A former high-ranking member of the ruling Unity Labour Party (ULP) has suggested that the administration has created an environment in which many Vincentians feel they must pledge loyalty to the government if they are to succeed.
Queen’s Counsel lawyer Stanley K. “Stalky” John outlined what he sees as some of the unfavourable realities in St. Vincent and the Grenadines as he addressed the opening of Phoenix Chicken, a local business, on Sunday.
Phoenix Chicken, located at the right-hand side of the entrance to Little Tokyo in Kingstown, is owned by John’s client, businessman Leon “Bigger Bigs” Samuel.
Samuel has been fighting a battle with the Ralph Gonsalves-led ULP administration since February 2011, when his licence to mine aggregate on lands he owns in Rabacca was revoke.
Samuel has blamed the Cabinet-level revocation for the closing of his block-making business and, citing lack of finances, is yet to recommence operations more than six months after Cabinet rescinded the decision.
“There is some heavy load to carry. There is a lot of hard work to be done in our country to restore for Vincentians a threshold level of livelihood where the majority of us could feel proud and comfortable in our land,” John said to Leader of the Opposition Arnhim Eustace as he made his address at the opening ceremony.
“I hope that the time has come when Vincentians are settled in this perspective as I am settled. And Mr. Eustace, I hope that, like Bigger, you can count on the support, the encouragement of Vincentians from all walks of life to hold your back for you, because you are up against a very, very difficult and hard road,” he said.
John said that Samuel impressed him as being an outstanding, exceptional Vincentian.
Referring to the on-going debate about Garifunas, John said the businessman reminded him of how the indigenous Vincentians resisted the might of the British.
He said that banana earnings have fallen from EC$100 million a year to “absolutely nil”.
“Do you think that is not hitting the pocket of all and sundry?” he said, adding that tourism is also not doing very well.
“Where can the people find jobs? And those who we have elected — not me, some of you have elected and re-elected, and re-elected, and who I understand you are going to re-elect again, have a philosophy, anybody in St. Vincent, especially if he is a Garifuna, because all of us, indigenous creole Vincentians have Garifuna blood in us, identify with Garifuna culture — everyone of us, who, whether in business, in a profession or elsewhere seem to manifest some independence of mind and attitude must be brought down,” John said.
“You can only be seen to be thriving in St. Vincent if you latch on to the navel string of government that be,” he said.
He said that some people say they are concerned about the poor and underprivileged and their task is to build and uplift the country so that the poor can go forward.
“But now, those same people are the only ones we see going forward,” the prominent lawyer said.
He noted that Samuel had a multimillion-dollar business that he started because he had “belly”, and had the courage, like a true Garifuna, to go forward
“Bigger Bigs must be drawn down and thrown down,” he said in reference to the government’s attitude to Samuel’s business.
“You would think that we are building a multi-million dollar airport that require aggregate and construction material, that money is being drained from the lifeblood of our economy to get that airport built; you would think that a government that appreciates the need and who is genuine about building the people and building the economy would ensure that Vincentians who have shown the initiative and the capacity to go forward and to take the chance as bigger has taken would be encouraged and supported,” John said.
“Rather than that Bigger, is torn down and Cuban are brought here, Venezuelans are brought here … How can that be right,” John said.
Many persons have asked why Samuel did not seek legal redress over the revocation of his mining licence.
John said that he recognised that the challenge and the action taken against Samuel “did not have a solution in the courts.
“This was not a narrow legal issue. When it’s convenient for those who’re leading our country, they speak to the broad overarching socio-economic political and economic context for what we experience from time to time.
“And one is amazed that the same people, when it doesn’t suit their political agenda, would then try to couch everything in terms of narrow legal principles and issues,” he said.
John said he sees the same thing happening in relation to Eustace’s proposal to make all Garifunas honorary citizens of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
“I share with Bigger Bigs from day one his travails … And I see the manifestation of the whole victimization, of the anti-national approach of those who are in a position to lift our people up, exemplified in Bigger’s case. And every time I had to speak with him, my heart was heavy; I felt the pain. And bigger is only one example,” John said.
“From all walks of life in St. Vincent, people have been subjected to this form of oppression,” John said.
“Whether you are a lawyer, you are an engineer, you are an accountant, you are a businessman, you will either follow me and let all and sundry see that because you are connected to my navel string you are able to make a livelihood in this country.
