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Antigua accuses Jamaica of opposing fourth UWI campus

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

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ST JOHN'S, Antigua (CMC) — Prime Minister Gaston Browne says the decision regarding Antigua and Barbuda becoming the fourth-landed campus of The University of the West Indies (The UWI) has become a political issue.

Browne, speaking on his private radio station here over the weekend, said as far as he is concerned “all the university council was required to do when it met here recently was to ratify the decision for the opening of the campus.

“But you have certain individuals, certain members of the council who turned the issue into a political issue. It ought not to be a political issue. For the last 18 months we have been negotiating with UWI to establish the fourth landed campus here,” Browne told radio listeners.

Browne said based on the feedback he has received, Jamaica appears to be opposing the establishment of the campus.

“Most of the council members supported the proposal, but you had a situation which I am told that at least one of the delegates from Jamaica stated that as far as they are concerned if there's a need, then Jamaica would expand their campus and I understand that the delegate for Barbados questioned what was going to happen to the Barbados campus if OECS (Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States) students are going to come to Antigua and not go to Barbados.

“When you are taking a political decision to undermine a developmental policy of my Government then I have to be very firm and if (Barbados journalist) Sanka Price and others consider it to be arrogance, well guess what? It is developmental arrogance to ensure the development of the people of this country”

In a column published in the Nation newspaper in Barbados, Price wrote that Caribbean governments continue, unfortunately, to approach regional issues in an insular manner when a united voice would be more effective.

“Sadly, this is a throwback to the one-upmanship style that was pervasive in early post-colonial days. That approach has retarded the region's holistic development and allowed larger countries and multinational corporations to play us against each other to secure generous concessions and other sweetheart deals,” Price wrote in the article headlined 'Browne is not helping with unity'.

He said that “it is shameful that in the 21st century some leaders still peddle this approach which may bolster their political base and national image, “but does nothing to strengthen us as a bloc to be reckoned with if we spoke and voted as a unit at international fora.

“The most consistent practitioner of this antiquated approach is Antigua and Barbuda's Prime Minister Gaston Browne. And his blunt, uncompromising statement last weekend on establishing a university campus in Antigua once again demonstrated this style.”

Price said that Browne's statements smack “of an insular perspective”, demonstrates why Browne's approach is backward. “For the Anglophone Caribbean to achieve its true potential, it needs more enlightened leadership than this”.

Browne told radio listeners that “we can't allow people to come and bring regional politics into this decision,” regarding the campus.

The UWI existing campus territories are Jamaica, Barbados, and Trinidad and Tobago.


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