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YEAR 2004 IN REVIEW

YEAR 2004 IN REVIEW

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NOVEMBER

•Police began an intensified campaign against crime, following the upsurge in criminal activities.{{more}}

Detachments from the Royal St. Vincent and the Grenadines Police force, including Rapid Response Unit, Special Services Unit, and Serious Crime Unit were out in full gear since the Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves announced the campaign.

•Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves signed documents granting St. Vincent and the Grenadines authority to borrow US$15 million from the Scotiatrust and Merchant Bank of Trinidad and Tobago for the upgrading of the Canouan Airport.

•It was like a mini-carnival as thousands of jubilant New Democratic Party (NDP) supporters flooded the streets of capital Kingstown in a candle-light protest against the controversial Cross Country Road project.

•Thirty young professionals, who graduated from universities in the region this year, were reported as being still without jobs. Of this number, six were medical doctors, plus there were two dentists who, as yet, could not find a place in our medical system.

However, Minister of Health Dr. Douglas Slater said that government had found a solution to the problem to allow the doctors to begin their internship at the hospital.

•For the second time in two years, two Vincentian journalists gained Pan-American Health Organisation (PAHO) recognition for their work on health-related topics.

The two journalists, SEARCHLIGHT’s Carlos James and Jessica Bess of Nice Radio, were cited for certificates of merit during the 12th annual PAHO Media Awards For Excellence in Health Journalism, held on Friday, November 5, in Barbados.

•Juan Lopez, one of six Venezuelan nationals arrested at sea by a police and Coast Guard patrol, was sentenced to spend the next 32 months at Her Majesty’s Prison. Lopez took the rap while his five counterparts pleaded not guilty. They had been charged along with the importation of 35 pounds of cocaine that police say was retrieved from the boat in which the Venezuelans, who gave their professions as fishermen, were travelling.

•The body of Elson Richardson, a 41-year-old police constable, was found at Belle Vue, about 18 miles north east of Kingstown, with several wounds.

The discovery of the lawman’s burnt out vehicle, P789, in the road between Clare Valley and Chauncey, about five miles north west of Kingstown, and about 25 miles from where the body was found, made the case more intriguing.

•A 14-year-old student was among four young men who were later arrested and charged for the murder of the police officer.

•The National Omnibus Association (NOBA) gave the Unity Labour Party (ULP) administration an ultimatum to fix the Windward Highway or face strike action.

NOBA threatened to withdraw the bus service if the government did not resurface the road between Brownstown in Georgetown to Colonaire.

Senator Julian Francis, the minister responsible for transport, pleaded with NOBA for understanding and the strike was never called.

•Police launched a manhunt for 24-year-old Selwyn “Thick Skin” Moses, originally from Fountain, who allegedly shot at police officers at Glen when they tried to arrest him. He was described as armed and dangerous.

•Former Acting Governor-General Henry Harvey Williams OBE was laid to rest at the Kingstown Cemetery after a solemn service at the Methodist Church that lasted just over two hours.

•After a wait that seemed too long for its members, the Young Women’s Christian Association’s (YWCA) new headquarters was completed and opened. The opening ceremony was held on the lawn of the new structure located at McKies Hill, just behind the St. Vincent Grammar School.

The building, completed at a cost of over $700,000, was designed and constructed by the Ministry of Works according to specifications often requested by members of the “Y” themselves.

•Vincentian Justice Adrian Saunders was one of six legal luminaries selected by the Regional Judicial and Legal Services Commission for appointment as judges to the Caribbean Court of Justice.

Justice Saunders, an acting Chief Justice of the Eastern Caribbean Court of Appeal, spent 19 years in private practice as an attorney before he was appointed a High Court judge in 1996. He was made a Justice of Appeal of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court in May 2003 and had been acting Chief Justice since July 1, 2004.

•Police arrested Guyanese national Leon Griffith, 21, for passport fraud. More arrests were expected as investigations continued.

Griffith’s arrest was a breakthrough in investigations into a passport and birth certificate racket and put at least one police officer under the microscope; it cast suspicion over the spate of applications for Vincentian passports claimed to have been lost or destroyed.

•The members of the Salvation Army once again appealed to the general public and the business community to assist in helping them reach a $65,000 target, set as part the Christmas Kettle Appeal.

•Torrential rains wreaked havoc on St. Vincent as landslides reached a high point blocking roads, disrupting public transport and imprisoning persons in their homes.

The mudslides were numerous as a trough system dumped some 90.7 millimetres of rain over a 24-hour period.

•Raffles Resort Canouan Island, The Grenadines, officially opened its doors on Thursday, November 18, with a series of events including sunrise kayaking and boat trips to the Tobago Cays.

•For the second time, a 12-member jury found Daniel “Compay” Trimmingham guilty on November 23rd of the murder of 68-year-old Albert “Bertie” Browne of Carriere.

The farmer’s headless corpse was found in a banana field in Carriere Mountain on January 8, 2002.

