Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Maxine McClean. (FP)
In the lead up to Barbados’ 50th anniversary of Independence, there will be much to reflect on, and not just in relation to our island.
This was indicated recently when Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Maxine McClean, addressed the start of a panel discussion to mark CARICOM-Cuba Day, on December 8, at the National Union of Public Workers’ headquarters, Dalkeith Road, St. Michael.
The Minister, who is also the Chairperson of the National Committee for the 50th Anniversary of Independence, said: “On Monday, November 30, Barbados began the countdown to celebrations to mark our 50th year of Independence in 2016. In the days leading up to our 49th year as a full-fledged state, much of the national discourse about Barbados’ foreign policy remains centred on the idea of independence, not only on paper, but also in action and in thought; whether expressed alone or in consort with other like-minded countries.
“As we go forward to 2016, it is expected that we will also reflect on the events which compelled, and propelled, Barbados’ move to full sovereignty. Our national conversation will be about the form, practice and substance of our nationhood.”
According to Senator McClean, the dialogue would not only cover pressing matters of domestic policy but also our country’s orientation to the rest of the world, across a number of international issues which require the sustained and creative exercise of small state diplomacy.
Reflecting on celebrations for the 49th Anniversary, held last month, the Foreign Trade Minister said, for her, it took on added significance with the re-discovery by our High Commissioner in London of Barbados’ 1651 ‘Declaration of Independence’.
“Barbadians almost presented it to the British Parliament in protest of the many laws passed in London that affected the economic, political and social lives of the inhabitants of what was then referred to as the ‘brightest jewel in the British Crown’,” she recalled.
Stressing that from back then we were independent thinkers, Senator McClean continued: “Though the Barbadian planters were appeased, the Americans were not. Under the stewardship of George Washington, after whom our own George Washington House is named, the Americans obtained a copy of the Barbados Declaration and adopted many of the precepts contained therein, to add context and content to the 1776 United States Declaration of Independence.”
The Minister told Barbadians, Cubans and others gathered that it was in this context that Barbados’ stance as a small but independent state, and its early recognition of Cuba, could be understood.