ST. VINCENT: – Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves is seeking the support of his Caribbean Community (CARICOM) colleagues to stem a “campaign of defamation” against St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) and attempts to “destabilize” his Unity Labour Party (ULP) administration.
Gonsalves, in an “open letter to the people of the Caribbean”, dated August 24, 2010, said the opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) had aligned itself with foreigners to portray SVG under the ULP government as a nation where “there is no democracy, no freedom, and an absence of a guarantee of civil liberties”.
He said this is the latest in a “dishonest and anti-national campaign”, which began with Nigel Oakes and Strategic Communication Laboratories (SCL) of Britain during the campaign for the Constitution Referendum last November.
Gonsalves said the NDP, which is headed by Arnhim Eustace, had aligned itself with Americans Dave Copps and Blake Burris, co-founders CoHabitat out of Dallas, Texas.
CoHabitat is running on behalf of the NDP a campaign dubbed “Save Democracy for Just $5” in which Americans and others persons are encouraged to donated to the NDP’s election campaign.
Gonsalves said that according to CoHabitat, he had aligned himself with Hugo Chavez of Venezuela and should therefore be removed from office.
He said Copps worked for the Pentagon, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
Copps reportedly criticised the government’s sale of state lands in Bequia to finance the construction of an international airport here.
Gonsalves said it was ironic that Copps, a Texan who owns property in Bequia, was arguing about lands meant for the people of Bequia.
“What is this man’s business with our international airport and our lands?” Gonsalves said.
He said his ULP government, which first came to office in 2001 and won the elections of December 2005, has strengthened democracy and freedom in SVG, curtailed official corruption, and enhanced good governance.
Gonsalves said this has been recognized by the governments of Britain and the USA, by the World Bank, and by non-governmental bodies such as the Freedom House Foundation and the Caribbean-Guyana Institute for Democracy (C-GID), both based in the USA.
He further noted that it is illegal for non-American to contribute to funds to any election campaign in the United States.
“I bring this matter to the attention of my Caribbean brothers and sisters who share profoundly with us in a common humanity. I ask for your solidarity in this our struggle to build upon the immense gains in democracy, freedom, justice, and the people’s upliftment and to resist those from outside of our region who defame us and who seek to control us,” Gonsalves said.
“…The foreigners who come to control us, divide us, ravage our resources, and dull our consciousness with backward ideas, are antithetical to everything noble in our Caribbean civilisation. We must resist them firmly!” he added.
But Copps, in a call to the the NDP’s “New Times” programme on Nice Radio, said he has never worked for the CIA, FBI or any other government agency.
He said that after the attack on the United Staes on September 21, 2001, he created and sold software to the Defence Department that aided in the fight against global terrorism.
“I’m very proud of that. So, the fact that he tried to make that a negative was a little disappointing but I think as long as the truth comes out, no harm done. … We were told that we saved lives with our software, helping to locate and deal with global terrorism. I’d do it again if I was asked,” he siad.
Copps said he had got involved in the NDP’s fundraising because he believes in their vision for the country
“I believe they have every right to have a society that’s free and democratic. And I believe that the people, the leadership of NDP absolutely not only have the ability but the willingness and the passion to make it happen. I think it’s the right thing to do, and that why I am doing it,” he said.
He further said that he was not an important part of the discussion, adding that it should be about issues.
“The issues are really what this should be – the economy, education and all the things that really matter to the people of St. Vincent. I think I am somewhat of a distraction and maybe not a very good one at that. I am just a person helping my friends,” he said.