BARBADOS has become the latest country in the Anglo-phone Caribbean, and for that matter the world, to become a Republic. President, Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali has congratulated the country’s President, Government and people of Barbados on this historic and momentous occasion. The country’s President, Dame Sandra Mason, was sworn in by the Chief Justice in the presence of Prince Charles and several other dignitaries including Guyana’s Prime Minister, Mark Philips. She used the occasion to call on all Barbadians to ‘dream big’ in recognition of the ‘complex, fractured and turbulent world’.
In extending congratulations to the Barbadian people, President Ali pledged Guyana’s continued and unwavering support to the country. Guyana, he said, salutes the people of Barbados as the country seeks to consolidate its political independence and nationhood. ‘It is a tribute to the conscience and courage of your forebears who yearned for freedom in all its plentitude and stood fast against the odds.’
Barbados has done well in terms of constitutional, political and economic advancement and ranks among the more developed countries in the region. It has played a key and supportive role in the Caribbean integration movement and was in fact one of the founding members of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).
At the bilateral level, Guyana and Barbados have close relations both at the political and economic levels. The two countries share much in common in terms of history and culture and Barbados is today home to many Guyanese who departed the shores of Guyana to seek a better life during the period of PNC authoritarian rule. As pointed out by President Ali, ‘Guyana and Barbados are joined by ties of blood, history and friendship. Our two countries now traverse the path of independence and integration as sister republics. We look forward to working with you to further develop the warm and friendly ties which so happily exist between us and to strengthen the relation of our Caribbean Community.’
Guyana attained its republican status on February 23, 1970, four years after it obtained independence from Great Britain. Regrettably, at that time the country suffered a rupture of its democratic credentials after the then PNC regime, under the leadership of Forbes Burnham, rigged the 1968 elections to perpetuate its rule. Both independence and republican celebrations were marred by an environment of political intrigues and machinations by vested interests, the consequence of which was the denial of independence and republican status under the PPP regime.
All of that is now, as it were, water under the bridge and Guyana and Barbados are now active partners in the integration movement and they both play key roles in the advancement of the goals of a democratic and economically viable region. In fact, Prime Minister Mia Mottley stood up, along with other regional leaders, against attempts by the APNU+AFC Coalition to subvert democracy during the March 2, 2021 General and Regional Elections in Guyana.
If there is one lesson to be learnt from the Barbadian example it is that democracy and adherence to constitutional rule is an important prerequisite for national development. Full credit must be given to the government and people of Barbados for having steered the country along a path of economic, political and constitutional advancement, which has now culminated in the granting of republican status after 396 years of colonial rule.