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Version of history challenged

Dear Sir,

On Friday, November 3, 2017, an opinion piece appeared in The Royal Gazette written by Robert Pires. The article is factually incorrect and logically inconsistent, but I will attempt a response.

Immigration issues, no matter where they are discussed, seemed to be caught up in questions of ethnicity and economics. These two considerations are often in conflict.

This was true of Bermuda from its earliest beginnings. From the 1600s onward, the powers that be have been caught up in this conflict. In the 1600s, on the one hand there was the desire for cheap labour in the form of slaves, and on the other hand there was the fear that too many slaves would produce slave revolts.

There is also a three-way divergence of interest between the reason an immigrant leaves home, the reason an interest group wants to import immigrant labour, and the impact of the immigrant on the community at large.

In charting a future, one should take all of these factors into consideration. Of course, history always affects decisions concerning the future, but our interpretation of history gets mixed up with present-day attitudes, which frequently distort what actually happened historically.

Then there are moral issues. What ought to have happened and what should happen in the future?

Having been deeply involved in the formation of Progressive Labour Party policies during its formative years, I can assure Mr Pires that the only time an issue of Portuguese ethnicity came up in the PLP was in answer to the question: how can the PLP win a share of the Portuguese vote?

In an electorate that mainly voted on race, the PLP was extremely happy that it could get the support of John Mello in its early days or Zane DeSilva today. In its previous time in office, the PLP amended the legislation of the previous United Bermuda Party government by making it easier for persons of Portuguese descent to obtain status.

May I have the temerity to suggest that instead of Mr Pires trying to unravel either the historical facts or the motives of men long dead that he propose a moral basis for an immigration policy that can be acceptable to Bermudians of every ethnic background.


Arthur Hodgson

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Published November 15, 2017 at 8:00 am (Updated November 15, 2017 at 5:50 am)

Version of history challenged

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