'Big Massa passin' thru'

'Big Massa passin' thru'

Barbara
Gloudon

Friday, January 24, 2020

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WHILE on the road on Wednesday afternoon in my little car, I had to squeeze up to one side as diplomatic vehicles and police escorts blazed along South Camp Road towards New Kingston.

Shiny, black vehicles bearing yellow plates and the flag with the “Stars and Stripes” fluttering energetically proclaimed, “Clear the way… big dignitary coming through!” The visit of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo earlier this week has stirred up ‘feelings’ in Caricom.

The two-day visit by the top US official included a meeting with seven members of the 15-member regional alliance on issues of foreign policy. Head of Caricom and Prime Minister of Barbados Mia Mottley did not take kindly to the select invitation list.

She made it known that the discussions should include all members of the regional body. Topics expected to be discussed, such as the crises in Venezuela and the upcoming vote for secretary general of the Organization of the American States, will affect all of Caricom.

Her position was backed up by the prime ministers of Trinidad and Tobago and St Vincent and the Grenadines, who, as well, had not been invited. The ‘divide and rule’ motive was dismissed by Pompeo at a joint press conference with Prime Minister Holness.

The Jamaican prime minister pointed out that the ‘leftout’ leaders were not being shunned; they could have easily requested to be included at the gathering. The difference of opinion has been downplayed by some commentators.

After all, Caricom has never been a “lock step” sort of organisation. They (we) have always had different views, opinions, and approaches as they look to do the best for each country, while trying to stand together.

And, oftentimes, the individual country needs have not aligned with the regional ones. Our neighbour to the West has never been shy in telling others their position or thoughts, or how they feel it should be handled.

Smaller nations eyeing the powerful United States can be cautioned by granny’s wise words: “Hand in a lion mouth, tek time draw it out.”

Still, we must have the courage to stand up and defend the matters that we feel strongly about. Venezuela’s help to this country and the region in times past has been immense.

Now that they are going through turbulent times we should approach the matter with concern and thoughtfulness. The freezing relations between Cuba and the US is another policy matter that we should be aware of

. Interesting times are ahead for this region. Let’s get it together. It is important that we realise that together we are stronger than trying to move ahead one by one.

SERIOUS THOUGHTS, SERIOUS ISSUE

I received an e-mail from Tina Royles, a qualified psychotherapist and domestic violence expert and relationship specialist.

She is based in England and has worked within the ‘field’ of domestic violence and abuse for almost 30 years; first as a police officer and then as a trained counsellor.

She has also been the chair of a number of domestic violence partnership forums and crime and disorder groups tasked with raising awareness of the issue and its complexities.

She responded: “On the question of whether perpetrators of domestic violence and abuse can change, perpetrators do have the ability and can change their behaviour if they genuinely want to, and they do so for the right reasons.

“If perpetrators seek help and intervention because the victim has asked them to, or if a court or professional body has asked or ordered them to, then some will comply, but it is unlikely that the perpetrator who does this will change his/her behaviour long term.

Perhaps in the short term, yes, but they are likely to retreat back to their previous ways, unless they themselves don’t like their behaviour, take responsibility for their own actions, and own their behaviour — in which case change can be significant.”

Royles went on to share a concern on the quality of counsellors or psychotherapists who may only have basic- level training in dealing with domestic violence and abuse.

“Practitioners who work with perpetrators of domestic violence and abuse who are not specialists in this subject matter are walking a very thin line and can, through misjudged intervention, make the perpetrator more volatile or ‘arm them’ with additional tools of beliefs and misconceptions that, in turn, may make the situation more dangerous.”

She closed with the following: “Domestic violence and abuse is an extremely difficult and turbulent issue to deal with, and the injury inflicted on the victim, whether directly or indirectly, emotionally, physically, psychologically, sexually, or financially, can take years to heal, if at all.”

Serious words and serious thoughts on a serious matter. That has been Royle’s experience in the UK.

Here at home in Jamaica, are we making sure that we are putting in place the sufficient training and expertise to help those who are struggling with domestic violence?

This situation will need all hands on deck. We have to make every effort to save lives, families, and this nation.

Barbara Gloudon is a journalist, playwright and commentator. Send comments to the Observer or gloudonb@ gmail.com.


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