“… For as long as we stand by and allow anyone, it doesn’t matter who, to perpetrate that type of philosophy and that type of public policy on us, we betray the legacy of our Garifuna ancestors.”
John said that there are persons who when they first entered politics boasted of the modesty of their circumstances, means, and material condition.
“Now, you see then flaunting wealth as if they are Donald Trump…” he said.
John, who was elected as the representative for East St. George in 1998 on a ULP ticket, has been largely silent publicly on political and national since his exit from politics in 2001 — sometime after a fallout with the party.
“I have sat for long, and I have reflected for a long time. And in a sense it was due to my disappointment, disappointment in my people; but whatever I say, whatever I do, I cannot escape what I feel in my heart, what has made me who I am,” he said.
He told the gathering that persons like Samuel and “O.T.” Mayers, a successful businessman who also spoke at Sunday’s event, and others in St. Vincent and the Grenadines “should be lifted up and put forward in St. Vincent”.
John said that like so many thousand of Vincentians, he grew up as “a little black boy” from humble parents who went to school and dreamt of being many things and in order to succeed there had to be role models.
“And in a country where you have over 90 per cent of the people looking like Bigger and OT, you need to be able to meet men like them who have done something worthy and well to be able to lift them up so that all the tens of thousands of youngsters can look at them and say one day I can become like that if I work hard; not pull them down. That cannot be right. And I ask myself Vincentians: is it only I who see this? Is that so hard for us to see? When are we going to wake up?” John said.
Stalky, I grow up in the Calliaqua area, went to Calliaqua Anglican School of which I am very proud to be associated with. I have always looked up to you as one of svg’s most decent citizens…thank you for breaking the silence and finally calling “them” out. I believe the masses listened attentively, especially E. St. George, heard and registered every word and syllable that was uttered by you.
Yet more licks given to the PM from one of the most respected men in the land. How many more blows can he take before he becomes a political pariah in the minds of his followers?
My prediction is that the election will now take place in the New Year because of all these set backs. Politicians in decline always cling to power until the bitter end.
David, it may be preferential that you use more appropriate words when talking about the PM. You must be aware that he is an avid reader of what your write and one of your words in particular may be a turn on for him.
Stalky John, it makes me proud that there are such people as you, fearless and uncowering. Thank you so much on behalf of all decent thinking people in Saint Vincent for your help and your words for Leon Bigger Bigs Samuel.
Leon is a gentle lion among men, an example to all of how to behave in a civilized society, but this is not a civilized society, its a hot pot of evil.
When Bigs was treated with spite, hate, maliciousness, demolitional destructiveness, most Vincentians closed their ears and eyes. Some ULP supporters even said he deserved such treatment. Some decent people both here and in the Diaspora stood by him, supported him, spoke and wrote articles on his behalf. Eventually the Prime Minister who is a lawyer, said his cousin Julian Francis said they had got it wrong which eventually got back Leons license. I have to ask how on earth can a lawyer in such a powerful position take advice on the law from such a person as Francis? Please tell me how? We know that they are all connected through the family dynasty, all part owners of the ULP, but it astounds me because I know Francis and I know Gonsalves.
Now because of the action of these people he owes the banks multi millions of dollars, the dynasty government are doing nothing to put him back where he once was. His punishment continues by the failure of them to compensate him. This must be a human rights issue, yet Gonsalves can go to Ecuador and get medals, are we all mad to tolerate this kind of treatment of Bigger Bigs.
My message to Mr Gonsalves and the whole of the family dynasty that own the ULP, please go and live in Cuba, go and live in Venezuela, go and live in Ecuador, that is where you belong, that is where you are appreciated.
There are many business people who do not support the ULP who go about their business and is ready to vote against the ULP. When you join a battle and is ready to spend your money and is vocal against a government you had better be ready for the war. Stalky knows how many persons he represented who were thrown out of work by the NDP. Victimization is sadly one of the rotten aspects of politics, what is he now crying “Sour Grapes”.Before anyone responds they must know of the deep love and respect and admiration I have for Stalky.
If anyone believes, that God help us the NDP wins, their will be no victimization, don’t have a clue how politics works. The NDP are masters of victimization I must know they struck twice at my door. Despite this the NDP have not put forward any concrete policies to take the country forward is the Garifuna issue their policy for development?. The ULP is not responsible for the demise of bananas the WTO is. Vincentians must think deep, and if they are ready to register a protest vote against the ULP, they must look forward and vote for the DRP. It is time to give another young dynamic leader an opportunity to govern, and one who will be around for a while given her youth.
