U.S.-based Garifuna leader professor Wellington Ramos should claim lands in Belize, the country of his birth, and not his ancestral home, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves says.
Gonsalves told supporters of his ruling Unity Labour Party in Rabacca on Sunday that Ramos claimed land in SVG when he visited recently for talks with the opposition.
The main opposition New Democratic Party has promised to give honorary citizenship to all Garifuna if it wins the next general election.
Ramos says he is Garifuna, descendants of indigenous Vincentians, who consider SVG their ancestral home.
The professor claims that his ancestor comes from SVG, Gonsalves, said, adding, “That may or may not be so …”
He, however, said that assuming that Ramos was of Garifuna descent, he was “born and bred” and worked in Belize and how lives in the United States, where he works.
“And he comes to tell us that he and others like him own St. Vincent and the Grenadines. In one speech he said he is coming back for his land,” Gonsalves said.
“Well, let me tell you something. Ramos, you from Belize, Belize has 8,800 square miles of land. Belize has a population of 340,000 people. Belize is the last populated country in Central America by density. You have 39 persons per square mile in Belize. That’s all. You want land, take some in Belize,” Gonsalves said.
He pointed out that there is 150 square miles of land in SVG and 110,000 people.
The population density per square mile in SVG is 733, Gonsalves said, noting that a chunk of the country is mountains.
“By all means, let us strengthen the links, as we have been doing between the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and our Garifuna brothers and sisters overseas,” Gonsalves said.
“Let us continue to do that, as we have been doing since 2001 and before, but, please, Mr. Ramos, don’t come here and insult people and tell them that the land in St. Vincent belongs to you, because it does not belong to you, Mr. Ramos. Let us make the point absolutely clear.”
Gonsalves noted that Ramos does not support linking reparations for genocide against Garifuna and former African slaves in SVG.
He said Ramos is seeking to deny the “Africanness” inside of Garifuna, who are a mixture of Africans and Calinago.