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Mt Wynne.
Mt Wynne.
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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].

Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves announced on Aug. 30 that negotiations are well on the way with Canadian investors to build hotel and cabanas at Mount Wynne/Peters Hope. Monies have already been deposited and final arrangements will be made soon. To sell Mt. Wynne/Peters Hope to the Canadians could never be in the best interest of St. Vincent. Not now not ever. St. Vincent, like the rest of CARICOM, is born out of slavery. We know too well the historic events of slavery and its role in shaping the psyche of the Caribbean man. Dr. Gonsalves constantly makes references to the work of great black men who have spent a lifetime to make better the lives of their fellow man. Among those are CLR James, Dr. Eric Williams, Dr. Walter Rodney — a Guyanese who died a martyr in his struggle against an oppressive regime, Errol Walton Barrow, Marcus Moziah Garvey, Martin Luther King Jr., and Nelson Mandela. In his opposition to the notorious Canouan Lease Agreement, Dr. Gonsalves 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.” Under his administration, virtually all the remaining lands in Canouan have been sold to the developers in the continuing alienation of the natives.

The Legacy of Dr Ralph Gonsalves

Dr. Gonsalves, on becoming Prime Minister in March 2001, immediately showed his contempt for black people. Both Counsel General and Deputy appointed at the New York Office were Caucasians. At the UK office, the Deputy, an East Indian, was promoted to High Commissioners. The then Counsel General, a black man, was recalled. By July 2001, he created National Properties. Of that 11-member board, three of the four black men were there by virtue of office; namely the Fiscal Advisor, the Director of Finance and Planning and the Chief Surveyor. The Board was headed by one of the remaining planter class. The CEO of Mustique was also a member of the Board.

The ULP administration, led by Ralph Gonsalves has done the following, among others:

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  1. The compulsory acquisition of Marcus DeFreitas’ commercial property since 2003. No payment yet. The property is now derelict.
  2. The closure of Leon “Bigger Bigs” Samuel’s sand mining and block making multimillion dollar project.
  3. The repossession of 27 acres of land from the Rastafarian brethren at Buccama and sold it to David Ames, a British entrepreneur. Incidentally, Mr. Ames left this country as a fugitive on June 23, 2016, having defied a court order for bench arrest on charges of theft and tax evasion, amounting to EC$7 million.

In reference to the Buccama farmers’ plight, Hawkins Nanton, a staff writer of the Searchlight of Feb. 17, 2006, under the caption “Buccama farmers singing the blues”, wrote, “Some of the farmers own the lands while others lease and have vowed to die before they give up their land. The Minister of Lands, Julian 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 …, since tourism is the country’s main income earner.”

The Editorial of the Searchlight of Feb. 24, 2006, under the caption “Give the farmers a fair chance”, wrote, “Last week officials of the Government met with farmers who own or lease land in the Buccama area to inform them that the land was being sold for hotel development and they will have to give up their holdings… The farmers saw their livelihood being taken away from them.” More than 10 years hence, the farmers have remained dispossessed.

Since 2001, the Syrian and Lebanese mercantile community has grown larger. There is also an influx of Chinese merchants. Diamond Diary is sold to the Goddards Group of Companies. The EC$200M Ottley Hall Marina, lying on 40 acres of land, is leased to Venezuelans at a peppercorn rental of EC$14,000 a month. Three of the major supermarkets, including the onetime Government owned supermarket, are sold and now owned by Neal and Massy; 51 per cent shares of the National Commercial Bank, now Bank of SVG is owned by foreigners. A New Zealander, Kelly Glass, is the KFC franchise holder. He also owns CSY, now Blue Lagoon. Among the latest is the proposed sale of the 60 acres at the E.T. Joshua Airport, to Derek Chin of Trinidad to establish a Movie Towne Cineplex. (SEARCHLIGHT, 28/06/2016) The affluent Cane Garden community, once the symbol of black affluence, is now the emblem of Syrian, Lebanese, Chinese and Venezuelan supremacy.

Where is the black man’s place?

Besides an overloaded Public Service and Police Force, there is hardly any hope for our youth. Too many of our able-bodied farmers have become watchmen. Unwittingly too many of our youth have been caught in the drug trade, an employment which only creates violence, loss of lives, suffering, hopelessness and a general malaise within the poorer communities. The following two newspaper excerpts will highlight my argument.

