On 30th November 2021, fifty-five years after independence from Britain, Barbados will transition from a Constitutional Monarchy to being a Parliamentary Republic – the Republic of Barbados. The Queen’s representative Governor-General Dame Sandra Mason, GCMG, DA, QC will become the first President of Barbados. Her role will be mostly ceremonial, much like her current role as Governor-General.
Barbados is the fourth Commonwealth Caribbean nation to remove the Queen as constitutional head of state, joining fellow Republics of Guyana (1970), Trinidad & Tobago (1976) and Dominica (1978). We wanted to record this historic event.
The count down to Barbados becoming a Republic started in earnest on Monday 16th November 2020 (International Day of Tolerance) with the removal of Nelson’s statue from National Heroes Square in Bridgetown. Nelson has allegedly been put into storage – probably never to be seen again! Nelson’s removal came two months after the Government of Barbados announced plans to replace Queen Elizabeth II as the head of state and was a PR opportunity by the Government to symbolise the break with Barbados’ colonial past which comes with the move from a Constitutional Monarchy to being a Parliamentary Republic – the Republic of Barbados.
The foundation for Barbados becoming a Republic started in 1652 with the signing of the treaty of Barbados in the Mermaid Tavern in Oisitns.
After a long delay the next milestone was Independence in 1966.
The next step is a full cutting of the ties with the former colonial power and becoming a Republic. If done in a transparent manner with the will of the people I have no problem with it.
Over the past several decades this idea of Barbados becoming a Parliamentary Republic has been suggested by both political parties when they were in power. However, neither of them would support the idea when in opposition. They did not want the other party to get the glory for “cutting the final ties to the former slave master”.
When the DLP was last in power they floated the idea but the BLP would not let them get the two-thirds majority needed in Parliament. Their reasoning at the time was a referendum would be required.
Now that the BLP have all but one seat in the House things are different; they have disregarded any past notion of a referendum on Barbados becoming a Republic.
PM Mia Amor Mottley will not let this golden opportunity of going down in history as the “Mother of the Republic” escape. She cannot wait until after the elections because it is questionable if she would still have the two-thirds majority required, and, needed to change the constitution.
Her legacy will be the “Mother of the Republic’ and she will get a statue and her image on a new Barbados bank note.
With the increase of the Covid-19 cases in our major tourist markets our 2022 tourist season will be hard hit. The next twenty four months will be very difficult. PM Mottley needs something to distract the minds of those who are out of work.
We are now in our third IMF bail-out since independence. All are due to mismanagement and a disregard for honest accounting policies. And, we have not repaid the earlier loans yet.
We were independent in 1966. Are we now?
Most of our utilities are foreign owned, so are our Banks, Insurance companies and most of our Hotels. These foreign owned entitles have little or no respect for local workers.
Initially there will be very little difference for us. The large majority of new arrivals each year to Dodds Prison will still be past students of five or six Government run Secondary schools.
The “boys on the block” still will not have any future as productive members of the island. Unfortunately they will continue to settle their frustration with the gun. The majority of children leaving school each June will not have the education that they need to function in the present job market.
Will our justice system, which now is a shambles and disgrace, show any improvement? Will we ever have an independent auditor to look into how the money at CBC, BWA, or The Transport Board is spent – not in the past but going forward?
Will Tax Payer funded enquiries into failed private companies ever be made public?
We shall see.
There is a cost to changing our name. The Postal Service, at a time when their revenue is falling, will have to print new stamps. The same with the Central Bank as they will have to get new coins and paper/plastic notes. Every government department will have to change their letterhead and web site addresses. Every government vehicle with the island’s name will have to be repainted.
My feeling is that this money could be better spent building a Polytechnic and a Community College in the North of the island.
One good thing, and they will be a few, is that we will no longer have to put up with all of the knighthoods every year. This is something that should have been abolished in 1966. I am very interested to know if two of those who worked hard to uplift the under-privileged will return their knighthoods.
Some changes will take longer and will not be apparent for a few decades. In some Republics the Government remains in power with the consent of the army. Examples are Trinidad & Tobago, Grenada, North Korea, Venezuela, Egypt, Libya and most of Sub-Saharan Africa. I hope that we do not go that way.
We will see the requirement to get visas to visit countries that we once could go to freely.
We will need a new Presidents Palace. Government House is not suitable for such an important role. The two schools than border it will be glad for a bit more land.
What I am interested in is what form it will take. Will the president be elected? How about the Senate? Will it be abolished? It should have been decades ago. If continued in some form, will it be elected or continue as a reward for rejected politicians or the party faithful?
We are in for some interesting times which the majority of Barbadians, of all races, will have little or no say. It has been decided that we are not smart enough to make such big decisions. We will go home and read Animal Farm.
As with all changes there will be winners and losers. Some will cry gloom and doom, some will sit and expect that a pot of gold will fall into their laps and others will work hard and make a success of the changes. Everyone will decide for themselves which group they want to be in.
Background on changes to the Barbados Constriction
Source: Republicanism in Barbados.
Timeline to the changes to the Barbados Constitution:
- On 16th November 2020 (International Day of Tolerance) PM Mia Mottley begins clearing the decks of Barbados’ colonial past with the symbolic removal of the statue of Admiral Lord Nelson in National Heroes Square (pka Trafalgar Square)
- On 20th September 2021, the Constitution (Amendment) Bill 2021 was introduced to the Parliament of Barbados.
- On 28th September 2021, the House of Assembly of Barbados passed the bill.
- On 6th October 2021, the Senate of Barbados passed the bill.
- On 12th October 2021, incumbent Governor-General of Barbados Dame Sandra Mason, GCMG, DA, QC was jointly nominated by the Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition as candidate for the first president of Barbados.
- On and on 20th October 2021 the incumbent Governor-General of Barbados, Sandra Mason was elected to the post of President of Barbados effective 30th November 2021.
What others are saying about Barbados becoming a Republic
- Foreign Policy – Barbados is ready to say goodbye to the Queen: by Stéphanie Fillion.
- iNews – Barbados cutting imperial links with the UK may send Republican ripples across the Caribbean – and beyond: by Michael Day.
- Big Drum Nation – Barbados becoming a Republic is an historic necessity: by Sir David Simmons.
- Barbados Today – The impact of the new Republic: by Emmanuel Joseph.
- UCL Institute Of The Americas – Barbados’s transition to Republic status in regional perspective: a panel discussion with Professor Cynthia Barrow-Giles, H.E. David Comissiong, Dr Derek O’Brien & Professor Emerita Carolyn Cooper hosted by Dr Kate Quinn.
- The Sunday Times – Bye-bye, Barbados. China can have you: by Jeremy Clarkson.