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With apprehension and grave concern, I note the very suspicious entry of Mr. Ralph Gonsalves, Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, into the debate on Independence for the twin state of St. Maarten/St. Martin. My apprehension stems from the unwise selection of Mr. Gonsalves as the Keynote Speaker on what seems to be the twinned subjects of “Reparations” and “Emancipation.” More particularly, my concern is with the immediate effect his association will likely have on the movement for St. Martin’s “Independence.” Whether St. Martin will eventually become the Republic of St. Martin as propounded by Mr. Joseph H. Lake Jr. is not of importance here; that Ralph Gonsalves has become enmeshed in these issues, in two foreign states, is of greater concern to those of us who are involved in the struggle for true reparations.
Given that the Prime Minister travels at the expense of the taxpayers of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Mr Gonsalves and his government are duty bound to give the public of St. Vincent and the Grenadines timely notifications of his travels abroad and of the reason(s) for such travels. In this case, the notification to the people of SVG came, not in a Vincentian newspaper, one day before the actual trip. Given that the Prime Minister was listed as the keynote speaker in a matter that is political and bears on the internal affairs of St. Maarten/St. Martin, the question was immediately asked in St. Vincent and the Grenadines — why the late announcement and why did it originate in a St. Kitts/Nevis news outlet instead of a St. Vincent or St. Maarten/St. Martin news outlet?
Had Mr. Joseph H. Lake Jr. done the expected and required due diligence before inviting Mr. Ralph Gonsalves as keynote speaker, he would have realised that, unlike past years, Mr. Gonsalves is no longer unquestioningly recognised as one of the foremost leaders in the CARICOM struggle for Reparations. His on-going involvement as a spokesperson in this historic matter is now being attacked from many angles, by many individuals and organizations, the most recent of which is PARCOE.
Given these considerations, certain questions must now be asked:
(1) Are the expenses related to what amounts to a private and very political lecture trip being incurred by Mr. Ralph Gonsalves, by Mr. Joseph H. Lake Jr., and/or by the University of St. Martin?
(2) If not, is it right and proper that these expenses be paid by the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines?
(3) What makes Ralph Gonsalves a suitable keynote speaker on a St. Martin Emancipation Day Lecture or any lecture on Emancipation and Reparations?
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