Respect due, at all times
Throughout the International Whaling Conference (IWC) being held at the Marriott Resort in Basseterre one thing became very obvious to many people attending, as well as to those following the proceedings via the media – there is still gross disrespect for the sovereign rights of these small island states.
There were disparaging comments aplenty about the islands, and therefore, indirectly about the people who call them home.
The large anti-whaling powers made no bones about how they felt about the islands of the region lending support to the Japanese. They spoke of bribery and trickery and greed with no one even once saying that the islands are well within their rights to vote how they saw it fit and in what they might well consider the direct interest of the people.
They didn’t have it all their own way though and Tony Best, who covered the conference, was moved to speak of the strength of two regional women as they stood up and faced the challenges and came out earning the respect of both sides of the divide.
Best was glowing in his accolades of Antigua & Barbuda Junior Agriculture Minister, Joanne Massiah whom he described as having become “known for using the most eloquent of phrases and a calm tone to get her points across; so much so that even opponents of sustainable use of the world’s marine resources, a policy she champions, felt compelled the other day in Basseterre to cheer her intervention, not because they agreed with her arguments but because of the sheer force of her words and their own inability to muster a comeback.”
Then there was Claris Charles of Grenada.
Best said, “She charged that like some of the other rich white nations within the IWC, New Zealand had resorted to racist tactics which were based on false notion that Blacks weren’t intelligent and bold enough to stake out a position based on their national interests and to fight for it.
“Some of these NGOs and countries which oppose any resumption of commercial whaling want to tell us what to do and when we decline to follow them, they resort to offensive language, which quite frankly is often racist,” she told a reporter in the wake of New Zealand’s comments and the allegations levelled by NGOs.
“We are intelligent people in the Caribbean and we don’t have to wait for someone in Europe, Australia or New Zealand to dictate a course of action for us. We can and do think for ourselves.”
We applaud both these women, and further, we applaud Best for looking at this aspect of the conference and bringing it to the fore for Caribbean people to understand what they are up against as they try to knit themselves into a unit to challenge the might of some of these so-called world powers in various areas.
What needs to happen now is that the ordinary people of the region need to understand that they have to start believing in their own people, their own experts and professionals.
Because while these women were asserting themselves, the police hierarchy of this country were “buddying up” to the foreign press, telling them all about the Greenpeace protest incident; while the local press, including this newspaper was being told to wait for the issue of a press release coming more than 24 hours after the fact.
We are sure that should Massiah and Charles hear about this they would be livid. Journalist Tony Best would be livid as well.
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