Compay was previously convicted and sentenced to hang for Browne’s murder last November. But he appealed the conviction and sentence and won.

He was subsequently sentenced to hang again.

DECEMBER

•The political shadow boxing continued with another dramatic walk-out of the sitting of the House of Assembly when Opposition leader Arnhim Eustace, Grenadines representatives Dr. Godwin Friday (North) and Terrance Ollivierre (South), and Senators Gerard Shallow and St. Claire Leacock walked out of the House. Their action was in protest against Transport, Works, and Housing Minister Julian Francis’ involvement in the allocation of a sub-contract on the controversial Cross Country Road to Franco Construction, a firm owned by the minister’s brothers.

•The bullet ridden body of taxi driver Peter Joseph was found off the road near to the Arnos Vale roundabout when police responded to reports of gunshots in the neighbourhood. Investigators first came upon Joseph’s Honda Legend taxi riddled with bullets then discovered the body the next morning.

•A five per cent tax slapped on international and local mobile calls was among the measures Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves presented in a budget for 2005 of EC$587.095,299. The Prime Minister, who also carries responsibility for finance, explained that the taxes yielded from the International Communications Services have taken a rapid decline in recent years.

•Government faced embarrassment after Rueben Morgan, a 72-year-old Vincentian carrying a diplomatic passport, was arrested in London after airport authorities say they intercepted a suitcase containing two kilos of cocaine belonging to the gentleman.

Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves said Morgan had been issued the passport because of work he had done in Canada with farm workers. The PM said that on learning of the arrest, government withdrew the diplomatic passport.

•British Scotland Yard detectives visited St. Vincent in an effort to collect DNA samples.

•George Hamilton Charles, 87, who helped to shape this country’s political landscape from the 1930s, died at the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital on December 6.

•Franklyn Williams, a 38-year-old sailor from Upper Cane Hall, was gunned down outside a discotheque in Questelles just around 2:30 a.m., December 6.

Williams who was hoping to spend his first Christmas home in 13 years, was shot in the head while in the company of friends. No one has yet been arrested in connection with this incident which became murder number 26 in a record year of murders for this country.

•Seven Vincentians were among 15 persons reported missing for two weeks. The MV Study Us, a Grenada-registered vessel captained by Bernard Hayling of Grenada, reportedly left the St. Vincent port for St. Maarten on the evening of Saturday, 4 December.

The 15 passengers aboard the distressed vessel were returned home safely after government made arrangements to have them flown home late December from the Dominican Republic, near where they were found drifting.

•The Marriaqua United Friendly Society, BUNPAN, awarded five persons for their service on Sunday, November 28, at the Society’s Lodge at Freeland. Foundation members O’neil Trimmingham and Velma Browne, former President Enville Clarke, former Manager Hycinth Williams, who served for 46 years, and Supervisor Molene Frank who is celebrating 30 years of service at a ceremony.

•The National Commission on Crime Prevention (NCCP) made an impassioned plea for peace in the nation on December 10, staging a peace march and rally in capital Kingstown.

The march, dominated by uniformed student nurses and led by the Royal St. Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force Band, proceeded from Victoria Park to Heritage Square where the rally took place.

•A couple, Rose-Claire Dupont Williams and her husband of over 10 years Lancelot Jeffrey “Lancy” Williams, were gunned down execution style in the wee hours of the morning of December 6, by unknown gunmen at Trigger Ridge, Redemption Sharpes.

•Minister of National Security Sir Vincent Beache expressed concern over the number of unsolved murders the police had on their hands. Sir Vincent, who marked 30 years as an elected representative December 5 this year, expressed this concern while making his contribution to this country’s Budget debate.

The amount of murders here for 2004 stood at a record 28.

•St. Vincent and the Grenadines ratified the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change. The instrument of ratification was signed by Dr. the Hon. Ralph Gonsalves, Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, on behalf of this country on Friday, 17th December 2004.

The Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change was adopted at Kyoto, Japan on December 11th, 1997, and signed on behalf of St. Vincent and the Grenadines in 1998.

•Santa had his ears wide open when four orphaned children sent out their Christmas wish list in the SEARCHLIGHT newspaper of November 26 this year.

There were mixed emotions of joy and tears as a joint team from the local SEARCHLIGHT newspaper and the Barbados NATION Newspaper bearing gifts, arrived at Overland, a village just over the Dry River on the windward side of mainland St. Vincent. Among the several gifts were a computer, a bicycle, dollhouses and dolls, a remote controlled car, along with other presents for other children in the neighbourhood.

In a joint effort with the Nation newspaper, Searchlight raised funds to help the DaSouzas construct a more confortable concrete structure which will replace the small wooden house they now occupy.

•Annual Christmas celebrations officially kicked off with the lighting of the willow tree at the Reigate Complex and later the Nine Mornings activities at Bay Street, which saw daily devotions and concerts each morning that were replicated across the country as Vincentians maintained the most unique festival in the region.

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