“Guyana and Barbados, inseparable” – Robert ‘Bobby’ Morris

Guyana and Barbados, inseparable

MARCH 27, 2016 | BY | There is an unbreakable link between the people of Guyana and Barbados. That island’s High Commissioner to this country, Robert ‘Bobby’ Morris, made it clearly known during a public discussion on the history of the two countries.

The occasion was a panel discussion, Tuesday night (March 22, 2016), when three Guyanese resident in Barbados for decades got together with Morris to form a panel to discuss ‘The History of Guyana-Barbados Relations, and where we are now’.

The other panelists were former Guyana Bauxite Company Chief Executive Officer, Pat Thompson; retired Senior Research Fellow in Lexicography, Dr. Jeanette Alsopp and retired Barbados Ambassador to Venezuela, Frank DaSilva. (See photos below).  


Morris, who is also his country’s Ambassador to CARICOM, told the meeting of mainly Guyanese at the Barbados Workers’ Union Headquarters that this solid relationship between the two states remains unchanged even in the face of aggression by neigbouring Venezuela.

“Barbados can be counted on to support Guyana within the context of CARICOM against the expansionist plans of Venezuela. We have never ever budged in backing the Guyanese position. We have not been persuaded to weaken in any way at all, and that’s not likely to happen,” he said.

Guyana and Barbados gained their independence in 1966. While this country’s 50th Anniversary of Independence date falls on May 26, the date for that island is November 30.

Morris recalled that in the post-slavery era Barbadians left the island in their thousands to escape harsh conditions. Most of them migrated to Guyana and Tobago.

He said such movement laid the foundation for the close familial ties that exist today between Barbadians and Guyanese.

Morris himself is an example of those ties. He revealed to the audience that in the course of his frequent trips to Guyana on official duty, he seizes the opportunity to be with his Guyanese blood relatives.

“We need to understand who we are. These two countries are inextricably linked. All we have to do is to recognise that and work even more closely than we’ve done before,” the Ambassador, former Parliamentarian and devout trade unionist said.

Barbadian businessman, Sir Kyffin Simpson, years ago opened a pioneering farm on 10,000 acres in the Rupununi, where he has been growing rice and other grains for export to Brazil and far-east countries.

Based upon the success of this venture, Sir Kyffin is reportedly set to take up another 30,000 acres for expansion of his farm.

Morris held this instance of successful cross-border investment where capital meets land and resources as “One of the best examples of cooperation between Barbados and Guyana.
“This is a prime example of the type of cooperation which can be a model for the development of CARICOM.”
“I feel very strongly as I travel through Guyana; I’m impressed that this country is set to move … Guyana is poised to move again and Barbados will move with Guyana.”

Each panelist spoke of having blood relatives reaching across the expanse of Caribbean Sea separating Guyana and Barbados. Dr. Deep Forde put some historical perspective to these links during his introductory remarks.

“There were three periods between 1834 and 1924 during which Barbadians migrated to Guyana … there was intense migration.”
He said that Bajan migrant workers not only left their mark in Central America where they were well-known for their contribution to digging the Panama Canal, but they contributed labour in Guyana also.
“Twenty-one thousand Barbadians went to Guyana … they also built the first railroad in South America, from Georgetown to Rosignol.”

But testimony of the family and formal national bonds between the sister nations would have been incomplete without reference to the relatively brief post-2008 sour period when Guyanese were deported en masse.

A newspaper executive of the period and last night’s discussion moderator, Roxanne Branker, said she had received calls and complaints of ‘pre-dawn raids’ with immigration officers entering the  homes of suspected illegal Guyanese between three and 6am then bundling persons off for deportation.

DaSilva, a stalwart of the Democratic Labour Party, which had just come to power during the period, attributed the actions of authorities to ‘inexperience, and not a deliberate policy’.
Morris said that he looked back at the experiences, and “hope they will never happen again”.

But it was Barbadian social activist, David Comissioning, who made known for the first time that late Prime Minister, David Thompson, who headed the government at that time, had quietly ordered a halt to the deportations following a meeting between the two men.

Comissioning told the audience that he called Thompson, “in the midst of all the human dislocation and suffering” stating it was wrong and that there was a better way.
According to Comissioning, Thompson agreed to meet him along with then Permanent Secretary, Gilbert Greaves. “We talked it through. We looked at all the negative consequences of the policy, and basically David agreed to return to the original Barbados policy on immigrants.”

That policy permits illegal immigrants resident here for at least five years to apply for immigrant status and have their applications processed.
“Basically there was a reversion but he [Thompson] said he was not prepared to go publicly and state that he was going back to that old system, but he would issue the memo to the  Chief Immigration Officer.”
Comissioning said this was done, resulting in a halt to the deportation of Guyanese.

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  • demerwater  On 03/27/2016 at 7:13 am

    How times and things have changed!
    At first, in my time, “Bajan” was a word to make light of. The calypso that first caught my attention centered around “Dem Bajan gal. When the rain come down. Dey praying to get hot sun …” I dared not sing it within the hearing of my parents.
    Next, I started to work and often listened to (and to my shame, uttered) words like, “God nah (is not) Bajan!”
    Later as a student at ECFI, “We in BG have ISLANDS in the Essequibo river that are bigger than Barbados!” “BG is not an ISLAND! We have a “Continental Destiny!!” (The quote is from Mr. Wilbur Holder – a Guyanese Broadcaster who emigrated to Trinidad and the country’s innovative Television broadcasting).
    ECFI was a great institution! Not only did I obtain a sustainable education; I formed great relationships.
    At the top of the list was I E Telfer – Principal. Then there were the students;
    Wazir Omar Ali, Azad Ghanie, Samlall Mahabirsingh, Herman Pulwarthy and Victor Bhola – from Trinidad. Nola Donaldson was in a class all by herself!
    Howard Andrew Reyes – British Honduras.
    Anthony Ferdinand and Paul? Gireau from St Lucia. Peter Josie – class by himself!
    Clement Cuffy – from Dominica.
    Raymond Arthur, ? Fletcher and Sydney Law – Grenada.
    Then there was “Sir Grantley”. Don’t ask me what was his real name; and Aubrey Barker from Barbados. The latter gave us the corruption of a traditional adage – “Man’s appoint … but God’s a gallon!”
    At ECFI I got more than an education. It was edification; in that I began to understand what held the Caribbean / West Indies together … and what kept us apart.

  • Clyde Duncan  On 03/27/2016 at 3:03 pm

    This posting warms the cockles of my Heart ….

    One-One Dutty Build Dam – build it and they will come!!

  • Rosaliene Bacchus  On 03/27/2016 at 3:52 pm

    This is an interesting development. My maternal grandfather was a Barbadian immigrant to what was then British Guiana, earning his living in an import/export business between the two colonies.

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