Message by Mackie Holder, Consul General of Barbados at NY On the occasion of The 54th Anniversary of Independence of Barbados
Conquering the Challenges – This is Who We Are
Fellow Barbadians and Friends of Barbados,
The attainment and celebration of our nation’s 54th anniversary of Independence comes in the midst of the ongoing, devastating Covid-19 pandemic, which has brought the world to its knees.
Indeed, for those of us who live in the United States, there is the unpalatable specter of another period of shutdown and shelter in place as infection rates spike country-wide.
Already, the harsh reality is that the numbers are much higher than in spring when the pandemic exploded, first in New York; spread is more widespread and, unfortunately, death rates are again climbing.
In the shared tragedy of 2020, Barbadians lives have been lost and our tourism-led economy ground to a halt.
It is a sad reflection of our times that the most widely praised of the NY Consulate’s activities was the memorial service held in August celebrating the lives of those who lost their lives to Covid-19 as well as from other causes.
Once again, we remember those who have passed and offer heartfelt condolences to the families and friends of those who lost loved ones in the most unimaginable circumstances.
We remain grateful to all front line workers, among whom are many Barbadians, for their ongoing sacrifice, dedication to duty and care. The public salutes have abated, but we all continue to owe an unpayable debt to all who get up daily, if they slept at all, to battle the pandemic.
I also note the devotion to duty and service of the staff of the Consulate, who have worked throughout the pandemic, in and out of office.
In one of the ironies of 2020, the pandemic has brought Barbadian Associations and individuals closer, and the conversations and collaboration with the Consulate, and each other, will remain the outstanding achievement of the year, one that has already delivered important programmes and which holds immense, as yet untapped potential for more practical engagement.
The unity, resilience and brotherhood of Barbadians, especially in challenging times, are well known, as well as the quality of our leadership. These characteristics that define who we are have been fully evident as our country has battled the pandemic.
Our handling of the pandemic and the economic outfall has, once again, confirmed the top world class nature of Barbados in conquering challenges and maintaining its humanity and support to those in need even in the face of fear and paranoia.
There has been deserved praise for the leadership of Prime Minister Mia Mottley, her team and Barbadians in keeping Barbados one of the safest places on earth. The magnanimous outreach to cruise liners and non-Barbadian citizens stranded, reflective of the Barbadian personality of warmth, helpfulness and upholding international and humanitarian obligations, has set the country apart and won our country new respect and friends.
Prime Minister Mottley has also become the voice for small states for equity, catastrophe funding, the right for citizens to have a minimum acceptable standard of living and for greater attention to be paid to matters of climate change, as hurricanes in the Caribbean region at frequencies and strengths not seen before and wildfires in the US, just two examples, have added to the horrors of the pandemic.
The challenges posed by the pandemic in Barbados, firstly maintain the health of all residents and supporting workers beached by economic activity brought to a drip, were faced by the Barbados leadership with the resolve, resourcefulness and restraint that has been the hallmark of Barbados since its Independence in 1966, and which has seen its steady progress to be one of the most developed countries in the world with a well-balanced society.
Prime Minister Mottley has kept that stability, first with a strong but caring hand in instituting Covid-19 protocols and then by a series of programmes to keep economic activity going, people working and especially to support families beset by a loss of employment.
The range of support has included financial support to the tourism sector, direct funding to families, special arrangements for seniors as well as mortgage payment protection and the instituting of programmes such as the Adopt a Family Charity.
In July, the country received another wave of worldwide publicity and praise when the Prime Minister launched the Barbados Welcome Stamp, which facilitates persons who wish to work for at least a year in the country. This is proving to be a successful initiative, with some 2000 applications to date and almost 1500 approved, with hundreds of persons from the world over already in Barbados.
It is a tribute to all that the country is still forging ahead, from re-opening schools, to critical infrastructural works, digitization and preparing to host UNCTAD 13 next year, from April 25 – 30.
The words of our National Anthem, that with the Lord on the people’s side, we have no doubts or fears, are instructive. Barbados is, therefore, ready to fully reboot once the pandemic is brought under some sort of control.
There is hope in three vaccinations, whose efficacy are, collectively, around 95%. A world back on track will see the continuation of the transformation of Barbados with new tourism projects; targeted housing projects, including an ongoing US$103 million project that the pandemic did not curtail; the further build out of a new foreign policy strategy that has already seen new missions in Brazil and Panama and deeper engagements with Africa that already has in place plans for new missions in Kenya, Ghana and Morocco; and a more structured and nuanced connectivity with the Diaspora, including the establishment of a full Diaspora Unit in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade.
In New York, the Consulate will continue to broaden its interactions with the Diaspora and all who have an interest in Barbados. Indeed, a recent dialogue between young Barbadians at home and young people in Newark is an example of the new directions that will shape discourse in the future. We eagerly anticipate a renewal in 2021 and bringing some transformative projects to New York and some of the other States under the Consulate’s jurisdiction.
So we celebrate our country’s 54th anniversary of Independence with optimism. Our motto of pride and industry could not be more apt in the dismal circumstances of 2020 and we take reassurance from our leadership and strength in unity that next year will be better.
Because Barbados has continuously demonstrated that crises bring out the best in us; and that as long as we come together, we can achieve anything.
A Happy 54th Independence and continued Blessing to all.