Mt Wynne.

The views expressed herein are those of the writer and do not represent the opinions or editorial position of iWitness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to [email protected]. 

April 5th, 2016

MATTHEW THOMAS

C/O MATTHEW THOMAS PHARMACEUTICALS

RUSSELLS SHOPPING CENTRE

KINGSTOWN, ST. VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES

P.O.BOX 938

TEL. 784 456 2133/ FAX 485 6148

EMAIL [email protected]

Jomo Thomas

Chairman of the National Committee for Reparation, Native Genocide and African Slavery

Dear Sir,

I write appealing to you as Chairman of the above named committee to use your good office to influence the Unity Labour Party administration, of which you are a member, being a senator and Speaker of the House of Assembly, not to sell that 250 acre plot of land at Mt Wynne/Peters Hope to white foreigners for the purpose of hotel development.

As chair of the Committee, none better than you understands the eternal damnation that the sale of this sizeable portion of our patrimony can have on the psyche of generations to come. In our case for reparation and genocide, we argue that the scars of slavery are indelibly engraved. Even today, 182 years after the abolition of slavery, we continue to excuse every social defect of the black man as being the result of the legacy of Slavery. Are we now by an action of the State, mentally enslaving generations to eternal damnation?

The world has long established that the benefit of this type of development only goes to the foreigners. Statistics have long shown that in some cases up to about 85 per cent of the money earned is repatriated.

Karl John, Vincentian Development Planner, in his book Land Reform in Small Island States, wrote: “Analysts who are more sensitive to the problems of developing countries, have generally insisted that the mere increase in output, productivity or per-capita income, cannot be accepted as constituting development. Real development, they contend, can only occur if … social and economic inequalities become less pronounced … It would be strange to call the result ‘development’ even if per-capita income has doubled.”

Tyrone Hodge, writing in Caribbean News Now on March 3, 2016, on the topic The Slow and Deliberate Selling of Anguilla, said “Former Chief Minister Emile Gumbs who is now calling for a moratorium on future development said: ‘The fronting by our people for foreign businesses, coupled with the impression that all of Anguilla is for sale, does not bode well for our future… if the trends are not arrested we may soon become an endangered species in our own Home’.”

A Communiqué From The 46th Meeting Of The OECS Authority, held in Dominica Jan. 16-18, 2008, states: “In looking at the future, Director General, Dr. Len Ishmael expressed concern about the potentially negative impact of the current boom in property development in some OECS member states, pointing in particular to the escalating land prices resulting from the rapid and wide spread resort developments which are quickly removing any realistic chances of the average OECS citizen breaking into the land owing class. The trend by some resorts to reduce beach access to locals and develop gated communities…. Dr. Ishmael suggested some alternative approach including a moratorium on construction of resorts directly on the beaches.”

In the St. Vincent Grenadines islands, with the exception of Bequia, Union Island and Mayreau, all the others have been virtually sold to white foreigners under the pretext of tourism development.

  1. Petit St. Vincent, 124 acres, a privately owned island, an exclusive tourist resort.
  2. Palm Island, 135 acres, a privately owned island, an exclusive tourist resort.
  3. Mustique

Mustique, a 1,400-acre island, was sold to Colin Tennant in 1958. In 1960, he gave Princess Margaret a 10-acre plot as a wedding gift. Mustique was originally a sugarcane and cotton plantation. At the time of sale, there was a resident native black population. There was a primary school and other social services. Like anywhere else, Mustique was under the total control of the State. Today, there is nothing that the natives and or the Government can do without the expressed approval of the privately owned Mustique Company. In practical terms, the natives have been sold to the Mustique Company. On assuming office in April 2001, the ULP Administration created a Statutory Corporation, the National Properties (NP). This 11-member Board of Directors is responsible for the supervision and sale of all Government properties. Of that 11-member board, four are black. Of the four black men, three were there by virtue of office; namely, the Fiscal Adviser to the Cabinet, the Director of Finance and Planning and the Chief Surveyor. On that Board of Directors, is the CEO and part owner of Mustique.

  1. Canouan

The Canouan Resorts Development Ltd. Lease Ratification Act #4 of 1990 gives exclusive right to the DEVELOPERS to own 1,200 acres of the 1,800-acre island by way of a 90-year lease. Of the remaining 600 acres, over 60 acres were designated a buffer zone between the natives and the Resort. On coming to office, the ULP Administration sold that buffer zone to the DEVELOPERS. The DEVELOPERS own another 28 acres on the native side of the island. The Canouan Airport is part-owned by the DEVELOPERS. The Canouan Beach Hotel, owned by the Government is leased to the DEVELOPERS. The DEVELOPERS have easement throughout the entire natives’ side of the island, but the natives have to get the permission of the DEVELOPERS to enter that exclusive 1,200-acre block.

