|St Vincent PM meets with Diaspora in New York|
|Published on September 30, 2013||
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By Lavern McDonald
Caribbean News Now contributor
BROOKLYN, New York -- Hundreds of New York Vincentians – a standing room only crowd -- spent a warm fall evening on Saturday with St Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves in a conversation during which he shared a smorgasbord of domestic and foreign policy initiatives.
Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves
With the thermostat hovering near 75 on this late Saturday in September, most New Yorkers seemed determined to eke out a last bit of summer leisure. However, Vincentians -- many in summer dresses, sandals and summer suits – sat and stood for hours, murmuring approval, whispering questions and voicing skepticism from time to time, as the prime minister drew them a window through which to view the current state of affairs in St Vincent.
In his characteristic folksy style, “Comrade” Gonsalves – in his coat and tie in the warm auditorium – talked about his cabinet’s program of educating the youth of St Vincent.
Proudly, he shared that he and his colleagues had equipped schoolchildren with 15,000 laptops. He made the point that not even the NYC school system had undertaken a similar distribution of computer resources.
He jokingly offered a story about touring with a visiting friend who was curious about the pockets of youth gathered under trees and who were playing with tools that he couldn’t identify. On closer inspection, Gonsalves’ guest discovered that the youth were on their government-issued laptops and were exploiting a local internet hotspot.
The prime minister indicated that this was just one among many of the human capital development endeavours in which his government is engaged.
Another significant undertaking is the construction of the Argyle International Airport. According to Gonsalves, the airport is key to the island’s development, as it will allow ease of travel for Vincentians, other Caribbean people, and others who want to take advantage of and/or add to the island’s resources. As a reminder of one of the island’s largest capital undertakings, four-colour vinyl banners mounted to the walls of the auditorium announced local fundraisers for the airport construction project.
Gonsalves noted that, just as the builders of the ancient city of Tyre imported experts in the construction of that citadel, he too borrowed some of the best technocrats in the region: Cubans.
While Cuba and the United States still do not have free-flowing exchanges, in a signal to the post-Cold War re-articulation of alliances, small nation-states like St Vincent and the Grenadines are establishing their own relationships with the northern Caribbean beacon. To demonstrate the shifting tide in the region, it is worthwhile to note when similar efforts at cooperation would have earned undue attention.
Caribbean people cannot forget the Grenada example. This year, Grenadians mark the thirtieth anniversary of the US invasion named Operation Urgent Fury. While the internal strife within the then government of the revolutionary New Jewel Movement and its implications for the well-being of Americans on the island was advanced as the precipitating factor for the invasion, it is common speculation that Grenada drew the attention of the US, which was aggressively invested in shoring up its Caribbean backyard against Cold War incursions.
Grenada’s alliance with Cuba -- the chief manifestation of this being the construction of an international airport -- is commonly accepted in the Caribbean region as a principal factor in the events of October 1983.
One of the most riveting interventions of the evening involved Gonsalves’ discussion of his country’s emerging energy plans. He outlined that his goal is for St Vincent to invest in the development of geo-thermal, hydro, solar and wind power. Beyond developing energy for local consumption, Gonsalves’ plans are for St Vincent to become an energy-exporting country in the near term. He noted that technical assistance from the Clinton Global Initiative was essential in advancing the preparatory work around this project.
The prime minister also shared highlights of his country’s recent leadership of the regional effort with regard to reparations.
Sir Hilary Beckles, pro-vice chancellor of the University of the West Indies, was elected by the September conference of reparations activists and regional government leaders to serve as chair of the Caribbean Reparations Commission. Beckles’ book, Britain’s Black Debt: Reparations for Caribbean Slavery and Native Genocide, was published in April of this year by the UWI Press.
Gonsalves offered the common thesis of the Commission, which is that much of the wealth enjoyed by North Atlantic countries in the modern era stems from the human exploitation that was at the centre of the African slave trade. He also noted the genocide committed against indigenous people and the decimation of their nations.
On Friday, Gonsalves had delivered a report on this reparations effort at the 60th session of the United Nations General Assembly. Gonsalves informed the UN gathering that 14 Caribbean nations are challenging the governments of the United Kingdom, France and the Netherlands for reparations to address the lingering legacy of the Atlantic slave trade.
Vincentians presented a fair share of questions to the prime minister. One man, who declared himself an independent and made a point of only sharing his surname, challenged the prime minister that detractors on island and off were calling him a dictator. The man suggested that word on the street suggested that any sitting elected official and government bureaucrat who expressed difference with the prime minister ran the risk of being sacked.
