Barbados has said goodbye to the British Queen and will be a republic from Tuesday.
In Great Britain, the question is what role China has played here.
This article is from the Volkskrant. Every day a selection of the best articles from newspapers and magazines appears on NU.nl. You can read more about that here.
This article is from the Volkskrant.
Every day a selection of the best articles from newspapers and magazines appears on NU.nl.
You can read more about that here.
When the young Crown Prince Charles visited Barbados in 1971, he had the greatest fun, although he crashed twice while paragliding. Half a century later, his visit is marked by a completely different fall: the demise of the monarchy on the Caribbean island. Early Monday morning, he set foot in the dark in the capital Bridgetown, knowing that he will never be king in Barbados. The 288 thousand inhabitants will live in a republic from Tuesday, exactly 55 years after independence.
It is the first time in three decades that Queen Elizabeth has lost part of her empire, an empire that still includes major countries such as Canada and Australia.
Barbados had already become independent in 1966, but last year the progressive island government also chose to have its own head of state.
The new president, Sandra Mason, was previously the governor-general appointed by Elizabeth.
She will fulfill a ceremonial role over elected Prime Minister Mia Mottley.
Black Lives Matter
During a grand ceremony on Monday evening, she will give the farewell prince the 'Freedom of Barbados', a kind of honorary citizenship that has caused outrage on the Windward island given the historic role of the colonizer. In the symbolic upheaval, the Black Lives Matter movement has served as a catalyst. A year ago, a statue of Horatio Nelson fell in the capital's National Heroes Square. The British naval hero is accused of supporting the slave trade.
Barbados has a long history of slavery.
According to lawyer and activist Lalu Hanuman, there are still tangible links between the British royal family and this past.
In interviews he pointed to Kensington Palace, which had been bought by King William III of Orange with proceeds from the Royal African Company, which at the time had the exclusive right to the English slave trade.
Not only black slaves worked in the sugar here, but also Irishmen who had been shipped to the Caribbean by Oliver Cromwell in the mid-17th century.
Rihanna is the Queen
The constitutional turnaround is less celebrated than independence in 1966. "There's a healthy tension," says Kobie Broomes, 22-year-old
, "I notice that many people are still wondering what it will mean in practice. . There is little information about that." According to him, the support for the republic mainly comes from the younger generation. "The elderly still have an affinity with the royal family, can still remember visits from Elizabeth. For young people, Rihanna is the Queen. She comes from here."
A consolation for Elizabeth is that Barbados - nicknamed Little England - will continue to be part of the Commonwealth of Nations.
Preserving this alliance of former colonies has always been close to the heart of the 95-year-old queen.
On the other hand, it has been neglected by British politicians, certainly after its accession to the European Economic Community in 1973.
"After independence we were forgotten by London," says Broomes, "we Barbadians have always been on our own, including financially."
Only now, after Brexit and the dream of
, has there been a renewed interest.
But is it too late?
, Conservative foreign affairs specialist Tom Tugendhat has expressed the suspicion that Barbados has parted ways with the British crown under pressure from China, something that is difficult to prove. "China has used infrastructure investment and 'debt diplomacy' as a means of control." In recent years, China has put half a billion euros into Barbados' tourism sector, an amount equivalent to one-tenth of the gross domestic product (GDP). China is said to have benefited from a rising nationalism on the island.
Since 2005, Beijing has invested more than 800 billion euros in 42 different Commonwealth countries, partly in cheap loans that create dependence.
This fits in with a strategic policy that aims to expand the sphere of influence.
Because of their location in the backyard of the United States, the Caribbean islands are extra attractive to China.
The British Foreign Secretary has recognized this geopolitical problem and hopes to be able to catch up.
However, British politicians now fear that Barbados has set the republican ball rolling.
It has therefore been observed with concern how China has financed a toll road in Jamaica that connects the capital Kingston with the tourist areas in the north of the island.
A recent poll showed that only 30 percent of Jamaicans want to keep a British monarch as head of state.
The local opposition wants to follow the example of Barbados.
In England, the conservative
Daily Telegraph has
summed up the situation in 'the West' succinctly: "We have a queen, the Chinese have money."Keywords: