Independence Message by Leader of the Opposition Bishop The Hon. Joseph J.S. Atherley J.P., M.P.
We have been counselled, and I think rightly and wisely so, that a nation at 53 must be able to have the difficult conversations. As I congratulate our people on the proud achievement of our 53rd anniversary as an independent democracy, I wish, not for the first time, to broach a few difficult issues over which we must ponder and make the subject of more meaningful, enriching and purposeful national dialogue.
There are a few significant and enduring challenges which we must face up to as a nation. There are also a few major commitments to which more maturely we must subscribe and, further, actualize. Time today does not allow exhaustive reference to the full menu of either challenges or commitments. And so, in this brief conversation with you, I make reference to an obvious few.
There is an obvious and persistent challenge to the notion of our sovereignty. It is a challenge faced by all small developing states in this globalized environment of supra-national dominance and market internationalization. Small states in this world’s vast ocean frequently find themselves buffeted by the currents of the organised and orchestrated energies of the elite global players.
The Institutional Challenge, the Cultural Challenge and what I call the Capital Challenge are three such areas of challenge to the exercise of our sovereign discretion.
Already in this current session of Parliament, the deliberations and decisions of both the Lower and Upper Houses have been both guided and forced by pressures from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, the European Union, the Financial Action Task Force, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, and the International Monetary Fund. They have largely dictated our parliamentary agenda and determined its vote. Ways must be found to mitigate the negatives of such institutional influences.
Of critical significance as well is that the integrity and maturity of our own institutional and constitutional architecture remain subject to question as long as we fail to complete the independence journey. Again I call on the Government to lead in both the conversation about and conversion to republic status for Barbados. This is a commitment we must unreservedly make.
The Cultural Challenge is to be ourselves at home while welcoming the world; to believe in ourselves while respecting the achievements of others; to brand ourselves while we integrate with others away from home.
Universal access to all technologies renders a popular tourist jurisdiction already exposed to cultural penetration even more vulnerable to such. Our cultural mores and peculiarities make us distinctly Barbadian. That character must ever be enhanced in the global melting pot; but must never be subverted by or subsumed under the inferior awnings of flimsy and frivolous alternatives.