Bees reaching out
By Tony Best | Sun, June 17, 2012 - 12:00 AM
It didn’t take rocket science to figure out the mission of a “Better Life For Our People” in New York.
Now add “NY Chapter” and it would become clear that the three-year-old organization led by Sam Clarke is a fervent supporter of the Barbados Labour Party (BLP).
“The formation of the chapter of the party in New York is an admirable initiative,” said Jerome Walcott, BLP chairman and a former Minister of Health.
Mia Mottley, Deputy Prime Minister during Owen Arthur’s last term and later Opposition Leader, put it differently.
“Having a branch in New York in the heart of the diaspora is very important,” she told the Sunday Sun as a six-member BLP delegation was winding up a visit to the city.
“The members of the diaspora are loyal sons and daughters of our country.”
In a series of meetings, media appearances, social engagements and a church service at St Mark’s Episcopal Church in Brooklyn, the visiting group – Walcott, Mottley, party secretary George Griffith, Senator Santia Bradshaw, Rudy Grant, and Patricia Parris, president of the Women’s League – spoke about the tough economic times Bajans were enduring, the Freundel Stuart administration’s failure to turn around a declining economy, and the Government’s “inability” to deliver on its 2008 campaign pledge to build 500 new housing units annually but had so far reportedly constructed only 500 in four years.
The faltering offshore financial sector, the need for a new hospital, rising unemployment, skyrocketing inflation, the Alexandra School “fiasco”, CLICO, hikes in taxes and the mountain of Government debt were also highlighted.
“Since its first Budget in 2008, we repeatedly warned the [Democratic Labour Party] that its heavy taxation and other policies were the wrong path to take, since they would only end up worsening the situation,” Walcott told the guests at the chapter’s inaugural dinner at La Nonna Restaurant on Mulberry Street in Manhattan.
“This advice was founded on 14 years of practical experience including also the management of an international recession.”
At the dinner, awards were presented to Bindley Welch, 92, a staunch supporter of both the BLP and the late Sir Grantley Adams; Stephen Legall, who owns one Brooklyn’s largest funeral homes; Janet Cadogan, a retired registered nurse in Brooklyn who recently relocated to Barbados; Archibald Miller, a well known entertainer; Joseph Clarke, a master chef; Chester Newton, an auxiliary police officer; and Canon Llewellyn Armstrong, a retired Episcopal and Anglican priest.
After the presentation of the awards, multi-calypso monarch and folk singer The Mighty Gabby entertained the guests, belting out many of his popular tunes.
The visiting group also met with executives of the Caribbean American Chamber of Commerce and Industry, which is led by Dr Roy Hastick. They discussed investment and trade in Barbados and the Caribbean, with Mottley describing the talks as “very informative and useful to us”.
The delegation also exchanged views with diplomats, consular officials, journalists and others at a Carib News editorial meeting in Manhattan. They talked about national, international and regional issues, including the need to restructure the Barbados economy and what Mottley called the “marginalization” of families due to the poorly performing economy.
“People are smelling hell,” she declared.
She called for the creation of investment instruments, such as Barbados Government bonds geared to give Bajans abroad the opportunity to invest in their birthplace.
“The diaspora represents a pool of investments into which the country can tap,” she insisted.
BLP leader Owen Arthur was originally due to lead the delegation but he remained at home at the last minute in order to attend the installation of Sir Elliott Belgrave, the new Governor General.
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