By Therold Prudent
Dark clouds of social despair have been hovering over our nation like a pending hurricane since 1979. Yet, 34 years later, there are still some in our nation who shamelessly refuse to accept their party’s role in setting our country on the dangerous path that results in such despair. Crime in our nation is spiralling out of control.
Therold Prudent is the Political Leader of the Lucian People’s Movement (LPM)
The callousness and arrogance of the United Workers Party's rule during that era cannot be dismissed, nor can the Saint Lucia Labour Party’s attempts to ferment the seeds of social and political indiscipline, and even, at times, to blatantly advocate violence in order to achieve political change be absolved.
The disruptions of public meetings and the pelting of stones and bottles at political gatherings have not only caused bodily harm to fellow Saint Lucians but have also changed our nation’s culture of non-violence towards those whom we disagree with. And yes, while some still seek to justify such behaviour as necessary to achieve political and economic change, there remains the reality that our thoughtless actions over three decades later have produced a volatile situation that reeks of social indiscipline and violence and causes economic woes.
Though it has made modest strides in a few areas, Saint Lucia today is worse off in terms of social discipline than it was in 1979. For while many of our youth no longer allow politicians to incite them into behaving ignorantly by disrupting political meetings and other social gatherings (as the generation before did ); however, a growing number of largely unemployed youth are falling through the cracks. These young people have been ignored by their families and Saint Lucia's religious organizations and bureaucracy, and many have immersed themselves in the drug trade and other criminal vices and have secured large amounts of illegal firearms in order to wage gorilla-type warfare on our streets.
Through it all, the Labour Party and its supporters have remained passive and bound to a false sense of patriotism, which dictates that no one should cast blame on the government of the day for a crime situation in Saint Lucia that has spiralled out of control. This ‘patriotism,’ I dare say, is nothing more than a hypocritical political preoccupation with maintaining their party in power. Thus, it is not difficult to understand why fighting crime in Saint Lucia is problematic.
In fact, as long as the attitude is to absolve the government of the day of its responsibility of ensuring that society is safe and stable, Saint Lucia will continue inching down that narrow and traitorous road towards a lawless and ungovernable state.
Having identified this social disease, permit me now to focus your attention on the inconsistent behaviour of some of our politicians, both when in opposition and in government.
In 2006, it was a widely held belief that the United Workers Party (UWP) won the general elections primarily because Kenny Anthony had grown out of touch with the people of Saint Lucia on a number of issues, including increasing crime, after two terms in office.
For its part, the UWP, during its tenure, did not fare any better in terms of managing the island's crime situation and often came under heavy criticism from the Saint Lucia Labour Party (SLP), especially when there was a spike in the murder rate.
In its relentless criticism of the UWP, it was clear that not only had the SLP sought to politicize the issue of crime but also that they were positioning themselves as the only repository of knowledge where the management of crime was concerned. Sadly, although their approach to crime solving was the same as it was from 1997–2006, the SLP was allowed to advocate its failed policies on crime without a serious challenge from the then ruling UWP.
Since its return to political office in 2011, the SLP and its blind cheerleaders have struggled hard to be measured by a different yardstick on their crime policies. In the interest of fairness, I intend to set the record straight regarding the SLP's unwavering position while in opposition that the issue of crime falls directly at the feet of any government.
The idea of ‘SLP exceptionalism’ is growing like a cancer within the party. What this means is that those within the inner circle of the chameleon-like and thin-skinned SLP are far superior to those belonging to other political organizations. By this logic, as they alone are endowed by our creator with critical thinking skills, no one outside of the government should attempt to offer input to or chastise the government regarding the governance of the country, including the handling of the crime situation.
Therefore, to all those self-righteous and biased partisans who were quick to condemn the LPM last week for calling upon the government to bring the crime situation under control, I must remind you that your hypocrisy has no basis.
‘Patriotism’ should never involve applying a double standard when your party is in office; it means possessing a consistent and genuine love for the country of your birth whether or not your party is in office. Therefore, next time you feel agitated and a sense of rush to pull the national rug of patriotism from under the feet of the Lucian People's Movement, you would do well to first chew on this:
The following is a series of statements made by Dr Robert Lewis on behalf of the SLP (while in opposition).
December 22, 2010
“Hundreds of families have lost loved ones, many of whom were breadwinners or potential breadwinners. Those left behind are now left to struggle even more to make ends meet, but our government has shown no genuine concern for the cries of the people. Some citizens are now locked up in their homes afraid to go out while others are fearful of working at night and walking the streets late. That state of fear is a direct consequence of our government’s failure to act appropriately, properly and decisively to arrest the growing crime rate.”
“Some of the most gruesome criminal activities that have taken place in our country... includes the shooting and attempted murder of a Magistrate, the killing of two police officers, the multiple execution style murders in Vanard, the bloody gangland multiple murders of Anse La Raye and the latest senseless murder of Castries businesswoman, Mrs Vanita Murpuri affectionately known as Mama. Mama’s brutal and premature death is a sad commentary on the state of crime in our country.”
"There is grave concern in and out of Saint Lucia about the crime situation and everyone, from entrepreneurs to representatives of external agencies and governments, is hoping for a solution.”