Vincentians will, on or before March 14, 2018 know who will join Joseph Chatoyer as a national hero of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves told the military parade in Kingstown on Friday to mark the country’ 38 anniversary of independence that he has asked Rene Baptiste, chair of the National Heroes Advisory Committee, to submit their final report.
Gonsalves said that the report will allow for the requisite legal processes to be finalised for the appointment of other national heroes before or on National Hero’s Day, March 14, 2018.
Chatoyer was declared a national hero on March 14, 2001.
Over the past few years, the government had engaged the public in an exercise to determine who should become a national hero.
The sometimes contentious national debate has proposed a number of names, including first prime minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Robert Milton Cato, and former Chief Minister Ebenezer Theodore Joshua.
In April 2013, social commentator, now Speaker of the House of Assembly, Jomo Thomas, resigned from the National Heroes Selection Committee in protest against a speech Gonsalves delivered on national heroes one week earlier.
“I am convinced that the Prime Minister’s presentation has made our work superfluous,” Thomas wrote in his resignation letter to chair of the committee, former culture minister Rene Baptiste.
“His (Gonsalves’) talk was a good one and added much to the debate, but it has irreparably coloured and influenced the debate particularly since PM Gonsalves is the head of cabinet, which makes the final decision as to who our next hero or heroes will be,” Thomas wrote.
The resignation came in the wake of Gonsalves’ lecture on the topic “The Making of a National Hero: The Law and Practice in St. Vincent and the Grenadines”, a large section of which was dedicated to making a case for Cato to be made a national hero.