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Is Eustace playing a political game with Garifunas?

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Editor: Mr Arnhim Eustace has again shown that he is not a thinking man with his promise to convey on every Garifuna throughout this Western Hemisphere honorary citizenship in St Vincent and the Grenadines.

It is appalling that Mr Eustace, in his desperation to be elected Prime Minister, would attempt to exploit any and every issue without consideration to the consequences of his actions.{{more}}

The Garifuna people are said to be an interbreeding of West Africans and Kalinago (known as Carib Indians). According to the history, in 1675, a slave ship coming from West Africa ran aground off the coast of St Vincent and the Grenadines and the Africans made it to St Vincent, where they intermingled with the Kalinagos. According to Dr Hillary Beckles in his book: ‘A Case for Reparations’, the Kalinagos were welcoming to these Africans. However, eventually there was a fall-out because the Africans were said to be misogynistic towards the Kalinago women and that brought tension and hostility between the groups that may have resulted in the Kalinagos aiding the British in capturing the Garifuna and banishing them from St Vincent in 1779. They were first taken to Baliceaux and then finally to Roatan in Honduras where they migrated to other places.

The Garifuna people have a historical connection to St Vincent and the Grenadines as any black individual has a connection to West Africa. According to paleontologists, all humans have a historical connection to Africa for that matter. Paleontologists say man migrated from Africa throughout the entire globe. However, we know from history that people settled in different parts of the world and some of these people were forcefully and brutally removed many generations ago. During Britain’s tenure as superior power, they transferred all sorts of people all over the world. For example, they brought Irish people to Barbados during the 17th century. They took Indians to Africa during the 19th century. They took our African ancestors from West Africa and brought them to the New World in the 17th century. This is just something that happened during history, whether one thinks it is good or bad is certainly irrelevant to the fact that it occurred.

We cannot go back in time and fix history. It has already happened. I have my ancestry DNA test that shows that I am related to individuals from Nigeria, Sudan, Ghana, Portugal, Wales and Ireland. However, that does not entitle me to make a demand on these countries to give me citizenship. A citizen of a country is generally an individual who was born in that country or was naturalized through the legal process. To give credence or value to Mr Eustace’s plan, we should all be seeking to become citizens of West African countries where our ancestors originated from. No one is denying that the Garifuna people have a historical connection to St Vincent, as I have a historical connection to Africa or Portugal. However, it is a preposterous idea to want to give citizenship to over 800,000 individuals that were born in foreign countries, simply because they had an ancestor that had a historical link to that country.

Mr Eustace obviously has not considered the socio-economic and cultural impacts that this sort of action will cause. The majority of these individuals are from Spanish speaking countries, which have different customs and practices than the average Vincentian. Is Mr Eustace thinking about the relationship between these two distinct groups of people? Vincentians who share the same culture find it difficult to get along as it is. We see on Facebook every day where there are serious cuss competitions going on, where Vincentians lack the ability to communicate and collaborate with each other. How in God’s name are they going to communicate and collaborate with these descendants of Garifuna people that are foreign born?

Mr Eustace’s actions have proven that he is grossly irresponsible. That he would act in such a capricious manner without giving complete thought to the consequences that would be incurred due to his action shows that he is not a competent and responsible leader. If Mr Eustace is playing a political game to hopefully score points and become elected, this would be deemed the lowest of the lowest in Vincentian political history.

Helena R Edwards
Mount Vernon, New York

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