Festival profile: The Clement Payne Movement of Barbados

David Denny is the director of international relations for the Clement Payne Movement (CPM) of Barbados, a small island nation in the Caribbean. “Our organization is named after Clement Payne, one of the national heroes of Barbados, a respected leader of the labor and political movements of our country,” Denny said.

Payne was sent to Barbados, land of his birth, by Marcus Garvey to help the movement for independence from British colonialism. The popular leader’s activities got him deported, which launched the July 26 revolt on the island. This was the beginning of winning independence for Barbados.

Today, the CPM celebrates their namesake at a monument to his memory on July 26. July 26 is also the date of the 1955 attack on Moncada barracks by Fidel Castro and others in Cuba. For this reason, CPM uses this date to also commemorate the Barbadian victims who died on the 1976 Cubana Airlines flight from their island that was bombed by the terrorist Luis Posada Carriles. There is a close relationship between the Cuban and Barbadian people.

CPM is involved in many political campaigns including opposition to the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) agreement and other neo-liberal economic policies. CPM has an affiliated youth organization, women’s federation and trade union movement.

“We are against the Caribbean Single Market Economy,” said Denny. “Though we do support integration that is genuine, not one that is designed to prepare the English-speaking Caribbean for FTAA.”

The main issues facing young people today is Barbados are privatization of public education, massive unemployment and the undermining of the right to organize. “Brain drain” also has big impact on the island. “Barbados is losing a lot of nurses and teachers in particular to the U.S.” because of the lack of jobs and livable wages.

They are also organizing around many other issues of international solidarity including the demand for the return of the democratically elected President Aristide to Haiti.

CPM also supports the Bolivarian Revolution developing in Venezuela. “We have a campaign against our government for refusing to sign the Petro-Caribbean agreement with Venezuela and other countries in the region.”

The organization’s members are in discussion about becoming a political party with a “socialist orientation.”

The Barbadian delegation to the 16th World Festival of Youth & Students is the largest ever with 76 delegates from CPM and other groups. “The Festival has created the conditions for organizing students to come to Venezuela and see for themselves the political developments here,” said Denny. “The Festival is creating the conditions for a Caribbean-wide alliance of progressive youth.”