January 13, 2010


"I am charged with landing improperly (in Barbados) and for giving a false statement relative to my place of birth........ I don’t know where the hell I was born, but I was told Barbados......."

Rt. Excellent Clement Payne (1937)

"The celebrated national poet of Guyana, Martin Carter, reminds us..... that we represent the expectations of five million human beings, and that what we achieve or betray concerns not only the living but those who are not yet born........ There is a fundamental theme on which I should like to think there can be no difference. And that is the absolute necessity to promote the solidarity and the soverignty of this regional Caribbean family, and also the absolute obligation to discover those strategies and mechanisms which will ultimately lead to unity of action in all major areas of our economic, social and political life"

Rt. Excellent Errol Barrow (1986)

As the current Government of Barbados prepares itself to amend the Constitution in order to deny citizenship to the children of certain categories of Caribbean migrants who are born in Barbados, we have to seriously ask ourselves whether, just as the late Errol Barrow forewarned, we are not on the verge of betraying not only the existing 5 million people of our Caribbean Community, but also the countless generations that are "not yet born".

Last year, the Barbados Government issued a so-called "Green Paper" on a "Comprehensive Review of Immigration Policy and Proposals for Legislative Reform". And the most significant proposal contained in the Green Paper was the suggestion that the existing constitutional scheme of according citizenship to all children born in Barbados should be discontinued, and replaced with a system in which children born to undocumented migrants, to persons who are on work permits, or to persons who merely have permission to "reside and work" in Barbados, should not acquire Barbadian citizenship.

What makes this proposal all the more reprehensible is the widespread knowledge that it was motivated by a desire to specifically target the children of our Guyanese, Vincentian, St Lucian, Dominican and Jamaican brothers and sisters! As virtually all Barbadians know, and as has been confirmed by authoritative spokespersons of the government, the current Administration is not concerned about European, American, Chinese or Indian migration to Barbados: rather, their fundamental objective is to clamp down upon the migration to Barbados of our fellow Caribbean people.

The system of according citizenship to all babies born on Barbadian soil has been in place since the birth of our nation, and has served us well over the years. Why do we wish to change it now?

Why do we want to follow the path of some of the most racist and xenophobic countries in denying citizenship to certain categories of babies born on our soil? Why do we wish to give comfort and support to racists in the U.K and U.S.A who have urged their governments to adopt this type of policy against Barbadian and other Caribbean migrants to those countries?

Intelligent Barbadians need to ask themselves where this new policy is taking us, for the current Government seems to want to take us in the direction of a small, narrow, insular Barbadian nation, rather than towards the future of an expansive, multi-territory Caribbean economy and nation. Can we really envisage our children being satisfied to be confined indefinitely to a little 166 square mile nation and an economy of tourism and off-shore services? Is this really all that we aspire to?

And by the way, our national hero Clement Payne was born in Trinidad.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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