These are some of the major events in or about St. Vincent and the Grenadines from January to March 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.

Fire claims 2

Jan. 4:- Police patrolling at 2 a.m. in Lowmans, West Kingstown, summoned fire-fighters to a blaze at a three-bedroom house where the bodies of a physically challenged Zetilla Jacobs, 94, and her mentally challenged daughter, Ivande Jacobs, 46, were later found.

Fire dislocates mentally ill

Jan. 5:- A fire at the Mental Health Centre results in the relocation of 70 patients to the nearby Community College in Glen.

SVG-Cambodia form ties

Jan. 12:- St. Vincent and the Grenadines establishes diplomatic relations with the Kingdom of Cambodia, the 12th country in the last 19 months.

PM announces administration shifts

Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves.

 

Jan. 15:- Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves announces changes in his administration as it prepared for general elections. Minister of Housing Sen. Julian Francis, and Hon. Conrad Sayers, Minister of State in the Office of the Prime Minister demit their respective offices. Sen. Saboto Caesar takes up Sen. Francis’ ministerial portfolio. Francis retains his Senate seat but will “focus full-time on his calling as General Secretary of the ULP,” Gonsalves said.

PM announces ‘Lives to Live’

Jan. 15:- Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves says at least 2,549 Vincentians live with “obvious physical or mental disabilities”. He announces the “Lives to Live” programme commencing in March with 40 Cubans spending six weeks analysing the condition of each physically or mentally disabled Vincentian and devising measures for appropriate care.

Challenging but hopeful year

Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves tells Vincentians 2010 will be a challenging but hopeful year as the nation tries to stabilize its, economy, respond to internal and external challenges, and possibly elect a new government. He tells citizens to work harder, smarter and more productively; care for their families and friends; stay away from crime; resist the temptations of greed; cease senseless bickering; be honest in words and deeds; act for love of country; and, walk well with Almighty God.

New York crash claims Vincy man

Claudius Durrant

Jan. 17:- Auto mechanic Claudius Durrant, 32,  originally of Rillan Hill, died on the spot in Brooklyn after the van he was driving hit a pothole and spun out of control while exiting Kings Highway, New York. The car crash left five others, including Durrant’s girlfriend, nursing injuries.

 

Political group urges restraint

Jan. 19:- Sociopolitical group People’s Movement for Change (PMC) urged the nation’s political parties to “control” their members and supporters as they prepared for protest and counter protest actions as the budged debates climaxes. The call came on the heels of a verbal clash between supporters of the ruling Unity Labour Party (ULP) and the opposition New Democratic Party (NDP).

Legislators pass ‘pack of cards’ budget

Jan. 22:- Legislators pass an EC$913.5M (US$338.3M) budget even as opposition leader, economist Arnhim Eustace says it is “a pack of cards” and a “fraud of monumental proportion”. He noted that this year’s budget had the largest deficit on the current account — EC$108M (US$40M).

Gov’t ends Grenadines ‘departure tax’

Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves announces the removal of an EC$1 (US$0.37) fee for the mandatory use departure facilities at the Grenadines Wharf in Kingstown. The Opposition had said the user fee was a tax levelled against resident of the Grenadines.

No passports sold here

Jan. 29:- Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves on makes it clear that St. Vincent and the Grenadines no longer sells its citizenship or its passports and his Unity Labour Party (ULP) would resist any attempts to do so. He calls on the opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) to state its position on the issue, saying that the party has promised its financiers to re-enact laws that would once again allow such transactions.

Haiti, I’m sorry

Hon. Arnhim Eustace.

Feb. 1:- Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace says he was not criticizing Haiti when he compared the 2010 budget to the crumbling of building during the Jan. 12 earthquake in that nation. “Why would I make fun of Haiti,” he says.

 

Eustace: Nothing strange

Feb. 1:- Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace says there is “nothing strange” about economic citizenship programmes and that they attract investors to a country. “The point is, when you establish such programmes, they must be tight and well-managed,” he says.

PM calls for tighter African bonds

Feb 3:- Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves tells African leaders that the bonds between the continent and its Caribbean and Latin American diaspora must be strengthened. “We wish to reaffirm our love to Africa and our commitment to work together to build a better life for our populations,” he told the 53 African leaders at the 14th Summit of the African Union (AU) Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Vincy killed in Nevis

Wesley Trimmingham

Feb. 9:- Vincentian Wesley Trimmingham, 31, dies in Ramsbury, Nevis after receiving several gunshots about his body. Police say he was shot near a church after an outing with a friend.

 

Cops convicted

Feb. 10:- The socio-political group People’s Movement for Change “welcomes” the conviction of three cops charged with assaulting a 15-year-old youth, leaving him unconscious for a week. Senior Magistrate Donald Browne found detectives Corporal Kasankie Quow and Constables Osrick James and Hadley Ballantyne guilty of assaulting Jemark Jackson, now 16, causing him bodily harm, on November 18, 2008. He ordered the cop to each pay the court EC$1,500 (US$556) in one month or spend six months in prison. The officers had been suspended from active duty pending the outcome of the case.

