Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves, left, and Opposition Leader Godwin Friday. (File photos)

Minister of Finance, Camillo Gonsalves, who political observers see as the heir-apparent to his father, Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves, says voters must ask themselves if they prefer Ralph or Opposition Leader Godwin Friday at the helm of the country after the next general elections.

The finance minister, speaking on Star Radio on Wednesday, said that Vincentians could ask themselves that question “every day on every issue”.

“And almost always, they’re in the wrong position,” he said of the main opposition New Democratic Party (NDP), which Friday leads.

“So we could talk about LIAT. We could talk about the elections in Guyana. Have we heard Lorraine Friday on this position? Have we heard him on the defence of democracy and the principles that undergird our societies?” Camillo said.

“No, but Ralph Gonsalves has taken difficult positions, difficult stances on unpopular decisions sometimes, and he takes licks for defending his positions.

“We haven’t heard from Friday yet because his principles are fluid. And it depends on the situations, it depends on the circumstance, it depends on who on Facebook making the most noise and who making the least noise?

“But who is a leader? Because we are talking leadership here. Who going tek front and go out there and state positions and defend those positions and talk about what it means to live in a Caribbean in the 2020s? Ralph Gonsalves is that person.”

The finance minister also spoke about SVG’s relationship with Taiwan, which began in 1981, and which the NDP, under the leadership of Arnhim Eustace, announced in 2016, that it would sever, a policy that Friday, who became party leader in 2017, says remains intact.

The NDP says that it would establish ties with China — which sees Taiwan as a renegade providence to be reunited with the mainland, by force if necessary — saying that it is the trend internationally.

Only 14 of the 193 United Nations member states, as well as the Holy See, have formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan.

Prime Minister Gonsalves once opposed SVG’s relationship with Taiwan, but has preserved the ties since coming to office in March 2001.

Camillo said:

“The Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines has reaffirmed our support for Taiwan. The leader of the New Democratic Party, without ever once, without ever once meeting, the president of China, without ever once meeting the foreign minister of China, without ever once meeting the finance minister of China, wants to leave and go join China.

“He wants to leave where we are, and go to start relations with a country that doesn’t even have time to sit down and meet with him at the highest level. And it is just an abandonment of a longstanding friendship and an abandonment of an alliance that has brought benefit to the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, individual scholarships, buildings, medical supplies, all the rest of these things.

“And but why? Why is he going? Has Taiwan offended him? Has Taiwan done something wrong? No. Because somebody tell him it’s the right thing to do, or because somebody is offering him some finances.

“And you think about these questions, you think about the hundreds of students that have gotten an education in Taiwan. And you think about the fact that we have, at any time, we can get the ear of the president of Taiwan.”

Minister of Finance Camillo Gonsalves. (iWN file photo)

Camillo said that he had met three successive presidents of Taiwan and so have Minister of Agriculture Saboto Caesar, Minister of Health Senator Luke Browne, Minister of National Mobilisation Frederick Stephenson, and Minister of Culture Cecil McKie.

“But he (Friday) still can’t get into the cabinet of the Chinese government and he wants to run and go knock on the door. ‘Hi, hi. Hi, is me. Ah dey outside. Alyo let me in, nuh?’ No.  Leadership is important.

In late 2018, Friday led a delegation on a visit to Beijing and Shanghai, where they held talks with officials of the China Zhi Gong Party.

The China Zhi Gong Party — translated into English as China Party for Public Interest — is one of the eight legally recognised political parties in the People’s Republic of China that follow the direction of the Communist Party of China and are represented in the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, Wikipedia says. The online encyclopaedia further says the party appears to be used as a convenient intermediary for contacts with certain foreign interests.

The finance minister said that on the issue of the hospital that his government says it will build at Arnos Vale, there has been “all kinds of talk about health care, and the leader of the New Democratic Party allowing all sorts of misinformation and talking about a hospital that they want to build, knowing full well that they have no plan, that they have no details that they have no design and want to criticise a government that has spent over $5 million, so far, in the development of the hospital at Arnos Vale.

“A lot of work happens before you put your shovel in the ground. So, when they talk, we can answer the question, ‘who is the designer of the hospital?’ ‘What studies have been done about the best location of the hospital?’ ‘How has that been financed?’ ‘How much equipment, how many rooms?’ ‘What type of services will be offered?’

“We can answer all of those questions because we have a leader who has thought these things through, and is studying them. And we realize that a policy and a program require work. It doesn’t require which way the wind is blowing.”

Recently, the prime minister repeatedly stated that a post on his Facebook page had falsely claimed that his government has secured from the World Bank the monies to finance the hospital.

