COMMENTARY – In the aftermath of the June 2016 general elections in Saint Lucia, the approach by the Allen Chastanet-led administration has been geared towards change, except is reality tells a far different story.
Saint Lucia is blessed with Nobel laureates Sir Derek Walcott for literature and Sir Arthur Lewis for economics. Their influence spans the globe, their mental astuteness, collective principles to sovereignty and integrity are cherished.
However, far from emulating any of our Nobel laureates, even to the smallest degree, the present modus operandi of our so-called political leaders – complex characters at best – mean that change and freedom in Saint Lucia are subject to the highest threat levels.
Sir Derek Walcott’s literary works have stood the test of time and he cautioned Caribbean governments for “selling our land like whores to foreign investors” and spoke in strong terms that “prostitution is a thing called development” and about the “obscenity of greed” as well as “bribery” and “corruption”.
As noted previously, in part 1, Saint Lucia is a typical example of foreign land grabs “which the local society gains nothing in return except for a few low paid service jobs.”
As a similar end result, this is still very practical today. It is worthwhile rereading “The Mongoose” by Walcott ~ “It’s going to be nasty”.
In a recent Facebook post, Wilson Jn Baptiste wrote: “Saint Lucia is beginning to look like an island without intelligent Saint Lucians… an island of servants…”
For evidence, I explored no further than the ill-defined cabinet of ministers, their cheerleaders and outlier adaptability and management style, who find comfort in the form of “expropriation” of Saint Lucia’s patrimony for 99 years for the consideration of US$1 per acre to foreign interests, with little or no controls.
Once again it did not take long, as argued in my article of August 15, 2016: St Lucia PM’s semantics and incompetence: A toxic mix
“Given the pervasive culture of corruption and as a priority to restore Saint Lucia’s sense of purpose, values and to rebase law and order to influence the future, could the overriding chant at the Republican National Convention ‘Lock her up’, read in the local political environment ‘Lock him up’?”
As indicated previously, change and freedom are under the highest threat levels, in the philosophy of a diverse phenomenon Citizenship by Investment (CIP), and that of a legal mind in the article, Economic Citizenship: The way I see it, that has indeed been manifest in today’s intrinsic reality.
The landscape is also littered with surrogates, some unwittingly working overtime to suppress the right to freedom of speech and freedom of the press.
In furtherance of the Machiavellian way of change, privacy and secrecy are deployed to permit the privileged a variety of options to profit; however, there is no consultation with the wider populace on how to develop their own framework or competency based approach.
Beyond the headlines, however, there’s the ambition of the Chastanet-led administration, based on their true adherence to the Machiavellian way: “The employment of cunning and duplicity in statecraft or in general conduct”, which if left unchecked can potentially suppress participation in the economic viability of our motherland.
In keeping with these tendencies, the Chastanet-led administration – “a government of law breakers” – seized on the holidays when the nation’s attention is on family and jollification, and in accordance with DSH framework agreement, to “remove the limitation on CIP applications per year by December 31, 2016” sneakily made amendments to the Citizenship by Investment Regulations No.89 of 2015, which are detrimental to the well-being of Saint Lucia.
Nonetheless, the amendments to CIP were first published by a local lawyer on social media platform LinkedIn and headlined on Caribbean News Now as “St Lucia goes cheap”, “prompting some social media posters to describe the country now as the ‘dollar store’ of Caribbean citizenship.”
On January 3, 2017 a press release from the government of Saint Lucia confirmed the changes took effect on January1, 2017: coinciding with a ‘60 Minutes’ CBS News program in the United States. The program, dubbed ‘Passports for Sale’, was a report by journalist Steve Kroft on how small countries like Antigua and Barbuda, and Dominica, offer citizenship for a price, creating ways to ease travel for international citizens.
However, the government of Saint Lucia press release and Prime Minister Allen Chastanet press conference last Thursday collectively served up no convincing evidence to anticipate economic buoyancy in 2017 through the sale of passports and no logical purpose to justify the rebranding of the island from Saint Lucia simply beautiful to Saint Lucia the cheapest.
This is further demonstrated by Prime Minister Chastanet’s thought process: “I heard this idea that we are selling ourselves cheap, but the fact is, when people are buying a citizenship programme, they are buying it because it has a value. And unfortunately, we don’t necessarily like to hear that, but the value is not necessarily the country, the value is what access the citizenship gives you.”
Following the citizenship by investment (CIP) segment of the CBS “60 programme Minutes”, a wave of statements and press releases surfaced, which highlights the need for designated state institutions and a media strategy to convey the correct image of the Caribbean region, in particular those associated with CIP.
There is hardly any mystery to the message conveyed that Saint Lucia’s CIP (now the cheapest) is open to “prostitution, bribery and corruption” and that its financial integrity, national security socio-economic vulnerabilities and immigration are further compromised.
This is very dangerous to the principles of ethics and responsibility but, evidently in keeping with the principles of the Machiavellian way of change, however absurd, such is not surprising from “a government of law breakers” with a seemingly hidden agenda, threatening the very core of Saint Lucia.
Prime Minister Chastanet has repeatedly proven the truth of the cliché – once a liar, always a liar. To lie about one’s true goals, one lie just leads to another. Some of the answers lay in policy, the others in leaked documents.
The terrible truth is that the characteristic tendency to the bigger truth is hiding in plain sight, if only disguised by its very obviousness, but citizens are becoming more aware and external conclusions more vigilant.
In harmony with these implications, it is necessary to re-state that the DSH framework agreement in its present form and undertakings; likewise CIP as part of current projects under consideration; or as a standalone proposition, coupled with the Chastanet-led administration represents an existential threat to the very foundation of Saint Lucia.
This has become notable and quite clear as the Chastanet-led administration’s principles and policies are tending to devalue the essence of the Saint Lucian identity, and heading for an international designation that is unfavourable.
Put simply, this draws a parallel with low-quality governance and the vulnerability to deception and cronyism. In the absence of robust rule of law, this ultimately undermines innovation and high quality investments.
In a December 8, 2014, article I expressed the view: St Lucia Labour Party is deluded… brace for drawbacks, “after all, the essence of governance is to represent and engage the people and not marshal them adversely.” The rest is history.
The underlying fact is that the principles and policies of the Chastanet-led administration require immediate and fundamental reversal for proper determination that is eminently reasonable in the face of socio-economic upheaval.
In part 3: Many moons ago, Sir John Compton’s mantra echoed: “Lucians, watch your bread.” Currently, St Lucians are being exploited by their own government and diminished from landlords to servants!
Melanius Alphonse is a management and development consultant, a long-standing senior correspondent and a contributing columnist to Caribbean News Now. His areas of focus include political, economic and global security developments, and on the latest news and opinion. His philanthropic interests include advocating for community development, social justice, economic freedom and equality. He contributes to special programming on Radio Free Iyanola, RFI 102.1FM and NewsNow Global analysis. He can be reached at [email protected]