In what ways did Vere Cornwall Bird influence politics in Antigua and Barbuda throughout the second half of the 20th Century?
Name: Hannah Jo Prendergast
School: Island Academy
Date: March 3rd, 2013
Teacher: Mrs. La Tosha Parker
Word Count: 1737
Candidate #: 003315-003
IA Mark: 22/25
IB Score: 7
Plan of Investigation
Vere Cornwall Bird was the first Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda. After he rose from an impoverished childhood, with an education that did not exceed primary school, Bird became the most influential member in the transition into independence for Antigua and Barbuda. Bird effectively molded the political system in Antigua and Barbuda as he set the precedent for years to come. This paper analyzed the question “In what ways did Vere Cornwall Bird influence politics in Antigua and Barbuda throughout the 2nd half of the 20th Century?” To answer this question effectively, articles, biographies, non-fictional books, and personal interviews conducted with members of the Antiguan public were used. This topic was chosen due to an interest in Antiguan history and a curiosity for its political structure and efficiency.
Word Count: 129
Well done! Very clearly stated background of Bird with emphasis on his importance to Antigua & Barbuda. Your sentence structure and grammar are perfect.
Summary of Evidence
Vere Cornwall Bird began his political journey in 1939, at the age of twenty-nine (Henry, 105). During Antigua and Barbuda’s rise to independence, V.C Bird co-founded the Antiguan Labor Party, also known as ALP, and was elected the second president for this party (Hurst, 4). Bird also became Antigua and Barbuda’s first and last Premier; he was Premier for 9 years, rounding off a forty-two year political career in a colonized nation. Once Antigua and Barbuda gained independence on November 1st, 1981, Bird was deemed the ‘Father of the Nation’, and elected as the first Prime Minister of Antiguan and Barbuda; a tremendous achievement which allowed his legacy to impact the islands’ politics for years to come. Vere Cornwall Bird influenced Antiguan politics because he established a political campaign and platform that paved the way for future politicians in Antigua for the years that followed the declaration of independence (“Profile”, 3). His platform and campaign became the cornerstone of Antiguan politics as his party, the ALP, became the longest serving elected government in the Caribbean. V.C Bird personally governed the nation for more than half of this time, before handing the leadership role to his son, Lester Bird.
Other than the prestigious title of First Prime Minister and ‘Father of the Nation’, V.C Bird’s impact on Antiguan politics was largely viewed with a negative connotation. Firstly, corruption and hypocrisy were frequently present in Bird’s administration, even from the beginning. V.C Bird was a populist, who ran on the campaign of pro-worker policies (Quest, 226). He led strikes for better pay and engineered a campaign to demand voting rights. However, once V.C gained power he treated the labor unions as a vehicle for political support, rather than an organization there to protect the workers. This type of hypocrisy was more prominently seen with Bird’s policies of dependency on the tourism industry (Coram, 148). Being so reliant on tourism as the main source of income in Antigua and Barbuda contradicted the struggle for independence – as the British colonial, foreign influence, was effectively replaced with American foreign influence – and when it came to hotel and labor relations, the government, under Bird’s authority, usually sided with the hoteliers.
Another significant impact of Bird’s career on Antiguan politics stemmed from his flaws as a leader. This impact was the formation of the United Progressive Party (UPP) in 1992 (“United”, 2). This party was formed as merger of three political parties: the Antigua Caribbean Liberation Movement, the Progressive Labor Movement, and the United National Democratic Party; each party founded in opposition to the Antiguan Labor Party. The leader of the UPP was Baldwin Spencer, and the party ran on a strict ‘no-corruption’ campaign as a blatant commentary on the general perception of the ALP policies. The opposition to Bird proved successful and thus Bird’s corruption influenced the creation and success of Antigua’s more recent political party. Antigua veered onto a new political direction, which was a direct impact of V.C. Bird’s hypocrisies.
Lastly, one of V.C Bird’s greatest impacts on the politics of Antigua and Barbuda in the last half of the 20th Century was what was known as the ‘Bird Dynasty’ (Caribarena, 3). V.C Bird ruled Antigua and Barbuda for 13 years, and the ALP continued in power under the leadership of V.C. Bird’s son, Lester Bird, for another 11 years. In addition, multiple members of the Bird family held seats in the government and therefore V.C Bird and his ‘empire’, as it were, became the most influential and powerful family in Antiguan politics during this time period (Ramm, 2). Therefore the family was deemed a dynasty under their leader, V.C. Bird. The lack of diversity and turnover in leaders and policies was a lasting impact of Bird’s administration.
