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Opposition Leader Philip J. Pierre believes the Saint Lucia Jazz event has been turned into a failure under the United Workers Party (UWP) government.
Speaking at a press conference on Thursday, May 16, Pierre said the Saint Lucia Labour Party will make the event great again when the party returns to power.
“The Saint Lucia Labour Party pledges that on its return to government, it will take all necessary steps to restore Saint Lucia Jazz to its former glory and return the benefits of that musical festival to the largest number of people as possible,” he told the media.
Pierre said when the UWP government came into office in June 2016, the renowned jazz festival was rated among the top five festivals in the world and attracted thousands of visitors, including scores of international journalists to Saint Lucia yearly, which generated significant financial benefits to small vendors, artists, musicians, taxi drivers, small and large hotels, guest houses and many other ancillary businesses.
He went on to say that many rural and urban communities benefited economically “from bringing jazz to the people concept”.
“Saint Lucia Jazz was the envy of many Caribbean islands,” he noted.
But Pierre said Prime Minister Allen Chastanet changed up the event without thinking about the livelihoods of the hundreds of people who would have been affected.
“On December 12th, 2016, Prime Minister Allen Chastanet, in yet another act of short-sightedness, immaturity and haste, announced to the world that there would no longer be Saint Lucia Jazz.
“He did not care with the single mothers or vendors who sold souvenirs to the visitors. He did not care about the taxi drivers, minibus drivers or hotel workers who are employed during what was usually a low occupancy season for the hotels. Instead, the prime minister preferred to have Saint Lucia Jazz as an event hosted mainly in large hotels and venues where visitors and locals would no longer be able to enjoy the wonderful natural ambiance of our country,” Pierre said.
Without question, the opposition leader said the central attraction of Saint Lucia Jazz was the staging of the main-stage events at the iconic Pigeon Point National Landmark, arguably one of the most breath-taking venues in the world for such an event.
“Instead the government,” Pierre said, “chose imported tents costing millions of dollars, most likely sourced by friends of the government, to stage the shows. By so doing, the government removed the thrilling natural backdrop which had become a major feature of Saint Lucia Jazz.”
He added: “Remember that is the same government that withdrew the subvention from the Saint Lucia National Trust, and in a further act of vindictiveness, denies the Trust an opportunity to generate much-needed revenue from the rental of Pigeon Island National Landmark for Saint Lucia Jazz. It is obvious the Allen Chastanet and his government intends to stifle the National Trust out of existence. This is a travesty crying to heaven for mercy.”