Baptiste accuses PM’s ‘political acolytes’ of distorting his ‘sobering’ COVID-19 statement

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Baptiste accuses PM’s ‘political acolytes’ of distorting his ‘sobering’ COVID-19 statement
Baptiste (file photo)
Baptiste (file photo)

(St. Lucia News Online) — Parliamentary Representative for Laborie/Augier Alva Baptiste has blamed “political acolytes” for distorting his recent statements on the coronavirus issue.

A St Lucia News Online article quoted statements posted by Baptiste on Facebook, in which he briefly stated that the United Workers Party (UWP) government handled the lockdown “badly”.

The article also carried Baptiste’s multi-paragraph advice to his constituents, and the wider Saint Lucian public, about protecting themselves and combatting the spread of the novel coronavirus.

“While the Allen Chastanet-led UWP Administration has ‘tested positive’ for handling the lockdown badly, and in a most confused manner. And while many Saint Lucians are accusing the prime minister and his ministers of disgusting and dishonest politicking during this national crisis, I am, however, asking my constituents of Laborie/Augier and every Saint Lucian, to stay home, as far as practicable, in an effort to minimize infection and transmission of COVID-19, and in order to save our lives,” Baptiste wrote in the opening statement of his April 6 Facebook post.

This was followed by a lengthy advice on the COVID-19 subject from the former foreign minister.

However, the response from bloggers on social media was very negative, prompting Baptiste to release another Facebook statement Friday, accusing political hacks of attacking and misrepresenting his post.

He said: “The responses by constituents of Laborie/Augier and Saint Lucians generally, to my two previous posts on the COVID-19 pandemic, have been overwhelmingly positive. However, it is somewhat amazing and sad that some political acolytes of the prime minister would go out of their way, at this time, to attempt to distort my sobering messages to the people of our beloved Saint Lucia. I simply asked Laborians and Saint Lucians to look beyond their dissatisfaction with the government’s handling of the ‘lockdown’ and other issues, and take responsibility for protecting our country from this deadly COVID-19 virus, so the insults and distortions from the prime minister’s political operatives are unwarranted, misplaced and misdirected.”

Baptiste added: “Therefore, those who want to make PM Chastanet’s handling of the pandemic their central focus and play politics with my call for national unity to rid ourselves of the COVID-19 virus, can continue to languish in their own fallacy. I state, however, without any fear of contradiction, that the thrust of my post was about calling upon Saint Lucians to protect themselves and our country against this deadly coronavirus pandemic, NOT a critique of PM Chastanet’s handling of the lockdown.”

“In this regard, please review my central argument in the said post:

I am, however, asking my constituents of Laborie/Augier and every Saint Lucian, to stay home, as far as practicable, in an effort to minimize infection and transmission of COVID-19, and in order to save our lives. We are confronted with a common deadly enemy, which requires a united response: a response by all of us. Because the alternatives are:

• To continue community spread, which would quickly overwhelm our healthcare system, and a healthcare framework, which has more underlying medical conditions than the patients who are infected with the COVID-19 virus. …….. that even developed countries …….. with better-equipped health care systems, are struggling to cope with the coronavirus pandemic;

• The more persons in Saint Lucia who are infected with the COVID-19 virus, the more people who would require hospitalization and critical care, including being on ventilators. The approximately nine ventilators on the island will simply not suffice in an environment of massive community spread;

• Hand-in-hand with this point is the painful possibility of forcing doctors and nurses to determine who lives and who dies during massive community spread. ……;

The only way to avoid this unhealthy scenario is to STAY HOME, as far as practicable; observe physical distancing, practice proper hygiene and adhere to the health protocols that are in place. By STAYING HOME and obeying the health protocols we will as a country:

• Limit infections, consequently, lowering the probability for hospitalization and critical care; hence, obviating the necessity for procuring additional ventilators, for the specific purpose of coping with the health challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic;

