By Mark Laporte
Most of us have seen crabs, caught them, cooked and eaten them. We love the big gandy, for it is full of meat. Right? The big gandy of a crab functions as a defensive weapon as well as to capture its food.
As is seen in the above map, the crab illustration has the big finger of the larger gandy (claw) attached to BRICS via the capitals of each of the countries: Brazil, Russia, India China and South Africa, while the outer side of that gandy encircles a significant part of the Pacific Ocean, the South China Sea, the Indian ocean, and the South Atlantic Ocean. That’s one huge mass of maritime activity! The small finger is envisioned to connect to Burkina Faso in Africa with its rich cultural, sporting and film industry potential and anchored to the enormous solar energy potential of the Sahara desert, as well as to the Middle East, including Pakistan.
Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran and Venezuela will eventually join BRICS. For all practical purposes they are already a part of BRICS. Consider our connections with Venezuela and how these can facilitate our relationships with BRICS. Venezuela is a vast crude oil resource. Worldoil.com carried a short article stating that Venezuela has the world’s largest crude oil reserves, more that Saudi Arabia. And we complaining about energy? This is about the survival of our people not politics or political preferences.
With reference to our need for clean energy, Venezuela has the second largest natural gas reserves in the Western Hemisphere. This is a direct quote from the US Energy Information Administration website
Geo-economic considerations will very likely make it necessary for Panama, with its enhanced Panama Canal, to be part of this coming mega superpower, this major trading bloc of the south. Check it out. This opens up the vast Pacific Ocean and its trade! Yes! Fantastic! Get a map out, have a look at the vast expanse of South America with Argentina, Chile etc… even if they do not become a part of an enlarged BRICS they will no doubt trade with BRICS. Money goes after money, opportunity begets opportunity.
The dorsal side of this small finger encompasses the Mediterranean Sea, with its vast potential relative to an enlarged BRICS. Can we invest with an African country, in a solar energy project in the Sahara? Consider the South Atlantic, which is a big maritime trade link. It is potentially a powerful airbridge between Vigie Airport and African countries.
Sell Vigie? You jokin’! You willing to put such immense potential into some foreigner’s hands? Think again. You willing to impoverish our St Lucian public so much by selling or leasing Vigie airport?
The small gandy is firmly affixed to the islands of the Eastern Caribbean. Outside forces may send people to investigate but they may not be able to do a thing about this massive shift in global economics and politics, of which we must be a part, the simple reason being that countries will go where their economic bread is buttered. Let’s adopt our position that the body of our crab encircles and embraces the islands of the Caribbean and the nations of Central and South America, which have institutions like CARICOM, ALBA, OECS, UNASUR (Union of South American Nations) as well as the customs union, MERCOSUR, etc.
The natural result is that we will be in a much better position to withstand future Western economic downturns. Now we are beginning to glimpse the enormous economic potential of those areas described, and it is into this context that the George F.L. Charles Airport and St Lucia must be seen and must be made a productive part.
For the Vigie airport to be a successful enterprise it must be seen in isolation yes but as within a significant, vibrant, new economic environment. Consider the landmass, people, resources that are within the grasp of the big gandy of our crab for which the joint anchored at St Lucia provides the necessary economic mobility! What sort of economic mobility might that be that we can offer BRICS and how can it help increase the productivity of George F.L. Charles airport?
Our political, economic, cultural, religious leaders must not shirk the opportunity of becoming part of a new global economic and political movement, centered on the BRICS. The time for western dominance of global economics, trade and politics has past, and their military dominance is soon to be history. Indeed, it is their addiction to leadership that serves as one major thrust in their own decline. Our leaders must be energized by this major worldwide shift and grasp the moment to steer our nations and region in this new direction.
The world is changing. Asia is becoming the centre of world economic activity and is beginning to define and control the new worldwide economic environment . So where is our Midas touch, our special ability in the context? Who knows? We might just have a bit of good luck that will enable us to take full advantage of the opportunities that are developing. The vast resources of Asia are being developed, the western powers, true to form, are looking to see they can milk the area, instead of standing on their own feet.
A new powerful economic reality is coming into being led by Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa, and fed with the natural resources of Africa and Southeast Asia, including the soon to be tapped vast energy reserves of Russia. That vast area will be forced to develop (if it isn’t doing so already) the kind of advanced military machinery to protect its regional and global interests. The United States will not be able to do anything about that.
Just as Asia is developing its resources, within the context of their economic reality, might we consider how to develop our resources, Vigie airport being one such resource side by side with and within the context of the mega superpower that is forming in Asia? This alone should motivate us, but it is our self motivating spirit that matters most, in this context. This alone could make it worthwhile to keep Vigie.
Let us consider, for example, the African and Asian population. Africa’s population is a little over a billion and will increase to two billion by 2050, that’s 37 years from now. Population and other natural resources are the major building blocks of an economy and Asia, south Asia and Africa have those in abundance. Population equals production and production equals money.
