NEW YORK NEW YORK: Let us all give thanks in 2011
The decade of the 1620s is of major historical significance to Barbados and the United States.
Four years before the English arrived in Barbados on May 14, 1625, and claimed the island on behalf of King James 1, a group of English pilgrims who had landed at Plymouth, Massachesetts, held their first celebration in 1621 to give “thanks” for a bountiful harvest.
For three days the colonists, joined by almost 100 native Americans, had sumptuous meals and otherwise enjoyed themselves. It was the beginning of Thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving festivities have become intricately interwoven into the country’s every fabric and it is embraced by native born and immigrants alike, Bajans and other West Indians among them.
This year’s celebration came at an interesting time, when the United States, like its neighbours in the Caribbean and Latin America and its economic partners in Europe, is still reeling from the fallout from the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s. It’s an economic nightmare that has cost millions of people their jobs; others have lost homes; and many more were plunged into poverty in a country whose image is one of prosperity and plenty, a land of opportunity.
Yes, we all have friends who have endured or are going through mind-numbing experiences.
Interestingly, this is the last Thanksgiving weekend before more than 100 million voters go to the polls in November 2012. Thanks to Obama’s strength of character and many of his policies – his health care programme and reform of the financial markets are two examples – the nation is better off today than when he took office.
Caribbean countries too have had their own share of tough times. But better days may be on the horizon for Barbados, Jamaica and The Bahamas, for example. They recorded sharp economic declines in 2009 in 2009 but are expected to have slight growth this year and in 2012.
Last Thanksgiving Day, Haitians in the United States were agonizing over the after-effects of the worst earthquake in their country’s history but today they have a newly elected president and a government in office.
At the same time, all Caribbean states can give thanks for the absence of any major storms and hurricanes that had threatened the region before the hurricane season began.
The Barbados Government must also be saying hallelujah after Standard & Poor’s, the Wall Street credit rating firm, opted not to reduce Barbados’ credit status from investment grade to junk as many had expected.
Both Prime Minister Freundel Stuart and Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler are probably saying thanks to Olga Kalinina and others at S&P, as well as to God, for the island-nation’s ability to dodge the proverbial downgrade bullet.