A harm plot near the resort. (iWN photo)

A former candidate for the main opposition New Democratic Party says that rather than continue the land reform initiatives of his predecessors, Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves “killed the land reform programme”.

Lauron “Sharer” Baptiste made the claim while addressing a virtual meeting of his party earlier this month.

Baptiste, who was the NDP’s candidate in North Leeward in the 2015 general election, got his nickname from his work pointing out their assigned lots to persons under the NDP’s land reform programme.

He told the NDP’s campaign event that the NDP, believe that like education, “agriculture is another vehicle out of poverty”.

Giving a historical perspective, Baptiste said that between 1972 and 1974, Sir James Mitchell acquired the Lauders and Diamond Estates.

And Robert Milton Cato did the same with the Richmond and Belle Isle Estates between 1976 and 1977, doing the same with the Balcombe, San Souci, Bellevue, and Colonarie Estates between 1979 and 1984.

Also in 1984, Sir James Mitchell, acquired the Orange Hill, Langley Park and Grand Sable Estates.

In 1991, Sir James, acquired the Cane Grove and the Mt Wynne/Peter’s Hope Estate the following year.

“If you notice one thing, I said Sir James, and I said, Robert Milton Cato, the present prime minister, his name is no way in the history of land reform in St. Vincent and Grenadines. As a matter of fact, he killed the land reform programme,” Baptiste told the event, which was broadcast live on social media and radio.

He said that the EU-funded agricultural diversification programme should have run from 2006 to 2011 but lasted only three years.

“You know why? Because some fellows were getting big monies from the programme. So the EU say ‘No! No! No! That ain’t happening at all.’

“So accountability was a problem. And also the EU realised that land tenure also is a problem because a lot of these farmers at the time, under the land reform programme, had a lease agreement.

“This government turned around and said that the lease agreement that the farmers signed with the New Democratic Party is now null and void. It was null and void for farmers. But you have government ministers could have get lands to buy which and while the farmers who were given lease by the New Democratic Party, they can’t get their lands to buy,” Baptiste said.

He said that things are going “to turn around”.

“As it was in the beginning, so shall be in the end. Sir James started it and Dr. [Godwin] Friday is going to finish the land reform programme By ensuring that all farmers get legal title to the lands,” he said, referring to the opposition leader and NDP president.

Baptiste continued:

“Let me just tell you this. When the ULP came into office [in March 2001], there were no lands at all in St. Vincent and Grenadines for them to distribute or to buy. Rather than that, they take away lands from people to sell. So they were actually selling lands, taking land away to sell.”

He said this is what the ULP has done in Orange Hill.

“… what they have done is take away agricultural lands, from persons that were given lease and take those lands and subdivide them into housing lots.

“And when they are done, they have big celebration to say that they actually distributing lands,” Baptiste said.

4 replies on “Ralph ‘killed the land reform programme’”

  1. Marxism never works, that we do truly know because they have a problem with financial accountability and understanding classical economics. To quote Lauron “Sharer” Baptiste; (the EU-funded agricultural diversification programme should have run from 2006 to 2011 but lasted only three years. “ You know why?

    Because some fellows were getting big monies from the programme. So the EU say ‘No! No! No! That ain’t happening at all.’) This was truly Marxism in action! “ ….. “So accountability was a problem”! What’s new there?

    And here is another thing; “The Trump administration has also criticized the government for cracking down on anti-government protests and accused it of human rights abuses, unlawful killings, arbitrary detentions, political persecution and widespread corruption.”
    https://uk.reuters.com/article/us-usa-nicaragua-sanctions/u-s-imposes-sanctions-on-son-of-nicaraguas-president-idUKKCN24I21Z

    Rory Carroll: Venezuela’s; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZXHndQFLpMA does this talk sounds familiar? It shouldn’t, we know it too well.

  2. C. ben-David says:

    Rubbish.

    Except for the artificial, anti-free trade banana era which ended when World Trade Organization (WTO) rulings found them to be illegal, the sale of small plots of land to peasant farmers has always been a guaranteed recipe for their continued hand-to-mouth existence working 2-3 acres of land.

    Indeed, the sub-division and sale of the large estates was an inevitable death sentence for large-scale monocrop production, the only way our agricultural lands have ever been able to prosper on the world stage starting with the 18th century sugarcane era.

    The only way we can re-build our agricultural sector is to take back the lands sold — paying a market price to do so — and revert to plantation agriculture based on at least the semi-mechanized cultivation of crops for which there are good international markets.

  3. Anthony Martin says:

    Dear Writer, you cited all the estates acquired by Prime Ministers before 2001. Could you please tell me which estate(s) are available in SVG for Ralph Gonsalves to acquire so that his name can be placed on your “illustrious” list?

  4. Ben, you want to go back to the days of slavery. Black slaved for years until emancipation, then they refuse to work for pittance. That’s why the whites had to abandon their estates. Ironically, the lands at Rutland Vale was bought out by the descendants of slaves from the white owners, to build some beautiful houses.
    I believe there might be some document where it claimed that my grandfather owned Coudrey’s land. I don’t think the story is accurate. I believe my great-grand mother was the one who tried to get some land for slaves after emancipation.

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