Reports that the Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines has not taken steps to have the recalled envoy Edson Augustus’ diplomatic U.S. visa withdrawn, are “just not true”, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sen. Camillo Gonsalves told I-Witness News on Friday.
“We sent the notes, then we spoke subsequently to representatives at the State Department — the US State Department in Washington DC,” Gonsalves said.
A U.S. State Department source told I-Witness News earlier on Friday that Kingstown had not taken steps to cause Washington to withdraw Augustus’ diplomatic visa.
But Gonsalves told I-Witness News that his government sent all of the requisite diplomatic notes to the US State Department “and we did that in a timely manner”.
Augustus, a former deputy consul general at the Vincentian consulate in New York, was recalled last week Friday, Feb. 7.
Gonsalves told I-Witness News today, Feb. 14, that the envoy was recalled for offering, for a fee, to assist out-of-status Vincentians in New York to secure Permanent Residence Cards, commonly called “Green Cards”.
Gonsalves said that Kingstown completed, on Friday, part of the process to request that Washington withdraw the diplomatic visa.
“The next thing is that we were advised that there was an electronic process that had to be done. We completed the electronic process on Monday. I have, I am looking at it right now, the receipt that is generated from that electronic process.
“It is called a notice of termination, it is from the U.S. State Department Office of Foreign Missions, it has a transaction number, it has a transaction ID number, and the date on that is the 11th. That is the day the receipt was generated, notification of termination,” Gonsalves told I-Witness News.
“We have done what we have had to do with regard to Mr. Augustus. Now, when somebody is terminated and we sent in this information, the Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines has absolutely no control over when the United States State Department finally and ultimately revokes that visa,” Gonsalves further told I-Witness News.
Gonsalves, a former U.N. ambassador, said that in the past, when diplomats’ tour of duty ends, rather than being recalled, “the State Department gave a period of time to get on a plane and leave so that they are not immediately out-of-status in the country.
“So, I don’t know what the process is once we have done what we have to do. So, to imply that we have not done what we have to do — and I am not saying you implied it — but for whoever you spoke to imply that, is just not true. It is as simple as that. It is not true,” Gonsalves told I-Witness News.
He further said that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs spoke to Augustus today, Friday, and expects him to return to St. Vincent and the Grenadines in a few days.
“There were some logistical hiccups that he faced. Whether or not those logistical hiccups are factual or not, I don’t know. He has reported certain logistical hiccups that have prevented him coming home to this point but, we have been in touch with Mr. Augustus on the telephone and we have advised him of the fact that his diplomatic passport has been revoked, and that we have advised the State Department regarding his diplomatic visa,” Gonsalves said.
Gonsalves reiterated, on Friday, that Augustus was en route to SVG.
“I don’t know if he is going to make a stop to see family elsewhere before he gets here. I am satisfied that he is on route to St. Vincent and the Grenadines,” Gonsalves said.