PM Gonsalves tries to set record straight with Grenada’s PM
Rather than a “grossly irresponsible” call to break the law, Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves has rebutted that his offer to ‘assist’ the residents of Carriacou and Petit Martinique was “genuine and helpful.”
In a letter dated April 14 and addressed to Prime Minister of Grenada Keith Mitchell, Gonsalves seeks, among other statements, to set right what he considers “falsehoods”, that had been presented to Mitchell.
Tuesday’s letter by Gonsalves outlines two main “inaccuracies” that he believes to be in statements made by Mitchell last week.
Firstly, that the borders of SVG are open at the time of COVID-19. Gonsalves noted a number of restrictions that have been put in place towards certain travelers, and that before Mitchell’s statements, “a controlled regime for a trade in goods” was put in place.
Another falsehood, Gonsalves stated, is that he “encouraged or invited residents of Carriacou and Petit Martinique to enter St Vincent and the Grenadines in defiance of your country’s closure of ports, curfew, and “lock down”.
Gonsalves said his Government “offered to assist, if assistance were required, with food, medicine, and cooking gas, but in a structured and organised manner.”
“This genuine and helpful offer was in response to the residents of Carriacou and Petit Martinique arriving in Union Island — despite your government’s curfew and “lock-down” — to purchase or to arrange in the purchase of the said commodities in more than modest quantities,” the letter continues.
Gonsalves also rejected what he said was an implication that SVG has adopted a less focused approach to COVID-19.
“We have preferred, metaphorically-speaking, to use the scalpel, not a chain saw; a carving knife, not a machete in our focused, scientific approach,” he wrote, listing his measures to combat the virus.
He also indicated that he “is not interested, and has never been interested, in initiating or engaging in any metaphoric village dog-fight with the Prime Minister of Grenada, Carriacou, and Petit Martinique.”
Gonsalves continued that he did not believe Mitchell’s statements to be malicious, but rather misinformed and wrongly advised.
“I suspect that a deliberately truncated audio of my statement, so doctored by those stuffed with political malice against me, has been brought to your attention and has gravely misled you,” Gonsalves explained.
This audio omitted his “vital” addition in his Good Friday statement that the offer to help should be done in a “structured and organised manner.”
“I feel sure that when you are seized of all the facts, including those which I have outlined herein, you are likely to reflect that your allegation of “irresponsibility” against me is wholly unfounded and wrong-headed,” Gonsalves concluded.
Furthermore, he asked the Grenadian Prime Minister to withdraw it, or this will leave “objective” persons open to concluding that there is “more in the mortar beside the pestle.”
At the heart of the discord between the leaders, is the fact that residents of the Grenadian islands of Carriacou and Petit Martinique, which are close to St Vincent’s Grenadines, were, as they have always done, travelling to the Grenadines regularly to buy food, and supplies.
Prime Minister Mitchell, who has sought to enforce a total lockdown of all travel in and out of Grenada, first expressed concern at a press conference on April 6.
“St Vincent has not locked down their borders… and I mean I have to speak to that because I have to be concerned about life,” Mitchell noted.
Three days later, Gonsalves made statements acknowledging the relationship among the people of the Grenadines, while saying he wasn’t “answering anybody”.
“Whether you lock down tight as a drum or not, people will have their natural movements, that is a historic thing,” he commented, among other statements.
Further, on Good Friday, he declared to the people of the Grenadian islands that if they were “having difficulties getting food” and cooking gas, St Vincent and the Grenadines(SVG) can help “but let us do it in a structured and organized manner.”
This triggered an April 11 statement from Mitchell, who stated, among other things, that “It is alarming that our citizens will be called upon to break the law by the leader of another country. It is a grossly irresponsible action that has the potential for not only legal consequences but also pose a significant threat to public health and public safety.”
(Read the full text of Gonsalves letter to Mitchell at https://searchlight.vc/searchlight/press-release/2020/04/14/gonsalves-writes-mitchell-saying-allegations-against-him-unfounded-and-wrong-headed/)