Paula I Arraiza

Corrupt Islands

Type of Progym: Commonplace

About two days after Election Day, I continue to feel extremely cynical about my home island’s government. While Kincaid showcased a lovely side to Antigua, she even compares the beauty of the island to “a stage set for a play” (77), I couldn’t help but focus on her criticism about Antigua’s government. Kincaid shows us how corrupt a country can be no matter how small it is, with stories from unrepaired libraries to drug trafficking ministers. Many of her stories resonated with me, since corruption has always been a big topic in my home, Puerto Rico. Kincaid mentions how Antiguans constantly talk negatively about the government, she says that

“For the answer on every Antiguan’s lips to the question ‘What is going on?’ is ‘The government is corrupt. Them are thief, big thief’ (41)

While it may seem exaggerated to blame everything wrong with a place on the government not working correctly, this is the case in many places. I’ve grown up watching government scandals on the news basically every week, to the point where I’m not fazed by them anymore. I heard and continue to hear people complaining about how ineffective the government is from a local level up to a national level. Especially in recent years, the Puerto Rican government has been extremely unproductive and critiqued by everyone.

I could make a list of ways I’ve seen corruption in my country, but it would probably end up being extremely long. Probably the one that stands out, and hurts, the most was having the government hide about ten trailers of provisions sent by the United States to help out citizens after hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017, which many believe was done in order to make the U.S. look bad. These supplies would’ve quite literally saved people’s lives, yet they refused to do anything for political reasons. Right now, there is extreme controversy in regard to the elections held on Tuesday. Once again, some ballots that were “hidden” were found on Wednesday night, an entire day after the new governor had been announced. These are expected to be around fifty thousand votes that have yet to be counted, which would be crucial since the election was an extremely tight race. On top of that, the newly elected governor had also been named governor back in 2019 after our then-current governor had to resign, due to corruption-related allegations, and was impeached after less than a week.

Things like this certainly happen in other countries, however having to live them so constantly and have it affect my daily life and the lives of those around me definitely makes me feel pessimistic toward the people who hold high positions such as governors, senators, and mayors, as well as what they stand for. It definitely hurts to see the majority of the people on the island continue to support the same parties and officials that are known for being corrupt. It makes it even harder to achieve the change these same people talk about with such passion while being the problem themselves. Watching the election results intensified these feelings I already had, as well as reading about Kincaid’s experience in Antigua, it’s still sad to see people still not working towards a change after everything we have collectively lived through.

Disclaimer: I know there are more important points Kincaid touches on in her book and this has nothing to do with travel at all, but I couldn’t get this out of my mind when it came to writing a response to her (excellent) book.


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