Businessman Leon “Bigger Biggs” Samuel says he will take outside Parliament today (Thursday) his one-man protest, which he hopes will pressure the Government to reinstate his licence to mine-aggregate at Rabacca.
The Government revoked the licence in February 2011 sighting environmental impact and non-compliance with the terms of the agreement.
Samuel has said the decision has brought his block-making business to a halt and has resulted in the 45 to 60 persons he employed losing their jobs.
On Sunday, as the Regional Reparations Conference opened at Victoria Park, Samuel staged a one-man protest there.
Samuel carried a placard which said that Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves does not have the moral authority to seek reparations on his behalf.
Prime Minister Gonsalves has convinced his CARICOM colleagues to form a Reparations Commission to seek from Europe, reparations for native genocide and slavery during colonisation.
“I am going to use every opportunity I get. I am going to intensify my fight now,” Samuel said when asked why he will protest in front of the Parliament building today.
“I still want to believe that there are people in this country, even if not necessary the policymakers, but people who are close to the policymakers, who have a heart and who, I believe, will encourage them to look into the matter with Bigger Biggs — try get this thing resolved,” Samuel told I-Witness News.
“I might be wrong, but I still believe there are goodhearted people in St. Vincent and the Grenadines still,” he further said.
Regional delegates attended the opening of the Reparations Conference on Sunday and thousands of Vincentians turned out to the event, where Jamaican artiste Bunny Wailer performed.
“I was trying to get my message to go outside of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and I think I have been able to accomplish that, because I am sure that persons who [were] at Victoria Park from overseas were reading,” Samuel said of the reason for protesting there.
“Because somebody comes and stands up in the middle of them, one person picketing, they would get curious,” he further stated.
“I think at least somebody … have left St. Vincent knowing there was some disgruntled person in St. Vincent. The only thing I am sorry for, the placard I am going to use tomorrow (today) is going to be a little bit more explanatory than the one I had on Sunday,” he further explained.
Samuel said he has been in conversation with Gonsalves since December 2012.
He said that Gonsalves told him last month that he has instructed the relevant persons to reinstate the licence.
“I personally believe that I am being given the run-around; because I think if Dr. Gonsalves really wants [them] to act, [they] have to act. … I want the Prime Minister to honour his commitment,” Samuel said.
Gonsalves, in his address on Sunday cautioned against trivialising the reparations effort, saying remedies are available in the national legal and political systems for persons who feel wronged by their government.
But Samuel said that his is also a case for reparations.
“… the term reparations, as we all know it in the English dictionary, is to make amends or to repair damage. If we are looking to go forward as a unified nation, I personally think let us start from home. And people were of that opinion Sunday and said even if we start to resolve the problem at home, you will have better uniformity going forward, because you are talking about reparations. Reparations is a broad word. .. Leh we talk reparations in its entirety,” Samuel told I-Witness News.
Samuel further said that on this matter he prefers to avoid the court.
“He (the Prime Minister) gave more than one alternative but I choose to use the one of dialogue – diplomacy — because when you go to court, because of the nature in which my business was shut down, it would not be a cheap and a short matter to be argued in court,” Samuel told I-Witness News.
“And when you go to court, you close off all other avenues. Basically, you have chosen a position and you shut off all other possibilities and that is what I don’t want to do at this time. … It was a law that was made by Cabinet so it is a law that can be repealed by Cabinet. It is not something that is cast in stone,” he further said in reference to the revocation of his licence.
Samuel said many of his former employees “are suffering from serious stress and that is one of my biggest concern.
“That is one of the reasons why I am upping my protest. They are suffering, they are hurting. Most of my employees…, especially in the office, they are ladies and they are single parents…”
The Government did not put me in a position where they say it is this or that. I am basically hanging in limbo. And it is a bad, bad state of mind to be in. My employees … are hurting badly.”
Asked if the former employees are supporting his protest action, Samuel said, “You know people in general. Vincentians are living in fear and when I go out and fight this battle and success comes, they will get the benefit.
“And never mind, because I like to be a one-man army. … All you want by your side is good support from a female friend and I am good to go. When the crowd begins to get too big, it takes away …” he told I-Witness News.
He said that while he thought that the reasons cited for revoking the licence were “negligible and they were not enough for the approach that was taken”, between March and February of 2011, he “went straight ahead and put in corrective measures”.
I must commend Biggs for his courage. He has good intentions and it is a method that normally brings success. however, based on the allegations that he broke the terms of the contract/agreement – if this is correct, he is wasting his time. I am of the opinion that once procedures are stated in writing, no government will accuse the other party for acting contrary to what is stipulated. It will be a blatant abuse of power and very good reason for court action.
