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EDITORIAL: More may heed Clarke’s call

BEA DOTTIN, [email protected]

EDITORIAL: More may heed Clarke’s call

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Barbadians generally do not publicly protest against anything.
Their reluctance is often suggested to be based on fear of being victimised by those in authority if they’re seen associating with opposing views.
That is why through the years, the most successful marches have been those organised by trade unions, whose strength could be depended on to defend people in case of reprisals.
Primarily for these reasons, the June 20 march organised by political activist Robert “Bobby” Clarke was not expected to generate any significant response.
Though it was billed as a march to demonstrate Barbadians’ concern about their economic troubles, as well as the seeming indifference of both the ruling Democratic Labour Party Government and the Opposition Barbados Labour Party to their plight, few were expected to turn out, given Clarke’s national profile.
Besides that, the march was hurriedly pulled together with very little formal planning – a point Clarke would later admit.
That this march attracted about 100 people was indicative of the pain some Barbadians are feeling as a result of the economic recession and their resolve to let their voices be heard in protest.
For this reason even more Barbadians may turn up for the second protest march in The City today. Clarke’s activity in sending out flyers and doing media interviews to persuade more Barbadians to support this morning’s effort may also produce greater numbers.  
Therefore the size of the turnout for today’s march could truly be an indicator of Barbadians’ anger at what is going on.
According to Clarke, the march is to impress on the Freundel Stuart-led administration the “unconscionable pressure” placed on ordinary citizens by their fiscal measures.
Said Clarke: “We are calling for a national food production programme; a national energy conservation programme; a national incomes and prices programme; a national employee share ownership programme; and a new developmental agenda based on production – for ourselves and for export.
“We are marching for integrity legislation, and against the partisan control of trade unions. We are marching for a just and equal sharing of the resources of our country and against a handful of big white companies monopolising Government contracts.
We are marching for free education and against partisan interference in our statutory corporations. We are marching for a responsible approach to Government spending, and against the municipal solid waste tax.
“Most of all we are marching for our country – for its future, for our future, for our children and grandchildren . . . . We are aware that silence in the face of injustice, ineptitude and corruption signifies consent. And we do not intend to be silent any longer!”
Whether Clarke can get Barbadians to walk this talk is left to be seen.
What is certain, though, is that Government cannot ignore the pain many Barbadians are feeling because of their economic policies, and their anger at seemingly little change in the offing.  
Today’s march could therefore turn out to be the tipping point in the public’s reaction to the tough economic times.