These are some of the major events in or about St. Vincent and the Grenadines during from April to June 2010. For fast, fair, factual, free news and current affairs information about St. Vincent and the Grenadines, please go to the homepage to subscribe to I Witness-News.

UN Security Council Seat fracas

April 3:- Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace challenges Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves to deny that he told other Caribbean leaders that St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) would contest for a non-permanent seat at the United Nations Security Council for the 2011-2012 term. SVG’s Permanent Mission to the United Nation issues a press advisory says Eustace’s “false statements … have the potential to adversely affect the implementation of the foreign policy of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and our country’s international standing”.

Caribbean culture in Taiwan

April 24:- Caribbean students in Taiwan showcase the eight Caribbean countries whose students study in the Asian nation. “Caribbean Callaloo” highlights the culture, cuisine, heritage, and music of Belize, Jamaica, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, St. Kitts/Nevis, Dominica, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Gov’t releases N security seat document

Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves.

May 3: – The Dr. Ralph Gonsalves administration releases a document it used to brief CARICOM leaders in Brazil in April on SVG’s intentions to “cast its candidacy as representative of those States traditionally excluded from the [United Nations Security] Council”. The April 26, 2010 document was circulated to the media hours after Leader of the Opposition Arnhim Eustace challenged Gonsalves to deny that he had told other CARICOM leaders that St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) would contest for a non-permanent seat at the United Nations Security Council for the 2011-2012 term.

 

PM: No disrespect intended

May 4:- The government of SVG did not intend to disrespect citizens by keeping them in the dark on SVG’s plans to run for a non-permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council in October, Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves says. “You have to lay the basis for diplomacy in private,” he says.

Eustace to farmers: do you part

May 9:- Leader of the Opposition Arnhim Eustace says stakeholders in the agricultural sector need to take more initiative to benefit fully from the technical and other assistance that Taiwan offers. “It seems to me that [the Taiwanese] … [are] letting some of us off the hook,” he says.

SVG-Taiwan cultural exchange

Prof. Yen (back row centre) and six of these students travelled to St. Vincent in July.

May 6:- Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves tells Parliament six students and one professor from the National ChengChi University (NCCU) in Taiwan will make a two-week cultural exchange visit SVG in July, while two Vincentian youth will travel to Taiwan on a similar mission.

 

Vincy Mas begins

May 8:- Minister of Culture, Rene Baptiste declares Vincy Mas 2010 officially launched and festival organizers promise to once again deliver “the hottest carnival in the Caribbean”. Contestants for Miss SVG 2010 make their first official public appearance. Brother Ebony wins the calypso new song title while Skarpyon and Blakey take the soca new Song and Extempo titles, respectively.

St. Vincent shelfs UN Security Seat bid

May 14:- Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves announces that SVG will no longer pursue a possible candidacy for a non-permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council in October 2010 because of lack of support from two CARICOM states. The country, however, instructs its Permanent Mission to the United Nations to submit the necessary documentation to formally announce SVG’s candidacy for the 2020-2021 term.

PM congratulates new Trinidad gov’t

May 25:- Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves congratulates the People’s Partnership, led by Kamla Persad Bissessar, on its “remarkable victory” in general elections in Trinidad and Tobago. He says the new government comes to office at a challenging time for the Caribbean region.

PM will not allow Jamaica-type unrest

May 25:- Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves says he will not allow Vincentians to be held at ransom by “undemocratic powers” as in parts of Jamaica’s capital, Kingston, as cop try to apprehend Christopher “Dudus” Coke. “We have a lot of copycats [but] I assure you, it aint going [to] happen on my watch,” he says.

Vincentian students safe in Jamaica

ST. VINCENT:-Vincentian students at the University of the West Indies in Kingston, Jamaica are not affected by the violence that has left at least 27 dead in that Caribbean capital. “I am concerned but I don’t feel threatened at this point,” journalist Sean Rose tells I Witness-News.

SVG opposition should be encouraged

Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace

May 27:- Political activist Jomo Thomas tells I Witness-News the opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) in St. Vincent and the Grenadines should “definitely” be encouraged by the outcome of the Trinidad and Tobago elections. “I would not want to be a ULP [Unity Labour Party] election strategist right now because the prospects do not look good following the [Trinidad and Tobago] elections,” says Thomas, who is also General Secretary of the People’s Movement for Change.

 

IMF: SVG severely affected

June 1:- The International Monetary Fund (IMF) says SVG has been severely affected by the spill over of the global crisis on tourism, remittances, and foreign direct investments. Economic activity contracted 0.6 per cent in 2008 and one per cent in 2009, after an average increase of about 8 per cent in 2006-2007. The balances of the central government worsened in 2009 while the overall deficit doubled to 3.3 per cent of the gross domestic product.

PM emphasizes hurricane preparedness

June 1:- Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves reminds Vincentians of the importance of disaster management, noting the potential impact of natural disasters in one country on other nations. “Disaster Management is more than just preparations for the hurricane season. It must be imbedded in [all] aspect of our lives to ensure that our families are safe,” he says in a national address to mark the start of the Atlantic Hurricane Season.

Gospel Fest Committee slams PM for beer comment

June 3:- The Gospel Fest Committee describes as “untrue and completely without merit” comments by Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves about beers being consumed at the religious festivities. “…the statements are irresponsible, extremely damaging to the godly reputation of the festival and disparages all the churches, organizations, individuals and sponsors involved,” the committee says.

