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Shadow Of Colonialism And Prejudice Hang Over Whale Meet

Clarice Charles raised the spectre of slavery, explaining why, even though Grenada had little whaling tradition, she did not believe countries could be told how to use their own maritime resources.
by Stephen Collinson
Frigate Bay (AFP) Jun 19, 2006
Caribbean nations accused rich Western states of hypocrisy and colonial-style discrimination Sunday, as they rejected attempts to force them into the anti-whaling camp. A group of states, including host St. Kitts and Nevis, hit out at countries which criticised their decision to side with Japan's pro-whaling block at the annual meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC).

"The state of Grenada is a very tolerant state," said Clarice Charles, the country's IWC commissioner.

"We do not intend to be intolerant of those whose culture and eating habits involve whales," she said, taking aim at Western anti-whaling states and non-governmental organisations.

Antigua and Barbuda said anti-whaling states like Britain, Australia and New Zealand were guilty of "intellectual hypocrisy" by turning an organisation set up in 1946 to manage whale stocks for hunting into an anti-whaling roadblock.

Such states were trying "to achieve in the dead of night what the light of day would not permit," said Joanne Massiah, Antigua's commissioner, who on Saturday had accused anti-whaling states of practising cultural imperialism.

Asked whether she was suggesting that racism was involved, she replied: "Race would be a factor in an intolerant view ... as well as size."

St Kitts and Nevis representative Cedric Liburd referred to the colonial history of the West Indies, to counter arguments of whaling opponents who say small states have signed up just to win aid bonazas from Japan.

"Years ago, we had one vote," he said, referring to former colonial master Britain. "Now we have 15."

Grenada's Charles raised the spectre of slavery, explaining why, even though her country had little whaling tradition, she did not believe countries could be told how to use their own maritime resources.

"Years ago, we were told what to eat. Slaves were given salty fish to eat when the seas were abundant with fish."

"Because we are small and underdeveloped, there is that lack of respect. There is that feeling that we can be bought, we can be sold."

"We have the right to use our maritime resources for the survival and livelihood of our people," she said, invoking the plight of developing states, dealt a bad hand in global trade round and agricultural forums, which had seen their traditional industries like sugar cane cultivation wither and die.

Critics of the decisions by Caribbean states to join the pro-whaling block have claimed that they are taking decisions that are not even supported by the people they represent.

Source: Agence France-Presse

Related Links

Japan Refuses To Back Down At Bruising World Whale Talks
Frigate Bay (AFP) Jun 19, 2006
Japan launched Sunday a new bid for control of the world body which bars commercial whaling, aiming to crush a stubborn rearguard action by anti-whaling states.

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