Prime Minister of Grenada, Keith Mitchell as described as “alarming” an invitation by St. Vincent’s leader Ralph Gonsalves to residents of Grenada’s Carriacou and Petite Martinique to buy food in Union Island.
Mitchell’s comments, on Saturday, while not identifying Gonsalves by name, is the latest in comments that the leaders have aimed at each other’s country amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
Kingstown and St. George’s have taken different approaches to the deadly novel corona virus, with Grenada, a tri-island nation shutting its borders.
St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG), however, remains open, with only internal access by sea and air remaining between the several islands that form its multi-island state
There have been, historically, close links between Carriacou and Petit Martinique and the southern Grenadine island of Union Island, which forms part of SVG.
And, at an April 6 press conference, Mitchell said he had a concern “with Carriacou and Petit Martinique in the context of what is taking place in the Grenadines”.
He said that his point might be “slightly controversial” as he went on to note that SVG has not closed it borders, adding that he had to “speak to that because I have to be concerned about life.
“I cannot tell the leadership of St. Vincent what to do but if their decision affects the life of the people of Carriacou and Petit Martinique, I have to be concerned,” Mitchell said.
“A lot of people get foodstuff from St. Vincent and, therefore, one has to be careful,” he said, adding that the border between the Grenadines and Petit Martinique “is almost open”.
He said that the Grenadian police chief and constabulary “would have to be doing a lot more work”.
“The fact is, if we close our borders, because of the possibility of infection, whether it is from a Caribbean country or whether it is from the United States or China or Russia or wherever the country comes from, we have to protect our people.
“I remember when this all started, there was all this concern about Chinese, Chinese, Chinese; Chinese coming here. The infections we have had so far have not been any Chinese coming in here with anyone here. Right? I want us to be concerned.
“As I said, I am speaking, I know it is controversial but I am not the type who likes to hold my mouth when I see something is absolutely necessary to speak about. So we have to protect our brothers and sisters in Carriacou and Petit Martinique from what is taking place at this particular time.”
Then, on April 9, in comments on WE FM, an SVG radio station, Gonsalves said he was not “answering anybody” but was speaking “factual things” when he said Carriacou, and Petite Martinique and the Vincentian islands of Petit St. Vincent and Palm Island are “like one location, one country”.
“A lot of people from PSV come to Union Island for medical attention you know? A lot of people come from Carriacou to Union for food,” Gonsalves said.
“If somebody comes from Petite Martinique, to Union Island for medical attention or food why must I turn them away? They come all the time.”
Gonsalves said that Vincentian police would only turn away “criminal elements”.
“Whether you lock down tight as a drum or not, people will have their natural movements; that is a historic thing,” the Vincentian prime minister said.
And, speaking on Friday, Gonsalves extended an invitation to the people of Carriacou and Petit Martinique to buy food and cooking gas in Union Island.
“And I want to say to the people of Carriacou and Petit Martinique that if you are having difficulty getting food, we can help because we have a lot of it in Union Island and we can get to Union Island. I want to tell our brothers and sisters that,” he said at a ceremony at which Kingstown received a donation of COVID-19 test kits from Venezuela.
“And if you want to get cooking gas, we can help you but let us do it in a structured and organised manner. I want to say all of those things to our brothers and sisters in St. Vincent and the Grenadines and throughout the Grenadines.”
However, in a statement on Saturday, Mitchell urged his citizens “to remember that the borders of our country remain closed to all internal and external travel, except as provided for in the Emergency Powers (COVID-19) Regulations”.
Mitchell said that although cultural norms and practices allow for seamless travel between Carriacou and Petite Martinique and the Grenadine islands, “the danger we now face from the COVID-19 pandemic means we must adopt new approaches to how we do things”.
The Grenadian leader said it was “alarming that our citizens will be called upon to break the law by the leader of another country.
“It is a grossly irresponsible action that has the potential for not only legal consequences but also pose a significant threat to public health and public safety,” Mitchell said.
He called on Grenadians, particularly those in Carriacou and Petite Martinique to “not be misguided into flouting the law of the land; do not knowingly endanger your health and that of your family. I encourage you to think and act wisely.
“There is no shortage of food and we are continuously revising our operations to ensure that we optimise the distribution of goods and restocking of grocery stores,” Mitchell said.
The Grenadian leader said that many countries have instituted stringent measures while others have opted for “a more relaxed approach, which in some cases, have resulted in dire consequences.
“In the fluidity of the pandemic, it may be hard to say which is the right or wrong approach, but countries retain a sovereign right to determine what works best and when decisions are made, citizens must abide by the laws of their respective countries. Even in the midst of a pandemic, the law must prevail,” he said.
