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FIGHT BACK

FIGHT BACK

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Judging from the remarks from members of the Friends of the Tobago Cays, Prime Minister Dr. Gonsalves may be the most unpopular person in the state.
The Friends of the Tobago Cays have made public their dissatisfaction with the direction the government intends to take even after the Barrett withdrawal of last week.{{more}}
Marlon Browne, a spokesperson for the grouping read to a media briefing Tuesday the full text of a position document issued in the name of the organization.
Browne expressed little respect for the position of Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves as she spoke to a media conference this Tuesday.
Even though chairman of the Palm Island Resorts Limited Robert Barrett has announced the withdrawal of his proposal to manage the Tobago Cays Marine Park, the Friends of the Tobago Cays are still not satisfied.
Browne referred to what she termed the “alleged’ withdrawal by Barrett’s PIRL, and she recalled the Prime Minister’s view of opposition by citizens exercising their democratic right to criticise the Palm Island Resorts Limited proposal “as interference by a small minority of Vincentians.”
And to judge by the tone of the spokesperson a battle between the Friends of the Tobago Cays and Prime Minister Dr. Gonsalves might just be intensifying.
Browne noted Dr. Gonsalves description of the Friends of the Tobago Cays last week as “ dishonest, vindictive, untruthful and malignant.”
Browne also boldly used the occasion to accuse Prime Minister Dr. Gonsalves of “lying,” as far as the Tobago Cays issue was concerned.
In a ten-page statement read at a press conference staged by the Friends of the Tobago Cays last Tuesday morning, Browne recalled the matter of consultation between the Prime Minister and the Friends of Tobago Cays.
According to Browne: “We did not feel that the direction the government said it was taking was in the interest of the people of SVG and the environmental sustainability of the natural resource in question.”
Browne added: ‘there has undoubtedly been a lack of consultation on the part of the government and the issue of transparency raises a big question.”
The Friends of the Tobago Cays also attacked the credibility of Robert Barrett. Browne questioned if, owing to Barrett’s alleged “credit worthiness” Vincentians were expected to be “naive.”
She charged that the agreement between Barrett and the government “was/is for Palm Island Resorts Limited/Barrett’s economic benefit and that environmental considerations were/are secondary.”
The Friends of Tobago Cays are also up in arms with Barrett’s continuing role in the venture as a consultant and Browne challenged Barrett’s environmental qualifications.
“Besides getting rid of the mosquitoes on Palm Island, where and how did he become accredited?” Browne questioned.
She asked the Prime Minister “for a little respect for our dignity.”
“We are not calling on you to ennoble Caribbean society: they did not elect you into office, we did. We do not wish to hear you tell us that Vincentians are not capable of managing anything. The fact is that we know better and we are not going to allow you to convince us otherwise,” Browne stated emphatically.
The Friends of the Tobago Cays therefore called on Dr. Gonsalves “to change the management approach to the Tobago Cays Marine Park.”
Theyproposed to work along with Environmental Groups in the Southern Grenadines and pledged their willingness “to work along with the government in developing the best possible management framework for the Marine Park.”
Browne pointed out that the development of the Tobago Cays Marine Park “is of national importance and it must be approached with all the necessary components in place.”
Browne also spoke of the Vincentain responsibility “to ensuring that it will be properly managed according to internationally accepted standards and administered and run from top to bottom by Vincentians, with meaningful input from all stake holders and users.”
Other Friends of the Tobago Cays supported Browne. Those included Matthew Harvey from the Union Island Eco-Tourism Group, father Mark DaSilva from the Mayreau Environmental Development Organisation(MEDO), Junior Bacchus, Dr. Adrian Fraser, Matthew Thomas, Jerry George, Sylvia Sutherland and Paul Lewis. Browne noted that in our 25th year of our Independence, “there should be greater emphasis on us.”
And she expressed the hope that the Prime Minister will see the wisdom that Tobago Cays must be managed by local people.”
As far as Browne was concerned, they “had no intention for it to be a political issue.”
“Our concerns are environmental,’ Browne pointed out.
Perhaps the highlight of a question period which followed Browne’s reading of the Friends’ position statement was Matthew Thomas’ view on the issue. Thomas for his part likened the Tobago Cays experience to the Ottley Hall and Union Island Marina fiasco. Thomas, interestingly was one of the persons who gave evidence during the Commission of Inquiry into the failed Ottley Hall Marina Project. Mathew Harvey, for his part, recalled the Prime Minister’s campaign pledge of giving Vincentians a chance to “rule their destiny.”
“This is a great chance for the PM to rule his mouth,” Harvey stated.
