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Volume No. 1 Issue No. 24 - Friday, July 12, 2002
The Past is Prologue

by: Dr. Emanuel Finn
The 2002-2003 controversial austerity budget will create more political, economic and socially explosive conditions for Dominica. One gets the feeling that imminent trouble and disruptions are looming overhead because of the confusing economic and political dynamics that are currently playing themselves out.

If the demonstrations and protests that are scheduled for this week and in the near future are based on economic demands for the purpose of redressing the budget grievances, (and not based on politics) then there could probably be a quick resolution to this terrible impasse.

Given the existing political dynamics, some politicians may be opportunistically seeking to exploit the demonstrations, protests and other acts of civil disobedience for their own selfish purposes. This is always a dangerous precedence because the government begins to 'dig in its heels' appearing not to be weak and giving in to its bitter political rivals. These political contaminations only make negotiations and compromise much more difficult. It is the nature of the beast called politics.

But if history should serve as a reminder to this government, they should listen, consult and communicate effectively with the people. Failure to give a listening ear to the people's demands may result in a shameful demise (soon) of the coalition government. Moreover, the government's austerity measures will be blamed for the deepening poverty and hardship of ordinary Dominicans.

The government should also realize that the demonstrations and other popular labour unions activities in Dominica have a history of forming alliances with opposition groups and political parties to dethrone the sitting government.

The popular labour union leader in the mid to late 70s during the civil service labour disputes with the Patrick John Labour government is today a major political player in Dominica. While representing the civil servants, this union leader was 'in bed' with the opposition party. The unrest, which occurred as a result of the government digging its heels helped immensely in its demise. Is history repeating itself? Indeed, the events of the past few weeks brings about an eerie nostalgia for that period some twenty- three (23) years ago.

These events also help immensely in launching the political career of this former union leader. Is it coincidental that today this gentleman is a senior minister in the coalition government? What are his views and positions on the current situation after voting for the budget? Indeed the past is (or should be) prologue.

The impending short and long term consequences of the austerity budget exposes the government and country to a rocky and dangerous period. The popular street protests and demonstrations twenty- three (23) years ago by Dominicans and the violence inflicted on them by the unprofessional and beleaguered Dominica Defense Force (D.D.F.) cannot be forgotten, and has to be put in perspective.

Two decades ago the D.D.F, its arrogant and shortsighted commanders, the Prime Minister 'Colonel' Patrick John, were held responsible and paid a very high price (and rightly so) for disrespecting and insulting the Dominican people and almost destroying the country. This piece of history should serve as a warning to government(s) and law enforcement. In the end, when the dust clears, people power always prevail.

While the police department must maintain law and order, it should be very careful that it does not get caught up in the messy politics of the situation. The police high command should leave politics for the politicians and deal within their expertise; the business of law enforcement. The police should allow and embrace peaceful protests and demonstrations (and be prepared to deal with those who act otherwise in a professional manner) and do its job of protecting life and property.

The police should strive not to allow government (of the day) to come between them and the people. This writer thinks that this decision should be an easy choice for the police unless the decisions, which are made by top police brass are strictly political and has very little to do with good law enforcement. When the souls of a people are in trouble, democracy is also in trouble.

Now is the time for calm, real leadership and dialogue and sacrifice on the part of government, all the stakeholders and cornerstone institutions on our island home. The order and priority of the day are to find compromise resolutions and move on with the business of Dominica. The government's failure to capitulate means that they may be playing with 'fire'.The stakes are much higher today than they were some two decades ago. The past is prologue indeed.

Volume No. 1 Issue No. 24
A Response to Dominica's 2002 Budget
A Partisan Police Department
Standards and Its Development
Letters to the Editor
CSM Alcendor On the Frontlines in Afghanistan



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