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That ALBA Bicentennial Manifesto….What’s the latest?

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21.JAN.11

Editor: It’s just over nine months since the Bicentennial Manifesto of Caracas was signed by all Heads of State and Government members of ALBA, including Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, the Hon. Ralph Gonsalves.{{more}}

It is interesting to note that at the end of the document, we are told “…We are independent governments that respond to the mandate of our peoples.” In the April 19 signed document, the signatories pledged their commitment “ to the task of consolidating the sovereignty of our peoples building the road to socialism”.

Many Vincentians have shown how insulting this move was by our Prime Minister. We did not give him such a mandate, and additionally we had to find out about it on the Internet! When we expressed our genuine concerns (showing the dangers of the anti-rights and freedoms political system-socialism) many ULP supporters seemed only interested in partisan politics and in defending their idol-leader. Those of us who voiced our concern were branded as mischief-makers, Ralph-haters, and the usual (though unacceptable) remarks. One former ULP candidate, who lost his seat in the December 13 General elections, accused us

as pushing the “boogie man” called socialism. He encouraged Vincentians not to pay attention to what we were saying. Some, who hadn’t even read the manifesto, were ready to discredit us, preferring to remain in ignorance.

Up to this point, I have not heard a substantial and reasonable explanation from our Prime Minister on the matter. Our questions have not disappeared with the old year or the last governmental term. They remain because they are genuine, just like the question about the $1million deposited in the government account at the National Commercial Bank (NCB) .

A few days ago I perused the Bicentennial Manifesto again and wondered “what’s the latest?” How do we stand? Has any consideration been given to our worthwhile concerns? Has the PM considered revoking our signature to the document since the good people have made it clear that we have not given any mandate to ‘build the road to socialism’? And why does the manifesto propagate such anti-American sentiments? If President Chavez has his issues with the US, let him deal with that! Why do we have to join in such antagonism in putting our signature to such? Prime Minister, you need to explain these things to us.

I am appalled at some of the human rights abuses in Venezuela that I continue to read about, namely against those who are anti-the policies of Chavez.

In a report compiled and written by the OAS’s Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, we read that “… the state has punished critics, including anti-government television stations, demonstrators and opposition politicians who advocate a form of government different from Chávez’s,… after 11 years in power, Chávez holds tremendous influence over other branches of government, particularly the judiciary. Judges who issue decisions the government does not like can be fired, the report says, and hundreds of others are in provisional posts where they can easily be removed…”( OAS report rebukes Venezuela on human rights, Washington Post Foreign Service, Thursday, February 25, 2010, Juan Forero)

Yet I read in the Bicentennial Manifesto that one of its tasks entails “…conduct an investigation based on violations of human rights perpetrated by the Government of the United States in Latin America and the Caribbean, with special emphasis on the establishment of responsibilities leading to criminal proceedings…” Mr. Chavez should note that charity begins at home.

We read in the manifesto that by a unanimous decision of Latin America and the Caribbean, the first summit “will take place on July 5, 2011, in Caracas, in commemoration of the Declaration of Independence of Venezuela, and where will be adopted the foundational text of this new body.” What does this mean for Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Mr. Prime Minister? The vigilant people of this country who understand the dangers of socialism/gradual communism reject all the evil anti-rights and anti-freedoms intentions of this manifesto, and we call on you to truthfully respond to our concerns. What really is the latest on this Bicentennial Caracas Manifesto?

Ann-Marie Ballantyne
[email protected]

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