The finance minister, speaking about leadership generally, said:

“And so, at every turn, if we talk about leadership, we’re talking about Ralph Gonsalves versus Lorraine Friday, that is the question you have to answer when you find yourself in the polling booth. And you have to ask yourself in this time of COVID, in this time of increased hurricanes, in this time of global unrest, who are you safer with? Who will help you in your time of need?”

The NDP has said that its polls show Friday ahead of both of the Gonsalveses on “likeability and integrity”.

The party, as is generally the case in SVG, has not released any further information to substantiate its claim.

General elections are constitutionally due in March 2020, but the prime minister has said that they will be held by the end of the year.

The finance minister, a former senator, is seeking a second five-year term as Member of Parliament for East St. George.

The ULP is bidding for an unprecedented fifth consecutive five-year term in office. 

15 replies on “Elections 2020, a choice between Ralph, Friday — Camillo”

  1. Urlan Alexander says:

    Camillo what else do vincentoans expect from you? Your ranting is expected and more so now than at any other time. When Dr Friday called on you to come clean on the matter involving Yuggee Farell, what did you do? On the advice of daddy you went silent and now you want Friday to speak on matters. Would you accept his response? You and your father come off as if you’re intellectually superior when in reality you’re not. If SVG was a business both of you would be looking for jobs. You are both talkers and not doers. After twenty years SVG is the poorest in the region. The unemployment level is out of control and health care is in chaos. Nothing is taking place in SVG and hence the reason you and your party cannot run on it’s record. It’s all about bribing the people and you should be a shame. SVG is not you and Ralph plantation. This is a new era and many are speaking out. The plantation will be burn!!!

    1. Yes but we have a temporary seat on the Security Council and we have a shiny new ghost-town airport that we will actually own in 100 years after the debt for it is paid, not counting the constant renovation costs, resulting from all the rust from sea-spray.

      If it were not for the 2008 financial collapse we would be rich!
      If it were not for the floods, we would be rich!
      If it were not for the hurricane we would be rich!
      If it were not for Covid-19 we would be rich!
      ect…If it were not for….we would be rich!

      1. you sound so backward for criticizing the airport at this stage, whether its ULP or NDP who built it, it still remains a much needed project for the country.

  2. The writer talked about many things that set Ralph apart from Friday and in some cases I agree with his position. However, there many issues for which he spoke. I am in total disagreement. First of all I do not trust Camillo, I think he is as arrogant as it comes. A person should be judged from the perspective of his behavior when no on is watching, especially his treatment of the most vulnerable in society.

    His alleged treatment of Yuggie Farrell , a vulnerable citizen of St Vincent tells me if he gets the opportunity he will trample on the rights of Vincentians. In addition, It is my position that he was given a privileged position because of his father. In addition, I want to remind you of his alleged behavior when he was attached to the the UN in New York. All these instances if they are truthful show the arrogance of this man.

    I also believe that by being the son of the PM , he was granted a free past for the post of finance. Minster to the detriment of Saboto Caesar .He was given the proverbial head start to succeed the PM when that position becomes vacant.

    I agree with him that the NDP decision of the one China policy is a brainless decision given the benefits that such relationship with Taiwan has accrued to us and the fall out if such relationship is fractured.

    His opinion on defending democracy in Guyana is hypocritical, given the Ulp conduct in the 2015 election in St Vincent. We know of the some of the ills and evil that came out during the court hearing. The PM stands vis a vis the Guyana election is sent as one comrade protecting another socialist comrade. .

    In conclusion, one has to examine the words of Camillo and ask yourself if he is truthful and whether he can be trusted in a position of power.

  3. Ah’ St Vincent and the Grenadines, unlike that popularly repeated phrases of ours “Land of the Blessed” are far from so, but rather SVG should be characterised and labelled as the “lands of the wretched”! Indeed what wretched people we have become! Willing hostages!

    However, because of that other well-known phrase, expressed as “ignorance is bliss” Vincentians, unlike many other people, our being unaware of our state of being, we stagger about with glazed eyes as if drunk, seemingly wallowing in enjoyable ignorance. Poor self-knowledge or equally poor self-worth have made us Vincentians a captured bunch of people well-disposed for exploitation.

    What may one ask is the initial source of such foolishness on our part? A commonly known malady appears to be partly responsible for this blissful ignorance. The Stockholm syndrome!

    A shocking alarming wide spread psychological ailment better known as the Stockholm syndrome is at play!
    There appears to be no other explanation for the steady Venezuelization of SVG over these past years with our casual acquiescence to it and our being hostages. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-22447726#:~:text=Most%20people%20know%20the%20phrase,by%20revolutionary%20militants%20in%201974.

  4. Time for some new blood. We tired of dictatorship and abuse. By the time he leaves office, this country will be like Guyana. Too much debt to repay, while father and son continue to live in grandeur.

