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We should build relations with all countries

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27.APR.07

Editor: As an avid reader of Searchlight and of Bassy Alexander’s column I think it important that I share a few comments regarding his last column since I too listen to the birds. Only that my birds sing through not hearsay but what I read as quoted by persons reported on in Searchlight which I trust as being in fact, “journalism you can trust”.

Alexander’s birds suggest to him that the threat by the Medical Authorities to move to Grenada has to do with crime; he may want to read between the lines and question the birds when statistics may show that with regards to crime Grenada has nothing on SVG.{{more}} A closer reading of the situation may indicate that minimizing spending and maximizing profits may be the real reason for the threatened move.

Bassy’s often expressed fear that SVG’s relations with Caribbean nations such as Cuba and Venezuela, whose people just like ours came on the same ships, on different trips may anger the United States seems not to be borne in the reported statement by the US Ambassador that countries need to look out for their own interests.

We as a nation cannot sit back and do nothing out of fear of causing discomfort to traditional friends who, though possessing the most wealth in the world, seem not to be able to assist in real terms their much poorer friends. While Cuba has spent millions since 1980 in preparing many Vincentian professionals on scholarships totally financed by their people at tremendous sacrifice, that country has never made one demand of our government and people. In fact, graduates from Cuba tell me that their preparatory education included a phrase that they were studying because SVG needed them. That is perhaps the reason that 98 percent of graduates from Cuban universities have returned home to work and are contributing in important spheres of government and the private sector. Sadly the same cannot be said of our graduates who having been educated in the USA paying through their teeth, are often forced to seek jobs there resulting in the infamous brain drain. The US therefore spends nothing for training and gains a whole lot while we lose.

But why do we always approach life as they or us. My reading of the Government’s foreign policy is that SVG is open to business with all friends, traditional and demonstrated. Thus the success of the Miracle Mission or Vision Now eye programme has belatedly prompted President Bush to promise during his recent Latin American tour to send a naval ship with doctors to attend to patients in the region.

SVG seems too unimportant to be included here.

Caribbean presidents Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez, whatever one may think of their nationalistic rhetoric have demonstrated the willingness to assist their poorer neighbours. Is our good friend Bassy suggesting that we in SVG refuse to accept the assistance of Cuba and Venezuela to build the airport or attend to our country’s health and development needs with the hope that our traditional friend the USA may smile on us? Just what is wrong with Chavez’ Christian policy of helping the poor? What is wrong with Castro’s demonstrated assistance to poor nations of Africa, the Pacific and the Caribbean? Where has either Chavez or Castro “dictated anti-US conditions” on SVG?

An independent country must cultivate relations with and seek assistance from ALL who are willing to help. We must at the same time show appreciation for it. It is the Christian thing to do.

Max D. Knights

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