You are dead on when you speak of the nature of Vincentian politics (which is the way politics works throughout the Caribbean and in most democratic, party-politics countries around the world).
But you are dead wrong to see the DRP as an alternative because:
1. It is lead by a religious fanatic whose stiff-necked, self-righteousness — especially on sexual issues — will soon make us yearn for the days of freedom under the Comrade. I do not believe that homosexuality is a normal, natural, or healthy form of sexual expression or that it should taught as such to our children at home or at school. But I also don’t believe that homosexuality is something that people freely choose to do, as Ms. Baptiste seems to believe, a position that will relegate gays and lesbians to the back of the bus forever in our country for no other reason than their sexual yearnings.
2. She seems unwilling or unable to compromise on anything, a trait which immediately disqualifies her as able to lead a diverse society like SVG.
3. She is not a team player, another requisite of a successful politician.
4. Sister Baptiste cannot win a single seat.
JohnCucumber, the Honorable Arnhim Eustace is just that Honourable, most of the ULP are the opposite too that. When Eustace says there will be no victimization, there will be no victimization. He doesnt tell lies and he has never been accused of rape or sexual assault. Of course there will be investigations into all sorts of things and all sorts of people. Those found to have been corrupt, or political appointments to jobs for which they have no skill or any specialist knowledge, may well be removed. It is Mr. Eustaces promise that there will be no victimization and there will none whilst he is in charge.
NDP concrete policies are coming, they will be in their manifesto, they know only too well how Gonsalves does not have any real policies, especially when it come to crime, debt, investment, maintenance of buildings and roads, and almost anything to do with getting people to work. They know that the ULP will take their ideas and use them as their own if they announce them to early, as they did with the one laptop a child and the Cocoa project, which they did at past elections.
This is not the old NDP, this a very different mix of people with very different principles, Eustace is an honest and principled man that we can put our trust in, someone we can trust our daughters safety with.
Your half right regarding bananas the demise in the markets for bananas was not the fault of Gonsalves and the ULP, that happened because Europe could no longer give us preferential import tariffs because it hurt the US and Latin American countries. What was the fault of Gonsalves and the government was the failure to control banana diseases, letting Black Sigatoka get out of control to such a degree because of underfunding the ministry of agriculture, then the ministry failing to have the banana crops sprayed at the times and intervals required. Thats what killed what was left of our banana trade, our fair-trade deals in the UK and our regional sales to Barbados and Trinidad, they killed it stone dead. Now our farmers are starving and 60% of our people of working age are doing nothing.
I am glad to see Stalky John, as a former stalworth Labour person, come out when he sees that the nation is going in a bad direction. Also, I am glad to see that he is not afraid to use his own name and speak in his own voice. Sure, there is danger in using your name and criticizing the current regime, but if you are a leader in the Vincentian community then you must be brave and let the people have some hope that they are not alone.
In the last 2 to 3 years I have spoken to many former “Labour” stalworths who have given up on the current corrupt crop in power, but will not lend their names in a show of solidarity with our people. Most of these are retired people but they have concerns that the MNU boys will retaliate against them or their relatives for speaking out. But I would like to direct their attention to one of Gandhi’s 7 Sins: Gandhi warned against “Politics without Principle”.
I do not know if the big financial mess that is SVG is all the fault of Ralph Gonsalves. Everyone knows that he is in a different world when it comes to smart economics. We can’t say much about Eustace yet but James Mitchell was also poor. He destroyed Coconut Oil industry, Sugar Cane, Arrowroot, Poultry,… But that was the past. Right now we are stuck with Ralphonomics. See what world renouned Financial experts have to say about Ralph’s pride and joy: Liat. It reminds me of a child that is proud of his first turd without diapers:
International Man…”The benefits of an inefficient Government”
This is just one of the articles the author addresses our PM’s economics: I call it Ralphonomics
You fools , ask anyone under the age of 30 who is Stalky John, your answer will be the future of St. Vincent, now you wash up old farts, who is begging for something.
Lunatic Bonadie, Stalkey John was a rank and file Labour supporter, unlike you he has seen the light, he has recognised the spite, malice, hate, and pure evil that this regime thrives on.
You still support that behaviour and I am sure you revel in it if I read your very nasty comments correctly.
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