Carolyn Gomes should resign
By Devon Dick
On April 4, 2014, Carolyn Gomes, of Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition, wrote a threatening letter to E. Nigel Harris, vice-chancellor of UWI, calling for the removal of Brendan Bain as leader of CHART.
Gomes stated: "Professor Bain no longer holds the confidence of civil society in the integrity of his word and work means that we do not believe he can or should remain in a leadership position in the UWI programmes of response to HIV."
This is an exaggeration to claim that Bain no longer holds the confidence of civil society. She does not speak for civil society but for some groups in civil society. The membership of 33 groups would not be a significant membership when compared to the membership of the Church, and the Church is a part of civil society. Her comment about civil society could be regarded as misleading.
Gomes' letter continues, "We wrote asking that you demonstrate unequivocal commitment to promoting human rights for populations made vulnerable to HIV through structural factors by: removing Professor Bain from any leadership position in the CHART programme and all positions of representation of the University of the West Indies (UWI) on issues of HIV and AIDS". Where is the data to support this premise for his dismissal? In addition, there was a news report where she stated that the protest against Bain's dismissal would be futile.
Gomes appeared crude in threatening Harris: "Your lack of leadership in the exercise of your discretion regarding who heads and implements the CHART programme, and who represents UWI in decision-making spaces, leaves us with few options but to make our concerns known to the widest possible audience, including regional and international supporters, funders and leaders". Apparently, financial pressure was applied to Harris.
Gomes' action has setback tolerance toward men having consensual adult sex with other men. There is a backlash in Jamaica against the homosexual agenda.
Nowhere in Bain's expert witness statement did he state that he was for or against the retention of criminalisation of men who have consensual sex with men.
Professor Bain has resigned from the PACC of PANCAP. Why was that not enough? Why hound him out of a job? Why not wait until his contract ends next year and not renew it? What harm can Bain do by training health workers and caring for persons with HIV?
Good work undone
Gomes' behaviour is similar to that of Butch Stewart and his treatment of three former senior employees. Stewart took them to court and the senior magistrate upheld a no-case submission. Stewart has undone the good work of the past by the treatment meted out to these former employees. Even if letters were backdated, it does not necessarily mean a criminal offence. Why treat loyal, competent persons like that? Similarly, why treat Bain, a loyal and competent worker like that? How kind will history be to Gomes and Stewart because of the way they have treated employees?
There is an allegation that French economist Thomas Piketty appears to have got his data wrong in his best-selling book, Capital in the Twenty-First Century, which argues that inequality is rising and calls for a global wealth tax. Scholars will differ. Unless Bain had deliberately falsified data in his expert witness testimony then he should not be dismissed.
Based on Gomes' letter it appears that a grave injustice has been done to Bain and she should resign.
Rev Devon Dick is pastor of the Boulevard Baptist Church in St Andrew. He is author of 'The Cross and the Machete', and 'Rebellion to Riot'. Send feedback to columns@ gleanerjm.com.