KINGSTOWN, St, Vincent – Businessman Ken Boyea said last night that “it was not a lie” when he told U.S. officials in 2007 that he would “completely trust [Opposition Leader Arnhim] Eustace with the keys to the country”.
Boyea’s comments to U.S. embassy staff based in Barbados were among those made public when the whistle-blowing website, WikiLeaks, recently published thousands of U.S. diplomatic cables.
According to the cables, Boyea, in 2007 remained “one of the most outspoken critics, at least in private, of Gonsalves and his left-leaning tendencies”.
However, Boyea, Gonsalves’ first cousin and former member of the Unity Labour Party (ULP), which Gonsalves heads, endorsed Gonsalves publicly ahead of the 2010 vote in which the party secured a third consecutive term in office.
The entrepreneur, who fell out with the ULP and ran as leader of the now defunct People Political Movement in 2001, is quoted as telling Embassy officials “although Eustace lacks charisma, he is bright, capable and honest”.
Boyea, speaking on Jomo Thomas’ “Voices” last night, said that speaking disparagingly of Eustace would be “condemning 40-something … per cent of the people in St. Vincent who elected him or voted for him.
“I think we’ve got to cut this stupid political divide out. We are making ourselves look foolish,” he said.
Asked if his characterisation of Eustace was out of political expediency, Boyea, who supported the New Democratic Party (NDP) in 1984 and 1989 when the party was led by former prime minister, Sir James Mitchell, said, “No”.
“It was not a lie but I wasn’t going to carry my political thing to say condemn Mr. Eustace or anything like that … I mean he isn’t a foolish guy, because he was a big executive at the CDC (Caribbean Development Bank) and things like that,” Boyea explained.
Boyea, however, said, “a lot of people, from their politics, would have gone and say he (Eustace) is no good”.
“You can’t do that because you are saying to a foreign government that if this man got into power St. Vincent would be nothing. You hear this every election … Well, I don’t make those sorts of statements. If so and so gets in, I have to stay here and make this work,” Boyea further said.
Boyea’s concern was that Vincentians “take our politics too far”.
“We are not looking at the country as a whole. We are not saying … criticise a guy in his policies but don’t make him out to be a devil or an idiot or something,” he said.
“Because if I come from a country where the opposition leader is an idiot then I am an idiot because he is the leader of a mass party …
“I see this happening all the time. One side would say the prime minister is no good, the other one would say the leader of the opposition. And we just make ourselves sound like arses if we continue that type of fight.
“I think we need to look at ourselves and say ‘Boy, how can we improve?’ We have to improve every succeeding generation. We have to find ways of moving forward.”
Boyea further explained his support for the ULP government’s attempts to build an international airport here.
“… if we don’t make a breakthrough like that, my generation would have been a failed generation. I can’t see anything that we have made a big advance on the previous generation,” he said of the EC$652 million project.
“… if we are able to do a project like that and succeed, then we can look back and say we achieved something. But right now, all we have done, very eloquently, is to lambast each other and bad talk each other,” Boyea further said.
He said that his country, since attaining adult suffrage 60 years ago, “hasn’t really moved forward that much”.
“I mean we have limited resources, but we have to stop this nonsense, because … when St. Vincent fail, all of us fail and I don’t have any passport to go anywhere else. … We need to be making sure that progressively, every year is better than the previous year regardless which government is in power,” Boyea said.