Frayed Edges of Paradise

In various blog entries, I call this land a paradise. And in many of the entries, you see vividly coloured happy pictures and high adventure. Today's entry is a series of photographs that show the frayed edges of paradise.

This country is in fact a Third World Country. Infrastructure is decaying, horrible, and of poor service and quality. Cell phones are expensive and calls are dropped. Phone services are inconsistent. The island loses half of the water out of the pipes, and this is serious when they have to barge in 6 million gallons a day from a neighbouring island to survive.

The electrical utility does load shedding, or turning off the power to certain sectors of the island when demand is high. Those sectors are not the rich sectors.

The traffic lights do not work. Some of them have not been working for a year. Here is a picture of a pothole that is axle-deep.

A friend of mine contends that the poor conditions of the road are deliberate to keep the people down. I was at a National Trust meeting, and the director of Marine Resources pops up a slide with a traffic light graphic on it. He quipped that it is not on the flash cycle (the usual state of all traffic lights) and as a result, the islanders may not recognise it.

Poverty is endemic and in spite of the provisions and appearance of a social safety net, it really doesn't work. Poor people beg in the street and the elderly beg on the streets as well:

The islanders do not own the beaches, hilltops or prime real estate of the islands. That belongs to rich foreigners and resorts. Hence there is little regard for the environment, for keeping things clean and for a sense of pride in the community. There are trash heaps like this all over the island.

There are huge social problems as well. This island of 225,000 people had more murders than the city Toronto, Canada of over 2 million people. Three quarters (75%) of the families consist of single parents (mothers) with children from more than one man. Drug use is endemic. Here is a picture of the police making an arrest of a young man:



There are other social factors. There is a rabid, almost cultish form of religionism where the preachers fleece the flocks and fly private jets. Becoming a minister is a means of getting rich, and the people cannot see it. A banker friend tells me, that the bank staff meeting opens with a prayer. This is totally inconsistent with an investment bank milieu. It is almost if the people are backward when it comes to religion.

The Lovely One, who has worked with the levers of power in a first world country, decries the governance of these people. Most of the frayed edges of Paradise is due to poor governance, and again the people seem blind to it. The online local forums have these praisers of the country as the best little country in the world. Yet the MPs are criminals, the founder father was one of the biggest drug runners in history, and every cabinet minister of the last government siphoned off public funds to enrich themselves, and yet they are rabidly re-elected over and over again. Either the people are blind, ignorant or apathetic.

This country has huge potential, and unfortunately, most of it is unrealised.

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