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Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves. (iWN file photo)
Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves. (iWN file photo)
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Following a spate of crimes that left nine persons dead and four injured in St. Vincent and the Grenadines in September, Leader of the Opposition Godwin Friday, last week, blamed Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves for the nation’s crime situation.

In making his case at a press conference on Thursday, Friday noted that when Gonsalves, who is now Minister of National Security, was in opposition, he blamed then Prime Minister and Minister of National Security, Sir James Mitchell and police chief Randolph Toussaint for the nation’s crime problem.

But Gonsalves, speaking on Xtreme FM on Friday, denied having done so.

“When somebody says that it’s Ralph fault, how does it become my fault?” said Gonsalves, who came to office in March 2001, after 17 years of NDP rule.

“And they would throw in my face, as I have seen, as I have heard certain comments, that oh when I was in the opposition I said that Toussaint and Mitchell responsible for the crime. I never said that,” the prime minister said.

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“What I would have said — not that it matters, what I would have said is that they didn’t have the police force sufficiently resourced, they didn’t have it sufficiently modernised and that is somewhat we need to look at and that there were problems which had to be dealt with, of a legal nature.”

He further said that the police force, under his Unity Labour Party administration, is far better resourced than before.

“And we need to do, we need, on an on-going basis to be doing more and better in respect of the technology and equipment,” the prime minister said.

But a recording quickly resurfaced of a then opposition leader Gonsalves blaming Mitchell and Toussaint for the nation’s drug problem.

In the recording, Gonsalves said that when the NDP came to power (in 1984), there were no prosecutions for cocaine.

“In fact, in 1986, Randolph Toussaint, commissioner of police, said there is no cocaine problem. We see what the situation is like now: there are a lot of cocaine jumbies, cocaine mules and so on and so forth. And all this thing has happened under the watch of Randolph Toussaint as commissioner of police and James Mitchell as minister of national security.

“So that when you call James Mitchell name, when you call Randolph Toussaint name, you associate them in historical terms with the tremendous growth of cocaine and drugs in this country in the sense that they have the responsibility to stop the drugs from coming in. If they do not stop the cocaine coming in, it has to be their fault because they are in charge of the security arrangements so to do. And one of the first responsibilities of any serious government is to provide proper security for its citizens,” the then opposition leader Gonsalves said.

At his press conference, Friday noted the ULP’s stance while in opposition.

“Murders, drug trafficking, burglaries, you name it, it was Mitchell’s and Toussaint’s fault. Who must take responsibility now? Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, as Prime Minister and Minister of National Security, must bear responsibility for the situation in the country. As Prime Minister and Minister of National Security, he has permitted the situation to get out of hand and evidently can no longer control it,” Friday said.

He noted that after the 1998 general elections, which the ULP lost by one seat while winning the popular vote, the party’s leaders said they would make this country “ungovernable”.

“People heard that call to lawlessness. I say ‘lawlessness’ because it is only lawlessness that can make a country ungovernable,” Friday said.

“Now that the ULP holds the reins of government, they find that the chickens have come home to roost, and they are now powerless to do anything about it! How else can we explain initial silence on the matter and, later their response of trying to downplay the situation, by Gonsalves, for example, asking if he must have a press conference every time someone is killed; or Senator [Julian] Francis saying on radio that the shootings are not intended for innocent persons but are gang and drug related.

“Does that make it less of a problem? Do the rest of society — the innocents — throw up our hands, lock ourselves in our homes at night and let the carnage rage outside? Surely such an approach is an admission of governmental incompetence and failure!” the opposition leader told the media.

8 replies on “Tape shows Gonsalves had blamed NDP for crime”

  1. In the undated recording the PM was wrong to attribute cocaine imports to the government just as Friday is now wrong to attribute the murder rate to Gonsalves. Playing the blame game will not reduce the crime rate if only because the crime rate has too many complex interconnected components beyond the means of any small-nation state to correct save introducing draconian and prohibitively expensive surveillance means.