Information Technology and the Internet
It is not farfetched to think that such a powerful trade and economic powerhouse will need in some way to protect its internet communications. Therefore we can easily envision that future circumstances will make it imperative for a BRICS-centered internet in order to give it greater control over its communications. The potential is immense and opens very big opportunities for us. This is an avenue we need to explore.
What natural inclination, or flair or tendency that we have that may be appreciated within this new economic direction and how may we develop it? Each nation has a natural inclination. The inclination of some nations is warmongering. Another nation has the ability to spot and take advantage of the warmonger’s weakness and bide its time, giving its competitor the time to hang itself. What then is our inclination that we can put to work for us?
Our government should be looking in that direction and it is hoped that it will consider the strategic as well as the tactical advantages and disadvantages, considering our ability to observe how certain things affect others before we adopt and use them ourselves.
For example, Africa alone contains natural resources that will be needed to develop advanced Asian weapons systems. Maybe some of the Asian and African companies that will specialize in such development can be encouraged to locate here in St Lucia. That translates into business for Vigie.
Secondly, as regards African and Asian population, the cruise ship industry will be dominated by Africa, India, China, and Asia, whose huge populations will become more inclined to engage in the leisure industry. Therefore we should explore the possibility, and begin preparing ourselves, developing the diplomatic and business contacts now, so that, when the time comes, a few Asian cruise lines could use Port Castries as a port of embarkation for tourists which will be flown in to Vigie for their Caribbean cruise. One vacation leads to another.
Let’s study the Asian culture. Let us review our African heritage and culture. Look at the map. Consider the Indian way of life and Chinese mode of doing business. Make it a hobby. In this way we prepare the atmosphere that will help us to find common ground within which our two cultures can work together. We are not seeking to submerge our culture within the Asian culture, by no means! You crazy? But we can seek avenues for cooperation. Thus St Lucia can, for example, be portrayed as a retreat, a place of refreshment for the hard working Asian people. We can highlight the peacefulness of the Caribbean, and that within the context of a global Asian security system.
Fourthly, we can explore the possibility of Asian schools and universities opening up campuses of Caribbean studies here in St Lucia. Let me tell you, schools are a vast source of opportunity and that means that Vigie can be the entry point for students who will be flying in and out from India, China, Africa, Russia, to study here. Let’s use our imagination, let’s look toward the future. For example, we are said to be a fantastic wedding destination. Let us say that we make St Lucia a happy birthday destination for tourists from Africa, example Nigeria? Let us stop messing around, let us get busy and go where the action is beginning to be. Let’s stop looking backward at a failing system. Let us move along.
Let us consider our music industry. Leisure and music go hand in hand. Are we considering preserving our unique brand of music? Are we looking how we may incorporate our local music, artistes into a revised and revamped selling package with special emphasis on the emerging economies? After all that is something we have. That indigenous talent… I, once again, just this minute, listened to Mantius’ Skin to Skin ….
Wen I hold you tonite gyal (is skin to skin)
I really doh like nuttin to come between
I like de natural feeling
Skin to skin
When we wining (baby)
When we grining (baby)…..
Go ahead, listen to Menell’s power full vocals, listen to that backup. Man we have so much going for us. It needs preserving, nuturing and developing part of our economy. It can be a part of our hemisphere which is St Lucia where our music ought to flourish, part of our Afro-Caribbean heritage. Mantius, I wish you well. Menell, keep singing girl. To all our singers artistes actors, actresses culture enthusiasts, our ‘Boots’ Samuels, our Kendell Hippolytes, our ‘Fishes’, our Rick Waynes and Peter Josies, as well as our dance enthusiasts, models, etc, etc…need I say more? Doesn’t this fire you with feeling? Don’t you feel like embracing us all? Let’s not let some stupid crisis dampen our motivation!
Or who can forget Ricky T and his deep voiced soca?
Mr undertaker build them a coffin
All dem boy in it…
Although this song did not win at the Trinidad soca monarch competition Ricky T’s songs are deeply rooted in our cultural experience. A very vibrant and strong one at that.
Who would fail to reminisce with Kakle’s multi layered Bois
Simen gwen,simen gwen
Asu table la
En lair couche la
En vieux caille la
En bar caille la
Simen gwen semen gwen
Or who could forget Nicole David’s fiercely independent play on words in Mr Dean Dough?
Or her superbly expressed lucianness in the following lines…
“Miss David: I’m Nikki David and I am a soca artiste, I am also a Lucian
We could for example, give input to our music emphasising weekend dancehall. I suppose if it is done right and publicized, people from the neighbouring islands could be encouraged to come to our island St Lucia for a weekend getaway so as to enjoy the our dancehall environment. Dancehall was a major part of our culture in bygone days… there would be the TrueTones at Halcyon, the Quavers would be at Palm Beach. There was the Vibratones gig in The CYO in Castries and other places like Babonneau. Also down in Derrisseaux, Vieux Fort, Grace, Augier, Banse, Laborie, Piaye was music and dance on weekends . Remember Hero’s up Morne Du Don? And what can I say of the good times at dances at Dennery, O’leon (my one time favourite hangout). Marigot, another favourite of mine, once had many, many places to enjoy the dance scene. Think of Saltibus, Getrine (jetwin). And who can forget the Nurses dances at their residence at Victoria Hospital?
