would want to hope that the Government would have the resources, the wherewithal and the tenacity to ensure that something like that is brought to a swift halt,” Atherley added.
The political leader of the newly formed People’s Party for Democracy and Development made the comments as he called on Government to ensure that among those who are awarded the Pride of Barbados honours are the people on whose backs Barbados has been built and who have given tremendous service to the country.
“This country has been built on the backs of a lot of unnoticed, unheralded efforts on the part of people who live at lower stations in life. Many of them have been the single mothers of yesterday . . . who knew what economics was all about. Labourers . . . [who] contributed to the economy, so that others might come along and build upon the foundation laid . . . of teachers, headmasters and headmistresses who were more than institutional figures. These are the builders of this county . . . lawmen of a former time, with high integrity . . .
“This are the kinds of people I believe and hope will be and should be captured in the awards,” he stated.