Opposition questions tug services at seaports

June 7:- Leader of the Opposition Arnhim Eustace asks how the government chose the tug and towage service provider at the Kingstown and Campden Park ports and Great Head Bay after the government passed laws to that effect earlier this month. The fees range from US$1,100 to US$6,500 (EC$17,550) with exemptions for cruise ships and Geest Line vessels — which transport bananas.

Opposition hails contribution to police retirement bill

June 7:- Leader of the Opposition Arnhim Eustace hails opposition legislators’ contribution to securing an extended age of retirement for all police constable and corporals. The Police (Amendment) Bill, passed in Parliament late May, gives existing and incoming police officers under the rank of sergeant, the option of retiring at age 55, a five year extension. Eustace says a strict political approach to the Bill by the NDP could have cost many police officers the benefit that the amended legislation offers.

PM: Buccament Resort ‘difficulty’ can be fixed

June 8:- Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves says he is confident that the “disagreement” between contractors and owner of the 1000-room Buccament Bay Beach Resort would be sorted out soon and the 1,000 employees would return to work. He says the situation resulted from a “challenge, difficulty, and disagreement” between the contractors and Harlequin Resorts.

Fishermen return to St. Vincent after 11 days adrift

June 9:- Mark Denny, 47, the captain of a Vincentian fishing boat that drifted for 11 days before he and his two crewmembers, Amron Thomas-Simonette, 22, and Walter “Colonel” Lynch, 41, were rescued in Puerto Rico, said he drank his urine, ate corned fish and made several failed attempts to reach land. Their  boat ran out of fuel on the way back to port on Fisherman’s Day, May 24, prompting a regional search and rescue operation.

NCB profit falls 92.7 per cent

The National Commercial Bank

June 14:- Leader of the Opposition Arnhim Eustace wants the government to say if it intends to privatize the state-owned National Commercial Bank (NCB) as its profits fell by 92.7 percent in 2009. He says it is rumoured that financial institutions in Trinidad and Tobago and Grenada are interested in investing in the NCB even as Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves says his government is considering “new modalities of ownership”. “All those words simply mean [is that] they are going to sell it,” says Eustace, a former prime minister and minister of finance.

 

Opposition leader to Port chairman: It’s my right!

June 14:- Opposition leader Arnhim Eustace tells Port Authority chairman, Edwin Snagg, that he has a right ask questions about national issues. “I have the right – indeed the obligation – to ask questions on things that are in the public interest and the answers are not clear to me. And nobody – no one – will prevent me for exercising that right,” Eustace says in response to an article published by Searchlight in which Snagg says Eustace should get his facts straight on the introduction of mandatory tug and towage services at the nation’s ports.

PM blanks opposition leader’s tug contract letter

The tug at the centre of the controversy.

June 15:- Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves says opposition leader Arnhim Eustace is “desperate and reckless” and that he would not respond to his letter regarding the awarding of a contract for tug services at the nation’s ports. “Not only has Eustace been irresponsible on the question, totally without merit. He just has it in for [businessman] Ken Boyea,” Gonsalves says.

 

Saboto Caesar accepts election candidacy nomination

June 15:- Minister of Housing, Lands and Surveys, Informal Human Settlement, Physical Planning and Local Government, Sen. Saboto Caesar, is nominated unopposed as the ruling ULP’s candidate for South Central Windward in the general elections. “Our nation is in dire need of an exceptional cadre of multi-talented young persons from all walks of life, who would not only be concerned about achieving more for self only,” says Caesar, 29 in accepting the nomination.

LIAT pilots strike disappoints PM

June 17: – LIAT shareholder Prime Minister, Dr Ralph Gonsalves says he is disappointed with striking LIAT pilots and that he hopes they return to the cockpits the following day. He says the pilots were aggrieved regarding deductions for two pilots, retroactive payment, pensions, and an arbitration award, which was expected since September 2009.

PM wants ‘more regulation’ after pilots strike

June 17:- Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves says there is a need for “more regulation” on the heels of the LIAT pilots strike. “There has to be some amendment to the existing model in going forward,” he says.

PM makes demands as resort owners, contractors seek resolution

The Buccament Bay Resort

June 17:- Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves makes three demands as a dispute between developers and contractors at the Buccament Bay Beach Resort becomes publicly. “… whatever disputes exists between them must be settled… the project must continue, and continue uninterruptedly in all its phases, until completion in 2012, …  [and] whatever we do down there, as in every other part of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, we must conduct ourselves consistent with public order,” he says.

 

St. Vincent deepens ties with Germany, Portugal

June 22:- St. Vincent and the Grenadines deepens its relations with Germany and Portugal. SVG’s Permanent Representative to the United Nation says Amb. Camillo Gonsalves discussed areas for greater cooperation during official visits to those nations. He was part of multi-state delegations investigating opportunities in renewable energy, tourism, and development cooperation.

Ambassador urges students to return after studies

June 29:- The six Vincentians who this year received scholarships to study in Taiwan are encouraged to return to their country after they complete their studies. Leo Lee, Taiwan Ambassador to SVG, tells the students that not returning to SVG “would defeat the purpose of the scholarship”.

Little lad adds crown to academic gains

June 30:- Otis “Fliiper” Caine, 11, wins the Junior Calypso competition with his song “Books First”. Teishanna “Mighty Alicia” Franklyn and Alexia “The Messenger” Alenxander is second and third respectively. In the Secondary School Calypso showdown, Shadè “Shadè B” Barker, Phylicia “Nubian Empress” Alexander and Cassian Lavia are the top three. Teishanna “Mighty Alicia” Franklyn also tokes the junior soca crown, followed by Giovannie “Super D” Collins and Cacheley Yorke.

Read also: 2010 in Review: July to September