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Open letters to Vincentians

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29.MAY.09

Editor: Are we really Vincentians? This is the question I have found myself asking lately as I listen to some of the many voices coming from SVG.

As I listen to these voices, I feel not as a Vincentian, but like an outsider looking into a glass dome. We are not appreciated and our contribution is not recognized.{{more}} The we that I am referring to are those of us who are Vincentian citizens living in the Diaspora.

Vincentians living abroad make significant contributions in many forms to the economy of SVG. We send money on a monthly basis to support families; we send thousand of barrels at Christmas time; we contribute to many institutions at home, such as hospitals, schools, sporting organizations and many other various charities. Nearly 18% of the annual budget, close to 120 million dollars, comes from overseas remittances. Political parties for many years have seen us as a valuable source to fund their election campaigns. Politicians since the 1980’s have made promises to us. they include: John Horne, Eddie Griffith, Vincent Beache, Parnel Campbell, Jerry Scott, and many others. Promises which they have never kept. It is recognized that Vincentians in the Diaspora are an integral part of our Vincentian civilization. Our contribution is immeasurable.

However, despite our immeasurable contributions, despite the informal recognition that we are an integral part of our civilization, we are not allowed to take part in the decision making process in SVG. I feel that many living in SVG do not think we should be allowed to take part in any such process at home. I say that the time has come for this to stop.

Vincentians living far and wide were all consulted with regard to constitutional reform. We, Vincentians in the Diaspora, did participate in the Constitutional process; some of our suggestions are included in the final document; yet we do not have a say in the approval stage of the document. This is wrong.

Is there anything in the new constitution that will ensure that we Vincentians living in the Diaspora are allowed to take part in the decision making process at home?

The time has come for the voices of those of us living in the Diaspora to be heard. We must be allowed to take part in decision making that will affect us. We must lift our voices. We must call on the policymakers at home to make the necessary changes which will allow for those in the Diaspora to become a part of the decision making process at home.

Lift your voice on the call in programs. Write letters in the newspapers. Write letters to your parliamentarians. This change must come. It must come now.

With the recognition that Vincentians in the Diaspora are an integral part of the Vincentian civilization I offer the following suggestion:

I call on the governing party in SVG to immediately take a bill before the parliament of SVG which will grant to Vincentian Citizens Living in the Diaspora the following:

1. Formal reorganization that we are an integral part of the Vincentian civilization.

2. The right to vote in any parliamentary election in SVG.

3. The right to vote in any referendum that seeks to change the constitution of SVG.

This bill will/should be cosponsored by opposition parties in SVG.

Thank you very much. I await your response.

Oswald Sutherland

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