\Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines Ralph Gonsalves says he did not mean to cast aspersion on Grenada when he disclosed last Wednesday that his government had accommodated two Grenadians who had reportedly been denied entry into their country.
Speaking on radio on Wednesday, Gonsalves said that head of the SVG Port Authority, Bishen John had told him that Grenada had said that they would not open their ports to receive just two of their nationals.
The Grenadians, along with some eight Vincentians were being repatriated after weeks on board a cruise ship off Barbados.
Gonsalves said that his government had decided to receive the Grenadians, put them in quarantine at the expense of the cruise line and to treat them as it would any Vincentian.
However, on Thursday, Grenada’s Minister of Tourism, Clarice Modeste, said she was shocked by Gonsalves claim.
“I think it’s very sad, I think it is very far from the truth,” she said on radio in St. George’s on Thursday.
On Friday, during an interview with Xtreme Radio, and SVG radio station, Gonsalves was asked to comment on the development:
“First of all, I don’t respond directly to ministers. Ministers would respond appropriately to ministers. I would respond to the prime minister,” Gonsalves said.
He noted that when he made his original statement, he had spoken based on reports from head of the SVG Port Authority, Bishen John.
“Bishen John, apparently –well, he said to me that he had contacted an official at the port in Grenada and this was not said with any — I only said what the CEO of the port here said to me; that there were two persons to go to Grenada but that the port had said that because they are closed, they would prefer if they come, not now, but sometime next week — Wednesday, Thursday thereabout, because they are opening the port, I was told, to take Disney.
“And I could understand that you don’t — they ain’t really refusing, but you not going to open the port for two.
“You see what I — and that’s why I am not responding to my sister who is the minister. I am just saying what I was informed by the chief executive officer at the Port Authority who was in communication with an official at the Port Authority in Grenada and that’s a perfectly understandable thing and I wrote my friend Keith Mitchell, the Prime Minister… and I say listen, Carnival Freedom is coming here they had originally told me 11 people, nine Vincentians turn out to be eight and two Grenadians. Carnival asked if we would accept them and I said yes”.
Gonsalves said the arrangements were made and Carnival agreed to pay the 14 days quarantine for the Grenadians.
“I have not meant it in any way to cast any aspersion on Grenada,” Gonsalves said.
In her statements on Thursday, Modeste said that the cruise line had contacted her government the day before it intended to land the two Grenadians.
She said that St. George’s was in discussion with Bridgetown to have the Grenadians accommodated in Barbados until the arrangements were made.
Modeste said it was the cruise line that contacted SVG and asked Kingstown to accommodate the Grenadians.
She further stated that her country had been silent on the assistance it gave in repatriating two Vincentians during the COVID-19 pandemic.