Lawyer and political activist Maia Eustace has highlighted the fact that St. Vincent and the Grenadines has not had a black elected leader for three decades.
Eustace, who is the daughter of Leader of the Opposition Arnhim Eustace, made the point at the New Democratic Party’s youth rally in Barrouallie on Saturday.
She was at the time discussing the power of young people in the political process.
Eustace said that the ruling Unity Labour Party recognises that the young people are powerful
“You know why? Because you have no memory of what St. Vincent was like before they came to power.”
She noted that the ULP has been in office for 14 years, adding that the youngest person registered to vote in the Dec. 9 general elections were just 2 years old when the ULP came to office.
“You don’t know what it was like when the IMF … said ‘much to praise, little to fault’, when we had 5 per cent growth every year, when you drive into Kingstown and you had to face terrible deadlock, terrible traffic because banana trucks lining straight from Geest yard, right back up Richmond Hill into Sion Hill junction,” she said in reference to the NDP’s time in office.
“You don’t know about that, and that is why they prey on you,” Eustace said.
“You don’t know about that. And, for 31 years, not one of you have ever seen an elected black leader of this country,” she said, adding, “They want you to believe that leadership carries a particular complexion in this nation.
“Well, let me tell me you something, all I see is people of every colour in this country, many of whom are black, and why can’t black people too have a chance to take leadership? Why are we less qualified for it?”
Eustace referred to a comment by Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves about a decade ago, in which Gonsalves, who is of European descent, said that if he, then US President George W. Bush, and Mr. Eustace, who is of African descent, were walking down the road at night, Bush would recognise him and not Eustace.
Some persons have said that Gonsalves’ comment was racist, while he has said that he was making the point that he is recognised internationally.
“When they tell you that you are invisible because you are black … When they tell you that about Arnhim, they tell you that about yourself — ‘You are invisible!’ Are you invisible?” she said and the crowd responded, “No!”
“But they preying on it. They need yo’ not to have that power, not to manifest your power,” Eustace said.