From left: Senator Kay Bacchus-Baptiste, House Speaker, Jomo Thomas, and Senator Deborah Charles. (Photo” Kay Bacchus-Baptiste/Facebook)

By *Jomo Sanga Thomas

(Plain Talk, April 12, 2019)

Last Monday, St. Vincent and the Grenadines took a small but important step when it became the 179th member of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU). The union is a grouping of world parliaments that has a strong emphasis on democracy, the rule of law, peace, women’s empowerment and parliamentary independence. The decision came less than two months after our Parliament voted unanimously to join the IPU following a resolution piloted by Speaker Jomo Sanga Thomas. 

The 140th Assembly of the IPU, which had as its theme “Education for Peace, Security and the Rule of Law”, was held in Doha, Qatar from April 5 to 10. A three-member delegation comprising Senators Debbie Charles and Kay Bacchus-Baptiste and Speaker Jomo Thomas represented SVG.

In an address delivered to the body last Tuesday, Thomas gave a brief history of our country. He outlined that at Independence in 1979, the former British enslavers and colonialists left our country with only two secondary schools and a ramshackle former military barracks as a lone hospital. He pointed out that at Independence, our country had a functionally illiterate population of over 50 per cent, a deep-seated, but latent racism, where people of African stock were despised and light-skinned blacks or whites had a clear and distinct advantage in all areas of life.

Thomas informed the assembly that a mono-crop agricultural economy over the entire period of British colonial domination, guaranteed that all of the chronic indices of underdevelopment still persisted, 40 years after our country reclaimed its sovereignty from the British.

And then he asked, “What does all of this history to do with the theme with the theme ‘Education for Peace, Security, and the rule of law?’”  He then answered that we in St Vincent and the Grenadines are convinced that development is fundamental to the rule of law, security and peace.

Thomas told the gathering that the system of genocide, slavery and colonialism instituted by the British, guaranteed that our country remained underdeveloped. It was out of this recognition that the leadership of our country worked tirelessly to ensure that all of CARICOM embrace the concept of reparatory justice.

Delegates were told that in 2013, Caribbean countries proclaimed that the former enslaving nations of England, France, Spain and Holland had a case to answer for their policies of conquest that resulted in genocide, slavery, colonialism and underdevelopment. These actions, he told the representatives of the world parliaments, constituted crimes against humanity for which there are no statutes of limitation. He then called on the leadership of the IPU to lend its voice and support to the righteous claims of Caribbean countries for reparations. He reminded the delegates that a reparatory conversation that resulted in meaningful developmental assistance would go a long way toward assisting with the further education of our people and bring much needed development.

As regards the issues of peace, security and the rule of law, Thomas said that all Caribbean people were concerned with the region remaining a zone of peace. He told the gathering that St. Vincent and the Grenadines was very disturbed by the actions of some rich and powerful countries that have been working overtime to destabilise the neighbouring Caribbean country of Venezuela.  

Parliamentarians were reminded that if international law were to have real meaning, concepts such as non-interference and non-intervention into the internal affairs of countries; independence, sovereignty, self-determination and the right of nations and peoples to choose their own path to development have to be respected by all peoples and governments.

Thomas noted that for these principles of international law to have real meaning, major international organisations such as the IPU cannot, indeed must not, simply genuflect to their vitality and importance while turning a blind eye or wink at the naked aggression of nations, especially the United States, in Venezuela. He denounced the sabotage directed against Venezuela by rich and powerful countries and called on the IPU to follow suit.

An IPU resolution condemned those states that unilaterally impose sanctions and blockages without a United Nations mandate. The IPU resolution also called on all states to respect international law. The Speaker of our Parliament reminded the IPU that only when important bodies like itself speak out, would the rich and powerful be checked.

Speaker Thomas called on the delegates to play closer attention to the reality unfolding before their very eyes. Rich and powerful countries, he declared, cherry pick and single out those nations they want to demonise and destroy. They make their economies scream in an attempt to turn away the very people whom the processes are intended to assist, mainly the poor, suffering and vulnerable.

Egregious violators of human rights and the rule of law are egged on and sanitised by these same forces that pick on leaders and countries that are trying to transform their societies in the interest of the majority. Thomas noted that these same forces are a threat to the peace and security of our region.  If they succeeded in regime change in Venezuela, he posited, then all of the Caribbean would be destabilised. Many more refugees will cross borders, and our societies will be at the mercies of those who traffic in illicit guns and drugs intent on benefiting from the chaos and confusion that are bound to ensue if the situation in Venezuela is aggravated rather than be allowed to stabilise.

Thomas offered historical proof that showed that those forces currently terroriaing the Venezuelan government and people, have no real interest in democratic elections or the rule of law. He insisted that these countries were the ones that actively supported the military overthrow of the democratically-elected government of President Salvador Allende in Chile (1973), Hamas in Palestine (2006), President Manuel Zelaya in Honduras (2009) and President Mohamed Morsi in Egypt (2013) the illegal and terroristic destabilization of Prime Minister Michael Manley in Jamaica (1972 to 1980).  He reminded that these same countries also supported the legally suspect jailing of the popular Brazilian leader, former President Lula Da Silva to prevent him from returning to power.

