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Letter: Hon Sen Ray Roberts and Hon Sen Nazim Burke: Grenada's Persons of the Year
Published on January 3, 2014 Email To Friend    Print Version

Dear Sir:

Time magazine in selecting Pope Francis Vicar of Rome as their Person of the Year 2013 wrote:

“He took the name of a humble saint and then called for a church of healing. The first non-European pope in 1,200 years is poised to transform a place that measures change by the century.”

As Cardinal and Archbishop of Buenos Aires, a metropolis of some 13.5 million souls, Jorge Mario Bergoglio made room in his schedule every year for a pastoral visit to this place of squalor and sorrow. He would walk to the subway station nearest to the Metropolitan Cathedral, whose pillars and dome fit easily into the center of Argentine power. Travelling alone, he would transfer onto a graffiti -blasted tram to Mariano Acosta, reaching where the subways do not go. He finished the journey on foot, moving heavily in his bulky black orthopedic shoes along Pasaje C. On other days, there were other journeys to barrios throughout the city -- so many in need of so much, but none to poor or too filthy for a visit from this itinerant prince of the church. Reza por mi, he asked almost every one he met. Pray for me.

When on March 13, Bergoglio inherited the throne of St Peter -- keeper of the keys to the kingdom of heaven -- he made the same request of the world. Pray for me.

The papacy is mysterious and magical it turns a septuagenarian into a superstar while revealing almost nothing about the man himself. And it raises hopes in every corner of the world -- hopes that can never be fulfilled, for they are irreconcilable. The elderly traditionalist who pines for the old Latin Mass and the devout young woman who wishes she could be a priest both have hopes. The ambitious monsignor in the Vatican Curia and the evangelizing deacon in the remote Filipino village both have hopes. No pope can make them all happy at once. Pope Francis, though, has called for positive change within the Catholic Church. He is indeed a soldier for Christ. And deserves to be Time’s Person of the Year.

Other individuals shortlisted by Time magazine as person of the year include Edward Snowden, the NSA whistle blower; Edith Windsor, a gay rights activist; Bashar Al Assad, the embattled President of Syria; and the firebrand Republican Senator Ted Cruz.

After careful deliberations and analysis of the political, economic and social situation in Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique, I have come to the conclusion that Sen Hon Ray Roberts and Sen Hon Nazim Burke are Grenada's persons of the year for 2013.

These senators were chosen for different reasons. These reasons will be outlined in detail. Other persons that were short listed included Sen Hon Franca Alexis Bernadine, Sir Roystan Hopkin and Dr The Hon Keith Mitchell. Making the selection for Grenada's person of the year wasn't very complicated since Sen Ray Roberts and Nazim Burke emerged clear favourites.

Senator Ray Roberts

He rose from the bowels of the poor, working his way to the nation's parliament having fought a good fight in the trade union movement.

He has always been on the side of the working class in his words and his deeds. Having replaced former Senator Chester Humphrey as the labour senator in the senate he has emerged as a rising political star and a beacon of hope for the workers of Grenada. He is fearless, full of energy and vigour. He shoots from the hip, not being afraid the tackle the hard issues. Senator Raymond Roberts is Grenada’s person of the year 2013.

A veteran journalist and broadcaster, Sen Ray Roberts, a former executive member of MWAG, is a strong advocate of freedom of the press, speech and fundamental human rights. He is a man of principle, integrity and credibility. Sen Roberts has criticised his fellow media practitioners, including the infamous Hamlet Mark, whenever they attempted to distort information by spreading falsehood and propaganda for their own selfish aspirations. He is on record of publicly challenging former president of MWAG Rawle Titus and Hamlet Mark to a public forum as it relates to him using MWAG for his personal benefit.

Both men refused to accept his offer.

As the director of the Government Information Service (GIS), Sen Ray Roberts attempted to provide the public with fair, honest and balanced information. Under his directorship the opposition was afforded airtime on GIS to advance their policies. Today the same people are making every effort to censor and manipulate the media, including GIS.

An avid table tennis player, Sen Raymond Roberts is an enthusiastic sport personality, He continues to work with the young and the development of sports. Any effort to diminish his contribution to youth development and sport is an exercise in futility. His record is as clear as the waters of the Grand Anse Beach.

While his contribution to his country over the years has been as a trade unionist, sports personality, journalist and broadcaster, his most important and outstanding contribution is as the senator representing the voice of labour in the senate. Following the elections of February 19, he was asked to become the labour representative in the senate. This decision to accept this role wasn't easy. Senator Ray Roberts and Chester Humphrey, who represented labour in the senate for 23 years, are very good friends. They worked together in the trade union movement for decades. Having lost trust and confidence in Chester Humphrey, the delegates of the Trade Union Council (TUC) rallied around Ray Roberts. As a true leader of the working class Sen Ray Roberts gracefully and humbly took up the challenge to represent the interest of the workers in the senate. That is what real leaders do. They don't shy away from their responsibilities. Having accepted the challenge, Sen Ray Roberts has not disappointed his constituents, the workers of the country.

