Dominica is a very beautiful country. It shares many similarities with my homeland, St Vincent, plus that little extra that makes it so unique; lush mountain forests, dramatic coastline, photographic landscapes, fertile soil and sea, an abundance of rivers and most of all, lovely people and a nice Creole flair to its culture. It saddens me though, to follow the developments which seem to be transforming this natural paradise to a hell hole of destruction at the hands of a few irresponsible, greedy and disgusting politicians. But why should anyone be surprised? The passionate writings of Gabriel Christian, Debbie Douglas and others are very insightful. In fact, it took me a while to remember that I had met Mr Christian very briefly at La Robe Creole a few years ago, not long after he had returned to Dominica and had just or was about to publish ‘In Search Of Eden’, a book he had co-authored.
The proprietor of that same La Robe Creole also has connections with St Vincent and the Grenadines and lived in Indian Bay at one point, not far from my family home. Of course, I don’t expect that Erica will remember me because when she was a beauty queen, I was a little tomboy running around with all the other neighbourhood boys, hunting crabs, fishing, and feasting on all the neighbourhood fruit trees as if they belonged to us. Enjoying the life that one can imagine the Kalinago children enjoyed before the early Europeans arrived.
Sister Patricia Douglas fondly referred to as Sister Pat, the aunt of Debbie Douglas, was no stranger to me either. Just a few months before she died, I had arranged a short holiday for her at Young Island Resort so that she could recuperate from the rigours of work and according to her, to facilitate uninterrupted reflection and to converse with her God. Sr. Pat made an important contribution to education in St Vincent and the Grenadines and pioneered an effort to make it possible for teenage mothers to have access to high school education. She left a void in her passing that can never be filled.
“Tell me who your friends are, and I will tell you who you are …..” (‘The rot within’ by Gabriel Christian, Caribbean Net News, December 8, 2009)
A few years ago when I visited with Charles Williams, the former Carib Chief and his lovely family in Dominica, I had forewarned him that developments following the political style we were seeing unfold in SVG, were likely to unfold in Dominica as well. Isn’t that so, Charlo?
The things that stand out most in the writings of Dominica are descriptions of the socio-political environment, which bears stark similarities that of St Vincent and the Grenadines – same crap, different island! We note:
Law suits against persons who speak out in the media about the corruption in government, and abuse of power by the Prime Minister. So far in SVG, we have in excess of 13 law suits that have been filed.
The use of government resources to mobilise party politics, incidents that are too numerous to mention. The last incident involved securing a special warrant of EC$4 million to finance a Yes Vote campaign, in an attempt to high jack the country by instituting a ‘new’ Constitution that would further consolidate the Prime Minister and the ULP in power. Some say it was a modernised version of a political coup d’état to replace the one that unfolded in Grenada in the late 1970s and early 1980s, so as not to attract the attention of the international community.
Never seen before, over the top spending on political elections, including the chartering of planes to transport persons in the diaspora, to vote on Election Day.
Doling out money in exchange for votes. On the morning of our Referendum, our Prime Minister was reportedly in his constituency at the crack of dawn, hugging up people, while party members were allegedly passing out large sums of money to supporters. He also gave every school child $200 to sway parents to vote Yes to the Constitution.
Oh yes! Another thing we have in common is that Christmas election date to catch you unawares. We had ours on December 7, 2005 because our Prime Minister has a fixation with the number 7. He claims it is his lucky number and all his Prime Ministerial vehicles carry the number 7. There is G7, G77, G777 and G17, and there was even a G27 to transport family members. And after that last election, he told us that he was appointed by God. Any government that seeks to have an election during the holiday season can’t have any respect for the quality of life of its citizens.
And speaking of God, we must not forget how the comrade likes to use religious leaders and churches to mobilise his style of politics. He even had the top man in the Methodist Church, Rev. Victor Job, on the Yes vote bandwagon. Job is also the head of the Christian Council, a body that is assigned to election monitoring and to overseeing ethical standards are maintained in the election campaign process, by all the politicians.
In the meanwhile, all we keep hearing about is all this up-full mobilisation by the government. Revolution in everything but nothing is being managed in the country. Of course those high up in the ruling party seem to be enjoying a lifestyle of the rich and famous as never before seen in St Vincent and the Grenadines, and seemingly oblivious to the decay and suffering that is taking place around them. Just as what is being reported about in Dominica.
The health care services suck. The hospital and health clinics are operating without basic requirements. Just imagine that we are approaching the year 2010 and this country is yet to have a functioning dialysis machine and people are dying of kidney failure. The best run hospital in the Caribbean, where patients have to buy their own medication and bring their own food and bed linens. Ever wonder why the PM and his Cabinet all run off to Cuba for medical attention?
If it were not for the ‘informal’ economy we would not have an economy.
Drugs are wreaking havoc on the young people and prostitution seems to be the most viable form of employment for many these days, men, women and even school children.
Don’t let us talk about crime. From the time this Unity Labour Party took office in 2001, they started telling us that crime was down, and we watched it rise to unimaginable heights. What they did not tell us, is that our police force (excuse me) services are no longer dealing with certain crimes, and especially those propagated against women and children. Rape is now common law in SVG, and men and boys are not exempt from the vastly growing string of victims. Although, you will have ask the rapists why this is so. Apparently, they have their own cut on why they are able to continue to perpetrate this crime unabated. The murder rate has sky rocketed as well, with all the young men on every block shooting up one another.
