Diplomatic spat in Barbados

Barbados Minister of Education Ronald Jones.
Photo by George Alleyne

A diplomatic war of words may be developing between the government of Barbados and government of Canada through their representatives, the Minister of Education, Ronald Jones, and the north American country’s High Commissioner, Marie Legault.

The Canadian envoy to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean has in past months been commenting on issues that can be seen to touch on Barbadian affairs ranging from homosexuality, country management, and gender matters.

Apparently fed up of with what he saw as interference in the island’s internal affairs an angry Jones snapped without calling a name, over the weekend, “get out! You can’t come and because you eat muskrats (a North American native rodent) you can come and tell us to eat rats.”

Jones display of anger comes under the shadow of Barbados general elections set to be called anytime between now and June 4, with a woman, Mia Mottley, leading the main opposition party that appears a likely winner.

Against a backdrop of this scenario a known government campaigner and political commentator, had in January questioned whether Barbados is ready for a female leader.

And, Legault might have trod on sensitive ground when, consistent with her known support for females achieving status equal to men, she jumped into the fray last week by saying, “I was taken aback when in January I saw political analyst Maureen Holder asking if Barbados was ready for a female prime minister and advocating for a national debate on it. I think every country is ready for a male or female prime minister. Gender does not have an impact.”

Further stressing her point she broadened the discussion to the wider Caribbean, “in terms of women’s participation in politics, Grenada has led the way with 33 percent women in parliament and Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago at 31 percent. On the opposite side of the spectrum, currently Belize only counts with 9.4 per cent women in parliament, and St. Kitts, Antigua and Barbuda and St. Vincent and the Grenadines, between 11 and 13 percent”.

Given Barbados’ politically sensitive climate at this time, Jones interpreted Legault’s statement as an endorsement for opposition leader, Mottley.

“Pack your Georgie bundles and go,” Jones said Sunday without calling the diplomat by name, but added a suggestion of external interference in the island’s affairs, “there is a wicked and deliberate attempt by one or two forces in Barbados who have the honor representing their country on sovereign soil in Barbados.”

“To think that you can come into my country and because you want to cuddle and cunoodle … you say to the people of Barbados to vote for that person. How dare you? You should be asked to leave, or your government should tell you to come home because ‘you have interfered in the domestic political affairs of Barbados,” Jones said.

The Barbados government minster warned a group of supporters to whom he was speaking at the time, “let me tell wunna [you] something . . . you can allow these things that are happening now to continue to happen with our eyes open, but we will wake up tomorrow morning and find that our country is not our own.”

Canadian High Commissioner, Marie Legault.
Photo by George Alleyne

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