Gonsalves countered with the specific example of a current controversy wherein he was accused by an individual of having taken members of his family on a Roman holiday. He noted also that he and members of his family had been accused of buying coveted Vincentian properties at prices significantly lower than market value. Gonsalves said that while he as an elected official is a fair target, his family was off-limits and he chose to bring suit in the courts.
He also noted that St Vincent has regular and free elections and he doubted that Vincentians would act against their best self-interest by returning a dictator to office. Gonsalves has been in office since his party, the Unity Labour Party, won a majority in the 2001 elections. Since then, there have been two national elections, in 2005 and 2010.
Cyril Thomas, whose friends teasingly called him “Cowboy” in recognition of his elaborate hat, identified himself as someone who travels widely and has a cosmopolitan world view. He shared, “I find everything he says enlightening and factual. Gonsalves has a wide vision for the country. I was most impressed with his plans for the education revolution.”
Thomas, who lives in Flatbush, leaned toward this reporter and added emphatically, “My Mom had to scrub floors on her knees to find money so I could go to high school. Now everyone in St Vincent can get an education.”
Lavern McDonald grew up in the Dry Harbour Mountains of St Ann, Jamaica. She studied sociology at the Graduate Faculty of the New School and is associate director of the Upper Division of New York’s Calhoun School. She is an occasional contributor to Caribbean and Diaspora presses. She lives in the historically-black neighborhood of Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. If you meet her, she will laughingly tell you she was born in the UK, raised in JA, and now sells her labour in the USA. Share your comments with her at firstname.lastname@example.org
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I was going to come here and say many of the Diaspora in NY are as stupid as the every-day Vincentians at home. But that would be unfair because our people in general are not stupid. Wherever you put them in the world they succeed, they have a great record of personal success, doctors, surgeons, and all sorts of professions and trades. You canâ€™t blame the people at home because of the failure of the regime to provide an environment which creates jobs.
You cannot blame the children because the regimes so call education revolution is turning out children where up to a third of them cannot read or write.
Our people are generally nice people, unfortunately they tend to believe people who are glib lipped and full of crap.
It was a pushover for Gonsalves to go to the town-hall meeting and fill some of his believers and half believers with crap. Unfortunately he can appear very believable, even I was taken in by him in the past. But I understand that there were also many who did not believe or trust his words.
His charisma has not created jobs, it has not created wealth for the ordinary family, and people are many times worse off financially under the present regime, which is Marxist led, than at any time in our past history.
We need to keep telling the people the truth and I am looking forward to reading exactly what Gonsalves said, word for word, then dissecting it and writing about it.
Is anyone going to publish the events questions, answers and general statements by â€˜Wun-Fat-Prattâ€˜?
Self appointed keeper of the whistle
GONSALVES: Absolutely NO GUTS for CANADA?
Dem fellas up Toronto way and in this great SVG-friendly and -sponsoring nation called CANADA 'bin looking out for the longest while for a town-hall meeting, or ANY KIND AH REAL MEETING at all, wid the globe-trekking NATIONAL BIRD svg PM --- but all to NO AVAIL.
'Is a long, long time, 'Scientific Socialist' GUN-SLAVES, we 'ent see yuh, UP HERE IN THE COLD, COLD.
Tell us nah? WHEN yuh 'tink yuh go mek it???
Doan worry at all, at all 'bout dem Canadian Human Rigghts lawyers who the guys talking so much about. Remember, you are teflon Gonsalves when dealing with them Courts, Judges, Lawyers, Human Rights activists, Police, and legal cases in SVG.
WHO can "touch" yuh?
Ah even hear that JUNIOR, daddy's boy, gloatingly chant down one ah The BIG APPLE's "Bloomburgh cop".
When yuh big, yuh LARGE, biggest GUT and all. "I have MORE GUTS THAN ALL AH DEM IN THE NDP."
Well, it depends on WHAT KIND AH GUTS yuh tarking 'bout.
And, Peter would say, it is also a function of WHAT IS REALLY CONTAINED IN THAT MASSIVE GUT dat hanging down infront yuh knees dey.
All the guts yuh boasting and saying that yuh have, HOW ON EARTH COULD YOU HAVE MISSED CANADA on YET ANOTHER NORTH AMERICAN TRIP this year AGAIN?
After all, d guys dem UP HERE are genuine VINCY, too.
Yuh nah 'tink that you would SAVE A LOT A VINCY TAX-PAYERS' MONEY if you MEK IT ONE SINGLE TRIP all in one BY JUST COMING A LIL' BIT MORE ah hour more flying like a communistic kite, or DRIVE, and come see Vincy above the friendliest international border in the world?
After all, is right here in Canada that all Vincy around the world does meet come Summers. Is YEARS NOW we eh sight yuh up, UP HERE.
No matter you massively underserved Vincy in NYC. Ah mean to say, was that intended to be a "State of the State" 'since last UN visit'?