Word Count: 624
Well done Summary of Evidence. Multiple examples/evidence on Bird’s positive and negative influence on Antigua and Barbuda politics! No grammar or sentence structure issues.
Small issue with to in-text citations. Titles of article are italicized or “quoted”
Evaluation of Sources
A Caribbean Time Bomb; The United States’ Complicity in the Corruption of Antigua was written in 1993 by Robert Coram who was quoted by the State Department of Antigua and Barbuda as “the institutional memory of Antigua. [He knows] more about the island than [The State Department] do.” Coram was a two-time Pulitzer Prize nominee and later a journalism instructor at the college level. His book was written to highlight America’s indifference to and deep involvement in the corruption of Antigua and Barbuda; a corruption that Coram described as a “malfeasance that radiates from one of the great heroes of the Caribbean, Prime Minister Vere Cornwall Bird”. This source is a valuable ‘tell-all’, as it were, of the great injustices that were seen in Antigua and Barbuda at the hands of V.C. Bird. The text was particularly important for research into the tenure of V.C. Bird and his lasting effects on Antiguan politics as it was a compilation of numerous primary and secondary resource materials. However, A Caribbean Time Bomb focused largely on America’s actions in regards to the corruption of Antigua and Barbuda, rather than focusing on the broader area of knowledge that this paper explored; the impact of V.C. Bird’s politics, the negative and the positive.
The second significant source used to answer the research question posed was an online article posted on Caribarena – a news site for island news in the region of the Caribbean – entitled “ALP Family Dynasty Must Stop”. The article was posted anonymously so the credibility of the author was unknown, however, based on the recent date in which it was posted, October 2012, and the comments beneath the article, it was clear that the opinion expressed by the author was a common one among the people of Antigua and Barbuda, therefore correctly illustrating a lasting impact on one of V.C. Bird’s most influential legacies; the informal establishment of his family into the politics of Antigua and Barbuda, one so substantial it was named a Bird Dynasty. The author, as an unspecified source, failed to conjure much respect as a historian; therefore the value of this source was less acknowledged; however, Caribarena gave a voice to the people of The Caribbean islands and the multiple comments that agreed with the article gave a new and specific insight into the feelings of the Antiguan people, thus showing Bird’s impact on politics had a lasting social effect as well.
Word Count: 403
Origin and purpose of both sources clearly stated, and student provides broad strengths and weaknesses, except with the last source’s weakness.
Since Vere Cornwall Bird rose to power and achieved the prestigious post of first Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, numerous debates have manifested over his tenure on whether he positively or negatively impacted Antiguan politics. Lionel Hurst commented positively on Bird’s fifty years of service and stated that:
“He handled his ‘people power’ with great care… [which]… lead him away from the temptations of abuse. For fifty years, Vere Bird acted against the human instinct to use power for puffing-up himself, or for self-aggrandizement, of for personal enrichment, or for perpetuating himself in office for its own sake” (Hurst 6).
These words summarized and supported a widely held view in Antigua and Barbuda, that V.C. Bird was a national treasure or hero who successfully brought independence to Antigua, uplifted the majority of the population with numerous pro-worker policies, and enjoyed very little personal gain. Paget Henry, the author of Shouldering Antigua and Barbuda, described Bird as “a man with an iron will” (Henry 119). Bird was likable, charismatic, and articulate which made him a symbol of honor and success in Antigua’s history.
However, the common reputation of greatness was questioned and argued when Bird named Lester, his son, his successor. The Bird Dynasty began; a dynasty which historians described as “a continued domination by the Birds [which] will remain a divisive issue for the country.” (Caribarena 4). The Bird Dynasty continuously strengthened; as did Bird’s party, the Antiguan Labor Party; with each reelection, and the ALP became the longest ruling party of Antigua and Barbuda. The legacy of V.C. Bird was also tarnished as his actions were meticulously scrutinized by the media and public of Antigua and Barbuda. Sir George Walter, the former Premier of Antigua and Barbuda, once said, “Yes … we want independence, but not under Bird” (Wade 4). This iconic statement showed the troubles with V.C. Bird’s reign were foreseen by influential political members of the time, but Walter’s worries were overlooked and thus, the controversies that surrounded Bird were not new ones, and doubts on his judgment clouded Bird’s tenure from the time it began.
