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Four Iranians given citizenship under NDP zero granted under ULP

Four Iranians given citizenship under NDP zero granted under ULP

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No Iranians were granted citizenship or became eligible for Vincentian passports under the Unity Labour Party (ULP) administration, which came to office in 2001.{{more}}

Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves, however, told Parliament on Thursday that four Iranians were granted citizenship and became eligible to obtain passports between 1990 and March 2001, the last 11 years of the New Democratic Party’s (NDP) 17 years in office.

Gonsalves revealed the statistics in response to a question by opposition senator Dr Linton Lewis.

Lewis asked Gonsalves to say how many Vincentian passports were granted to nationals of Venezuela, Cuba, Iran, Syria, and Lebanon.

The prime minister explained that Vincentian passports were only granted to persons if they meet a citizenship criterion, including birth, descent, marriage or for outstanding economic and social contribution to the country.

He, however, said such persons must be in good standing.

He said 10 Venezuelans became citizens during the last 11 years of the NDP administration, compared to five during the ULP.

Six Cubans became Vincentian citizens under both administrations, respectively.

Under the NDP, 33 Syrians were granted citizenship and 23 under the ULP.

Twenty-three Lebanese become citizens under the NDP, while 18 attained the status under the ULP.

“I saw the glee when I mentioned four Iranians, except to say that I was leaving the sweet part for you,” Gonsalves said.

He explained that one Iranian was granted citizenship in 1997 and the other three in 1998.

The individual who shepherded these individuals to get Vincentian citizenship has now become a critic of his policy to foster relations with that country, Gonsalves further said.

The prime minister accused the opposition of wanting to hype the nation with a set of prejudices.

He said that the opposition was guilty of lumping the hardworking Syrian and Lebanese people together, adding that they are the very people who have transformed the economic sector of the country.

“Why are we doing this to ourselves?” Gonsalves said.

“As soon as someone who is dubious says something, they take it and run with it.”

In a follow-up question, Lewis asked the prime minister to state the number of persons who were granted citizenship over the past seven years.

But Gonsalves gave the statistics over an 11-year period saying that 1377 persons were granted citizenship under the last 11 years of the NDP administration, while 894 were granted citizenship over the same amount of time, under the ULP.

They are: United States — 88 NDP, 69 ULP; Barbadian — 67 NDP, 27 ULP; Canada — 40 NDP, 29 ULP; China — 13 NDP, 3 ULP; Dominican Republic — 15 NDP, 2 ULP; Dominica — 20 NDP, 11 ULP; United Kingdom — 132 NDP, 94 ULP; Germany — 18 NDP, 7 ULP; Grenada — 47 NDP, 28 ULP; Guyana — 293 NDP, 155 ULP; India — 23 NDP, 17 ULP; Italy — 21 NDP, 2 ULP; Jamaica — 87 NDP, 91 ULP; Lebanon — 23 NDP, 18 ULP; Nigeria — 19 NDP, 12 ULP; St Lucia — 38 NDP, 23 ULP; Syria — 33 NDP, 23 ULP and Trinidad and Tobago —193 NDP, 118 ULP.

“It didn’t make any sense for people to single out Iranian, Cuban, Venezuelan and they wanted to put Syrian and Lebanese,” Gonsalves said.

“They will want to know if the Honourable Senator wants to sabotage the Leader of the Opposition by taking their business out in Parliament,” the prime minister further said.

Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace said last month that the Gonsalves government’s close ties with Iran contributed to Canada imposing visa restrictions on Vincentian passport holders.

“Canada regards Iran as a state sponsor of Terrorism … any tie between our country and Iran, when combined with the falsification of passports, would be unacceptable to Canada and must have entered into Canada’s decision-making,” he said in a press statement. (DD)

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