Commenting on the grave injustice that was meted out to the natives of Canouan, Dr. Gonsalves then Leader of the Opposition said:

“The people of Canouan have to put up with the indignity of having their ancestral and historic rights being taken away from them. They cannot go to the beach. The natives of Canouan need passes as if they were in South Africa in the days of Apartheid under Botha and Voster.” (THE VINCENTIAN 23/12/1999)

Besides the perks, it is even more distressing to note that the monthly rent to the Government as of 2016 is EC$1,200, having started with EC$833.33 in 1996. This is expected to culminate in 2087 to a paltry EC$ 4,633.26. (Act No. 4 of 1990)

That over 250 acres of prime real estate at Mt. Wynne/Peters Hope is to follow a similar pattern to that of Mustique and Canouan, is unbelievable. SVG yearns for an entertainment park. Foremost are, a football and track and field stadium. Where else besides Mt Wynne can this facility be put? Each day we hear of the disaster that is taking place at the Buccama Resorts, yet at Mt Wynne/Peters Hope, less than two miles away, we are repatriating another sizeable portion of our patrimony to white foreigners. On any given Sunday or holiday, hundreds picnic at Mt Wynne and thousands at Carnival time.

Like Mt Wynne, before the dispossession by the white foreigners, Buccamma beach used to be flanked by hundreds on Sundays and Public Holidays. There was also a playing field where cricket and football were played and there was adequate parking space. There was also a locally owned thriving restaurant and night spot: BUCCAMMA ON THE BAY, which was host to Basil’s Mustique Blues Festival on more than one occasion. Minister Julian Francis in May 20010 celebrated his 50th birthday at BUCCAMMA ON THE BAY. It was a big splash. He even had the celebrated Jazz pianist, Zann Alexander, from Trinidad entertaining. Today all of that is gone to the sacrifice of the locals but to the pleasure of the white foreigners.

The following excerpts from the SEARCHLIGHT of 17/02/2006 and 24/02/2006 tell the tales of powerless black people’s mental enslavement at the hands of the whites.

  1. BUCCAMMA FARMERS SINGING THE BLUES (Hawkins Nanton, Staff writer, 17/02/2006)

“Some of the farmers own the lands while others lease and have vowed to die before they give up their land. Minister of lands, Francis told the farmers that he understands their passion for the lands but pointed out to them that the Government felt it necessary to change from farming and invest in tourism in the picturesque valley, since tourism is the country’s main income earner.

“’If the land is good for our survival, it is good for us to die for. I feel as if I can get a bullet right now’ said a farmer.”

  1. GIVE FARMERS A FAIR CHANCE (Editorial, 24/02/2006)

“Last week, officials of the Government met with farmers who own or lease land in the Buccament area to inform them that the land was being sold for hotel development, and they would have to give up their holdings… The reaction by the farmers was swift and emotional. Some threatened violence, others said they were willing to die for their land. Their pain is nothing new. It is a scenario played through the years here in St. Vincent and the Grenadines and around the world whenever “development” projects need to be implemented.

“The farmers see their livelihood being taken away from them. Though extreme, their reaction was understandable. It is unfortunate that advertisements marketing the Buccament development overseas began before the Government had a chance to let the farmers know of their plans for the area.”

If we keep promoting the white man, as a symbol of loftiness, if we keep repatriating the little that we have, our youth may have no alternative but to wear masks and unlicensed firearms or ultimately become an endangered species.

We elevate Joseph Chatoyer to the status of National Hero for defending our patrimony. Let us not now trivialize such devotion. Finally, Mr. Thomas, I leave you with a quotation from Martin Luther King Junior:

“To accept injustice or segregation passively is to say to the oppressor that his actions are morally right. It is a way of allowing his conscience to fall asleep. At this moment the oppressed fails to be his brother’s keeper. So acquiescence while often the easier way is not the moral way. It is the way of the coward. The black man cannot win the respect of his oppressor by acquiescing; he merely increases the oppressor’s arrogance and contempt. Acquiescence is interpreted as a proof of the black person’s inferiority. The black man cannot win the respect of the white people of the South or the peoples of the world if he is willing to sell the future of his children for his personal and immediate comfort and safety.”

I sincerely look forward for a response to my plea.

I am

Matthew Thomas    

  • CC Prime Minister, Dr. The Hon. Ralph Gonsalves
  • Prime Minister, The Hon. Freundel Stuart, Chairman, Prime Ministerial Sub-Committee On Reparation
  • Sir Hilary Beckles, Chairman, CARICOM, Reparation Committee
  • The media

The views expressed herein are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the opinions or editorial position of iWitness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to [email protected].

