Prof. Wellington Ramos speaks at the NDP press conference in Kingstown on Wednesday. (Photo: Brereton Horne/Facebook)

A U.S.-based Garifuna professor visiting St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) to discuss honorary citizenship with the opposition says his group does not support any political party in the country, but has accused Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves of not wanting to hold talks with them.

Prof. Wellington Ramos, a Belize-born Garifuna who lives in the United States, however, told a New Democratic Party (NDP) press conference on Wednesday that Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves is yet to respond to their knock on the door.

“We don’t rule out any political party in St. Vincent. We don’t support no (sic) political party in St. Vincent. We have to communicate with all political parties where we live. We don’t tell our people how to vote. They have their free minds to decide how to vote,” Ramos said in response to a reporter’s question.

“Earlier, I also said that we did send a letter to the Prime Minister. That was a way to open up dialogue with the Prime Minister. It was the Prime Minister that decided that he doesn’t want to communicate with us.

“And when somebody don’t (sic) want to communicate with you, you have to wait until they are ready to communicate with you, then you can start the communication process. You can’t force them,” Ramos said.

Ramos is in SVG for a week of activities planned for the visit of a delegation of exiled Garifuna to SVG, which they consider their ancestral home.

The visit comes as the NDP pushes ahead with its plans to make all Garifuna honorary citizens of SVG if the party wins the next general elections.

Eustace announced the policy in May and it has been criticised by Gonsalves.

The Prime Minister attempted to equate the policy to the economic citizenship programme under the former NDP administration and further suggested that Garifunas will come to SVG to take away Vincentians’ property.

Garifunas are descendants of indigenous Vincentians, many of whom were exiled from the country in the 1790s.

The United Nations have declared Garifunas a nation in exile and Ramos said that since that declaration he has been working on a constitution for the Garifuna people.

“… based on the request from the United Nations, I, being a person who is a historian, and I am also a professor of political science as well, I took the opportunity to draft a constitution to present it to the Garifuna Nation, which is an organization which came into existence last year,” said Ramos, who is an adjunct professor of political science and history.

From left. Prof. Wellington Ramos, Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace, and NDP spokesperson Sen. Vynnette Frederick. (Photo: NDP/Facebook)
From left. Prof. Wellington Ramos, Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace, and NDP spokesperson Sen. Vynnette Frederick. (Photo: NDP/Facebook)

He said the document is currently under scrutiny by the different Garifuna organisations.

“We are planning to have a Garifuna summit in Honduras next year, where that document is going to be ratified,” he said, adding that a Garifuna organisation in St. Vincent is “the missing link”.

Speaking at the press conference, Eustace reiterated his party’s commitment to making all Garifunas honorary citizens of SVG.

He said there are many challenges to be overcome, including some related to international law, but added that his party is committed to solving all the problems related to the honorary citizenship proposal.

Eustace said that on Friday the NDP and other members of the visiting delegation will have a closed-door session to discuss with Ramos what they think should be included in honorary citizenship

“We want that to be a negotiated matter, not an announcing something that we are going to offer, but to sit down with the Garifuna, as promised from the beginning, and we will discuss those ways which we think are best…” Eustace said.

He said the discussions will include matters of international law and getting to a relationship that is meaningful and reflects what should be the feelings of SVG and Garifunas to each other.

The visiting delegation is expected to include exiled Garifuna Joseph Guerrero, who is slated to arrive in St. Vincent on Thursday.

During the visit, the delegation will participate in a number of events, including Garifuna rallies in Greiggs and Sandy Bay on Thursday and Sunday.

They will also visit Balliceaux, the tiny Grenadine island where the Garifunas were taken and where about half died before they were exiled to Roatán in Central America in the 1790s.

5 replies on “Visiting Garifuna: PM Gonsalves ‘decided that he doesn’t want to communicate with us’”

  1. C. ben-David says:

    Shame on you, Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves, for shunning and marginalizing our exiled founding people.

    You have repeatedly said that you are a champion of the downtrodden of the earth but your refusal to show any compassion for those who were wickedly driven from their homeland by our slave-owning ancestors proves otherwise.

    Despite what you have repeatedly shouted about people power, human rights, and social justice since you entered the political arena four decades ago, your indifference to the rights of our aboriginal proves that you are just another small-minded Caribbean political hack — a run of the mill pompous self-serving hypocrite and charlatan.

    1. Luther Bonadie says:

      Ben , You don’t know one Sh”” t about founding people. You run your mouth on everything, typical jack ass Vincentian, know nothing have nothing.

  2. Homourable Dr. “Comrade Ralph” Gonsalves is perhaps one of the rudest, most arrogant self-important Prime Ministers I have ever come across. He does not respond to questions, he ignores all communications, and if he is poked unavoidably in public on the matter he then spews hatred and distrust.

    During his tenure he has sought out either Directorships or Chairmanships of just about every entity and function in CARICOM, OECS and ACS, and by sticking his nose into every possible corner of the region he is leaving himself very little time for his own country – and costing his constituents a considerable sum as he jumps around the Caribbean from meeting to meeting.

    It is my sincere hope that this “person” is unseated at the next election and replaced by someone who has intelligence, manners, thrift, the ability to read and write, and a concern for both his constituents and the rest of humanity.

  3. Dr. Dexter Lewis says:

    Of course Gonsalves is not interested in talking to the Garifuna. His interest is in his “Iberian” heritage as he has often stated. He will make the rest of us part of his welcoming mat for the likes of former Venezuelan dictator Chavez or Fidel Castro or the current Ecuadorean junta.

    No matter what storms the Garifuna or Haitians try to shelter from, Gonsalves will not be interested. They are not his brothers, not his kith and kin. Gonsalves will give them verbal support provided it cost him nothing.

    You can see it in how he governs: If there is an opportunity available in the economy, like Ottley Hall Marina, don’t expect to hear about if until he has made it available to his foreign friends and family or at least his “kith and kin”.

    1. Luther Bonadie says:

      If you know so much and you so darm smarth why don’t you run for public office.
      Reading your response, you are just a small minded ,and blind Vincentian.

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