TAIPEI, Taiwan: – The opposition leader in St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) on Monday said he was not criticizing Haiti when he compared SVG’s 2010 nation budget to the crumbling of building during the recent earthquake in that fellow Caribbean Community (CARICOM) nation.
“Why would I make fun of Haiti,” Arnhim Eustace, who leads the New Democratic Party (NDP), said on his party’s “New Times” programme on NICE Radio on Monday.
“I regard these estimates something like a pack of cards from which a building is built. In terms of revenue, it is not there and it will collapse, much like the buildings in Haiti,” Eustace told Parliament when the estimates were presented in January.
Dr. Gonsalves last Friday told legislators that Eustace’s comments hit “so hard in my heart and my bones” that he “internalised the shock” fearing that he would have said “something unparliamentarily at that particular point”.
“Imagine drawing an analogy, looking for a simile in relation to people’s monumental and painful suffering. What manner of man is this?” Gonsalves said.
Eustace, who was not in Parliament at the time of Gonsalves’ comment, clarified the statement, saying he was merely using a common analogy.
“A lot of people have spoken to me about that,” he said on radio.
“I was not in any way trying to criticize Haiti. But you had the constant analogy being done that if the structures had been different you might not have had such damage,” Eustace said.
“And all I was saying is that the structure of our budget is such that the slightest thing that happen it is going to fall down. Why would I make fun of Haiti?” Eustace further said.
A magnitude 7 earthquake on January 12 killed an estimated 200,000, injured a similar number and levelled most of the capital of Haiti, the Western Hemisphere’s poorest nation.