Is that the most substantial 'message' yuh coulda give Vinci? Dem marbles getting scarcer, or what?
Nah since that young black West Indian female journalist exposed yuh ignorance 'bout the functions of a business, down there in GRENADA?
As yuh lang-time observer, I feel convinced that things 'bin getting from bad to worse wid you, for a long while now. No pseudo-monarchical gambit going salvage any of your gargantuan political mess - - - just like your belated futile efforts with the BANG BELLY BABY yuh pushing infront yuh dey.
Labourites bawling that yuh dun KILL Labour Party dead, dead, dead. Dey cry that there is basically NO COME-BACK ever in the State of SVG for their once-great political party.
Dem Youlimo boys nevertheless PUSHING OUT DEY WELL-FED CHESTS.
Stop yuh communistic modus operandi of attempting to revise history. The GRENADA experience involved the RUSSIAN COMMUNISTS ['soviet union'] attempting through their vassal State Cuba to set up a GEO-POLITICAL AND MILITARY RE-FUELING POINT in the nuclear-free, peaceful, Caribbean FOR THEIR MILITARY ADVENTURES IN THE WEST, including future attacks against the US and allies AND A STAGING AREA FOR TAKING OVER THE COMMONWEALTH CARIBBEAN.
IT was a COMMUNIST PROJECT and a COMMUNIST DISASTER that the western free world could not ever tolerate.
STEVE, you are quite right about the Grenada debacle. Then Gonsalves notifies us he is here to finish the work of Maurice Bishop.
Allan Standing-Tall Palmer:
And he said listen ye, all Judah and you inhabitants of Jerusalem and King Jehoshaphat; this said the Lord to you. Be not afraid nor dismayed because of the great multitude for the battle is not yours but Godâ€™s.
The above quote was take from 2 chronicles 20:15, is the words of the all powerful God: Yahweh reassuring his faithful people not to be afraid of the danger they faced; even if they cannot see the way out or away from the danger; for Yahweh is their God, the same God who delivered them out of the hand of the Egyptian and there is noting that he canâ€™t and wonâ€™t do for his faithful children of which I am one.
Ever since I learn of the town hall meeting which was hosted by the Friends of Crown Heights and featured Ralph Gonsalves the Prime minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, I not only planned to attend, I also advertised the meeting on my face book page at the request of a friend. Although I know the mentality of P.M. Gonsalves and his supporters here in Brooklyn New York, I though as a citizen (though estranged) of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, I should attend. I can say with the utmost surety that Ralph E. Gonsalvesâ€™ supporters here in NYC constitutes a large part of the migrated criminal community with whom he is very close. I also knew Because of my hard hitting public critique of Gonsalves actions, management ability etc., my presence at any such meeting would have generated an unfriendly even hostile attitude and behavior to me from those fanatics that think he is the catâ€™s meow. It was because of this anticipated response that I never attended a town hall meeting where Prime Minister Gonsalves was the primary guest even when I was prompted to do so.
Although I planned for a months to attend the town hall meeting on Saturday 28th September 2013, fortunately for me, I did not get around to it. However, on Sunday 29th September I learn that Prime Minister Gonsalves and his security detail enhanced the security of the meeting; as a result, uniformed New York Police Department officer was on sight and they patrolled within and without the hall. I was devastated to learn the reason for this increase in security. I was reliable informed that the enhanced security was as a result, Gonsalves, received information that I-mad (a Vincentian calypso artist) and I (Allan H. Palmer) planned to attend the meeting with the goal to mash up the town hall meeting. Never mind that I know, PM Gonsalves and every sovereign head at the UN head of Government meeting are guess of the United States Federal Government and it is common practice for a head of Government who visits the USA on official business is outfitted with a security detail that constituted trained Federal Bureau of Intelligence (FBI) agents.
How absurdly ridiculous the thought that I, a dignified man of my status, will conspire with others to mash up a meeting that features the Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. How such selfish action would have benefited me and what positive impact would such dishonorable actions would have brought to St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
Just out of curiosity, what would have happened if I attend the meeting last Saturday night? For one thing, the members of the NYPD could not have arrested me because I did not commit an offence and there was no truthful evidence that I intended to so do. If they asked me to leave I would have assured my brothers in blue that I have no ill feeling or intent towards the Prime Minister Gonsalves and as a citizen of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, I cannot be deprived of the opportunity to listen to the head of government of my country speak and to asked him a few questions as most would have.
Was this another fail attempt by Ralph E. Adolph Gonsalves to have me arrested, I wonder what was the nature of the report that was made to the NYPD to generate such a response from the institution in blue that is so hated by Ralph Gonsalves. I will not put it pass Gonsalves and his cronies to lie to the NYPD using me as their scape goat to get the NYPD officers on duty at the town hall meeting. I must make it my business to make some inquiries and get to the bottom of this matter as it related to the police.
