Posted on

Garifuna issue – More questions than answers


Editor: This Garifuna thing has me so confused. Before the Opposition Leader’s braggadocios and obviously unresearched pronouncement in New York about honourary citizenship for the Garifuna, wasn’t there a Garifuna heritage committee here in St Vincent? Hasn’t there been several contingents of Garifuna which have come to St Vincent, taught the language and culture of the Garifuna, toured the islands of Baliceaux and Battowia and met with Government officials?{{more}} Why now mix a noble cause with politics on the eve of general elections? Why does the NDP think that this abrasive, confrontational and haphazard approach to a governmental issue is attractive to the people of St Vincent and the Grenadines? Do they really expect to be deemed electable as a result of this? Do they seriously expect to score political points?

I am extremely confused about the approach of the NDP to this. Why put the cart before the horse? Why not come to the people with an obviously researched and structured proposal for honorary citizenship? The open letter to the Opposition Leader I wrote a few weeks ago is yet unanswered. Maybe the points raised therein were the talking areas of their “closed session” recently. But I note that a few of the points raised have been taken into consideration after the publishing of the letter. For example, it is only after the letter we are hearing that an “International Law Firm” has been retained to do work on behalf of the NDP with regard to honorary citizenship. But for this open letter I am sure they did not take into consideration the legal implications in international law.

Then, why choose Mr Ramos as the poster child for this venture? From the looks of it he is such a polarizing figure, as his words and actions have proven. Word is that there is serious division between the Garifuna groups in the USA and Central America. Maybe these opposing groups are who Mr Ramos likened to “Monkeys eating bananas”. This I found to be very disrespectful and I am sure it leaves a sour taste in the mouths of many Vincentians. You cannot come with this abrasive, insulting and disrespectful attitude and expect Vincentians to embrace your cause.

Finally the clashing details of our shared history has me even more confused. Couldn’t Dr Fraser, a renowned historian, correct or discuss the grey areas with Mr Ramos before taking to the airwaves? If this is the way you approach the Garifuna issue; will this be the same approach to other issues if you win government? Whilst I am not surprised, we must do better.

Kezron JS Walters