If there on only one bright spot or good coming out of the February 19 general elections, it is the appointment of Ray Roberts as labour senator. He is a beacon of hope and a breath of fresh air. One wonders what type of representation that his predecessor would have been given his close associations with the ruling elite. Senator Roberts is a voice of change. He has emerged as the best debater in the senate among the crop of new senators. He is at a different level to Senators Garraway, Stiell, Emmons and Scott and also the more established senators such as Hood. His analysis of the present political economic and social situation is incredible. His contributions on the various bills including the Electronics Crime Bills and Citizens by Investment Bills deserves commendation from all Grenadians.

Senator Roberts is quoted as saying “We in the Grenada Trades Union Council value principles and therefore are strongly opposed to CBI, which is basically prostituting our beloved passport, enriching a selected few and, with one bad deal in the CBI, will create hardships for every Grenadian – and in particular, the poor people; the people from Telescope, Moyah St Andrew, Happy Hill, River Road who today have to make an application, purchase a plane ticket to travel to Trinidad and line up in a Canada Embassy Office for an interview, and pray and hope that they get a visa. That was the reward for Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique with the compliments of the previous citizenship program instituted by distinguished Prime Minister, Dr.

No one can deny, not even his fellow partisan senators, that Senator Roberts has elevated the debate and discourse in the Grenadian senate.

Senator Ray Roberts should use this opportunity and foundation to elevate himself to another level. He needs to represent the people in the lower house of parliament as a MP. He will certainly be a much better representative than many of the MPs who are just lame ducks in the lower house. Kudos to Senator Ray Roberts, Grenada's person of the year 2013.

Senator Nazim V Burke

Deputy political leader of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), former minister of finance in the previous NDC administration and current opposition senator in the upper house, Hon Nazim V Burke is a joint recipient of Grenada's person of the year 2013. An economist, lawyer and politician by profession, Hon Nazim Burke managed Grenada's economy in a very deliberate and conservative way, given the serious economic challenges that were confronting the country. At the heights of the worst global economic recession after the great depression, Senator Burke remained focus and steadfast in managing the economic and financial situation of the country.

Inheriting a national debt of well over 1.5 billion dollars racked up by the New National Party (NNP) of Dr Mitchell, he was faced with a situation of either servicing this huge national debt or engage in uncontrolled spending for political reasons. He was accused and criticised by his opponents and even some of his fellow minister of government, many of who defected from their own party and government.

In the midst of all these accusations and criticisms, Hon Burke remained loyal to his party, government and, most importantly, his prime minister.

The opposition NNP, in collusion with the betrayers of the NDC, launched a systematic attack on Hon Burke. He lost his parliamentary seat yet he remains committed to the people of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique. Ten months after losing the election, former minister of finance Hon Burke has been vindicated. All the economic and financial measures he was accused of by his political enemies are now right in their faces.

Increased taxation, late payments of public workers’ salaries, structural adjustment program under the auspices of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), fleecing of the National Insurance Scheme, victimisation of workers, increase in public workers wage bill, 30% of national budget allocation for debt servicing, cut back in public expenditure, a bankrupt country are now the hallmark of the Dr Mitchell-led NNP administration. This seems unbelievable but it’s the reality that the people of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique are faced with. It no longer jobs! jobs! but instead all that we are hearing is sacrifices and more taxes. Sen the Hon Nazim V Burke Grenada's person of the year 2013.

Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell would have easily emerged as Grenada person of the year 2013 if he had remained committed to the speech he made following his victory at the polls on February 19. Having received an overwhelming mandate from the majority of electorate for the second time, he was well positioned to create a legacy for himself. A legacy where, as he claimed, he will do everything in his power to unite the people. He has however in less than 10 short months and with total control of all state institutions made a complete revolution on his pledge to the people of Grenada. Even strong supporters of his party agreed with the selection of Senators Ray Roberts and Nazim Burke. This is just a manifestation of how things have declined so quickly under the leadership of Dr Mitchell. He has therefore disqualified himself by virtue of his own actions.

Finally, I would like to congratulate the president of the Republic of Haiti Michel Martelly for being the most popular leader in the Western Hemisphere. This is very encouraging news for the people of Haiti who are struggling to make ends meet. They now have a leader who is genuinely concerned about nation building. Also like to congratulate the Prime Minister of Antigua Hon Baldwin Spencer for being nominated as the Caribbean Person of the Year 2013 for his leadership. There is still hope in the region. Hope that one day there will be leaders who look after the interest of the people instead of their egos. Happy New Year to all and may 2014 bring all of us prosperity and happiness.

Leslie Stewart
Reads: 7608

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Agree. Of all the NDC people in the Senate, Mr Roberts has done the best job. I'd vote for him as the NDC leader at the February 2nd party convention. Hope you do too, Leslie.


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