A former British colony, Barbados officially removed the British monarch as its head of state and became a republic last year. But, like the United States, the tiny Caribbean island is still grappling with its legacy of slavery and its colonial past.
This week's episode is about Barbados.
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Population: Roughly 288,000.
Current government: The government of Barbados gets an impressive 95/100 score in the organization Freedom House's Freedom in the World Index.
The island gained independence from the British in 1966. But it wasn't until September 2020 that it announced it would remove the British monarch as its head of state and become a republic. Freedom House writes:
Barbados is a democracy that regularly holds competitive elections and upholds civil liberties. Challenges include official corruption and a lack of government transparency, discrimination against LGBT+ people, violent crime, and poverty.
The current Prime Minister is Mia Amor Mottley, who has been the leader of the Barbados Labour Party since 2008.
Languages spoken: Most people speak English or an English-based creole called Bajan. According to the 1986 book Focus on the Caribbean:
In addition to being among the first English-based creoles, Bajan is unusual in that it is the product of an uninterrupted span English-African contact.
Religion: Most people are practicing Anglicans, like the English settlers who arrived on the island in the 1600s.
Standout artists: Ronald Williams.
Standout film: The Barbados Project. A horror movie released this year about a journalist in Barbados who investigates a video of a large unidentified creature and uncovers a government conspiracy.
A surprising thing: Barbados has one of the oldest synagogues in the Western Hemisphere. According to a local historian cited by the Barbados Synagogue Historic District:
“ Sugar in the latter half of the seventeenth century made Barbados very wealthy and attracted many settlers, including Sephardic refugees from Recife in Brazil and from Holland as well. Oliver Cromwell opened Barbados to permanent Jewish settlement before the ban on Jewish settlement in England was lifted. The Nidhe Israel Synagogue therefore is of considerable antiquity, dating from circa 1654. In some respects, it can be seen as the parent synagogue of several synagogues in the USA. ”
Story of the week: A year after becoming a republic, Barbados is pursuing damages for the sins of its colonial past, the Telegraph reports. Ministers are calling on Richard Drax, the British owner of the largest former slave estate on the island, to atone for the deeds of his forefathers.
Drax Hall was the largest slave plantation in Barbados and the only one still in the hands of the family of the original slavers. Its current owner is Richard Drax, the Conservative Member of Parliament for South Dorset, who has found himself caught up at the centre of a vitriolic, abusive hate campaign over the deeds of his ancestors.
What I'm writing:
• As the war in Ukraine reaches its ninth month, the international community has discovered evidence of systemic war crimes—including rape, torture, and the execution of civilians—in every region where Moscow’s forces have been deployed. The scale of the atrocities has sparked initiatives on Capitol Hill and around the world to hold Russia responsible. It's also pushing the U.S. closer to the International Criminal Court. This story is free to read.
What I'm reading:
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What the State Department says:
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