But what is more peculiarly interesting about the similarities between these two countries are some of the players that are mentioned by the writers. Ahhh! Yes! Mr Hartley Henry for one is a prominent feature in St Vincent and the Grenadines, especially when elections or any major crisis is in the air. In fact, Hartley Henry just left St Vincent after the Vincentian people said a resounding No! in the Referendum to decide Constitutional changes. And the next time he arrives back in St Vincent, which will be the next general elections, Hartley Henry will be out of a job. Quite rightly so, because it seems he has run out of bright ideas, hence we are seeing the same style of dirty politics in Dominica as we have existing here in St Vincent and the Grenadines.
The next of the ‘players’ we share is the same Anthony Astaphan who became famous in St Vincent for his role as lead counsel representing Prime Minister Gonsalves in the rape case that was brought against Gonsalves by Michele Andrews. As a matter of fact Astaphan was so much a fixture on Vincentian soil that we were wondering if he had taken up residence in St Vincent and the Grenadines and permanent employment as the Prime Minister’s personal attorney at one point.
He was one of the biggest defenders of our Prime Minister, not only in the court room, but also on the radio stations; trying to threaten everybody who criticized Ralph’s leadership and bad behaviour. But people who went to school with Astaphan tell me that Astaphan was no bright boy in school. While he used to scrape through his exams, all he ever seemed to be good at is ‘talk’. Some Grenadians recently referred to the comrade as a windbag, so there you have it! If Vincentians really know how much of their taxpayers’ dollars went towards Astaphan for legal fees, they might not want to see him back in St Vincent ever again.
I will go as far as to say that the Eastern Caribbean States have reached an all time low in their moral standing. This it seems is being lead by the current set of political leaders, who are being led by Ralph Gonsalves. It is the same in all of the islands – Dominica, Antigua, St Kitts and Nevis and Trinidad and Tobago. The only country that seems to be holding its own is Barbados. We can learn a few things from those Bajans.
And the indiscretions are the same in all of the islands – financial, sexual – you name it, its happening. Ralph even had Stevenson King from St Lucia doing a London promotion of a shady hotel development that is taking place in St Vincent. Stevenson, please be forewarned. I have been told that you made a number of trips to St Vincent to participate in private meetings with these shady developers and now you have one of those white elephants being set up in your country. You need to shape up lad, lest you become known by the company you keep.
Ralph went as far as to tell Vincentians in the last General Election campaign that he is the King of the Caribbean and in the aftermath told us that he wants to introduce a new style of governance that he calls “Socialist Democracy” or what some of his acolytes call “Democratic Socialism”. What he is not telling us is that this new style of governance is really a modernized version of communism that is in reality an extreme form of capitalism, whereby the political elites are at the top of the food chain and the entire population will become their slaves or surfs, as it is sometimes termed.
The other part of the plan is the comrade’s ongoing courtship with leftwing and authoritarian governments in the Americas and the Middle East. As leader of the Caribbean’s “non aligned pack”, Ralph’s relationship with Venezuela, Cuba, Iran, Russia and Libya could have the undesirable consequence of the region becoming a stepping stone and potential base for radical groups’ intent on waging war against the United States. In other words, if Ralph should have his way, we might find that the entire region is turned into a war zone. Ralph is undoubtedly the Peter Pan of the “disaffected” Caribbean, and is hell bent on leading the region’s people to the Promised Land. The question is: Where and what is the Promised Land? And who is going to be the ultimate Moses – Chavez, Khadafy, Ahmadinejad, or is it Vladimir Putin? So, Dominicans, be very aware at what is taking place in your country.
Ever wonder why the Vincentian government is intent on building an airport our country will never be able to afford, in a place where commercial planes will not be authorized to land? The latter is might well have been a very remote possibility conjured up by Comrade to justify this ‘magnificent’ airport. Never mind that the airport planners only just realised some months ago, that they needed some 31 acres more land to facilitate the terminal. Amusing! Even more amusing is the fact that this airport is to be financed in part by the sale of Crown lands. Well, God must be working in a mysterious way because the financial meltdown has taken care of that eventuality, very effectively.
Our Prime Minister, Ralph Gonsalves, told us that he was going to carry on the work of Maurice Bishop of Grenada. What he really means is that he intends to carry on the work of the New Jewel Movement but sees expedience in using Maurice Bishop’s name to promote his agenda. I seem to recall that it was Dominica’s Prime Minister, Eugina Charles, who led the way in changing the course of history in Grenada and the region that time.
St Lucia made the first step this time by removing Ralph’s sidekick, Kenny Anthony. Vincentians have taken the first step in changing the course of history as intended by the Gonsalves regime in the last referendum election. In the next election, the people of this nation will remove Ralph Gonsalves permanently from the political landscape with the only franchise they can call their own, their vote.
Do yourselves a favor and take your country back too, and make it once more your beautiful place to live, your natural paradise that was given to you by The Most High.
Your forebears suffered enough to enable you to enjoy a quality of life that was denied them, so now you must do the right thing for yourselves and your country by voting against corruption and lies.
Blessings, Dominca! Walk good! May wisdom prevail and peace be with you over this holiday season and beyond.