Thomas concluded his address by warning the gathering of parliamentarians that all of their deliberations would be meaningless unless they can transform their words into meaningful and sustainable action.

*Jomo Sanga Thomas is a lawyer, journalist, social commentator and Speaker of the House of Assembly in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

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 news.iwitness@gmail.com.

8 replies on “Taking our troubles, trials and triumphs to the world”

  1. Jomo is right about how certain powerful nations destroy weak nations for thier own interests. As very bad as the Venezuela System is, it is not up the the USA to make the country a living-nightmare for everyone in that country in order to gain control of that nations abundant resources that the incompetent Venezuelan Government has been incapable of utilizing itself.
    Jomo unfortunately is inaccurate stating that Great Britain practiced genocide in SVG. He is also inaccurate saying that Britain forced SVG to have a “mono crop” agriculture. That is what we did to ourselves. Under the British it was the opposite of what Jomo says. Do not listen to his lies! Much of our underdevelopment during the later years of British Rule was of our own doing. His attempt to keep us on our knees by begging for money based on what happened in the past is undignified. We certainly can ask for some kind of additional assistance but I reject the crying and undignified begging of those that seek reparations as a tool for thier own political gain.

    1. I love your comments ,why countries like Venezuela Government just want to rule as they feel , and when countries like USA intrude , people call them wicked , when is the poor management of these countries , give countries like USA roads to enter .

  2. Vincy is not ready for reparations when they have a white minded victimizer running the country, who is from the same stock that sold us into slavery. That would be a travesty of justice that reperations are given to a.mostly African population with a Portuguese running the country. And we all know who would ve managing rhat money. Are these people.for.real?

  3. C. ben-David says:

    Nobody has ever heard of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), a useless, money-sucking 179-member association that has been in existence since 1889 but was made redundant when the now 193-member United Nations was formed in 1945.

    The motto of the IPU is “For Democracy. For everyone,” a hypocritical slogan if there ever was one since dozens of its members (like North Korea, China, Cuba, Libya, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and others) are totalitarian states which oppress its people on a daily basis.

    How can such an organization claim to “… protect and build global democracy through political dialogue and concrete action” (https://www.ipu.org/about-us)?

    How could a supposedly “conscious man” like Jomo Thomas fight to join an organization many of whose African and Middle Eastern members continue to practice slavery and the degradation of women?

    How could Jomo Thomas possibly argue that, “ … those forces [e.g., the United States, Great Britain and Canada] currently terrorizing the Venezuelan government and people, have no real interest in democratic elections or the rule of law” when “… the President and the Secretary General of the IPU have been informed that Venezuelan MPs have been prevented from leaving the country to attend the [very same] 140th IPU Assembly in Doha, Qatar this week…. On behalf of the IPU, the President and the Secretary General strongly condemn any measures taken by the Venezuelan authorities to obstruct members of the Venezuelan delegation from travelling. The IPU calls on Mr. Maduro to allow the parliamentarians to travel without delay or impediment to ensure their participation in the Assembly. The IPU urges the Venezuelan authorities to return any confiscated passports to the concerned MPs and to give full guarantees that they can travel and return to Venezuela safely and without any threats” (https://www.ipu.org/news/press-releases/2019-04/ipu140-ipu-calls-actions-defend-persecuted-mps-worldwide).

    Jomo Thomas has shown himself once again to be a useful idiot for the wicked Maduro regime in Venezuela and similar nasty governments around the globe.

  4. What I cannot abide nor abear are individuals like Jumo Thomas who go abroad at our expense to lofty conferences and gross spread falsity. The truth of the matter about us and our country’s existing dire situation are not the result of past British rule but is the result of our own economic mismanagement since independence.
    https://www.caribbeannewsnow.com/2019/04/08/letter-have-the-ulp-dr-gonsalves-and-vincentian-police-turned-themselves-and-half-of-the-citizenship-into-criminals/

    The weaponization of poverty here in St Vincent and the Grenadines, have proved to be a very successful electioneering tool with our ruling Gonsalves family regime.

    This is especially so when one has, as we have here, a population so poorly learned and so inclined to basic and primitive tendencies and indeed very gross behaviours, of which Ralph Gonsalves and his family regime are so well acquainted with, and who exploits it to their very benefit.

    Yes “Labour love”, to keep us exceedingly poor, very needy and very, very dependent on government indeed. After all, is this not the way with all so-called socialist dictatorships? Ditto Cuba, ditto Nicaraguan and ditto Venezuela today.

    Moreover, Jomo writes there of “Democracy”! What a travesty there indeed is his use of that word in his vile mouth, when his Government have been denying us our basic human rights, in that long awaited FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT. And as to the rule of law, well, we must take Ralph Gonsalves at his word when he says that, we can go to which ever Court in the world we so wish but in the end, we “will always have to come back to Papa”.

    Jomo’s hypocrisy is rather nauseating!

    1. C. ben-David says:

      Well said.

      While I could accept some of Jomo’s rants as political propaganda cynically spouted to beguile the masses, I am convinced that the man sincerely believes what he says and writes which is why he has always been the most dangerous radical in the land.

      Jah forbid that a man like him ever gains power in SVG!

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