Derek Walcott Blasts Tourism at Carifesta X

According to John Mair, of (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.