  1. GANJA RAID: “Fifty seven huts, 347,170 mature marijuana plants, 325 dried marijuana plants and 3,141,000 marijuana seedlings were destroyed during a drug raid in La Soufriere mountains early this month. The raid, which was part of the jungle training component of the RSS, also saw 510 pounds of compressed marijuana and 56 tarpaulins being destroyed.” (SEARCHLIGHT 29/07/2016).
  2. SEVEN CHARGED IN HISTORIC DRUG RAID OPERATION IN SVG: “Last Wednesday, July 27, over 100 police officers from various branches of the local constabulary swooped down on the fishing community of Rose Place where they conducted a six hour search. Doors were ripped from hinges and homes raided … According to ACP Christopher Benjamin, the operation’s objective was to remove illegal guns from the community which is known for gun violence. Benjamin said the police used ‘a one of a kind search warrant’… The search warrant did not target one person, but gave us the authority to search any house in the area.” (Searchlight 5/08/2016)

Minister of Agriculture, Saboto Caesar, in making his contribution to the Parliamentary debate on the Cyber Crime Bill, introduced his contribution, thus: “A man sitting on a bridge in Caratal, or some Rastafari brethren playing dominoes at a shop in Greggs.” Minister Caesar, like Simon Peter, “flesh and blood did not reveal” that he was painting a true picture of the state of unemployment; nothing for the idle hands but to sit on a bridge or to play dominoes or to engage in some nefarious activity. As one traverses the Windward coast from Marriaqua into Fancy, almost 80 per cent of the vegetation is grass, bush and or forest. A similar situation exists on the Leeward side. Agriculturally, SVG is blessed. We have the sunshine, the rainfall and an excellent soil. We lack the political will.

The manager of the National Sports Council, Jomadean May, is quoted in the Searchlight of 23/08/2016, thus: “We are saying we want a stadium… I do agree that we need a stadium, but unfortunately we are not ready for a stadium, not with this thinking.” Were the sentiments expressed by Mr. May, a prelude to the sale of Mount Wynne/Peters Hope? If Mt. Wynne/Peters Hope is lost to our youth, where else in SVG can such a sporting complex and other such recreational facilities, be put? By selling Mt. Wynne/ Peters Hope, we are providing an incubator for crime and violence? The sale of our patrimony is certainly not respecting the legacy of those who struggled on our behalf!

The way forward

SVG is lost for leadership. I am making a plea to Vincentians of all walks of life to join me on a political rostrum, to protest the sale of Mt. Wynne/ Peters Hope and in the interim, plot a way forward for a rebirth, a new thinking, a new SVG. We cannot afford another Mustique, another Canouan or another Buccama.

Roman Catholic Bishop Jason Gordon led the way when in September 2014, at a sermon in Kingstown, he said: “For a long time, we as church have failed to speak with a prophetic voice. We lament the growing disrespect for the human person, …The increase in lawlessness, crime and violence in our nation… A sense of hopelessness and fear amongst our people continue to disturb us… Are we contributing to a society where peace and justice is no longer our daily experience?”

You are “The man in the Mirror.” To experience the change you yearn for, you have to be part of that change. No one can adequately do it for you. To the parent, the teacher, the school, the pastor, the church, the journalist, the community, the youth, you frequently see before the court, the untimely death of a youth, as a result of crime and violence, is the product of our collective failure to be proactive. The youth are reaching out for attention. It is unfortunate that in so doing, they resort to crime and violence. To the Christian community, be reminded of the words of Jesus, when he said: “Whatever you do unto the least of my brethren you have done it unto me. We have a responsibility to help. Do not abdicate it. Join Matthew Thomas in the crusade.

Contact: [email protected]. Tel. +1-784-456-2133.

Matthew Thomas

The opinions presented in this content belong to the author and may not necessarily reflect the perspectives or editorial stance of iWitness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to [email protected].

3 replies on “Do we want another Canouan at Mt Wynne?”

  1. Luther Bonadie says:

    Why don’t you ask that Roman Catholic Bishop, what, or where is the black man’s place.

    He should find it someplace in the bible.

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