The Friends of the Tobago Cays were of the view that the Tobago Cays ought to be managed by Vincentains. And Browne also swiped at Barrett whom she said would still play a pivotal role consultantcy role in the development and management of the Tobago Cays.
But perhaps some of the most biting criticisim of Prime Minister Gonsalves came from Mathew Thomas who accused Dr. Gonsalves of insulting Vincentians on more than one occasions and demanded an apology from “the lawyer, political scientist and former University lecturer.”
Thomas observed that the Prime Minister bordered on the grounds of slander in his references to the friends of the Tobago Cays.
“He owes this country an apology,’ Thomas stated. Thomas was a known activist and stalwart member of the Dr. Gonsalves’ Movement for National Unity.
The MNU formed an alliance with the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Labour in the 1994 general electionsand eventually formalised the merger into a political formation that is now the ruling Unity Labour Party.
Browne added: ‘there has undoubtedly been a lack of consultation on the part of the government and the issue of transparency raises a big question.”
The Friends of the Tobago Cays also attacked the credibility of Robert Barrett. Browne questioned if, owing to Barrett’s alleged “credit worthiness” Vincentians were expected to be “naive.”
She charged that the agreement between Barrett and the government “was/is for Palm Island Resorts Limited/Barrett’s economic benefit and that environmental considerations were/are secondary.”
The Friends of Tobago Cays are also up in arms with Barrett’s continuing role in the venture as a consultant and Browne challenged Barrett’s environmental qualifications.
“Besides getting rid of the mosquitoes on Palm Island, where and how did he become accredited?” Browne questioned.
She asked the Prime Minister “for a little respect for our dignity.”
“We are not calling on you to ennoble Caribbean society: they did not elect you into office, we did. We do not wish to hear you tell us that Vincentians are not capable of managing anything. The fact is that we know better and we are not going to allow you to convince us otherwise,” Browne stated emphatically.
The Friends of the Tobago Cays therefore called on Dr. Gonsalves “to change the management approach to the Tobago Cays Marine Park.”
They proposed to work along with Environmental Groups in the Southern Grenadines and pledged their willingness “to work along with the government in developing the best possible management framework for the Marine Park.”
Browne pointed out that the development of the Tobago Cays Marine Park “is of national importance and it must be approached with all the necessary components in place.”
Browne also spoke of the Vincentain responsibility “to ensuring that it will be properly managed according to internationally accepted standards and administered and run from top to bottom by Vincentians, with meaningful input from all stake holders and users.”
Other Friends of the Tobago Cays supported Browne. Those included Matthew Harvey from the Union Island Eco-Tourism Group, father Mark DaSilva from the Mayreau Environmental Development Organisation (MEDO), Junior Bacchus, Dr. Adrian Fraser, Matthew Thomas, Jerry George, Sylvia Sutherland and Paul Lewis. Browne noted that in our 25th year of our Independence, “there should be greater emphasis on us.”
And she expressed the hope that the Prime Minister will see the wisdom that Tobago Cays must be managed by local people.”
As far as Browne was concerned, they “had no intention for it to be a political issue.”
“Our concerns are environmental,’ Browne pointed out.
Perhaps the highlight of a question period which followed Browne’s reading of the Friends’ position statement was Matthew Thomas’ view on the issue. Thomas for his part likened the Tobago Cays experience to the Ottley Hall and Union Island Marina fiasco. Thomas, interestingly was one of the persons who gave evidence during the Commission of Inquiry into the failed Ottley Hall Marina Project. Mathew Harvey, for his part, recalled the Prime Minister’s campaign pledge of giving Vincentians a chance to “rule their destiny.”
“This is a great chance for the PM to rule his mouth,” Harvey stated.
The Friends of the Tobago Cays were of the view that the Tobago Cays ought to be managed by Vincentains. And Browne also swiped at Barrett whom she said would still play a pivotal consultancy role in the development and management of the Tobago Cays.
But perhaps some of the most biting criticisim of Prime Minister Gonsalves came from Mathew Thomas who accused Dr. Gonsalves of insulting Vincentians on more than one occasion and demanded an apology from “the lawyer, political scientist and former university lecturer.”
Thomas observed that the Prime Minister bordered on the grounds of slander in his references to the friends of the Tobago Cays.
“He owes this country an apology,’ Thomas stated. Thomas was a known activist and stalwart member of the Dr. Gonsalves’ Movement for National Unity.
The MNU formed an alliance with the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Labour in the 1994 general elections and eventually formalised the merger into a political formation that is now the ruling Unity Labour Party.

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