Weeping for Weak UWP
Athie Martin is disappointed in the UWP and the party's cold response to the state governance in Dominica
Mon 8 June 2015 - He knows they won't like it but Athie Martin will speak his mind anyway. And as far as the hotelier, environmentalist, development expert and campaign strategist is concerned, the United Workers Party (UWP) which he supported during the last general election campaign has let him down.
"These guys will not like to hear what I have said because it looks like I'm attacking them but I'm willing to take that risk."
What has "so perturbed, disturbed, upset" Martin is what he sees as the opposition party's lack of leadership on troublesome matters of concern. In an apparent reference to the police handling of the recent protest in Salisbury and subsequent threats of arrests by the police and the national security minister, Martin paints a troubling picture of a country on the road to Soviet-style Red Terror of 1918, the Great Purge of the mid-1930s or the Gulag.
"Read the signs, read the signs. The time will come when they will just come to pick us up and disappear us and when it starts you are not going to be able to stop them," he told The Sun in a sensational accusation.
Complaining that the various civil society institutions "have been gutted" by the current administration, the former agriculture minister in the Rosie Douglas Dominica Labour Party (DLP) administration has said that it was now up to the opposition to lead. And he wants to see a more militant approach, something akin to Marxism's proletariat dictatorship.
"You have to give (the government) an ultimatum. Tell them to get out of the way or we will move you. Work with people who are in the majority - it's a large majority of Dominicans who are suffering and they understand why they are suffering - and all you need to tell them is what and where and when," he suggested.
Instead, he complained, all that come from the UWP are vacuous platitudes and a shocking lack of courage.
"They are not providing the kind of leadership that is needed now, leadership which is decisive, which leads to change. And that is their mantra, change. But you cannot have change unless you remove the obstacle to change. It appears to me that they are unable, unwilling to remove the obstacle to change and the obstacle to change is a leadership (of the country) that has no vision, a leadership that cares only about itself, a leadership that flaunts the constitution, a leadership which makes no bones about bringing the country to its knees…I thought the whole purpose to have a government in waiting is that they would be perceptive enough to recognize when it's time to act."
Challenged that he was advocating the violent overthrow of a government that was re-elected just over six months ago, Martin denied it, claiming that it was the administration that had promoted violence against the people "in the worst way" through poverty, unemployment and under-employment. What he was promoting, he said, was a campaign of civil disobedience that would decapitate the government.
"You tell them we give you so and so date to step down and give the people of the country a chance to decide. If you refuse to step down… we will shut the country down until you are no longer the government. We have no guns, no ammunition, we are saying we will stop being a Mahatma Gandhi, we will stop being a Martin Luther King, we will stop cooperating with you. We will shut the country down, including stop paying tax. That is the weapon dictators are most afraid of. Dictators are not afraid of guns. If you say you are going to have a violent overthrown, dictators love that, but if you say we are not going to work, dictators fear that," Martin told The Sun.
An email seeking comment from the UWP leader, Lennox Linton, was not acknowledged up to press time. But the political scientist, Peter Wickham, while not supporting Martin's thesis or recommended method, has painted a picture of an ineffective opposition.
"The opposition UWP's problem not unlike that of several other opposition parties in the Caribbean which are incapable of constructive criticism that appeals to the intellect," Wickham told The Sun. "In the case of Dominica the problem is to some extent exacerbated by the fact that the new leader of the opposition is a talk show host who might have become accustomed to the daily diet of political abuse that is often ad-hominem and almost never disaggregates an issue…The UWP's strategy over the past few years has focused on scandal and has not worked, so one presumes that at some stage it would take the discussion to a level that would engage the intellect of Dominicans more."
This level of engagement is not enough for Martin. He wants the UWP to "use every tool within the law" to bring the administration to its knees. He knows neither side will take this lightly, but he says it anyway.