By Melanius Alphonse
It is James Jesus Angleton (chief of the CIA's counterintelligence staff from 1954 to 1975) that comes to mind, in his assertion that “Deception is a state of mind and the mind of the State”, as I ponder on what consumes the national conversation and the arguments in Saint Lucia today.
Melanius Alphonse is a management and development consultant. He is an advocate for community development, social justice, economic freedom and equality; the Lucian People’s Movement (LPM) critic on youth initiative, infrastructure, economic and business development. He can be reached at email@example.com
I have resort to that conclusion, because it is of no surprise that the tone and structure of Prime Minister Dr Kenny Anthony statement to the nation “An Unhappy Episode” on Tuesday, August 20, was unresponsive to accept responsibility to a nation on edge.
As usual, Prime Minister Anthony took his cool time to communicate with the nation, some two weeks after the fact. At that time his administration was already in a tailspin of confusion, suffering, embarrassment and shame. Thus laying bare the vulnerability of further strategic cooperation of technical assistance and aid financing that the United States has jurisdiction over, as well as Saint Lucia’s long standing partnership with the United States!
By that time, the world knew that the United States had disallowed the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force from participating in training programs arranged or financed by the United States. Thus placing Saint Lucia within a group of nations such as Bolivia, Colombia, Guatemala, Mexico, Nigeria, Turkey, Indonesia, and Pakistan, whose security forces have been denied assistance by virtue of the “Leahy Law.”
Clearly, this was an uncomfortable statement to deliver by Prime Minister Anthony’s standards, and certainly much more was expected as it pertains to matters of national security in the public domain.
But, given the common inability to guard against intemperance and arrogance, substantive national issues were not addressed. Likewise, a definitive course of action and timeframe to arrive at a solution was not forthcoming, thus exposing the likelihood of unfavourable results and the loss of public confidence that drew more questions.
This fast moving episode left the impression that probably the leadership of Saint Lucia is living through a presumption of denial, and a laissez faire attitude that is synonymous with a government’s misplaced ideology; not knowing on which foot to stand, and what to do!
In so doing, his disappointing administration has once again failed in another opportunity to address the root cause of the problem that gave rise to “An Unhappy Episode”, while sidestepping the social and economic decay, poor housing, drug trafficking, human trafficking, increased prostitution, money laundering, the lack of a living wage, “extrajudicial killings”, respect for human rights and strengthening of the judicial system.
However, Prime Minister Anthony succeeded in passing the buck to a responsive and knowledgeable audience capable of inducing an avalanche of reaction.
For instance, Prime Minister Anthony’s statement read as follows: “I have to admit that the conduct of this exercise has not been easy for the members of the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force. It has pitted officer against officer, led to ‘finger-pointing,’ accusations and counter accusations. The decision has undoubtedly undermined the morale of the Police Force and tarnished its reputation.” Notably, the commissioner of police, Mr Vernon Francois was not endorsed. This may well have helped to boost the morale of the police force and close the door on further speculation.
But wait, he further stated, “And so, while we still have a cloud of uncertainty above the officers and members of the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force, we must not pander to populist views, but rather, we must follow due process as the rule of law commands us. We must do this not for the Americans but for ourselves.”
Is the human mind slowing down? Or is the art of deception at work to distract, deceive and to divide?
One may have theories or even twisted logic, but one cannot doubt that history makes fools of us all -- to forget that the United States is the dominant power in the Caribbean!
Arguably, the Caribbean is the “United States’ backyard”, with an interest in protecting human rights, security concerns and democracy, due to its economic interest. And will make certain that its influence in the region will remain unchallenged!
Similarly, it is important to remember that Saint Lucia’s tourism industry accounts for 65 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), as well as the island’s heavy dependence on the United States market as its main source of foreign exchange earnings.
Therefore, if Saint Lucia is deemed unstable, and the United States is unable to vouch for the safety and security of its human and physical assets, then further response (possible from Canada and the UK) could create the risk of double jeopardy on the future of Saint Lucia’s security stabilization and economic development.
Interesting enough, these happenings are taking place under the stewardship of Prime Minister Anthony. An astute professional in law, with vast experience as head of government for three terms!
Essentially, the government of Saint Lucia has a responsibility to reverse this unhappy episode at the soonest, and should take all the necessary measures to fully investigate and prosecute appropriately, utilizing a high degree of discipline regardless of position or rank.
The test at hand is for a case to be made with profound clarity of action and to engage in substantive scientific analysis and legislative measures, to improve investigation and prosecution for the protection of human rights, due process and the rule of law; and to restore confidence in law and order; faith in the judicial system and good governance of a democratic Saint Lucia.
Then, with the clarity of government policy that “human rights matter” and will make this a priority of public policy with the establishment of a National Human Rights Council and supportive legislation to help make a difference in the lives of the people’s socio-economic development.
With such authentic symbolism working in an environment of stability and cooperation, this could actually help free Saint Lucia’s current position with the United States from the use of “hard power policies.”
But lo and behold, this Labour administration seems prone to frequent embarrassing episodes each time in office, dating back to 2006.
Repeatedly, this Labour administration’s economic policy is a disaster. Their brand of foreign policy is based on political ideology that is backward in time, compounded with a restrictive ability to inspire confidence to provide real jobs, education, and to create new opportunities for the people of Saint Lucia.
Similarly, the episodes that sustained this current security destabilization will not be solved by the denial of social and economic responsibility, and will cost the people of Saint Lucia a great deal, by the political actors, their operatives and civil society in the absence of truth telling and transparency.
But then, considering the quality and composition of the government, that should be expected; essentially affirming public viewpoints that this administration still does not know what to do!