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PM Gaston Browne should know the Jamaica Observer is no Antigua Observer

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Clearly having nothing to celebrate since his election in 2014, Antiguan Prime Minister Gaston Browne spent his country's Independence Day complaining on Nationwide Radio that this newspaper has been campaigning against him following his attacks on our principal, Mr Gordon “Butch” Stewart, and his Sandals Antigua hotel.

The record will show that what Mr Browne terms “campaign” is this newspaper's reproduction of news stories originating in Antigua and Barbuda in which he has made many accusations against Sandals and Mr Stewart without providing any proof of his claims.

In one case we commented in this space on his own declaration that he was following “entrepreneurial socialism” and would partially nationalise the hotel sector in Antigua. We warned him of what happened with the socialist experimentation in the Caribbean, and in Jamaica in particular.

Frankly, he should be thanking us for alerting him to something which is bound to ruin Antigua and Barbuda by driving away foreign investors as occurred here in the 1970s. Indeed, of the 25 investment projects which he has announced, not one has come to fruition. If our late Prime Minister Michael Manley were alive he could teach Mr Browne a thing or two.

Instead, Mr Browne has turned to attacking this newspaper. He should know that his foolish belief that his attacks will stop us from publishing his rantings will not help him. He does not mention that all other Caribbean newspapers, including the Antigua Observer , are carrying the story and editorialising on it.

Any prime minister who is attacking the hotel sector in his country and its major investors, let alone declaring that socialism of whatever form is his brand of politics in 2017, will make news in any alert media. Moreover, Mr Stewart was an eminent newsmaker long before he owned the Jamaica Observer.

If that were not enough, we would find it irresistible to carry news about a highly successful Jamaican businessman — and our principal at that — who has built the Caribbean's top hotel brand and who is being attacked by a prime minister whose recklessness is about to bring down his country with him.

The further irony in Mr Browne's attack on the Jamaica Observer is that in his own country, the media is deathly afraid of him and his Administration.

The journalist rights group, the Paris-based Reporters Without Borders would find much to occupy the organisation by taking a look at how the dreadfully misguided Mr Browne treats the media in Antigua and Barbuda in the absence of a vibrant Antigua Media Association.

In the meantime, the Antiguan Prime Minister will do well to understand the difference between the Jamaica Observer and the Antigua Observer . He can have no influence over this newspaper, especially as we do not have to depend on advertising from his vengeful Government.