Good luck Mr. Biggs
SVG population is just over 100,000. To deprive 60 or more people of work in such a small population where statistics show way more on the breadline than jobs created to me is a form of holocaust (strong word) being carried out in SVG.
Charity begins at home. How could we have someone representing the Region in the matter of Reparation when that someone is enslaving people right in his backyard by taking away their jobs (depriving children of food, shelter, education, health care). The wool that went over Jomo eyes also went over his brain.
Bigger Bigs, you are dealing with a mad man who is also vindictive. Look at his face and the evil fire in his eyes, don’t you think he should also be taken to Orange Hill with the rest of the population from the Institution at Villa. Your matter will be resolved but you have to have some patience because it won’t be in this moon/under this administration.
I am calling on the government (PM), Brent Baily, reinstate the man business so he can put his employees back to work. We are feeding, clothing, sheltering and providing your healthcare, for God’s sake, Bigger Bigs want the opportunity to do the same for his workers AND CONTRIBUTE TO YOUR PAY CHEQUE TOO. (he pay taxes, remember). It’s not only Bigger Bigs, I know someone who was run out of Campden Park too. Mr. Government, do right by the people of SVG!
Run “Bigger Bigs” run ! Could you be on the scene ? We want you for Marriaqua in 2015 !
The reparation issue is not a bad way to teach the youths about their history. However this political approach is doing more damage and dividing the community more than bringing it together.
It appears that the reparation issue is based on one guy trying to sell his book and Ralph trying to sidestep his responsibilities and hide his failures: Anything to take the heat off his poor showing. He knows he cannot win another term and he’s doing his best to confuse the population.
Jomo seems to be a pretty smart guy, so why hasn’t he research the History of SVG and get Ralph to include some facts – real facts in the school curriculum? Who is going to carry the torch when this group has passed on? I think the youths are the ones who should continue to demand an apology.
But what’s facts do the youths have to prove their point? Where are the resources to enable them to see the damage that was done and is still being done to descendants of slaves worldwide? I have little faith in the committee formed to look at reparation. I thought they had plans to educate the population especially the youths and bring them online, instead it was party time.
Ralph knows that music and free food are essential to buy votes, especially when people are starving. Hes tried it before and hes at it again. Hes not really serious about reparation; the issue never touched him or his family.
Many whites suffered similar faith under Cromwell and other British rulers. Many were shipped off to Australia and Canada, but I am not here to argue their case. I am here to discuss the treatment of the Black Carib race (the Garifuna people). This part of our history is much easier to follow and understand.
I believe there are few slave colonies that revolted against oppression and SVG was one. The Black Caribs kept the French, British and other out for a long time; before the British defeated Chatoyer ( I hope I spell his name right). Its not listed in Thesaurus and neither the word Carib isnt that something. This shows that we have a long way to go to be recognized. However when politics and politicians are involved, it makes it difficult for the masses to follow. Politicians cant even agree on a way to move CARICOM forward. How in hell can they do anything with reparation or CARICOM unless the people know whats involved and are involved?
Id say the startup man is at it again, and this thing isnt going anywhere.
This bottom portion was added after I read some comments from Jomo. He claimed he was part of a reparation group in the US, so what was accomplished during that time? I am sure it went nowhere and was probably dropped. He comes to SVG and tries to do the same thing, but this will also fail. He hasnt learned anything from his first failure.
You have to mobilize people to you cause and get them to follow your sentiments. No groundwork is established in SVG and probably the same happened in the US. No one has explained how he/she is going to tackle the issue. A case must be made and taken before the perpetrators, so they are aware of the charges. This will take lawyers (Jomo is a lawyer) and much research to come up with the relevant facts, to show the governments instigated the accommodated the slave trade.
So whats next after the party? Will the reparation committee be updating the people about progress made as time go by? Will it try to make a case to get others onside? If there is a plan somewhere and can someone point me in that direction, so I can look at it?
Sorry Mr. Samuel. I didn’t mean to usurp your topic. However the bottom line is reparation and you mentioned it in your interview. I have to agree that many people in SVG need to pursue reparation from this government. This government has split the island into two camps: The Windward camp and the Leeward camp. So instead of going to Britain and any other place to seek reparation, the process can be started right here in SVG.
SVG is in for an election pretty soon and the government is looking for topic to take to the people. However its safe to say this is not something voters want to hear about. Ralph also has to let his son get established before he puts him before the electorates. Hence the election will have to wait for some other time. Not this time comrade, not this time.
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