The Salisbury Incidents: Reflections on a State in Crisis
Peering through the lens of the Salisbury protests to the state of Dominica, we see a nation in crisis, and a society hypnotised by the opium of bacchanal, by fear of, and misguided loyalty to, a dictatorial government with a saintly halo.
The Salisbury protests were born from a sense of frustration, anger and despondency. The first of these protests occurred on 11th May 2015. The people of Salisbury simply could not fulfil their basic human needs to feed themselves and their family and to self-actualise. The poor conditions of the farm roads cut them off from their farms and their only means of a livelihood and of realising their God-given gifts and talents, which are crucial if people are to be truly human and happy. And yet repairs to the farm roads were being thwarted by the tribalistic tendencies of the government that fosters enmity and conflict, inequality and injustice, providing benefits for some whilst punishing others for their political affiliations and the expression of their human and constitutional rights.
To compound matters a short-sighted and ill-advised government policy sought to supplant agriculture with tourism, ensuring that the farmers of Salisbury and elsewhere in Dominica lose permanently their only source of livelihood and personal development, sacrificing their way of life on the altar of a failed tourism initiative, and spelling the death of a tradition that has sustained the Dominican economy for generations. The government and commissioner of police responded by demonising the people of Salisbury and spraying them with tear gas that was, by all accounts, expired.
The people once again gathered on 11th June to protest at the dawn raids on their village and home by heavily armed officers and their inability to express their basic human and constitutional rights to protest at the brutality and injustices meted out to them by the state police, acting like the gestapo of a fascist state. The state accused the people of Salisbury of being violent and lawless, whilst they were, ironically, being besieged by an army of heavily armed officers, suffocated by tear gas, and peppered with rubber bullets and live ammunition.
The people of Salisbury were simply exercising their human and constitutional rights to have their voices heard, to have their just cause registered on the consciousness and conscience of the nation. In their response of brute force, the state's ultimate aim was to instil fear in the people of Salisbury and throughout Dominica.
The Salisbury protests reflect the basic instinct of the human spirit for freedom from oppression, an instinctual yearning that beat powerfully in the breast of all freedom fighters from Jesus Christ to Gandhi, from the "Negre Mawon" to Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King.
The underlying reasons for the Salisbury protests are evident throughout Dominica. Across the island people are frustrated, angry and despondent. Unemployment is at record levels. Agriculture, the mainstay of the economy, is being systematically dismantled in favour of tourism, which, as a viable alternative has failed. Alcoholism and drug abuse, abuse of women and children have reached epidemic proportions. The health and spiritual wellbeing of the nation are in crisis. The government has no vision, no policies, no guiding philosophy to tackle the impending catastrophe.
Yet the people of Dominica, with the exception of the people of Salisbury, approach this encroaching hurricane with a level of passivity that is quite astonishing. They are in a hypnotic, zombified state, or walking sleepiness, induced by the opium of too much siwo, fear, and blind allegiance to an oppressive government with a smile of benevolence. Their only means to deal with the impending disaster is to party. Here, Michael Jackson's Thriller video comes to mind. In this video, as in Dominica, zombies creep out from their stupor to dance the night away, only to disappear into the darkness once the party is over.
A revolutionary seed has been sown in the people of Salisbury to hold the government accountable for its failures. Long may this spirit of freedom and justice flourish and infuse people's minds throughout Dominica to create a better, more productive and just society.
The Dominica Noise Abatement Association