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Eustace: We were invited after they met with PM

Eustace: We were invited after they met with PM

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While Arnhim Eustace did not address the claim that he had accused Sir James Mitchell, one of this country’s former Prime Ministers, of receiving “Cocoa Money” to seal a deal between the Government and Amajaro,{{more}} he disclosed in interview with Jerry George last Sunday evening that he considers it “discourteous” that the New Democratic Party (NDP) was not informed that a meeting was being set up between Amajaro and the Government.

Eustace said it came to him as a surprise on Tuesday, April 5, 2011, when Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves made an announcement in Parliament of a meeting between Amajaro, one of the world’s leading suppliers of cocoa to the international chocolate manufacturing industry, and his administration.

The cocoa project with Amajaro, is one of the mega projects that was proposed by the NDP, prior to the December 2010 General Elections.

Since Gonsalves’ announcement, speculation has been rife as to whether Sir James, founder of the NDP and the first person who had proposed the project, had sold out to the incumbent administration.

“I wondered how the Government came to be in involved with Amajaro, because up to that time, as far as I knew, they had been involved with the New Democratic Party and I had heard nothing of them continuing,” said Eustace.

Eustace said he immediately called Lennie Daisley, the NDP’s point man on the project, but was told that like Eustace, he, Daisley, was also surprised that Amajaro was in discussions with Gonsalves.

In his Sunday, May 29 interview, Sir James disclosed that on Sunday, December 12, 2010, one day before the last General Election here, a team from Amajaro, led by the President of the company, visited this country, and met with Mitchell’s daughter Louise Mitchell-Joseph, Lennie Daisley and Ronald Providence.

He said the Amajaro team said they needed to do a feasibility study and requested a meeting with Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves.

According to Sir James, invitations were extended to both Eustace and Dr. Godwin Friday, Vice President of the NDP, to meet with the Amajaro team, but neither agreed to meet with the team. He said Mitchell-Joseph also e-mailed Eustace and told him that she had information that she would like to share with him, but got no reply.

“How can you start an agricultural project in a country like ours without getting permission of the government to bring in the plant?” Sir James asked, noting that the project was not an NDP or ULP project and that was not the first time he had worked with the present administration on matters of national interest.

Eustace said he wished to set the record straight as to why he was unable to meet with Amajaro’s representatives. He said on April 7, two days after Amajaro met with Prime Minister Gonsalves, he received an e-mail from Mitchell-Joseph, who had been acting as facilitator of the Amajaro representatives here, informing him that she had been trying to call him on that morning. He said in the e-mail, she expressed concern about the misinformation that had been circulating about the project, and told him that she was the one that had been setting up all the meetings.

“This one is the seventh of April; that is her first contact with me, Sir James’ daughter, on the matter. This is two days after the meeting the Prime Minister had with Amajaro,” said Eustace. The Opposition Leader questioned why couldn’t he have received this e-mail earlier.

Eustace said he also received another e-mail dated April 18, inviting him to meet with Amajaro.

Eustace also disclosed on Sunday evening that the manifesto to which Sir James Mitchell referred in his May 29 interview as not mentioning cocoa, was never released by his party.

Eustace said a second manifesto was released instead, to incorporate developmental projects, such as the Amajaro Cocoa Project, that were first put forward to the nation by the NDP.

“That manifesto had been discarded; it was not distributed, because we wanted to make changes. We started working on our manifesto early. The other one was never distributed; this is what was distributed,” said Eustace.(HN)

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