By Matthew Thomas
Former US Ambassador to Barbados, Mary Orisman said: “Gonsalves remains a master of contradictions.” (Wikileaks, 01/02/2008)
“Ralph Gonsalves of St Vincent United People’s Movement was, Richard Jacobs told the Soviets, “a clear, consistent and reliable Marxist-Leninist who can be helped at all levels without fear of compromise.” (Grenada The Untold Story by Gregory Sandford and Richard Vigilante)
Ralph Gonsalves during his first term of office 2001-2005, repeatedly said: “I Ralph Gonsalves remain to continue the work of Maurice Bishop.”
St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) election as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council was received as a resounding and historic victory both at home and abroad. Even the parliamentary opposition, New Democratic Party ( NDP ) in a press release stated thus: “The NDP along with the government and people of SVG, takes great pride in this achievement.”
Examine the horns
“Foreign Affairs Minister Sir Louis Straker said that, that was one of the matters raised with Ambassador Mary Kramer during her farewell visit two weeks ago. ‘I told her if she wanted us to consider supporting Nicaragua instead of Venezuela that the US had to be willing to spend the same amount of money that Venezuela is spending on the International airport and she said that they couldn’t do that. America did put pressure on us and others to vote for Nicaragua but it would have been bad foreign policy on our part considering the relationship we have with Venezuela.’” (SEARCHLIGHT 03/11/2006)
On every occasion at the Organisation of American States (OAS) whenever there is a vote on a resolution pertaining to the Venezuelan crisis, SVG votes against the resolution and votes in favour of Venezuela. Even in a resolution brought by the OAS against Nicaragua recently for the release of jailed protesters, SVG and Suriname were the only two to vote in favour of Nicaragua.
The TRADE WINDS, is a thirty five year old military organization of nineteen countries: the US, Canada, France, the Netherlands, Mexico, Columbia, Dominican Republic, Bermuda and the eleven CARICOM member states minus The Bahamas. It is reported that among their objectives are: (1) to build friendship and trust in partnership and solidarity and (2) test the National Emergency Response Mechanism.
The TRADE WINDS were in SVG conducting phase 2 of the exercise TRADE WINDS from Friday June 14, 2019 to Friday June 21, 2019.
Prime minister Ralph Gonsalves is on a 14 day state visit to the Seychelles: It is rather strange that Gonsalves who never misses an opportunity to be in the public eye, would miss an occasion like this to meet and greet a representative gathering of such an august body on the heels of SVG’s election to the UN Security Council. A review of Gonsalves activities from Sunday June 9 2019 – to Wednesday June 13, 2019, reveals:
(1) Gonsalves returned to SVG from the United States on Sunday June 9, to a hosted reception at the Argyle International Airport (AIA)
(2) Monday June 10, a public holiday (Whit Monday), he delivered the feature address at A Fisherman’s day Rally and also presented the Fisher Man of the Year Award.
(3) Tuesday June 11, declared a public holiday in honour of SVG’s historic membership to the UN Security Council. He was engaged in motorcades and rallies through the country.
(4) Wednesday June 12, he hosted the Ghanaian President on a one-day State visit.
(5) Thursday June 13, Gonsalves left the State for a 14-day State Visit to the Seychelles.
Gonsalves is minister of national security, disaster preparedness, national emergencies and the like. Up to the time of writing this article, I’ve not seen or heard of any public official other than the commissioner of police meeting and greeting the members of TRADE WINDS.
What is the reason for this utter contempt? Is it that one has to assume that the TRADE WINDS coming here at this time is not in sync with the wishes of president Maduro?
The TRADE WINDS agenda most likely would have been planned well over a year ago. One would recall that at the 36th CARICOM heads of government meeting in Barbados in July 2015 where the main agenda item was the discussion of the impasse between the Venezuela and Guyana-Border dispute, SVG was represented at the low level of its CARICOM Ambassador, Elsworth John, while Gonsalves and his wife Eloise were guests of Nicholas Maduro in Venezuela.
Gonsalves is on a mission
His style of governance is akin to that of Maurice Bishop. People’s properties are compulsorily acquired without compensation, a classic case being the acquisition of Marcus Defreitas’ property since 2003 even after the Supreme court has ruled in Defreitas’ favour.
Similar cases exist with persons whose properties were forcefully acquired for the construction of the AIA. It has reached the unprecedented level where teachers and public servants have to go to the Supreme Court to fight cases of unfair dismissal and lack of promotion. Dissidents of the ruling Unity Labour Party (ULP) party are been warned that they will turn “pillar of salt” if they turn back. Classical to this warning is the mowing down by a motor car of former staunch supporter Edgar Cruickshank while attending an NDP rally leading up to the 2015 general elections. The death of then press secretary Glen Jackson in 2006 still remains a mystery.
General elections are conducted in the style and fashion of Forbes Burnham of Guyana and Hugo Chavez and Maduro of Venezuela. The giving away of tons of government materials at election times is by far unsurpassed. The lone supplier of all these millions of dollars worth of material is the firm of Thank Weld of Jamaica. In the 2010 general elections, the materials were shared under the pretext of disaster relief for hurricane Thomas, while for the 2015 elections they were given under the cliché “lives to live”.
Beachfront lands and beaches are being taken away and sold to rich white foreigners in the name of hotel development depriving local black residents who have acquiesced to the fact that their only hope is to become bartenders and or waiter/waitress; or resort to a life of crime, since they can never aspire to partake in the luxury lives on these modern-day plantations.
Those for whom Gonsalves appears to be fronting keep their citizens in a life of subjugation. We are all familiar with life in Venezuela. Reuters on 17/01/2019 wrote: “Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, said some 11 000 Cuban doctors were being used as ‘slave labour’ and demanded that the Cuban Government which took 75% of their salaries allow them to be paid in full and have their families joined them. Cuba refused and pulled the doctors, 2 000 of whom were to go to Venezuela.”
After almost fifteen years of construction, on opening the Diagnostic Centre, Gonsalves was proud to announce that among the first set of professional staff to be appointed were twenty three Cubans.
Yet Gonsalves is first among the few who go globe trotting blaming everything on Climate Change, genocide and slavery, for their ever continuing inefficiency, seeking grants and reparation; wanting to be members of UN Security Council seeking peace and justice, the fight against human trafficking, abuse against women and children, terrorism and climate change. But to whose advantage?
Examine the horns.