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The Love Vine, Cuba and the SVLP – Part II


EDITOR: After I challenged Bassy Alexander about the accuracy of this statement in Searchlight dated August 5, 2005, I conducted further research on the subject. I spoke to a retired Commissioner of Police, retired civil servants, former Ministers of Government, and a number of other persons. I checked at the National Archives – the Star and the Vincentian. All except one person did not recall the incident.{{more}}

The one person who recalled the event regularly writes negatively against the former St. Vincent and the Grenadines Labour Party (SVGLP). As a matter of fact what Bassy wrote on the subject was written on several occasions in the past by other writers.

I threw out the issue to anyone who can say what would have been a valid reason for the former SVLP to have delayed or refused acceptance of the medical supplies sent by Cuba, if the incident did in fact occur. I received one reply and it is the correct answer. I submit here below a copy of the valid reason as asked.


Dear Sir,

St. Vincent and the Grenadines was an Associated State when La Soufriere erupted April 13, 1979. Britain was responsible for its Defense and Foreign Affairs, so the Labour Party could not accept the gift from Cuba.

Andrew Stewart, Layou

Yes Bassy, our country was an Associated State. In April 1979 Britain was responsible for Defense and Foreign Affairs. If I give Bassy the benefit of the doubt concerning the Cuban Ship, the fact remains that the former Labour Government would have had to consult with the Colonial Office through the Governor before the goods could have been accepted.

In Bassy’s own statement, the ship arrived without prior notice.

I recall the event of the eruption of the La Soufriere very well. Soufriere is situated in the constituency of North Leeward and I was the Parliamentary Representative at that time. The former Labour Government had evacuated approximately twenty five thousand (25,000) souls, settled them in schools and private homes, fed and returned them to their homes without a single casualty. There is no wonder why Cuba send a ship load of medical supplies.

I recall the efforts put in by Ministers of Government and other members of Parliament, senior civil servants, teachers, truckers from GESCO and many other persons. I recall the ashes falling like snow in Kingstown, Barbados and the Grenadines.

Many persons left St. Vincent for the fear that the island would sink as was the case of an island which sank some years ago in South East Asia. One evening there was a loud explosion at La Soufriere and the Prime Minister broadcast a message to the people: “Keep calm. Do not panic,” he said. Those were his finest hours.

In my article dated August 5, I lamented the fact that many writers do not research a subject enough. They rush to press, throwing caution to the wind.

The following is a statement made by Kenneth John in an article published in the Vincentian dated August 12, 2005: “we became a sovereign nation on December 27, 1979.” I will not castigate Kenneth for this error. I will only ask him to be more careful next time. Remember the school children.

J.G. Thompson