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#BTColumn – Road to the segregated republic

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by Heather Cole

December 2021, it is the worst of times in recent memory in Barbados. The island is in the midst the valley of the shadow of death. Today COVID-19 has claimed 191 [now 199] victims. The number of infected persons is on the increase and there are over 6,000 persons in home isolation.

Death, fear, insecurity, discrimination, and high inflation are the order of the day in Barbados.
The government and the country are on two different wave lengths. While the people suffer, the government is going along with its plans to implement a Republic on November 30th.

The only way to explain it, is that it is as if the people are on the ground in Barbados while the administration is millions of miles away in another galaxy with the notion that all is well in the land and not faced with the reality of a suffering Barbados.

The road to the republic was paved with lack of good governance, government not adhering to its own financial rules and a vaccine scam, until segregation appeared in the form of “safe zones” adding to the fray.

Time and time again we have heard or have been convinced that there are two ‘Barbadoses’. We have seen it on display in the distinction between the wealthy and the poor, the award of government contracts, the handing over of land to political campaign financiers, the disregard of the financial rules to benefit a minority, access to land and housing, jobs and placements and the list can go on. But this discrimination has never been put into law previously in a post-independence Barbados.

What the existence of this safe zone order means is that it is now clear that the existence of the two ‘Barbadoses’ has become law through the Prime Minister’s Emergency Order. Basically, it is the “we against them” law that is now in effect, the basis of a segregated society.
Although government has backed down on the roll out of this order, the order has not been cancelled. However, it has given teeth to some in the private sector to come up with their own guidelines.

Dr Vidya Armogan rolled out his crafted package with website and all, seeking a public-private partnership so therefore I assume the Prime Minister has knowledge of his plans. It is a plan that echoes the creation of Nazi Germany only with dominant control by the private sector. The plan determines which company a resident of Barbados can and cannot visit.

Ultimately this plan of creating safe zones will never stop the spread of the virus and perhaps the intent is not to do so. The plan will just give some who are gullible enough to believe it, a false sense of security. The one question I have for this dentist is, what will happen if it is confirmed that the vaccinated in the safe zones are the majority spreaders of COVID-19? So, what is the trajectory here?

Is it that persons who voted for this administration will be denied access to health care, jobs, education, to purchase food in the supermarket and ultimately denial to cast their vote when the next General Election is called? Are the safe zones the foundation from which the unthinkable can occur? For those of you who may think that this idea of segregation is a fiction from the writer’s imagination, there were two conflicting events that occurred in Barbados on Friday.

One was the public outcry to the video on Barbados Today of the dentist detailing his plans that many interpreted could lead to a divided and segregated society and add to the curtailed freedoms of the people of Barbados.

The other was the public witnessing of the scene at Oistins last Friday night. It was rammed

with tourists at the start of the tourist season, and they were roaming without masks.
In one Barbados, we have persons being threatened by a legal order that restricts them from entering “safe Zone” and in the other Barbados, tourists can enter the island without a period of quarantine and freely roam the island without masks. Perhaps someone has shared with them the new slogan that will not see the light of day, “Barbados: Feel Free.”

The creation may be subtle, but it is the story of segregation, and it has happened before in modern times in Germany, South Africa and the Deep South in America.
If this is just the road to the Republic, I shudder at what the Republic may bring.

Heather Cole is a senior budget analyst and social commentator.

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