Yeah, I had much enjoyment during those good dancehall days... mmmmm. I used to love going into those deep little ‘holes’ to dance garcon. I used to go far and dance. So can we all, go far, do that little extra to enjoy ourselves to build our economy… bring them in from the other islands. We got enough opportunity; let’s see which are most practical. Let us give due thought to the means of solving the problem. Mix that in with a good dose of karaoke around the island and maybe we have a saleable product that could bring in people from the other islands via Vigie. We could revive that; make it a part of a LIAT ticket purchase plan. It’s worth a try. We’re broke anyway, let’s see if the idea will produce some good thing .
Think of the Babonneau scene… the land of my many loves, still brings a nostalgic ting to my heart. Make the island one big dance party on weekends. It becomes the Windward islands jam and main attraction and weekend getaway. Of course we do not ignore our own folk dances and art and culture. In these times of problems everyone would welcome a time to get away and retreat. Let’s make St Lucia that retreat and Vigie Airport that entry point.
A Caribbean Carnival?
There is Trinidad carnival, we have Antigua Carnival, and all are good. Could we develop a truly Caribbean carnival and held here in St Lucia? A truly Afro-Caribbean carnival, made up of at least one band from each of the islands? So we would have two: our own yearly carnival and then later or on in the year we have a Caribbean carnival. Would this really work? Maybe it could.
You see that whole piece of land around Pointe Sable going up the road to where Poulette had his restaurant, including where Maison Salazon’s old hanger into the area going up to the VFCSS and following the Vieux Fort river? That’s a big area we could convert into the area for a Caribbean carnival. We could call it Jam City. The costumes can be built here. Hey, carnival costume building could be a big business. Build for ourselves and buy from ourselves. We see immediately the logistics of such a venture at Vieux Fort: advertising, toilet facilities, electricity, security uh la la (we may even have to ask the US prez to send a couple drones to fly over for security... Just joking), medical facilities, ambulances, liquor, chicken, beer… I can see Gros Chas smiling, even Ti Chas will be happy. That’s one huge cash maker and a boost to our economy.
Bear in mind we don’t want any foreigner trying to take over the thing. We all know how they like to do that, especially when we start a new venture. Think of the legal aspects the legal counseling involved …even Ti Mac will dance. Think of the transportation, building materials… man oh man. Did someone say, what do we have? What about the music, the steel pan tuning and other forms of music? What about the management, parking facilities, communications, running the wires etc? What about ice, meat packing? The whole island can benefit. Think of the food; all the yam and the dasheen, potatoes, eggs… our local farmers will be singing too. Children also will have a great time. Think of the facilities for children at such an affair. All those create money, and the money and productivity benefits us all .
Season that idea with the opportunity, for those who wish, quietly rest at our locally owned hotels. Think of it; a good selling point: St Lucia, your island getaway for a little rest and relaxation. Come to St Lucia for your weekend hideaway. We can even use Andre Paul’s voice in the videos (don’t get mad Andre). We got the talent, we got the mix. And we market that in St Vincent, Dominica, Antigua, Barbados, the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago; we open the way for Trinidad airlines to fly into Vigie, bringing weekend tourists, as well as taking Lucians to T&T to party as well. It could be a give and take thing. Yeah let’s roll it around our heads see what ideas come up. Who knows? Try a ting, try a ting!
What if we replicated the Gros Islet Friday nights, around the island? Canaries, Soufriere, Vieux Fort’s Pointe Sable for example… I used to dance at Sapphire Club back then. Maybe that venue can be revived. Look we have such a vast land area there all it needs is a little more input, a little more vavoom. Obviously our local folk festivals and dance ought to play a central role in this.
We have said that leisure and music go hand in hand. So do music and students. We can have music festivals here in St Lucia, which would feature music from the countries that the foreign students are from if we were to develop the idea of locating African university campuses here. This is another potential source of business for Vigie Airport. Let’s try to avoid unnecessary spending, and consumption and try to encourage thrift, that is, savings in our locally owned banks. We can try to excite our visitors in such a way that preserves our culture and national identity. Let’s see how we can develop an atmosphere of celebration that would counterbalance the tense atmosphere within other nations. That helps to build a cash reserve and renders some liquidity to the situation and helps to offset in some way the negative side of our island’s balance sheet. The role of our media is certainly very important in giving our Caribbean carnival and foreign students initiative, the exposure. The same footage will benefit our media houses.
From my perspective health tourism is different from medical tourism. I really do not see why we have to saddle ourselves with the sick and dying from other countries. Do we have the resources and health as a people to open ourselves to possible foreign infections? Consider that idea. We can even be intelligent about it, by using a little eugenics philosophy, which advocated the exclusions of the unfit and feebleminded as well as other races from their own. Well then, let us apply the same; turn medical tourism into health tourism and portray, as well as develop the island as a place for healthy people to come enjoy a few weeks.
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Mark Laporte is a St Lucian writer and agriculturist, and a former teacher. He researches and develops topics of interest whether or not he publishes them.