Grenada has also instituted restriction on internal travel, with only essential workers allowed to cross parish borders. They must, however, obtain from police and show a special pass at the parish border control point.
Persons are allowed to go shopping in their parish on approved shopping days, and residents of Petit Martinique are allowed to travel to Carriacou on shopping days, but are not permitted to leave the Grenada’s territorial waters.
Persons found guilty of violating the regulations can be fined up to EC$1,000 and will be placed in mandatory quarantine for 14 days.
I f Grenada cannot take care of its islands in the Grenadines, Ralph Gonsalves will, he is your man.
I will like I witness news to print the questions that l am going to ask the minister of health.Can you tell me who gave the testing Kit’s to St Vincent? . The fac that they came from China to Venezuela and Venezuela can’t help them self.All l am saying is that if they comes from China it’s a good thing because they are responsible for the C19 . But let the poblec knows about it if that’s what happen . Because I am hoping that the minister of finance will send a bill for China true the United Nations for the 85 million dollar to help in response of C19.Vincentan tax payers should not pay for China stupid mistake.And if eny one in St Vincent dead because of C19 China should pay the families .Or be changed for crimes against humanity.
This has nothing to do with food. These intelligent leaders can’t arrange for a transfer of goods between two tiny villages separated by seawater but they can be clearly antagonistic to each other. What’s wrong they phones don’t work.
Totally agree with you. Since there were a cultural habbit existing, maybe for centuries , St.vincent and Grenada ,should strike some negotiation on this matter , and have it resolved . Stop being lazy, get to work and resolve the issue . It’s a no brainer . Stop making public comments before talking to each other. This will only breath conflic.
No-one dislikes the law until they have to live by them.
Well just look at Barbados Airport n seaport open. As of yesterday April 12th Statistics local 71 total confirmed 36 females 35 male’s 11 total Recovered Age range of confirmed cases 7–95 people in isolation 56 Total Deaths 4 .
While that may be true of Barbados , they have proper protocols in place.
24 hour curfew, just extended for 2 more weeks until May 2nd, with some allowances for shopping in lieu of meeting needs of the essential workers and vulnerable.
Their is a Hotline for families in distress in need of help, where their is follow up to provide food and or money.
People coming in thru airport must go on mandatory quarantine, as required. No cruise ships are allowed in port but can dock in waters, but no shore leave granted.
There is controlled shopping and enforcement of social and physical distancing. Population has now been advised to wear mask in public when out doing business on set days.
All covid-19 cases have been imported.
Now, what protocols have the PM Gonsalves put in place, practiced and established for the safety and well-being of Vincentians? Except to lock down for Easter weekend. He don’t give two tritri-fish about social distancing or the welfare of the population. Looks like he can’t understand the severity of this pandemic.
This is beyond my comprehension.
This interfering in the internal politics of Grenada has to stop. During the last election there were reports that persons from the ULP party were in Carriacou trying to persuade people not to vote for the Mitchel party.
Mitchel also complained in the past that Gonsalves had persuaded Chavez not to give the full amount of a petrocaribe loan to Grenada, and now this. Mitchel should take this to the UN, an make a formal complaint there.
Exactly. There are laws against rogue behavior. Clearly, King Gonsalves doesn’t respect PM Mitchel or Grenadian sovereignty. I hope every body calm down because we’re all only families apart.
Our forefathers were able to secure the Grenadines islands for us, Michie probably believe we are up to something again, can’t blame the man..
You cannot blame him MUFF, when you consider Ralph Gonsalves is a supporter and would be emulator of Nicholas Maduro, who wants to steal two thirds of Guyana and most of the sea bed in the Caribbean.
If Mr Mitchell had done the reverse to SVG, Gonsalves would have been doing a war dance.
What nonsense all of you guys talking about that’s alone is to show how you rule your house . St Vincent pm need to mine his own business about all the drugs going in and out and stop encouraging other citizen in a next country or island or pin what ever you want to call Grenada carriacou and p.m to not follow the law that is there to protect them from and they family from covid 19 what a shame for a pm he is a next trump in the u.s.a . Canada and America is close why there is no movement . Stay in your country we don’t need help from you to kill of them fool in the sister island who will listen to you like you care . Good for Grenada pm he don’t need anybody help to make decisions stay in your lane . America need help go there . And for the Chinese paying back you guys why wait take a plane and go demand your money stupid fools .
Prime Minister, you are no Donald Duck so your common sense is needed…
He has absolutely none whatsoever Elnette. He is not satisfied in ruling SVG like his own plantation, he wants to expand his acreage.
I fully agree St. Vincent PM, Union Island is a second home for the people of Petite Martinique and even many from Carriacou. Brave move and well appreciated.
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