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Saint Lucia’s Prime Minister Allen Chastanet’s actions before his policy position and now accompanied by the 2017/18 appropriation bill demonstrate clear intentions to wield power and administrative direction.
Nevertheless, it would be immoral for me to pretend otherwise.
I’m afraid that I cannot be pollyannaish about this government. There will come a time when we have to think about recovering from the damage done by the current politics of this administration.
Saint Lucia is standing at the edge of an abyss. The political system, the economy, our independence, our society, and our small island are in greater danger than we were in the 70s and the 80s.
But one thing is clear, we must band together right now to defend our independence, our Island home, the land that gave us birth, our ideals, our culture and values on which our country is based.
I decided to write this article after I got tired of trying to explain and understand Chastanet’s economic approach to development, which I interpret as modernization not development.
My position on this discourse, reality, truth, and why Dr Kenny Anthony is not to be blamed for the budding authoritarian that is in Saint Lucia’s politics right now, Allen Chastanet, and that while truth is a social construct, that does not mean anything goes.
I first met Allen Chastanet in 2011, when I ran as an Independent candidate in Soufriere. He would soon leave Soufriere and run in the 2016 General Election in South Micoud, where he was elected.
The policies that have unfolded post Prime Minister Chastanet’s election has left me to think that if complexity presently outstrips Saint Lucians’ capacity to think and control their future, then there are two options: one is to reduce complexity down to a human scale; and the other is to expand capacity.
I support the latter; however, what has made Prime Minister Chastanet’s leadership so complex, lies in a historical narrative that needs to be deconstructed.
Prime Minister Chastanet’s role in Saint Lucians’ history must facilitate an evaluation of the political implications of his “leadership and governance” on the island natives and the economy by and large.
Despite the dominant construct, the ills of slavery remains, bondage persists, and emancipation (economic and intellectual) is still a struggle. And may I suggest that present day bondage for us former Atlantic slaves is not a metaphor, rather, our historical condition that has yet to be properly alleviated, spiritually, psychologically, socially, and geo-politically.
Such living testimony from us who were born into the struggle is at odds with Prime Minister Chastanet’s understanding of our reality. In many ways, his present day activities are the new circuit of globalization that has replaced the plantation economies.
It might be fair to add that what I saw in then candidate Chastanet, in his run for Soufriere in 2011, was an individual whose style of leadership is a de-humanization of descendants of African slaves through the global pursuit of super-profits for him and other trans- colonialists like himself, and is no less apparent today.
Again, it is necessary to point out the significant lack of Prime Minister Chastanet’s direct and sustained engagement in a participatory process with the people of Saint Lucia. This must be contextualized as a deeper political prejudice against us, descendants of African slaves.
In June of 2016, many witness the free expressions of the citizenry of Saint Lucia expressing their will in the ballot box.
Routinely, we witness this ritual every four to five years, as our constitution allows, but this time Saint Lucia, and for the first time in our history, is led by someone who is a stranger to our language, our culture and heritage, and has never walked one day in our shoes.
How did this happen? However well-intentioned the people of Saint Lucia might have been leading up to the general election, they made their choice with no idea of Chastanet’s false modesty.
He successfully pretended to understand our pain, and like a tricky politician, made promises together with other trans- colonialists, part of a malevolent intent to devalue our government, our heritage and institutions.
But certainly, since becoming prime minister, he has revealed his obnoxious nature. As a result, he is perpetually comfortable, a parasite of intentional destruction for the benefit of business corporatists.
For the first time in our history, we may well be at the threshold of an autocratic government in Saint Lucia. Did I just say autocracy? Yes I did! That’s what’s particularly jarring about Prime Minister Chastanet.
We are now getting to understand a little more of how he thinks of Saint Lucia and her people:
- He routinely proves he is unprepared to seek common ground with any of his predecessors or his opponents
- He has disdain for descending views and critics of the government.
- He has no respect for the institutions of government, as evidenced by his liking for the fallacy of the structure of CEOs in government.
- He repudiates almost every cultural norm. He does not share our values and without offering a practical alternative, his actions have become destructive.
His disregard for the constitution validates attempts by budding authoritarians in the deconstruction of administrative functions of the state, by the deliberate failure to appoint a deputy speaker, table a citizenship by investment motion in parliament for discussion, and refusal to make public the Desert Star Holdings (DSH) agreement.
But mentally, Prime Minister Chastanet is too incompetent to understand his own incompetence and sense of self, when he recently suspended the debate on the appropriations bill for six weeks. If, in the words of Prime Minister Chastanet, the new acronym for DSH is: Delivering, Southern, Hope, then why the secrecy?
Emblematic is the political and economic mess in Saint Lucia today, 11 months after Prime Minister Chastanet took office, his administration’s dangerous policy, temperament and greed, and a cabinet that is emotionally unsound.
We must be mindful of the falsehood by leaders of autocratic tendencies and their chosen words, such as job creation, economic development, tourism development and the control of areas of financial influence in consideration of financial interests.
Under Prime Minister Chastanet’s leadership, the composite of new and current statutory institutions is not intended to benefit the majority of Saint Lucians. His intentions are clear: to take control of the press, the media and an assault on the truth.
Government policy for the fiscal year 2017/18 has announced that Radio Saint Lucia, Saint Lucia Marketing Board, Saint Lucia Fish marketing Corporation, the government supply warehouse (and the subsidy provisions for flour, rice and sugar) is set to close.
Saint Lucia National Trust has been defunded. The National Printing Corporation and Saint Lucia Postal service are set to transfer into private hands.
Quite simply, these are destructive policies in the making of a monopoly plan. This business corporatist plan is not only bad, it is dangerous and deadly for our society.
“It took Putin a year to take over the Russian media and four years to dismantle its electoral system; the judiciary collapsed unnoticed. The capture of institutions in Turkey has been carried out even faster, by a man once celebrated as the democrat to lead Turkey into the EU. Poland has in less than a year undone half of a quarter century’s accomplishments in building a constitutional democracy.” ~ Masha Gessen
Our democracy is not mature enough for us to think that such type of autocratic government is impossible. We should take a look at history’s dishonest and lethargic creatures who got elected.
The 2016 election served to validate these impulses. In a short period of time, I was able to understand then candidate Chastanet’s immaturity, his debt to business corporatists and his trans- colonialist’s agenda.
Anyone who is holding out ‘hope and change’ on Prime Minister Chastanet and his administration must dispose of that anticipation. For it is we the people of Saint Lucia who have lost not the Saint Lucia Labor Party (SLP) or the United Workers Party (UWP): it is ‘we the people who have lost.’
It is important for us to remember our children’s future. Prime Minister Chastanet certainly will not. Failure for us to imagine our future or the future we want for ourselves may cost us the demise of our democratic independence as a nation.
Prime Minister Chastanet offers no vision for the future. His actions and directives are careless and precarious for Saint Lucia. His utterances are a betrayal of intelligence. All he offers is a vision of a spurious past.
Harvey Cenac, chief visionary office(CVO) for Seed Foundation Inc., has over 15 years experience as an entrepreneur, coach, and strategic communicator. His background includes experience in the United States and the Caribbean. He is also the co-author of the book; Walking with Giants
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