Derek Walcott Blasts Tourism at Carifesta X

According to John Mair, of CaribWorldNews.com (Aug. 26, 2008), Derek Walcott, a Nobel laureate for literature, blasted Caribbean governments for “selling our land like whores to foreign investors.” Speaking at literary session of the Caribbean Festival of the Arts in Guyana, he declared: “Prostitution is a thing called development.” He talked about the “obscenity of greed” as well as “bribery” and “corruption” when speaking of foreign land grabs in places such as St. Lucia, while the local society gains nothing in return except for a few low paid service jobs. Walcott noted that the only difference between slavery and tourism is that “at least the slaves did not have to smile.” Walcott also sparred with Guyanese President Bharat Jagdeo, over the question of government funding for the arts. Jagdeo made the mistake of resorting to tired old technocratic, economistic, language speaking of rational resource allocation on limited budgets. Walcott responded: “I am 78 and I have been hearing these arguments since I was fifteen.”

Personally, I am delighted to see Walcott sharply articulating such strong criticisms in a region where the mass media tend to be either mute in terms of criticism, or often simply parrot official sources and the dominant dogma of the day.

For more of “Walcott Unplugged” see this post, and the other one.


6 Responses to “Derek Walcott Blasts Tourism at Carifesta X”

  1. 1 Observer
    September 1, 2008 at 12:37 pm

    It looks as if Derek Walcott was being a rude guest to his hosts and the President at Carifesta in Guyana and should be made Persona non Grata. Such rampant stupidity as was expressed in Mr. Walcott’s tirade should not go unchallenged. If he is going to make charges of corruption, bribery and ‘selling out land like whores’ to foreign investors, he has to be specific with his accusations.
    Now Arts, Crafts and Culture are all important in a progressive and civilized society and worthy of Government financial support, but such support is dependent on how well an economy is doing. The revenues must be there first to fund the level of support a Government can afford. I hope Mr. Walcott is not being irresponsible and suggesting that his heavy weight should be carried at any cost to a nation.
    If Derek Walcott returns to Guyana, he would be a lot more welcome and productive if he would first go cut some sugar-cane or plant some rice instead of blowing off his mouth with vacuous accusations and assertions.

  2. September 1, 2008 at 12:51 pm

    Perhaps this can help: here is one recent example of selling land like whores to foreign investors:


    and here is another:


    I am absolutely certain that anyone, yourself, Walcott, could perform even a cursory search and find many more examples.

    So how long does the list need to be before one realizes that Walcott’s statement, far from vacuous and stupid, as you say, is actually well supported by the facts? If you wish to recant, this blog will be here waiting for you.

    PS: I am sure that for some, yes, Walcott would be welcome back as a cane cutting slave…I am not sure that comment does you any credit however. Generally, and typically, fascists are the ones who say “no complaints, just work.”

  3. 3 Observer
    September 1, 2008 at 4:58 pm

    Hello Max, thanks for the courtesy you extended to me in your reply. I read articles attached to the links you provided and the Garifuna has my support for protecting their lands from unscrupulous and corrupt Gov’t officials and developers. However, I do not know if the literary session of the Caribbean Festival of the Arts at Carifesta in Guyana might have been an appropriate setting for Mr. Walcott to launch a protest against such corruption. And, I was referring more to Mr. Walcott’s arguments for Gov’t funding for the Arts and and his usage of language that indicated a disregard for the people he was addressing, including the President of Guyana.
    As to cane cutting slave! In Guyana, cane cutters, rice workers, and bauxite workers have been hard working people making the major contributors to the wealth of Guyana for a very long time. And they have my respect.

  4. 4 Observer
    September 3, 2008 at 11:14 am

    I withdraw my comments about Mr. Derek Walcott because I am not sufficiently informed about all the circumstances relating to his comments – the background and support for Carifesta, the state of Arts and Culture in the Caribbean, integrity of Governments, etc.. My comments might also been inappropriate since I have been living outside of the Caribbean for a very long time and I should leave it to the people there to comment on events affecting their lives.
    I apologize to Mr. Walcott and anyone else that may have been offended for my comments and for taking a position I have no right in taking.

  5. September 3, 2008 at 11:26 am

    Sorry Observer, I meant to respond sooner. It’s no tragedy, not to worry, we all have very different viewpoints, sometimes sharply expressed. You can be sure that Walcott can take it — he has heard that and more over the years. I am thankful that you visited and that you took time to comment.

  6. 6 Bill Monkau
    August 31, 2009 at 1:32 pm

    The problem with most Third World natives is their rudimentary knowledge of the western civilization, which confuses their outlook. For example critical remarks are considered a personal attack instead of thought-provoking vehicle. Born and bred in the Dutch Caribbean, I was lucky to have been raised, subsequently educated in a way that enhanced my self-esteem and stirred my mind to make sure my main focus is on the subject at issue. Poor Observer hadn’t got a clue about the cue in Walcott’s discussion with the Guyamese President. As a result, he could only resort to the usual self-righteous rhetoric. Poor old soul!

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