Black Barbadians Being Marginalised
By William Skinner
|Tourists On Barbados Beach|
“Hotels are now doing tours and transfers with their own taxis, and this should not be so. They should use the taxis in their yards to do such tours on a rotation basis and not give the work to these big companies. These kinds of practices should be stopped. Oh how I yearn for Errol Barrow. How do you expect the local people to survive when all the sweets are given to others? Carl Pinder, Nation Newspaper, 2/21/14 under the caption: ‘Port Taxi men Sucking Salt’
While we immerse ourselves in the tantrums and idiocy of both the Barbados Labour Party and the Democratic Labour Party, there is a growing movement among the poor, and downtrodden that is revealing itself. Those who believe that our nation is only sinking from an economic crisis and essentially uninspiring leadership, across the political divide, are sadly mistaken. We are in the midst of a potentially dangerous social revolt that will have repercussions for at least fifty years, unless we abandon petty party politics and pay attention to those citizens, who have been economically and socially marginalized by both the BLP and DLP.
Nowhere in the economic management of our country, has the poor black business person been more systematically marginalized, than is evident in the multi- billion dollar tourism industry. The industry was hijacked by a ruthless bunch of foreign investors aided and abetted by lazy, almost parasitical local corporate leaders. They refused to invest in the country that has propped up them and their wealth for over three hundred years. In bed with those local corporate mercenaries, is the so –called political managerial class that used the industry as a nice cushion for party lackeys, on both sides, who got jobs but could never effectively promote the tourism product overseas.
The concerns of the writer quoted above are nothing new. It is a known fact that our taxi men and women, over the years, have been forced to park their cars overnight by the port, in order to get one job the following morning.
While the tourism ministers bragged about tourist arrivals, they never developed any economic safety net, for the small business persons who had invested in the trade. Some will argue that tax breaks were given to those who wanted to purchase vehicles for this purpose but even with the incentives, they were not guaranteed a single penny because the big tour operators were always reaping the true benefits. In other words : What is the sense of giving a man/woman a pretty fishing boat , when you know that the fishing banks designated are already depleted or controlled by others?
The same hoteliers in cahoots with the black political managers, did all in their power to chase the vendors off the beach because they were making a very comfortable livelihood and this was very offensive , to those hoteliers whose properties, had boutiques and similar establishments selling the jewellery and other articles, that small black entrepreneurs were selling on the beaches. In other words, they wanted the whole hog! In the mean time, the hoteliers were ripping off the tourists with exorbitant prices for meals and other related products and were not supporting the small farmers to any great extent. The hoteliers succeeded in pricing themselves out of the market and then turned around and blamed the same political managers; the beach vendors; the workers and everybody but their pitiful and pathetic selves for their now exposed inability to improve industry performance.
Mr. Pinder and his colleagues will not get any assistance from the politicians or the major players in the industry because what is happening to them is a well orchestrated plan that has been working against small business people like him for the past forty years. As I posited earlier, the economic malaise with which we are presently dealing is only the tip of the iceberg. The truth is that we have elected to destroy small manufacturers; small farmers; taxi men/women; beach vendors; small fisher folk; entertainers; small hired car operators, small restaurateurs and virtually all the small mainly black players in the industry, in order to satisfy foreigners and the local power players.
Those who are now scampering to beseech the IMF and distant lands to bring us out of this self imposed odyssey of mal governance and ad hoc nation planning are missing the point. Within our walls, the question of economic enfranchisement for the majority of our people must be on the agenda of those seeking real change. To overcome British/European colonialism and almost two hundred years later, to go cap in hand begging another ethnic group to be our saviors is nothing more than pure stupidity. It is grounded in nothing more than an unbelievable disrespect for our struggle to date.
Like Mr. Carl Pinder, we will all learn that seeing big tourist liners and tourists walking about Broad Street is not the answer to our problems. Perhaps if the collective economic planners of both the decadent Barbados Labour Party and the equally decadent Democratic Labour Party, had spent less time chasing their black brothers and sisters off the beaches and more time ensuring that these creative business people were indeed given a bigger piece of the tourism pie, the industry would have had more significance for the average Barbadian. They chose to destroy the Pinders of Barbados and turned a blind eye to their own short comings. As the Mighty Gabby once said: “One day coming soon………………”
William Skinner is a social commentator.