Updated: January 28, 2018

Withholding information is the essence of tyranny. Control of the flow of information is the tool of the dictatorship.”  Bruce Coville, Author.

Information manipulation and suppression appears to be the key to the ongoing Labor Party survival in Dominica. The manipulation machinery continues its onslaught on Dominican's sensibility in full sight of an extremely timid Dominican Public and an International Community that remains 'too mannerly' to challenge governing party misbehavior. The recent tragedies in Dominica should have brought all sectors together, but today the country remains fragmented because this chaotic and deteriorating environment serves one entity, the Labor Party.  This will not end well!

As a historical prologue, in the immediate period following the passage of Hurricane David in August 1979, the news emanating in the International Arena echoed that 'the tiny island of Dominica is no more'. However, with input from Nature to reinvigorate the environment, material, financial and expert assistance from the International Community and courageous efforts of Dominicans on island and abroad, Dominica rebounded.  Within 9 months of hurricane David, agricultural output was about 75% of levels prior to this natural disaster. 

More recently, the island was challenged with two environmental disasters: TS Ericka in August 2015 and Hurricane Maria in Sept 2017.  Recovery from Erica was sluggish and disjointed because of preexisting problems (infrastructural decay, significantly reduced agricultural output etc), poor governance structure, political discord and an administration that saw the tragedy as an opportunity to promote itself and privileged supporters rather than work on the behalf of Dominica. Then, the island was dealt a catastrophic blow by hurricane Maria and we expected better. Unfortunately, the current administration in Dominica has no interest in seeing people grow because they would become too independent. The despicable behavior is highlighted by events related to recovery of the island from Maria.

At his presentation to the Donors Conference in NY ( November 21, 2017), Roosevelt Skerrit (Prime Minister) spoke of team work to see Dominica through this its biggest challenge in its existence. The world was listening so, this sounded commendable. Except, back home in Dominica there is no team work; it is a one party mellé. The current administration in Dominica is doing its best to exclude Dominican expertise (unless such entities are nonthreatening to Labor party's continued hold on power), opposition parties and the expansive Dominican Diaspora. 

How the disinformation strategy works:  The current government appeals to the international community for assistance on behalf of Dominicans. Humanity and humility prevail and the International community forks out funds to assist Dominicans. The labor party Administration then goes to work, setting up a misinformation trail that is primarily aimed at promoting an insecure Administration and its leader. We have previously highlighted attempts at such manipulation with the World Food Program Cash (voucher) program (see Not Your Money Not Your Food). Likewise, this was similarly attempted with distribution of emergency relief supplies in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Maria (see  Politicizing Hurricane ). These attempts were brought to light by frustrated citizens in Dominica and relatives living in the Diaspora, but this has not stopped the administration as in their minds there is always some level of success. Furthermore, few locally, regionally or internationally have intervened to stop the Labor Party Administration's  misbehavior.

Another disturbing example of information manipulation, to advantage the Labor Administration, was recently on display. The specific event relates to the distribution of Funds to Farmers and Small Businesses. The funds were originally announced on  October 31, 2017. At that time, a joint statement was made by the World Bank (WB) Vice President for Latin America, Jorge Familiar and PM Roosevelt Skerrit. All of the relevant funds have been provided by the International community in the form of grants. According to Mr. Familiar, US $10 million was immediately available 'to help small farmers rebuild their lives'. Two and one-half months later, funds are being disbursed. Why the delay? Despite the source of funds, many of the farmers believe this monies has been derived from the generosity of Government of Dominica and the AID Bank. Many unsuspecting recipients, either through lack of information or misinformation, are profusely thankful to the Labor Administration, AID Bank and Roosevelt Skerrit; no thanks or gratitude extended to the generous taxpayers in the International Community, including many Dominican in the Diaspora who pay taxes to major WB donor countries within which they reside. This misinformation is the direct fault of the clueless Minister of Agriculture (Drigo) who announced the distribution of funds on-Air as if it was derived from the government of Dominica and the AID bank. The Labor Administration, Dominica Broadcasting Corporation (DBS) and those in power who ought to know better are no less culpable. DBS, the nation station, deserves special criticism for perpetuating myths and spreading lies. This has to stop.

A most unfortunate consequence of this practice is the trail of victimization that it creates. To maintain power and mitigate a revolt, the Administration has to please its political base, defenders and apologists. Loyalty is maintained with material items and cash. So, items that are meant to be equitably distributed are skewed in favor of loyalists. In the case of the farmers grant, little known farmers are receiving unwarranted disbursement, while well-established commercial farmers either get pittance or are left out from receiving disbursement. If this administration was comfortable politicizing Food Distribution to needy Dominicans , they will not have ethical dilemma when it comes to distributing agricultural Aid to deserving farmers.

Recovery from any major disaster is an arduous task and requires effort and input from multiple entities. However, this tract is being upended in Dominica where the current governing administration views this unfortunate situation as an opportunity to maintain power. The Labor Party has been in power for 18 years and 1 months. They have come to believe that they are the only party entitled to manage the Country's Affairs. Any attempts or suggestions at change or intervention (internally or externally) to assist Dominicans through their difficulties is viewed as a threat to their existence. The mistrust of labor administration of outside help to Dominicans seems irrespective of the source of assistance. This behavior is the hallmarks of a Paranoid Administration that is apt to make decision geared to its survival rather than to benefit Dominicans. If Dominicans on island (Farmers, Fishermen, entrepreneurs etc) allow this to continue, there is little that can be done by the International community to rectify this ongoing travesty. The change has to emanate from within; only Dominicans can alter this behavior.