Dominica’s Most Powerful Man

There’s a lot of reluctance on my part to write this commentary but I feel obliged to do for two basic reasons. One, what I see as the outright manifestation or the appearance of the abuse of power in a small developing country. Secondly, it is known that human behaviour illustrates a weakness for what appears to be glitters of gold…the first impression.

Dominica’s most powerful man, in my opinion does not deserve the title but for now he has it.

History has shown that the human animal will take advantage of the disenfranchised and those considered as ignorant and unaware. Economic status, education, race and calculated bullying are all characteristics that influence the “aggressor” and make mild the “victim”.

During the slavery era and many years thereafter and I reckon even today those who feared for their social, economic and political safety would prey on the innocence of others to get their way. The innocent would be punished and the “smart” ones would go free and enjoy wealth and social gaiety. The story is told of this young Chinese man who sold out his mother and sister just to achieve his freedom. He got it this way because he did not know better. But what infuriates me is that today we know a lot of facts (not opinions) but the powers-that-be have control. You can either be fear or unfair. No middle ground!

Dominica’s most powerful man is Tony Astaphan. He was a very powerful man in Antigua during the Bird era…. Suffice it to say, it worked while it lasted.

I have never seen a non-elected person singly wield so much power in the political affairs of a country. That influential persona is characterized not by fear play but by arrogance and by condescending attacks on a population that’s predominantly black with a low per capita income of $14,000 (UN, 2010). To be honest, I admire the man’s legal prudence but there comes a time in all spheres of life when morality should mean something to everyone. It cannot simply be about law, or carpentry, or masonry, education in a vacuum. Man has a conscience. Power and greed have overwhelmed the man’s focus on keeping the masses in ignorance. Fear has gripped the minds’ of many as a result. If you don’t support the government you are on the side of anti-government and anti-Dominica etc. “He who pays the piper calls the tunes…” You see where I am coming from.

So where does the prime minister and the DLP Government come in here? No one, absolutely no one has the testicular fortitude (or otherwise) in this cabinet to overrule the advice which comes from Dominica’s most powerful man. We hear of unscrupulous happenings in the local courts like the senior counsel is supreme counsel. He has opinions and insights on all foreign matters especially those that are deemed questionable. I have a problem with those who say, ‘it’s politics!’ I beg to differ. If Dominica is a democracy, then the democratic process is surely missing some parts. It’s moving along but may need to visit the doctor, or a mechanic or to the Lord in prayer, or all of the above. My fear is this attitude of treating the rest of us with disdain will continue until we take a stand at the polls to do the right thing. Am I insinuating that we did the wrong thing in 2009? Yes. When Dominica’s most powerful man along with others can influence the electoral commission and the IPO then we are in trouble.

The prime minister is a confused man, dazed in mystery about personal wealth and power (second to the most powerful man), and so if he has any sincere desire about Dominica’s development they are being stifled. Other distractions are taking pre-eminence of course, led by the most powerful man.

I must admit that there’s some physical development taking place on island and the government’s goal of one college grad in every household is being given attention but the moral fabric of the society is being compromised. There are more questions than answers and it’s not just politics. It’s a deliberate and calculated effort to bury truth, evidence and retard the growth of responsible freedom of speech and expression. The great Robert Nesta Marley said in song,” …who the cap fits let them wear it…” In this society it’s passing the blame, creating public and personal shame with lies and innuendo and cultivating hate. I am saying all that to say Dominica’s most powerful man is always in the media speaking on behalf of the prime minister and government that should be representative of the people. There are times when his expressions are questionable. He has been given unwarranted power by the government and he is taking advantage of it.

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