A people afraid to speak up – A message to Barbados

Last week Donald Trump became president of the United States of America, and people have been outspoken about the result.

People have written into newspapers, protested on the streets, spoken to government officials and shouted at the top of their voices in the streets.

This level of expression feels normal.

If there is an issue with a corrupt government, or a dominating authority that are oppressing or discriminating against a group of people, then there are avenues of protest and personal recourse that allow people to feel less helpless, less disenfranchised.

The avenues are not as clear in Barbados.

We have spoken to the general populous on a number of subjects including; government corruption on a national and local level; police abuse of powers; dereliction of duty; the collapse of public services; and the lack of customer service in Barbados.

The people have strong opinions on all these topics and can articulate their concerns clearly, but there is one overriding statement that we hear repeated over again, “If we try to say something, we will be targeted and I can not afford to lose my house / land / job / etc.”

The Americans have a phrase “If you see something, say something” however there is a genuine concern in Barbados that to say something will result in being victimised by the same corrupt body, without any recourse.

So what do you do when your public services are being neglected? When service queues are two hours long with only two government workers at the customer windows? Why can we not pay land tax online? When you are harassed by an overly enthusiastic police officer, or the actions and behaviour of your MP or local representative are not befitting of the office that they hold in your name?

So what do you do when your letters are not being published in the newspapers? When there is no customer service contact, or your minister or representative simply ignores and does not respond to your letters?

In the past people would do nothing thinking that “that is just the way life is in Barbados.” And that is just how the officials would like for it to remain.

They would like people not to mobilise or speak up, for in this darkness, they can continue to corrupt.

They would like people to continue to be afraid of personal consequences, because to divide is to conquer, and to conquer is to maintain their status quo.

If Barbados wishes to see improvements in its government and banking services, it needs to make those demands of them.

If everyone complains when something is wrong then those letters of complaint will be used to improve the services, and if they are not, then they will act as the evidence that nothing is being achieved and that a change of management is required.

Accountability should be for all members of the public and not just the white elite.

A change in attitude is required from us the people. Levels of expectation need to change from us and we must begin to demand more from our services.

Barbados is known for its relaxed attitude and it is a product that we sell to the tourists, but levels of government and business should not be subject to these same relaxed attitudes because it sends us backward compared to the rest of the Caribbean, compared to the rest of the world.

This is a call to arms.

To get the levels of service that we deserve, we must expect higher standards and complain when those standards are not met.

Best practices employed throughout the world are still but ideas here in Barbados.

Technology designed to for efficiency, speed, and convenience employed by international companies that have a presence on this island are not being utilised in Barbados.

Barbados is being left behind, what will you do to stop it?

Are you part of the solution, or are you part of the problem?

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