Are the chickens coming home to roost?
This week has turned out to be an explosive one with startling revelations made by an Al-Jazeera investigative report that focused largely on Dominica. It divulged evidence about the alarming corruption that seemed to have overtaken that country and one fears, much of the Caribbean. The reaction from the Dominican PM who is at the centre of the controversy is that Al Jazeera was an agent of the Opposition or something to that effect. Others from the regional political elite talked about efforts to destabilise Dominica and by extension the rest of the Caribbean. There was even talk of it being ‘fake news’. The current Chairman of the OECS at first called for peace and calm, not bothering even to mention the cause of the unrest. In fact, some felt it was a storm in a teacup. Gaston Browne’s latest position was that he didn’t want to get involved in the political affairs of Dominica. What was important was the peace, stability, and progress of Dominica. He went on to say that he would want the demands of both sides to be satisfied “but not at the expense of the advancement” of Dominica. What a wishy-washy response! What are the demands of the government? He really didn’t say. Now it is well known that a Joint Special Mission of the OAS, CARICOM, and the Commonwealth, at the invitation of the government of Dominica made recommendations calling for electoral reform to ensure “free, fair and transparent” elections.
The OAS came under a great deal of criticism and some scepticism for revealing that the Mission’s recommendations remained untouched. Initially Dominica refused to issue an invitation to the OAS to monitor its upcoming elections but recently had a change of mind on this, no doubt because of the criticism that has been levelled at them. Moreover, it has been recently revealed that at the last moment with elections just around the corner CARICOM has issued an invitation to the Concerned Citizens of Dominica to meet their mission. What is the purpose of that, a few days before the election, while the recommendations they were a part of have not been put in place? Shouldn’t they really be meeting with the Prime Minister? This is the same CARICOM that took the initiative to ensure that sanity returns to Venezuela. What is the point of CARICOM or for that matter the OECS? Is it to reinforce the populace’s view of them as ‘Talk Shops”?
Their reaction is a Trumpian one; deny everything even when the evidence is right before them and shout ‘Fake News’. We really should not be surprised by this for the region is ripe with corruption and lacks transparency. It is dirty poor so from where are the political parties getting the kind of funds they boast of, to run their campaigns? Unfortunately, there are a lot of crooks who come into our country cloaking their chicanery under their jackets as they try to impress. They have studied our leaders and know what they are about. I remembered being in Belize at a hotel dining room listening to a group of men, who appeared to me to be businessmen talking about what they were doing in Belize and being very disrespectful of the people. I guess they saw me as a house slave unable to understand what they were saying.
Let us hope that what is playing itself out in Dominica becomes a powerful lesson to the people of the region whose motto should be about ‘Taking back their countries’. What is happening in Dominica is not only about Dominica but reflects a region that is in dire trouble. Electoral reform should be a start but there is much more that is needed.
Dr Adrian Fraser is a social commentator and historian