By Wilson Jn Baptiste
Roger Pratt, thank you for visiting our beautiful shores and my home town, Vieux Fort, in particular. We did not intend for this to be your last vacation. We intended this to be a memorable vacation and cruise for both yourself and your wife. We do not market violence against each other and against our visiting friends. We promised you a safe environment, nestled in the serenity of L’Anse Baison, where many before have docked their yachts to immerse themselves in the sounds of the calm waters, the sounds of the leaves and branches caressing each other over head, the beautiful skies with all its glory in the stars and the moon and the warmth of the people of Vieux Fort. We never promised you a violent death.
Wilson Jn Baptiste holds a BSc in Hotel and Tourism Administration and an MSc in Tourism Management, from New York University. He is currently CEO of Gems of St Lucia, headquartered in New York, an enterprise designed to market the best of St Lucia’s hospitality and tourism products, entertainment and leisure.
Roger, we have serious socio-economic and now, more than ever before, political challenges. The town of Vieux Fort is home to some of the most brilliant and hardworking young people you could find anywhere on this planet. However, the town is also saddled with chronic unemployment, teenage pregnancy, no or very little social structure for the release of creative and imaginative energies and anti-social and immoral choices for individual sustenance. These are some of the problems and challenges which your visit and that of many to come, would have alleviated. For each one of you who visited my hometown, Vieux Fort, signaled hope and possibilities for its people. However, the action against you and your wife has definitely dashed that hope. But please, we are asking that your friends do not abandon us, but work with us in restoring the dreams and aspirations of the young people of Vieux Fort.
We need your help and that of your friends, your family and your government. However, your help, at this point, must not come in the form of financial aid, which has not worked for the poor. As research has showed, aid from the developed countries to the poor countries has been used by governments of these poor countries to enrich a few elitists, their friends and families and their political goons. The type of aid we need should be geared towards institutional reform. Yes, Roger, the institutions which were handed down to us at independence may very well be obsolete. However, what is worse is that our leaders, who were trained and educated at British institutions of learning, have betrayed the very same institutions which we were promised that would have been upheld. Some call it corruption, cronyism and outright rape of the resources of a small island state by taking from those who have nothing and giving to those who already have, simply to waste and brandish.
Roger, your tragic loss and the brutalising of your wife by nationals, should not end our relationship with you. This incident should bring us closer together through an understanding of the challenges which we face and the capacity of your people and government to help us solve them in a disciplined fashion. We, St Lucians, are all responsible for your mishap because we all, in one way or the other failed to do what we had to do in a timely and just fashion. Some of our people are walking around with shields of invincibility, brandishing their newly found wealth and affiliation in the faces of the poor, thereby placing additional psychological pressure on that segment of society, which is already being crushed by economic injustice and political punishment. However, there are some of us who are sensitive to the needs of the poor and society in general and have given our best at solving some of the socio-economic challenges being faced by our beautiful island. We are relentless, but we need your help, not your abandonment.
In conclusion, may we express our deepest sympathy to your beautiful wife, relatives and friend and the British government for your tragic loss. We are a friendly people and warm people and we invite you to visit us and spend time with the young in the ghettos as they await your return. May you rest in perfect peace and thanks for visiting our beautiful shores and our people.