The Lucian People’s Movement (LPM) wishes to express its deep disappointment with the statement by Mr Clinton Reynolds, the President of the Media Association of Saint Lucia (MASL), condemning the party.
The LPM also wishes to publicly express its dissatisfaction with the trivial and selective manner in which DBS sought to address the movement’s concerns regarding the cost of operating our embassies and consulates with Saint Lucia’s external minister.
The LPM said that while it has no desire or agenda to dictate to DBS, or any other media houses, how it presents its news, the party is dismayed when its viewpoint and the details of its position is trivialized or misrepresented.
The LPM pointed to DBS’s very first newscast on the matter on February 4, 2013, during which it was made to appear as if the focus of LPM’s concerns was to shut down the consulate in Miami. This was followed by another cursory news presentation on February 9, during which DBS sought to frame the issue around the external minister’s travel abroad.
Clearly the two statements released by the LPM regarding the exorbitant cost of maintaining three US facilities within close proximity to each other had focused on a number of common-sense, cost-efficient suggestions, which if taken in good faith, could save the country millions of dollars. These funds could then be diverted to economic restructuring at home.
The LPM’s main concerns were no doubt beyond DBS’s comprehension and thus it preoccupied itself with two lines from an entire press release that dealt with the immediate shutdown of the embassy in Miami and the $12.48 million that the government has allocated to itself for travel and subsistence expenses.
However, what about the essence of LPM’s position: the cost of personal housing for ambassadors, consuls, and their staff; the government’s long-standing decision to opt for prime real estate for embassies and consulates, which costs the taxpayer thousands of dollars monthly; and the exorbitant salaries and allowances diplomats receive, including chauffeur-driven cars. Why weren’t these arguments considered newsworthy and presented for public discussion?
Our party is also left to wonder, in the interests of public education and discourse, whether DBS fully understood the LPM’s solution-driven approach, which is indeed characteristic of an effective opposition.
The LPM is a futuristic political organization whose guiding principle is to place the interests of the people of Saint Lucia first. Therefore, we wish to make it very clear to Mr Reynolds that whatever he meant by “being seen as relevant in the Saint Lucian context” should not be his excuse to disrespect and dismiss a small and unconventional political organization that has the foresight to make sensible suggestions to our government.
For his benefit, we repeat them here:
a) Enter into agreements with members of the OECS to share embassy spaces and to even, perhaps, permanently operate joint facilities in order to extend the diplomatic reach of the island and the OECS region.
b) Tap into the vast network of Saint Lucian students studying abroad in fields such as international relations, and international business and marketing who are capable of being utilized in our missions and consulates on a voluntary or internship basis.
c) Restructure our entire operations abroad so as to usher in a modern system of diplomacy that produces trained diplomats whose primary focus is not attaching themselves to international causes but rather using their positions to attract jobs to our shores.
D) Relocate Saint Lucia’s consulate in Miami, and instead consider setting up an embassy in Brazil, which currently has an emerging economy that would be better suited for Saint Lucia’s economic aspirations.
Finally, the LPM wishes to categorically deny Mr Reynolds’s misguided assertion that LPM’s grievance with DBS amounts to an attack on the MASL. From our inception as a political organization in 2010, the LPM has always been supportive and respectful of the men and women who work so hard to deliver the news to the Saint Lucian public.
As a political organization, we understand our boundaries and limitations; however, pointing out to a news organization that it has not accurately presented a point of view can only serve to broaden the democratic process and the quality of that organisation.