KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent — Sacked senator Anesia Baptiste will not take back what she wrote in the 11-page letter to her former boss, Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace, that resulted in her dismissal last week.
“[You] are not and will not be allowed to play God to me,” she told Eustace, after the New Democratic Party adopted a policy he proposed, that candidates and potential candidates should not make adverse statements about religion.
“I have said what I had to say. … I do not recant; I do not take back my letter. I will not apologise. Because I have said nothing wrong. I have spoken the truth frankly, boldly, strongly. But it is the truth,” Baptiste said at a press conference Wednesday.
“And you should have humbled yourself instead of letting your wounded pride get the better of you to fire this good citizen and servant of the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines,” she said in reference to Eustace, who last year at the NDP convention defended her appointment.
Baptiste said that the NDP policy was unconstitutional and impinges on her rights and freedoms.
But although — according to the NDP — Baptiste’s was the sole dissenting voice at the Strategy Committee meeting where the policy was adopted and notwithstanding her strong objection to the policy, Baptiste did not resign from the party.
Eustace fired Baptiste from the senate after receiving the letter.
But Baptiste, at her press conference, ignored the professional code of not maligning one’s former boss and seemed to have forgotten that angry tirades rarely result in someone being accorded hero status and can seriously backfire.
She lamented her dismissal, saying that she did not expect that the letter would result in her being “put on the breadline”, and called for Eustace’s resignation as president of the NDP.
“When you … show frankly the wrong of a policy that is aimed at people’s constitutional rights and freedom and you conclude [that] you cannot support it because it is unconstitutional, when you do something like that in a democratic party and country, … if maturity and true respect for rights and freedoms hold sway, you don’t expect to be put on the breadline for it,” Baptiste said at the three-hour press event.
She said she was not expecting to be fired, “especially from a political party and leader who stood for you against such tyrannical behaviour just two years ago in the Referendum Campaign”.
Baptiste said that her letter, which has been widely circulated on the Internet and published in its entirety by a local newspaper, was provided “privately” to Eustace and members of the Strategy Committee.
She said that when Eustace announced on an NDP-sponsored radio programme on Friday that he had fired her — the first time she heard of her dismissal — she was preparing for a scheduled appearance on the said talk show.
“… what is being done to me is unfair and I want Vincentians everywhere to understand that,” she further stated, adding that since being dismissed, she has been told that her senatorial appointment was in jeopardy even before she wrote the letter last.
“At the end of the day, people will say what they want but they will know that I, Anesia Baptiste, has been consistent. Two years ago, when it was the other side, I said it was wrong. And today, when I see the wrong, I say so, too,” she said.
She was referring to the 2009 Constitution Referendum campaign in which she — and the NDP-led “Vote No” camp — convinced the majority of Vincentians casting ballots that the Unity Labour Party (ULP) government was attempting to erode constitutional guarantees and that they should vote against proposed changes to the nation’s highest law.
“There is a consistent thread running thorough me, and it is the love for and the protection of the rights and freedom of the people that come from God and are protected by the Constitution of St. Vincent and the Grenadines,” Baptiste said.
Asked why she did not resign from the NDP, Baptiste said:
“I did not think that because I disagreed with a policy of a party on the ground that the way the policy was arrived at was not democratic and that the nature of the policy was unconstitutional, … I didn’t think saying frankly I couldn’t follow that, was a matter for me to resign about. I thought it would have led to further dialogue, if anything.”
She said that contrary to what the NDP says a vote was never taken on the policy.
Both ULP and NDP supporters have described Batiste letter as rude and insulting but she said it was not her intention to be insolent.