9 replies on “Jomo, help stop sale of 250 acres of land at Mt Wynne”

  1. C. ben-David says:

    1. You loosely use the term “white foreigners” to describe the developers. If these were “black foreigners” would this make the acquisition of land by foreigners any different? If not, stop using this stereotypical label; if yes, you are a racist.

    2. Generally, these kinds of lands are allocated on long-term lease, not sold by fee simple.

    3. This kind of tourist development is going on all over the world — including in developed countries where foreign developers are often involved — with mixed results. At the end of the day it can be argued that the world belongs to all of humanity.

    4. Would you make the same arguement if foreigners came in to lease or buy idle land for agricultural use as in the cocoa growing efforts of some white foreigners that is now taking place?

    5. Still you make some good points, suggesting that a national discussion, perhaps even a referendum, needs to take place on these issues.

    1. C. ben-David says:

      Forgot to mention that you don’t have to worry about foreigners — white, black, yellow, or green — buying, leasing, or developing Mt. Wynne. Ain’t going to happen any time soon.

      1. At the end of the day it does not matter who buys it. It all depends on the condition of sale. How many times has the government of SVG come and simply “taken back” land that foreigners have purchased. This is always a possibility. It should be noticed that if foreigners do “buy” this land, they cannot physically remove it from its’ location.
        Consider the conditions of sale of the entire island of Mustique. That seems to be a bad deal for the people of SVG, but since it has not moved, it may be possible to return it to us. Returning Buccament or Mt Wynne is much easier.
        You are right, the writing seems racist.

  2. Brown Boy USA says:

    I like this article. We need more of this empowerment for our people in SVG. Many of us who have the power to make a chance just sit idle and let things happen without saying a word because their pocket is being filled. But to what extent do we stop selling out our people and our country? Agriculture is the life blood of this country, not tourist, never have never will. When are we going to understand that, when it is too late then you say if we did know? This country is not for one set of people, it is for every Vincentian today and for those to come tomorrow.

    Thank you Mr. Matthew for standing up and lending your voice for the people of this country. My hat’s off to you, Sir.

    1. Brown Boy I hope you come home soon because with your support of Mr Thomas’s racist views sooner or later you are going to cause an embarrassment to all Vincentians in the US.

      I am sure we all agree with some of the sentiments of the article but no decent person would support the racist content.

  3. This is a rather unfortunate situation. Any development in St. Vincent and the Grenadines must be negotiated in a manner that will bring maximum benefit to our people. It must be clearly established in the developmental agreements that beaches are public spaces. This tenet must be non negotiable.

    Let me tell you some facts about white hoteliers, investors and developers in the Caribbean. Most of them only employ whites in the top positions. They usually inflate the requirements for the jobs to exclude locals. They are only concerned with giving locals jobs such as waiters/waitresses, secretaries, janitors, groundsmen, security, butlers, and cleaners. I have traveled extensively throughout the Caribbean and the only places I have seen blacks in top positions (general managers etc) in the hotels are in Jamaica and Bahamas in some cases. These are only achieve with extensive fighting.

    The other issue is that there is usually wide scale corruption involved in the negotiation of these developmental agreements. Monies are usually passed under the table. That’s the reason why most governments cannot impose any restrictions on these developers.

    C’ Ben David, I am not racist in anyway but you must take time to understand white developers. I have seen them in action for over 20 years. If they have their way all of the beaches in these Caribbean Islands will be privately owned, they will create their own police forces and blacks/indians/chinese will live in the crime infested areas.

    These are facts. There must be strict labour laws in place to protect locals. Only specialize skills will be imported or else these developments will be pointless. Neo-colonialism and racism is wide spread in the Caribbean. It just a matter of time before St. Vincent becomes a victim of it. A prominent Vincentian once said to me we might be desperate but we are not destitute. Vincentians stand your ground, state your case, treat everyone with respect but never make others make you feel subservient.

  4. C. ben-David says:

    You write about the evils of white foreign domination yet sell the white man’s foreign pharmaceuticals to black people in your drug store ever day. Many of the drugs you sell have very dangerous side effects which result in the death of people ever day.

    Yet you refrain from selling or promoting what we call bush medicine, including the use of ganja extracts, our own indigenous black way of healing and protecting ourselves from disease.

    There seems to be a disconnect between what you preach and what you practice.

  5. whats more worrying is the failure of Thomas to comment or apollagise over the racist content which suggests to me its not a mistake and is intentionally racist.

    1. Brown Boy USA says:

      Peter, what happened to free speech and calling it as you see it? Who do you see buying those lands, Vincentians or black foreigners? Let us call it the way it is. We have a colonial past in which our ancestors were enslave so we have a history and do not want history to repeat itself…fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me! So I see no need for Mr. Thomas to apologize, he highlighted a growing problem in our country that needs to be addressed and how many of us have the balls to come out and call it the way it is?

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