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Bells ringing in Bequia

Bells ringing in Bequia


Plans are in the works for changes to the Northern Grenadine Island of Bequia. And one person pivotal to the new direction is the Unity Labour Party candidate Herman Belmar. He was introduced to his community in Bequia last Saturday.

A number of boats made the hour-long journey across the channel from mainland St. Vincent for the event. But the boats were inadequate as thousands of ULP supporters, clad in red garments descended on the wharf. {{more}}Many were left behind, and those on board joined colleagues to swell the Bequia crowd to about 6,000. That is more than the estimated population of the Grenadine Island.

The rally was held at the Clive Tannis Playing Field, in Port Elizabeth, the island’s chief town.

If Belmar gets things his way, a full Technical and Vocational Centre will be built and equipped on Bequia. That institution would provide students with skills to enhance their life on the seas, in the tourism sector for which the Grenadines has been acclaimed. Additionally, there will be focus on mechanical engineering, which would teach students to repair outboard motor engines.

Belmar expressed satisfaction with the response he obtained from supporters from the mainland as well as from the constituency.

The atmosphere in Bequia showed evidence of the ULP assault.

Northern Grenadines has been a bastion of the New Democratic Party. The support swung behind former Prime Minister Sir James Mitchell first elected on a St. Vincent and the Grenadines Labour Party ticket August 22, 1966.

When Sir James broke with Labour in 1972, he took the voters with him. Sir James founded the New Democratic Party in December 1975. Since then, Sir James has been the dominant political force in the Grenadines but he held sway on mainland from 1984 to 2001.

Sir James handed over to current representative Dr. Godwin Lorraine Friday who swept to victory with a 72 percent taking in the March 28, 2001 outing.

However, Belmar is confident that “stranglehold is totally broken.”

In an interview after Saturday’s launch, Belmar elaborated on plans for the Northern Grenadines constituency.

He is working along with the constituents in order to identify certain problems, which are still plaguing the tranquil zone.

Belmar expressed contentment with a drive around the island with Prime Minister Dr. Gonsalves, and with the response from the Bequia residents.

He was satisfied that concerted efforts by elements of the opposition NDP to disturb the proceedings did not succeed owing to the overwhelming ULP support.

Belmar also surmises that the NDP is running scared. He cites their frantic painting off of his name on the streets as evidence of their unease.

This is Belmar’s political debut, but his appearance and Saturday’s atmosphere indicate that the Northern Grenadines is perhaps experiencing its first genuine electoral contest.