By Caribbean News Now contributor
CASTRIES, St Lucia -- The opposition United Workers Party (UWP) in Saint Lucia has challenged the country’s recent decision to join ALBA (Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America). Saint Lucia became a full member during the 12th ALBA presidential summit, which took place in Ecuador on July 30, 2013.
The newly elected UWP leader, Allen Chastanet, referred to “potential fall-out” of ALBA membership, not just with respect to the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), but also the UK and the US.
Chastanet expressed concern as to the proposed use of the SUCRE as the trading currency of ALBA countries, and the implications for the Eastern Caribbean Monetary Union (ECMU).
“In other words, does St Lucia plan to leave the ECMU and abandon the Eastern Caribbean dollar? Does St Lucia’s accession to ALBA now put us in conflict with the pro-Argentina position on the Falklands Islands and could have serious repercussions for our foreign policy standing with the United Kingdom. Similarly, the clear anti-USAID stance of ALBA may undermine our longstanding relationships with the USA,” he said.
Chastanet said such decisions can have widespread implications for the nation as a whole and ought to be part of a national debate.
“These are major concerns which affect our people and they must be aware of the implications, and be given the opportunity to express their opinions on. Matters of foreign policy should not be left exclusively to the dictates of a short-sighted government,” he said.
The Saint Lucia government has drawn parallels between ALBA and the Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO) and the UN Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), which Chastanet described as “mischievous”.
“Further, the articulation of policy intent within a Throne Speech does NOT mean that the government has the ‘go ahead’ to take Saint Lucia to the ‘gates of hell’ before consulting with the people and parliament. The fact is, most Saint Lucians do not know or understand what ALBA is or represents. This approach is what in our folklore is referred to as ‘Jab an Sak’ (the Devil hidden in a sac),” Chastanet said.
Chastanet said that the UWP’s apprehensions regarding ALBA may already be reflected in recent events – a reference to apparent US reprisals involving a decision to prohibit officers of the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force from participating in law enforcement training programmes arranged or financed by the US.