Ever since Ralph Gonsalves became prime minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, he have been doing all in his power to shut me up and have used many means to do so; unfortunately for him, to date nothing worked. First he tried superior intimidation, when he use then inspector 313 Cornelius Charles to turn on the stress machine. Day after day I was call into the then inspector Charlesâ€™ office for a cussing out. And every day I listen to Cornelius Charles barrage of words with a smile that only seemed to anger him. The daily tirade of words ended after the assigned inspector had a mile heart attack the cause which he attributed to me.
Then he Use corporal Scratchy John to fabricate charges against me and took me before the local (St. Vincent and the Grenadines) magistrate court as a defendant. I also beat that one and embarrassed the management of the police force when I stood in the defendantâ€™s box, took the defendantâ€™s oat fully attired in the uniform of the Royal St. Vincent Police Force. Magistrate Sherman called the police prosecutor into her office and told him, I have seen habitual criminal come into this court with all type of serious offences for which the police could have gotten conviction and you guys discontinue the case, you want to tell me that the police are going to prosecute this officer for such a trivial matter. Even after this rebuke the police did not drop the fabricated charges but I walk away from this matter with a victory that no one could ever take away.
Then there were my Bermuda troubles; In Bermuda I was an excellent police officer with an impeccable track record and without warning I fell from grace and became public enemy number one, I was suspended, had my phones tapped, my emails read, I also had a special team that provided twenty (24) hours surveillance that monitored my every move, a FedEx package that was addressed to me that bear my passport intercepted by the police and my pass port ceased, I was hauled before an internal tribunal to answer 21 internal charges etc. when I resign from the Bermuda Police Service after giving the police authorities two months notice; they still cause it to be published in the Bermuda news and a range of other Caribbean news papers that I was fired. Even after I give the royal Gazette of Bermuda an interview informing them of my resignation two months prior the due date.
I donâ€™t have to tell you in 2008 they sent a Jamaican hit man: Andrew Kirkpatrick Mitchell, to Dominica to murder me on that beautiful island; I donâ€™t have to reiterate it here, but everyone knows my troubles since I came to the USA; which range from broken windshield, slash tiers, and other unwarranted damage to my vehicle, barriers that was place to prevent my growth; all of which Yahweh give me the power to conqueror in Jesusâ€™ name.
PM Gonsalves, you have done all in your power to harm me, yet all you manage to accomplish is a controllable level of inconvenience, inconveniences that have help me to develop a greater level of coping and other skills; you have even use your Obeah against me all of which have fail. My question to you is what is your next move, more obeahs?
One day whilst driving in my car listening to a parliamentary debate, I heard Gonsalves state "if I do Obeah, I only do Obeah for the Lord". Yes he really said that in Parliament, his minions will tell you that is untrue, I ensure you its the truth.
At the time I wrote, you cannot worship or use Obeah for God, nor Lord Jesus, so whom was he referring to. Now I am sure he could call on Obeah in the name of Satan the Lord of Darkness, was that who he was referring to?
As a real Christian and proud to be such, I was aborred by his utterance "if I do Obeah, I only do Obeah for the Lord".
I waited for days, months, and now years for him to apologise for making that statement, it never came. Yet all the Christian ministers in SVG still queue up at his office to negotiate tax and import duty breaks. Our religious leaders are hypocrites' and by supporting a man who stated "if I do Obeah, I only do Obeah for the Lord", they are every bit as bad as him, because if he supports Obeah and they support him, they are also supporters of Obeah, and knowingly so.
Concise Oxford English Dictionary
obeah (also obi )
n noun a kind of sorcery practised especially in the Caribbean.
Akan, from bayi 'sorcery'.
Obeah (sometimes spelled Obi, Obea or Obia) is a term used in the West Indies to refer to folk magic, sorcery, and religious practices derived from West African, and specifically Igbo origin. Obeah is similar to other African derived religions including Palo, Voodoo, Santeria, rootwork, and most of all hoodoo. Obeah is practiced in Suriname, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Dominica, Guyana, Barbados, Grenada, Belize, The Bahamas and other Caribbean countries.
Obeah is associated with both benign and malignant magic, charms, luck, and with mysticism in general. In some Caribbean nations, Obeah refers to folk religions of the African Diaspora. In some cases, aspects of these folk religions have survived through syncretism with Christian symbolism and practice introduced by European colonials and slave owners. Casual observation may conclude that Christian symbolism is incorporated into Obeah worship, but in fact may represent clandestine worship and religious protest.