    1. Brown Boy USA says:

      On what basis do you assess the current increase crime situation to have ‘too many complex interconnected components beyond the means of any small-nation state to correct…’? Basically, what you are saying is that there is nothing small-nation states can do about their increasing crime situation? I think we limit our ability when we constantly look to solution elsewhere to this problem. Even if this problem is prominent elsewhere in the region and the world. Our small size alone gives us the ability to reduce crime without all the fancy fanfare and equipment used in developed countries. If we create sufficient employments for the youths and engage them in activities to bring them together as one then we can avoid many of the conflicts that is currently taking place. When people feel hopeless and divided then they often feel vulnerable and more incline to get involve in criminal activities. Our churches, school, communities and families must get involve in the lives of our children from a very young age, the way they used to. It takes a village/community to raise a child. However, when we constantly look at the outside world and use their way of life as the fundamental guideline by which we live our lives in this country then we become lost, because that is not who we are as a people. By dropping our traditional Vincy values and adapting that of others, particularly the North American lifestyle, hinders our ability to address the crime situation. Therefore, if we can we can invoke some of those traditional Vincy principles on which many of us older folks grew up and provide the youths with jobs and opportunities then this can help to reduce the current increasing crime situation in our country. We don’t need all that expensive high tech surveillance. I agree we can’t afford them. We can’t even afford to maintain traffic lights in the country.

  2. Brown Boy USA says:

    According to the PM’s assessment, the police force is now better equipped and modernized, yet we have an escalating crime rate under his watch. Therefore, what’s the problem and caused now PM? The PM never wants to take responsibility for anything that does wrong and always quick to blame others or some situation. These are the worst type of leaders! Those who believe that they cannot do anything wrong or make a bad decision, and if they do it’s always someone else’s fault or it’s not under their control. This is a bunch of BS! Ralph, let me give you a piece of advise, you can’t always get it right! However, you can always try and correct the wrong and do what is necessary for your country and stop be so quick to pointing figures at everyone else. You are to be blamed for the current crime situation because you are the PM for every square inch of this country. You can’t only take responsibility for the good, you need to do so for the bad as well. Try and find solution to the problem than making excuses and laying blame on others. Be a leader, because a true leader addresses and tries to fix problems, not blame others for situation under their watch!

    1. Please tell me which politicians, anywhere in the world, who ever accept blame for anything going wrong in their country.

      Take your time answering.

      1. Brown Boy USA says:

        Why do we always have to be looking outside the box? We are a unique country with a rich background and heritage based on community togetherness, self determination and looking out for each other. So why then are we looking outside the box when we have a solid foundation on which to carry our country forward? We are a 2×4 country with very little natural resources. Our great resources are our people and the land. Once we start to divert from those then we have problems. That’s the problem with our society and people like you, who keep thinking the answer to our problem is based on what is taking place elsewhere, as that should be the litmus test for everything. Why can’t we set the trend as little as we are? Nobody wants to be blamed when things go wrong! That is human nature! However, what has Ralph taken responsibility for? Nothing! That’s my point. Even if he does not take responsibility then take the initiative of fixing or solving the problems affecting the country, don’t just always be so quick to point fingers. That is what a decent leader should do, find solution to the nation’s problems, even if they do not take responsibility for those problems. And until people like you, who always looking outside the box to say this is the norm, then this kind of mentality can only empower people like Ralph. Our people has always been trend setters and proud, even as poor as they were back then. I know these are new times, but new does not always means better. And until we learn to get back to our true Vincy roots and stop depending on politicians as much we do these days and always looking outside the box, then it’s the same all over again. You and I, as proud Vincentians, should be pushing to make our government accountable and to show our people that they have the ability to be much more self dependent in spite of this inert political system in which they live, instead of us bickering over who leader takes responsibility elsewhere in the world. This is my beloved country. You and I know what our people are capable of, if given the right leadership and opportunities. Therefore, it is up to you and I to lend our voices to make our people wake up and realize their true potential and to held our leaders responsible.

    2. Excellent comment Brown Boy but I may add: The PM is not actually responsible for all the crime in a country but this PM does not have the basic intelligence in this area to make the right decisions. He is way over his head in National Security as well as Macro Economics. In at least these areas he is a total and complete failure! He has proven this over and over again. He should have seen the trends many years ago and made some policy changes.
      I agree with Friday: Gonsalves should have made policy that fosters private sector job creation instead of just bragging that he would do so.
      Brown Boy: It is great to see that someone understands what our PM is all about.

  3. It is my opinion that blaming is the thing to do to get elected, but after that any and everything goes. As the saying goes election promises are empty promises.Neither Dr. Gonsalves nor Dr. Friday knows the root cause of crime in SVG. If any of them did they would have sopped them before they happened. ULP and now NDP blame the leaders for criminal activities, so now the playing field is even in the blame game. Crime is usually done by individuals or groups, please this is a social issue, one that will take the efforts on all Vincys. Blaming is not the answer!

  4. Riijord Gumbs says:

    It would have been far less divisive had they [ Gonsalves and Friday] made a joint statement,-as per my previous suggestions..It is unfortunate that those charged with bringing the country together,are so tone deaf; behaving like the fools, who spit into the air and not expect it to fall back in their faces… My admonition to you both:Grow up,and lead as you have been tasked!

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