PM threatens to sue

Feb. 16:- Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves threatens to sue Nice Radio and talk show hosts Matthew Thomas and Junior Bacchus for statements relating to monies that were reported deposited into a government accounts at the National Commercial Bank (NCB). He also said he would take legal action regarding an opposition New Democratic Party sponsored advertisement that questioned the origins of the US$1 million (EC$2.7 million).

NDP states airport policy

Feb. 16:- The opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) says an NDP administration would make a decision on the continued construction of the international airport at Argyle after a thorough review and consultations with “all stakeholders”.

More controversial ads

Feb. 16:- The opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) releases a second campaign advertisement even as party leader Arnhim Eustace announced that individuals had been sued for a controversial commercial released the previous week.

NDP backs Anesia Baptiste

Anesia Baptiste. (Photo: Oris Robinson)

Feb. 17:- The opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) says it will support outspoken public servant Anesia Baptiste who was slapped with 16 charges for comments she made during the campaign for the Constitution Referendum of Nov. 25, 2009. Leader of the Opposition Arnhim Eustace asks if similar actions were taken against other public officers who spoke on behalf of the government-sponsored “Yes” campaign.

 

Group calls power concept change

Feb. 23:- The socio-political group People’s Movement for Change (PMC) calls on the Dr. Ralph Gonsalves government “to adopt an open-handed concept of political power that fosters the new political culture [the] country most desperately needs and deserves”. The PMC describes as “unacceptable, repugnant, repulsive and repressive” the 16 disciplinary charges brought by the government against public servant Anesia Baptiste.

SVG Democracy ‘under threat’

March 1:- Leader of the Opposition Arnhim Eustace says democracy in St. Vincent and the Grenadines is “under threat”. He says that notwithstanding the “God-given” and constitutional guarantees of freedom of speech and freedom of association, citizens where being “squeeze[d] for all sorts of reasons, many of them political”.

Drought continues

March 2:- Water management officials consider rationing water for longer hours as the nation moves into the fourth month of a drought that is affecting the Caribbean region. Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves said meteorological officials have projected that the drought, the worst drought to affect the country since 1987, will continue for at least two more months.

Parties differ on Parliament increase

March 2:- The government and opposition parties call on their supporters to assemble outside Parliament to support and protest the government’s move to increase the number of constituencies from 15 to 17. Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves said there is “justification” for the increase even as the opposition New Democratic Party said Vincentians rejected the proposal when they voted against the new constitution in November.

NDP’s election issues

March 3:- The opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) outlines what it says will be some of the major issues in the upcoming general elections. Party president and Leader of the Opposition Arnhim Eustace says Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves had refused to answer “key questions” and “constantly hides behind threats of legal action to suppress those views with which he does not agree”.

Health Minister says sorry

Dr. Douglas Slater.

March 4:- Minister of Health Dr. Douglas Slater apologizes for the suspension of the delivery of medicine to the country by the sub-region’s pharmaceuticals procurement service last year. He says the situation is resolved and the country has received a shipment of medicines and more is on the way.

 

Health Minister slam opposition agitator

March 4:- Minister of Health Dr. Douglas Slater tells Parliament that Vincentians should condemn statements by New Democratic Party spokesman E.G. Lynch regarding a study by Cubans of disability in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. He says Lynch described the Cuban health care personnel as “crack heads” and encouraged Vincentians to chase them away and set dogs on then when they visit their homes. “Unless the NDP can rebuke that and object to [Lynch’s comments], they too must also be condemned,” Slater says.

Queen says take advantage

March 8:- Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in her Commonwealth message says that Commonwealth nations should encourage their young people to participate in the “exciting new opportunities” that technology provides. She however acknowledges that the internet is still unaffordable to many citizens of the 54 nations of the intergovernmental grouping.

What says Trinidad?

March 8:- Leader of the opposition Arnhim Eustace wants the Patrick Manning government of Trinidad and Tobago to say if it has changed its position on a plan to rescue the financially troubled British American Insurance Company ). He says any such change will have serious implications for SVG, whose citizens and National Insurance Service invested EC$252 million (US$93.3 million) in the failing company.

British American replacement doubts

March 22:- Leader of the Opposition Arnhim Eustace is no longer confident that an enterprise to assume the liabilities of financially troubled British American Insurance Company (BAICO) will materialize before 2011. British American has been placed under judicial management and Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States and other Caribbean governments are partnering with investors to form a new company to assume its liabilities.

Nine years at the helm

March 28:- The Ruling Unity Labour Party celebrates “nine years of excellent governance”, with party leader Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves warning supporters not to vote for the New Democratic Party (NDP) in upcoming general elections. “The opposition NDP doesn’t have a vision for this country. They do not look at the possibilities which are in us. They look at the limitations. And a political party which only looks at the limitations cannot develop a country,” he says.

Read also: 2010 in Review: April to June