Search This Blog

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Barbados removes Queen, becomes a Republic !!

It is a ground where India has played nine tests and won none ! (drawn two) – remember that test in Mar 1976 at  Bridgetown (Barbados), when  West Indies won by an innings and 97 runs with two days to spare.  Traditionally, Indian teams have always yielded to pace bowlers on this ground, but that year  they were ousted in the first innings by the leg-spin of Holford and, ironically, all his five wickets were obtained through poor shots at loose balls !!  .. ..  Barbados has produced many great cricketers that would include  Sir Garfield Sobers, Sir Frank Worrell, Sir Clyde Walcott, Sir Everton Weekes, Gordon Greenidge, Wes Hall, Charlie Griffith, Joel Garner, Desmond Haynes and Malcolm Marshall. Rugby is also popular in Barbados. 

Prince Charles landed in Barbados last night ahead of a historic ceremony removing his mother, the queen, as head of state after 55 years.   Barbados is an island country in the Lesser Antilles of the West Indies, in the Caribbean region of the Americas, and the most easterly of the Caribbean Islands. It is 34 kilometres (21 miles) in length and up to 23 km (14 mi) in width, covering an area of 432 km2 (167 sq mi). It is in the western part of the North Atlantic,  outside the principal Atlantic hurricane belt. 

Inhabited by Kalinago people since the 13th century, and prior to that by other Amerindians, Spanish navigators took possession of Barbados in the late 15th century and claimed for the Crown of Castile. It first appeared on a Spanish map in 1511.  The Portuguese Empire claimed the island between 1532 and 1536, but later abandoned it in 1620 with their only remnants being an introduction of wild boars for a good supply of meat whenever the island was visited. An English ship, the Olive Blossom, arrived in Barbados on 14 May 1625; its men took possession of the island in the name of King James I. In 1627, the first permanent settlers arrived from England, and Barbados became an English and later British colony. During this period, the colony operated on a plantation economy, relying on the labour of enslaved Africans who worked on the island's plantations. The slave trade to the island continued until it was outlawed by the Slave Trade Act 1807, with final emancipation of the enslaved population in Barbados occurring over a period of five years following the Slavery Abolition Act 1833. 

Dame Sandra Prunella Mason, GCMG, DA, QC is a Barbadian politician, lawyer, and diplomat who was the eighth and last governor-general of Barbados since 2018 and the president-elect of Barbados. She becomes the first president of Barbados today as the Country ceases to be a constitutional monarchy and becomes  a republic. Mason was a practising attorney-at-law who has served as a High Court judge in Saint Lucia and a Court of Appeal judge in Barbados, and was the first woman admitted to the Bar in Barbados.    The Caribbean island becomes  the world's newest republic as it swears in its first president, Governor-General Dame Sandra Mason, today  - who has pointedly chosen the anniversary of its independence from Britain in 1966.  

Chinese pressure is said to be fuelling a drive to remove the Queen as head of state in Barbados, British MPs have warned. Beijing has pumped at least $490million dollars into the island's tourism industry in recent years - and even more in low interest loans. The money has forced Dame Sandra to deny China is the driving force behind ending 400 years of loyalty to the British crown since King James I without any referendum of the population.  

The Prince of Wales arrived in Barbados amid turmoil for the Royal Family as the Queen, Charles, and Prince William threatened to bring in the lawyers to take action against the BBC over the final instalment of its inflammatory documentary series probing their relations with the media during Megxit.  The heir to the throne flew into the Caribbean on the ministerial jet Voyager late on Sunday night, and was greeted by a large diplomatic party led by Britain's high commissioner to Barbados, Scott Furssedonn-Wood.  Barbadian prime minister Mia Motley and military chiefs lined a red carpet and were introduced to the prince. Also part of the welcoming group was a Guard of Honour and military band, and a deafening 21-gun salute rang out across the Grantley Adams International Airport to mark the prince's arrival.  

In a speech at just after midnight in Bridgetown tonight, the Prince of Wales will highlight the shared goals and enduring bonds between Barbados and the UK during a ceremony marking the Caribbean country's transition to a republic. The Royal Standard will then be lowered and the Presidential Standard will fly from the flag pole instead. The prince was present during the handover of Hong Kong to China in 1997 and he represented the Queen when Zimbabwe gained independence in 1980.   

China has pumped at least $7billion in investment into the Caribbean since 2005, records show, though the true figure - when taking into account soft loan deals and private investment - is thought to run well into the tens of billions. Showpiece projects have included a cricket stadium in Grenada, a casino and resort in the Bahamas, and acquiring Jamaica's largest port.  The country has established beneficial tax deals with Beijing in recent years in an attempt to make itself a hub for Chinese financial firms looking to invest in South America. In 2019, a permanent branch of Invest Barbados was established in Beijing to help attract this investment. Also last year, Barbados signed a Memorandum of Understanding with China, making it part of the country's Belt and Road initiative - otherwise known as the new Silk Road. 

However, not everyone has welcomed China's increased presence in the region. Trade and investment with the likes of Belize, St Lucia, St Kitts, Haiti and St Vincent is still non-existent, largely due to their recognition of Taiwan as a state. 

Barbados will remain a part of the Commonwealth of Nations, a organisation of former British colonies which is headed by Queen Elizabeth II. Charles will also receive the Freedom of Barbados, awarded for extraordinary service to the country, the Caribbean diaspora or to humanity at large. But demonstrations are also expected during the day with some Bajans demanding an apology and reparations from the monarchy and UK Government for slavery. However, there are also concerns among some of the island's population that the issue was not put to a referendum. Barbados' constitution allowed its political leaders to pursue independence without a vote.   

The Queen has been Barbados's head of state since it became independent in 1966 but the issue of becoming a republic has been discussed at national level during the following decades with the process beginning in 1998. Until Tuesday, Barbados is one of the Queen's 16 realms – countries where she is head of state – and in the Caribbean region other countries include Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Belize, Grenada, Jamaica, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia and St Vincent.  The heir to the throne will deliver his address just after midnight, local time, as Barbados begins a new chapter in its history on November 30 – the 55th anniversary of independence from Britain – after its first president Dame Sandra Mason is sworn in. Barbados's decision to remove the Queen as head of state will be watched closely by other members of the Commonwealth especially in the Caribbean region. 

There was someone who quipped some decades back that Sun never sets in British empire.  

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
30th Nov. 2021.


No comments:

Post a Comment