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My fellow Saint Lucians: Permit me to wish you a prosperous new year on behalf of the Lucian People’s Movement (LPM).
The year that has just concluded was not spent without much social frustration and economic hardships. The Saint Lucia that we once knew or had envisioned would emerge ever since our founding as an independent state in 1979 has not materialized.
However, while it is true that our country is not heading in the right direction, this does not mean that all is lost. It is within this context that I wish to deliver my address to you today and to help define a better future that is based on less partisanship and a commonsense approach to national consciousness.
It is with a renewed sense of commitment to broadening the base of the LPM that we continue this very difficult fight. We hope to offer all of our citizens the kind of government that is truly embracing and respectful of your rights to openly disagree with the policies of your government without fear of victimization or fear that your dissenting voices maybe interpreted as being anti-government, consequently leading to a systematic denial of opportunities for employment and social mistreatment. We in the LPM continue in this very difficult fight to one day present ourselves as a worthy alternative to 60 years of political dominance by both the Saint Lucia Labour Party and the United Workers Party.
As citizens of Saint Lucia , it is true that we all should have the fundamental right to contribute ideas towards national development equally and to be afforded the opportunity to participate openly in the management of our country. However, the reality of what has been in existence in Saint Lucia over the last 60 years does not paint an encouraging picture of a country that is serious about respecting the rights of all of its people.
In elections after election, we have yearned for real change. However, in each of these elections, we are stuck with the same old cycle of government in this country. Therefore, as one government is elected and another is democratically ousted, the jobs that become available are quickly filled by a select group of cronies of the incoming government while the economic status of a vast number of Saint Lucians remains uncertain. With each election, no real change is realized.
For years, we have lived in a society where most of us refuse to question the actions of our government or even to allow ourselves for once to be at odds with our party. The party, in our view, becomes more important and even greater than the general interest of the country. Even more sadly, it often supersedes our internal and personal struggles to rid ourselves of a life of abject poverty. In this regard, we have become accepting of the fact that the party that we have worked so hard to elect to office can do no wrong.
Additionally, we accept that the political appointees whom they have selected to fill the new positions upon assuming government are qualified and are committed and knowledgeable enough to go out in the world to attract the kind of investments that Saint Lucia needs so badly to redeem it from the yoke of poverty.
Sadly, most of these persons turn out to be square pegs in round holds. For the majority, the only real qualification they had was not having a job during the years that their party was out of office, having come from an influential family, or having a very close association to the elected members of that government or a particular party. In other words, our system of political patronage does not take into account whether the interest of the country will be served.
This is no way to run a country, especially one that is bursting at its seams with record high unemployment, social degradation, and a very youthful population that seems uncertain of their future or their place within our Saint Lucian society. Time is no longer on our side. If after 34 years of independence, we still have not been able to lay the proper foundation for economic independence and prosperity for our people, this alone should be an indicator of how much time we have wasted on governments and political organizations whose only agenda is becoming the national employment agency for only a few.
They borrow large sums of money to create temporary jobs, which in a few weeks will become non-existent to those who were lucky enough to have them in the first place. They ignore the fact that what Saint Lucia truly needs is an infusion of local and foreign investments, as well as a qualified governmental workforce with the ability to go out into the world to attract investments. They fail to lay simultaneously a progressive foundation to afford real opportunities for entrepreneurial Saint Lucians to start their own business without bureaucratic red tape. The moment for embracing a path towards economic sustainability is quickly passing us by.
We recognize the personal frustration of many of our people, and this was clearly demonstrated during our recently concluded National Consultation Tour in December. Saint Lucia needs a better way forward, and the LPM must do its part in transforming Saint Lucian society. We must ensure that our movement becomes a vehicle for a new day, where an entire nation, rich and poor, young and old, flambeau et Etoile alike, can overlook petty political differences to work together to advance their collective national interests.
This year, the LPM is determined to establish a recognizable presence throughout the length and breadth of Saint Lucia.
From the official opening of our National Headquarters in Gros Islet to the establishment of numerous constituency branches and the offering of numerous training programs and assistance to Saint Lucians who are interested in blazing the path to self-sustainability, we are determined to prove that a political organization in opposition does not always have to be in power to do the best it can for the people of our country. Therefore, we invite you to become a part of something new, a new way of thinking. We hope you will join us in a political movement whose guiding principle is to advance your interests, not its own or that of its inner circles.
Within the LPM, you will find full acceptance and the opportunity to suggest new ideas. You have the opportunity to become part of the change that you have envisioned for your country. I pray that God will bless this beautiful island of ours and grant us a prosperous New Year.