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Mottley: No rampant crime

Tony Best

Mottley: No rampant crime

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Barbados may be experiencing a serious economic and fiscal crisis but rampant crime isn’t one of its nightmarish woes, as some people suggest.
In fact, said Opposition Leader Mia Mottley, while there had been some troubling and highly publicised isolated incidents, widespread crime across the land wasn’t a fact of everyday life for the average citizen.
Mottley told a crowded town hall meeting at the St. Leonard’s Church in Brooklyn, New York on Saturday night that the idea of widespread crime afflicting the island couldn’t be substantiated by the level of criminal behaviour.
“I like to be fair. There is no doubt that in difficult economic times there is a greater fear of crime, but I cannot stand here tonight and tell you that crime is running rampant across the landscape,” Mottley said in response to a question during the two-hour session sponsored by her party’s arm in New York, titled A Better Life for our People.
“There have been some isolated incidents that at any time it happens will excite emotion and there is a chance that as times get more difficult, it may happen. But I am not going to lend credence to the view that Barbados is now crime-ridden, because it is not.”
With three of her parliamentary colleagues – Cynthia Forde, Dwight Sutherland and Trevor Prescod – as well as Pat Parris, an aide, and Jessica Odle Baril, a former consul general in New York who now leads the BLP group, at her side, Mottley said issues of crime and security in the Caribbean must be tackled, not simply at the national level, but as a regional problem.
But while she rejected the notion that rampant crime was undermining the quality of people’s lives, Mottley lamented what she called the “climate of fear” which had emerged in Barbados in recent times as the economy went into a recession once again.
The crisis of fear, she complained, could be traced to people and officials who were eager to threaten or seek to intimidate some of Barbados’ brightest and most outspoken analysts who had dared to speak out against the ruling Democratic Labour Party’s management of the economy and its stewardship of the social landscape.
She cited the case of Dr George Belle, a former dean of the social sciences faculty at the Cave Hill campus of the University of the West Indies, who after “expressing his views on the (trade) unions and expressing his view on the political malaise in Barbados” was told, “not once but twice” that he “should be prosecuted”.
Belle, she explained, had described the Stuart administration as the worst Government in Barbados’ history since Independence. At the same time, Mottley said, Government supporters felt free to praise the administration to the skies without being threatened or intimidated.
Mottley also referred to the case of Anglican priest Reverend Charles Morris, a teacher at Combermere School who addressed a meeting of the BLP’s People’s Assembly but “six weeks or two months later a letter goes to him citing the General Orders and saying he should be disciplined”. It was a straight case of attempted intimidation, the Opposition Leader insisted.
She recalled that long before Ronald Jones became Minister of Education he spoke on “political platforms” while serving as a public school teacher and he wasn’t threatened.
“What is it that is going on in Barbados,” she asked.