• Overcome the challenges of COVID-19 early, thereby, placing Saint Lucia in a better position for economic recovery. For example, if we recover from COVID-19 much earlier than our tourism source markets, it places Saint Lucia in an excellent position to begin the process of putting Saint Lucians back to work in at least the hotel sector, tourism services, and the air transport system. …….;

• Minimize the lingering effects of the COVID-19 virus. Given the novelty of the COVID-19 virus, we are unsure whether it will leave those affected more vulnerable to emerging or reemerging infectious diseases. ………. Therefore, we should be prepared to use our experts, …….. to conduct a preliminary assessment of the COVID-19 pandemic’s present and projected impact on Saint Lucia.

…Recovery as a country will require a different social dynamic, a more transparent economic dialectic, and a new emergent political ethic, to mobilize change. This new discourse would ensure that social, economic, environmental, trade; energy and fiscal policies are carefully calibrated to induce development, which is sustainable.”

My message was, is and continues to be that Saint Lucians should observe the health protocols and cooperate with the authorities, regardless of whether PM Chastanet is handling this national emergency in a perfect manner or not; as even the best national plan would fail if the people do not cooperate. Also, maybe the English teachers here can educate the prime minister’s political operatives on my use of the words, ‘while’ in the start of the two opening sentences and ‘however’ in the start of the third sentence of my last post, to clearly create a contrast [notwithstanding] between what Saint Lucians felt and my message.

Laborians and Saint Lucians generally can, therefore, rest assured that no amount of spinning and insults will alter my commitment and active voice in calling upon all Saint Lucians to adhere to the health protocols so as to rid ourselves of the COVID-19 virus in the shortest possible time. My statements will continue calling for a united front to defeat the COVID-19 virus and will continue receiving the widespread appreciation and support from patriotic Saint Lucians on both sides of the political spectrum. I am not getting into any back-and-forth with political sympathizers of the prime minister; now is not the time for that! And I have no time for that! Permit me though, to restate the concluding paragraph of the said Facebook post:

“Given that we are currently in the period, when we commemorate the resurrection of Jesus Christ – the Prince-of-Peace – let us resurrect all the Saint Lucian values, which were the glue that kept the moral, social, and economic fabric of our country together. When nurtured and not abused, this fabric never got torn in the worst of global storms. At this time, let us cover ourselves with this fabric of national unity and resilience for protection against the COVID-19 virus. Fellow Saint Lucians, please DO NOT use the Easter season to engage in behaviours that will accelerate the spread of the deadly COVID-19 virus.”

“God is Good All the Time”

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1 COMMENT

  1. There is no need to be apologetic for your perceived critique of the way PM Chastanet had handled the lockdown. You and the SLP have given the PM a free pass on this issue. The SLP to a greater extend has been very timid and indecisive in its public statements. Its actions demonstrate a sense of self-censorship as if critique of the government is taboo.
    The government’s handling of the lockdown was at best hopelessly incompetent. You may not want to litigate the government’s performance but judging from the actions of regional governments PM Chastanet’s handling of the lockdown was deplorable under the circumstances.
    Case in point, PM Chastanet continues to make false claims that the COVID-19 virus is an airborne disease whereas the scientific community has reported that the virus is a droplet disease. Nobody including the Chief Medical Officer has the courage to correct him. The World Health Organization “in an analysis of 75,465 cases in China, airborne was not reported.” The WHO further states that airborne transmission is different from droplet transmission. This distinction in modes of transmission is very important because it helps to debunk false claims, disinformation, propaganda all being promoted by governments looking to hide their failures.
    Mr. Baptiste, please do not get distracted by naysayers and partisan actors seeking political benefit. Keep your eyes on the prize. We cannot allow any government even in time of crisis to rule by decree. Transparency must be paramount. As a famous person once said” the unexamined life isn’t worth living.” Therefore, if the UWP administration cannot stand scrutiny then it is not fit to govern a country.

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