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Searchlight’s article saved us – Beache

Searchlight’s article saved us – Beache

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An article published by SEARCHLIGHT last year may have helped to diffuse a Tourism nightmare, after it exposed another side to allegations made by a Vincentian woman in an international publication.{{more}}

SEARCHLIGHT’s article, published on November 25, counteracted claims made by Kethura Cupid, who, in the Toronto Star Newspaper of November 12, 2011, alleged that she was routinely beaten by family members and physically abused by the father of one of her children.

Cupid, originally of Redemption Sharpes, made these allegations in her application to the Canadian Immigration and Refugee Board, which rejected her plea for refugee status and had her deported back to St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Chief Executive Officer of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Tourism Authority Glen Beache said that the Canadian article, captioned “Jewel of the Caribbean is a woman’s nightmare”, was short of a public relations disaster, for which he admitted the Authority had a difficult task in deciding how to respond.

“Public Relations is very tricky. Do you respond right away and keep it in the media longer? Do you wait and see how many other publications pick it up? Do you wait and see if there is going to be continued dialogue and letters being written to the Toronto Star on this issue?”

“I spent hours on the phone with our Public relations agency in North America and with the one in the United Kingdom to make sure that story wasn’t picked up over in Europe and with Lonsdale here in the Caribbean….”

“So we decided to step back and see what the response was; I think a newspaper in Seattle picked it up. The Metro newspaper in Toronto also picked it up. There were one or two Internet media houses that also picked it up, and that was as far as it went.”

“But in terms of response, we grappled with whether we should speak to the Prime Minister about making a response… or should we do a press release or should we get in touch with the Toronto Star, and we decided against all of those things.”

The former Minister of Tourism said that the SEARCHLIGHT article held the answer they were looking for.

In the article, SEARCHLIGHT spoke to persons who knew Cupid personally, including her mother Mortie, brother Hubert and sister Girlie.

The relatives countered claims made by Cupid, and instead recounted instances of abuse inflicted by the mother of two.

According to Beache, the local story was used as its response to the uproar caused by one of North America’s leading newspapers.

“We didn’t speak to any media house in St. Vincent about it, but SEARCHLIGHT newspaper did a story…. It wasn’t coming from us directly, so it wasn’t to say that we carried the story so people could say what we wanted them to say.”

“It was an independent newspaper that carried the story. All we did was just forward it to the Toronto Star, and we haven’t heard anything back from them…. We think it has just died and we are happy about that.”

The CEO indicated that Vincentians residing in the diaspora, as well as overseas Public Relations agents, were shocked and disappointed by the original publication, which he said painted an untrue painting of life in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

He said that although the social networks may have some value to the tourism product, articles of that sort can also make promoting tourism here difficult at times.

“These stories do damage to St. Vincent and the Grenadines.”

“They speak about worst place in the world for women to live, when you’ve got other places where women can’t drive, can’t show their faces and can’t wear what they want to wear, and these sort of things….” (JJ)

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