A travesty to compare the ghastly Gaston Browne with 'Butch' Stewart

By Sally Nethersole

Sunday, February 04, 2018

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Some time ago, one Anthony deSouza— writing in the Jamaica Observer — sought to compare Jamaica's Gordon 'Butch' Stewart, the Sandals chairman, with Gaston Browne, prime minister of Antigua and Barbuda.

Although I know what deSouza was trying to say, it is almost a foolish exercise. For it to be meaningful, one must compare people who are in a similar class or category. The comparison between Butch and Browne starts and stops with the fact that they both operate in beautiful Antigua. After that, it is a travesty to compare Butch, the over-achiever with Browne, a non-achieving loud mouth whose claim to fame is the empty rhetoric he spews daily at Antiguans.

While Browne was still in diapers, Butch was planting roots, constructing monuments, sewing the seeds of his natural talent and spreading his benevolence, upon which thousands of Caribbean people, including deserving Antiguans, can now build productive lives for themselves and their families.

DeSouza points out the too-numerous-to-mention accolades poured on Butch by local, regional and international organisations, some with names like Martin Luther King attached to them. As a Jamaican, I was more than proud to see him receive the prestigious United Nations World Tourism Organisation's Global Legends of the Caribbean Award.

Jamaicans will never forget Butch Stewart for the selfless act of national courage in pumping millions of US dollars into the country's coffers that stopped the horrible slide of the local currency that was wrecking the economy and impoverishing thousands of Jamaicans

Indeed, I laughed so hard when I read that Browne himself was reported to have said that Butch should get the knighthood entitling him to be styled “Sir Butch”. Although Browne was desperately trying to butter up the Sandals chairman for political donations, it was a grudging acknowledgement that Butch should not be in the same class with him.

In that Browne was right. How does one compare a Butch Stewart with a man who has a bribery allegation hanging over his head but refuses to clear the air by not producing documentation to support his claims that he was exonerated.

Odebrecht, a giant Brazilian construction firm is under international investigation for reportedly bribing several South American and Caribbean leaders to facilitate or cover up money-laundering activities. An Odebrecht lawyer on the run in Spain and who said he handled the bribery payments, alleged in the newspaper El Pais that Gaston Browne received three million euros. The Antiguan leader strenuously denied the claims and sued the newspaper for defamation.

But Browne, while claiming to have been exonerated by the newspaper, has so far failed to provide proof of this exoneration, which is supposedly on the basis that El Pais had acknowledged that it had not corroborated the information from Odebrecht's lawyer.

Browne may be as innocent as a newborn baby but as a leader, he owes it to the country to do more than give his personal assurance of his exoneration, by providing the letter from the newspaper for all to see.

Instead, he continues his tracing match with Sandals trying to justify his ill-fated act of reneging on an agreement signed between the resort and a previous Antiguan Government. Browne offers only foolish, bad-minded criticisms of a man who has been Antigua's saviour in difficult economic times, in the process frightening off potential foreign investors.

While Brown can only criticise and find fault, Butch is building all over the Caribbean and improving people's lives. Someone needs to remind Browne of Theodore Roosevelt's compelling words:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly…”

On the other hand, Browne's place shall always be “with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat”.

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