    1. I doubt Dex that they will ever need to work again.

      Unlike Guyana who have a future to look forward to with their newly found oil riches, we have nothing, even the new hotel projects will end up in the garbage. The hotels even if successful are a dot on the map of fortune, they will make little or no difference to the majority of Vincentians. Tourism will take many years to fully recover, the new airport will only be a drain on resources and economy for years to come. We were placed on a losing wicket when the Cubans took nine years to build the airport which was a three year project for proper contractors.

      The political alliances that have been created by the PM with Cuba and Venezuela will draw us into the same sewage pit as they are in. Its such a shame that Vincentians are just not up to understanding what out future will be if Ralph Gonsalves and the ULP are reelected. Grim is an understatement.

      Wrecked agriculture and no new manufacturing base for any product at all, means we will be lumbered for years to come paying enormous pensions to almost the whole Gonsalves/Francis dynasty.

  5. So Camillo want to set the agenda for Friday and the NDP. Maybe he has a point: […] NDP should concentrate on how women and children are being treated in SVG by the ULP government.
    His father has cleared the deck to bring him, so people like Mike Brown, Jomo and that other woman won’t be there to challenge Camillo. Another coronation is in the process and Caesar is with his cutlass on the farm. Vincentians should not allow the St. in the island name be SEX. Vincentian. […]

  6. After reading those comments posted so far, it seems Friday has the edge. I would say that our PM did do a great job during the Covid-19 hysteria but the long-term macro economics are very poor at best. LIAT is just one example. None of us are perfect but if anyone went through an “indoctrination” in finance or government at some point in past life, it is detrimental for a constituency to live under that kind of “go nowhere” leadership. One BIG ADVANTAGE Friday has over Ralph Gonsalves, besides his better grasp on economic philosophy, is that Friday seeks to unite the country and the Gonsalves Family seems to practice division, which has only handicapped us for all these years. “unity” and “labour” seem to have no place in the “party” that is presently called the “ULP”. Unless that can be changed, educated people will be hesitant to vote for them and they will have to continue to keep the majority poor, uneducated and well stocked with building supplies, because that seems to be the easiest group to encouraged to vote for them.
    Ralph Gonsalves is a master at geopolitical diplomacy but if the NDP continues to stress prudent economics, trust and unity, many may care nothing for the geopolitics and just take the lumber but nevertheless vote NDP. Friday has been using these months to build trust with the people. Many do not trust the Gonsalves Family. Ben Exeter will continue to be a thorn in the side of the seemingly uneducated ULP election officials and we will probably see even more “irregularities” in the next election if the ULP is to retain office.
    At the very least, the ULP needs to get an education on how to conduct a proper election instead of making up the rules as they go along and later fooling the people by adopting the rules to fit the procedure. This is a main reason how they lost the trust of the people in the first place! The ULP “won” in the Election Petitions but discounting apparent bias, they “lost” in the court of public opinion to anyone who knows how the trial was conducted.
    I wonder if Karma will visit SVG during this next election?

  7. You shameless now your dignified silence spell has been broken, please go and apologised to ugee. We need a man with good moral and integrity. That’s all

    1. In my opinion I could care less what any politician does with personal relationships as long as it is mutual consent. It has nothing to do with creating opportunity or keeping us free, safe, secure and allowed to pursue happiness. We expect leaders to be Einstein, General Patton, Mother Theresa and Jesus all in one. Politics is based on PERCEPTION. Whatever is politically correct at the time and place. Too bad it is rarely based on substance.
      The problem with Camillo: If he wants to become PM he has never shown us what he can do. His father has put him in all his positions and he has never shown any independence or independent thinking. Now…The elephant in the room…I get the impression that virtually all the top members of the ULP are on a leash.

      How will any of them perform when they are allowed to think or act for themselves?

  8. David Samuel says:

    You damn right there is a choice! and come this election 2020, WE THE PEOPLE WILL EXERCISE THAT CHOICE. Let it be known, Mr. Baby Doc, SVG is NOT A PLANTATION. It is not owned by the Gonsalves family dynasty neither are Vincentians indentured labourers. So it will not be passed on to any beneficiary of the Gonsalves family. After 20 years, haven’t you people had enough of mistreating Vincentians, of deceiving Vincentians, of inculcating the element of fear amongst Vincentians? In 2001 your father promised term limits in our constitution. Now in 2020, he has continued to abandon that idea and is now seeking a FIFTH term in power.. Please go home and rest….!.

  9. There is no ignorance in Dr Friday asking the Prime Minister about the Queensbury Housing Development where Jjlian Francis said was for 200 low income Homes.
    Dr Friday, was this Development brought to the Parliament of SVG.
    Dr Friday this is a Public Interest Issue, as the representative of Vermont would you ask Mr Nigel Stephenson to ask about these promised homes.
    Civil will turn the Treasury up side down and cannot find answers […]

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