Along with nepotism, corruption brewed at the hands of V.C. Bird in Antigua and Barbuda. The US State Department described Antigua’s government as “the most corrupt in the Caribbean” (Coram 115). Antigua had a substantial dependency on foreign investment and influence due to Bird’s policies for the tourism industry. For this, Bird was deemed as hypocritical for work on anti-British colonialism and power, only to replace that superpower with another, the United States.
Word Count: 423
Again, well done Hannah. Ample examples (supported by sources and your analysis of the sources) to support how Bird has a positive and negative impact on Antiguan politics.
Two in-text citation “boo boo’s”, but nothing to cause confusion or question the validity of the source.
Vere Cornwall Bird did many positive things for his nation, but sadly, fell victim to the familiar saying: absolute power corrupts absolutely. When running a Democratic nation, a leader was not supposed to have ‘absolute power’; however, as Bird was the first leader of Antigua and Barbuda, his methods were not as closely examined by the public in the beginning (Quest, 210). Bird had delivered national independence to the doorsteps of the Antiguan public, and with it, an influx in national pride. In the time of bliss, Bird was rewarded with absolute power, in a sense, and it absolutely corrupted him. However, this impact was not all negative. Like a phoenix that rose from the ashes, Bird’s malfeasances fueled the creation of the liberal party in Antigua and Barbuda, the United Progressive Party (“United”, 2).
Word Count: 135
Short, sweet, and succinct conclusion. Re-stated your point of Bird’s positive and negative influence, and excellent use of explaining how he became corrupt do to all the (unconditional) power he was given.
Caribarena. "ALP Family Dynasty Must Stop." CARIBARENA ANTIGUA. N.p., 22 Oct. 2012. Web. 10 Jan. 2013. http://www.caribarena.com/antigua/news/politics/101980-alp- family-dynasty-must-stop.html
Coram, Robert. Caribbean Time Bomb: The United States' Complicity in the Corruption of Antigua. New York: Morrow, 1993. Print
Hurst, Lionel M. "Vere Cornwall Bird Undefiled." CARIBARENA ANTIGUA. N.p., 09 Dec. 2010. Web. 24 Jan. 2013. http://www.caribarena.com/antigua/opinions/opinion- pieces/10874-vere-cornwall-bird-undefiled.html
Henry, Paget. Shouldering Antigua and Barbuda - The Life of V.C. Bird. Hertford: Hansib Publication Limited, 2010. Print
"Profile of V.C. Bird." Profile of V.C. Bird. CMatt Communication, n.d. Web. 24 Jan. 2013. http://www.cmatt.com/profile.htm
Quest, Matthew. Legislating the Caribbean General Will. 1st ed. Vol. 13. N.p.: n.p., 2007. PDF https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&q=cache:ZE6GoQVZYa0J:www2.gsu.edu/~wwwhi s/reddot/article_quest_timhector.pdf+%22v.c.+bird+politics%22,+pdf&hl=en&pid=bl&sr cid=ADGEESiaClgyQ0nOos8XqzLt60N11pxLmHFS2I5ScDSqBJ1lnHVcR4KdKYirZe O2c8XEHSKwRyHPdIUVzdTAMLdgIaE56jZZzEAIzYq7h4qyChqbdrQIe0ln6ti27Zgq2 v_Y8qoUke6&sig=AHIEtbRvr9yW83SHPEqxHL0juhhICDN4RQ
Ramm, Frederik. "History and Background." History and Background. N.p., 17 Dec. 2001. Web. 24 Jan. 2013. http://www.remote.org/frederik/culture/antigua/history.html
"United Progressive Party." United Progressive Party. UPP, n.d. Web. 25 Jan. 2013. http://www.uppantigua.com/
Wade, Cecil. "Independence - Compared to What or When." CARIBARENA ANTIGUA. Caribarena Antigua. The Best Caribbean News Portal, 01 Nov. 2012. Web. 22 Jan. 2013. http://www.caribarena.com/antigua/opinions/opinion-pieces/102089-independence- compared-to-what-or-when.html
Excellent use of MLA format. Proper structure for sources. Alphabetical order.
And essay falls within 1500-2000 word count!