Reports coming out of Bridgetown, Barbados, say two British tourists have been shot there.
The online version of the best-selling local Nation newspaper provided the following information:
Police reported the shooting of two British tourists in the City around 2 p.m. The names have not been released but police reports state a man, in his 70’s, was shot in his left side while a woman, in her 50’s, received a gunshot injury to her right thigh. The shooting occurred in Hincks Street.
The pair was taken to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital where they were being treated.
Not surprisingly, given the brevity of that report, another Barbadian source, the anonymously published Barbados Free Press (BFP) takes issue with the lack of information apparently being made available to Barbadians about the incident.
Suggesting a possible link between the incident and a recent spate of jewelry robberies that appear linked to a "cash for gold" trade on the island, the BFP says it is speculating that the motive was robbery “because precious little information has made its way to the television and radio even 7 hours after the first report.”
This development follows warnings last Thursday in a press conference by Barbados Commissioner of Police Darwin Dottin about an escalation in such robberies.
The BFP writer opines that while good and bad things happen to tourists all over the world, “Barbados has to this point maintained a reputation as a generally safe destination” provided people use the same care that they would when back home – like not walking down dark side-streets at 2 a.m. and expecting nothing to happen.
"That is true in Paris, London, New York and Bridgetown,” the article says.
The writer then notes the circumstances of this day-time shooting, countering “On the other hand, if two elderly tourists can’t be safe on Hincks Street at 2pm on a Sunday afternoon, then we have some real, heavy trouble.”
Hinks Street is well-traversed road, not an obscure alley. It may be relatively quiet there on Sundays though, because shops are usually closed in Barbados on Sundays for religious reasons.
Notably, the BFP also recently published details of a similar daytime attack on a female tourist who was robbed of two necklaces.
The account of this robbery appears to have reached the public through her husband, who wrote an open letter to the press that was published by the BFP.
According to the BFP, that letter was sent to the Nation and the Barbados Advocate as well, but as of March 9 they had not published it.
The BFP aticle also offers possible scenarios in which Sunday’s shooting may have occurred, categorizing this speculation as “just wild talking” to make the point that “the information matters, and getting that information to the public matters too.”
“Is there a madman on the run? Was this a robbery that went bad? Was it fallout from a domestic dispute? Bajans should know something more by this time than we currently know.”
Other scenarios suggested by the BFP include the possibility that the tourists may have been involved in an illegal drug transaction that went wrong.
Whatever the circumstances of this shooting, it is likely to add to the pressure being put on Prime Minister Freundell Stuart’s recently re-elected government to ensure that Barbados’ vital tourism industry is protected from such attacks.
Much of that pressure stemmed from the global media highlighting the scandal last year around Barbados’ police and tourism authorities inadequate response to the rapes of a number of British women by an apparent serial rapist.
In 2010 academic Rachel Turner, employed with the University of the West Indies Cave Hill Campus in Barbados, and her British compatriot Diane Davies, a tourist, were raped within days of each other, in the same area on the island's west coast.
They launched a media campaign deploring their treatment by the local police, who they believed arrested local man Derick Crawford wrongly in a deliberate bid to dispose of the case hastily, lest it undermine the prospectsof the lucrative tourism industry.
This writer’s concern is that the safety of tourists will continue to decline as it continues to take “perverse,” opportunistic priority over that of Barbadian citizens who continue to be figuratively “raped” and literally robbed by many (possibly the majority) of the island’s politicians and their media, academic, religious and business co-conspirators.
My concern is that the consciences of the island’s educated elites are so eroded that they cannot see the essential sameness of the alleged criminal conduct of deceased Prime Ministerin the CL Financial (CLICO) affair, and the behaviour of the thieves targeting tourists and locals.
I have written at length about the systematic, selective silencing that is perpetrated by Barbados’ political, academic, media, religious, business and other elites and how this contributes to a culture of criminal impunity on the island and a corresponding undermining of the rule of law there.
My account of the criminal deception and fraud to which Canadian businessman Isaac Goodine was subjected is a case in point. And Goodine also focuses on the silence-impunity equation in a written account of what he has suffered while on a diplomatic posting in Barbados.
In my open letter to Her Majesty, the British monach who remains Barbados’ head of state, I also urge serious attention to corruption on the island particularly in view of its prestigious international standing as one of the Caribbean’s and Latin America’s exemplars of Western democracy and development.
If Barbados is to be a model to other developing nations and a representative of relatively mature, successful democratic and developed ones like the United States, the United Kingdom, France and Germany, Stuart, opposition leader Mia Motley and others will have to abandon the island’s Vatican City-like culture of secrecy and silence.