When the meteorologist theorised that the cloudy, hazy days of the dry season in our region could be attributed to dust clouds from way across the Arabian dessert, he was - as many-a-novel-idea-throughout history has been - scoffed at laughed away for a number of years. But now, that theory is entrenched in descriptions of the weather patterns and conditions of this part of the world. Some modern geography texts and the guide books of some of the countries of the Caribbean, South America and the Amazon tell of the amazing displacement of dust from the Sahara desert more than half way across the world: Sahara Dust.
I am not sure if you are feeling it, but there are some breezes, some fresh, some even containing some disruptive dust elements, that are again blowing from across the desert over there, this, our way. And these are not seasonal. They feel much like the breezes of the Arab Spring – that have swept through the Middle East and Africa - Libya, Burma, Egypt, Tunisia, Côte d'ivoire, Guinea, Yemen, Lesotho, Senegal, Malawi and Sierra Leone. In some others, the breezes were still heavily laden with dust, there were setbacks for freedom - Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Syria, and the United Arab Emirates. It has also spread with positive change in Bhutan, Indian Kashmir Mongolia and Tonga.
Wherever these breezes have passed, they have left in their wake wide ranging social and political changes: one the one hand toppling long time leaders with rising decibels from previously suppressed peoples demanding a stronger voice in their own governance and opening up new opportunities for reform in countries otherwise marked by severe abuses of fundamental rights and civil liberties.
Such additional demands on governments and public and private institutions for greater transparency, accountability, responsibility, fairness, balance and equity, performance and delivery of goods and services are pressuring not only so called anti democracies but also well established democracies of Americas, Europe and Asia. But in other parts there is a backlash and the breezes have been met with counter reprisals of oppressive curbs to civil liberties, human rights and freedoms.So do you feel it? Here I mean, in the Caribbean. Or is it that we are in that time lag – between being informed and accepting the information? Given that unlike other countries we perhaps have some lead time to prepare, have we considered in any cohesive way what our response would be: do we want to embrace this or shut the door on it – because, to quote a former Prime Minister, speaking in a similar context – no one shall remain unscathed....
Next: Addressing the Democratic Deficit
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