By Christopher Famous
My purpose of writing today, is to speak to an attack on free speech in the Caribbean. On Friday February 7, 2013 an opinion piece was written in the Bermuda Sun by MP Sylvan Richards of the OBA government of Bermuda.
Christopher Famous is a Caribbean real estate developer and business owner. Raised in various Caribbean islands such as; Bermuda, Jamaica, St Eustatius and St Kitts and Tortola. He has a weekly social and political column in The Bermuda Sun. Feedback to: firstname.lastname@example.org
In this opinion piece labelled “Reckless and unpatriotic,”* MP Richards complains bitterly about Bermudian parliamentary representatives speaking to you, the people of the Caribbean, via this publication, Caribbean News Now.
Elected and appointed officials of the Bermuda Progressive Labour Party (PLP) have a sworn duty to protect the interest of Bermudians, and Bermuda. Part of that responsibility is to enlighten the Bermudian and Caribbean public to all matters pertaining to the region.
It has in fact been enshrined in the PLP constitution for over 50 years:
“To cooperate with organizations within the British Commonwealth with a view to promoting the purposes of the Party, and more particularly to take common action with such organizations in the Caribbean region for the promotion of a higher standard of social and economic life for the population of the respective countries of the region as a whole.”
Currently the OBA government is attempting to embark on forcing commercial immigration and other relaxations of immigration rules onto Bermudians. In their quest to expand their voter base, the OBA is potentially looking to allow foreign nationals to gain ability to;
• Purchase Bermudian status
• Purchase Bermudian property
• Open and control businesses in Bermuda
• Have the right to vote in Bermuda.
At 21 square miles, and a population of 65,000 persons, Bermuda is comparatively small in size to many Caribbean islands. As such, we have a high density of developed land.
Unlike many Caribbean Islands, we do not have sufficient land space for every Bermudian to own a piece of their own island. Most importantly, approximately 40% of Bermudian property is owned by non-Bermudians.
So in this vein Bermudians have a democratic right to defend their ability to:
• To be fully employed in Bermuda
• Open Businesses in Bermuda
• Purchase property in Bermuda
• Vote, without fear of gerrymandering by non-Bermudians
Intimidation of free speech
We have read recently about attacks on the media in sister islands. Additionally we have also read recently the Prime Minister of Antigua, Baldwin Spencer speak to the role of Caribbean media in regional integration. Hence as members of CARICOM, we are exercising our rights to free speech.
What is most telling is that the OBA cannot say that anything we have written was untrue. Basically, their main concern was that their attempts to force legislation counterproductive to the development of Bermudians, has been exposed on a regional level.
So today I ask you as persons of the Caribbean, what sort of government will attempt to stifle the truth being told? Persons listed below have lived and fought for the rights of Caribbean persons to be free to speak the truth;
• Maurice Bishop
• Robert Bradshaw
• Michael Manley
• Sir Lindley Pindling
• A.N.R. Robinson,
Most born Bermudians are descendants of the same line of proud West Indians as listed above. As such, we will never bow down to those seeking to dilute or destroy our hard fought liberties.
I will leave you with this. The OBA government has, thus far, refused to offer any form of financial assistance to the Caribbean islands struck by floods during Christmas. With that being said, it is perhaps clear to see why MP Richards wrote what he did.
Caribbean family, we will not sit idly by while the OBA government attempts to whittle away the rights of Bermudians. We will continue to speak with you, our Caribbean kin.