Castries, Saint Lucia, September 23:– Fresh back-home after almost two months away on holiday following his party’s defeat in July 26 General Elections, United Workers Party (UWP) Leader Allen Michael Chastanet has wasted no time throwing the gauntlet to his successor, Prime Minister Philip J. Pierre, immediately challenging the new Saint Lucia leader to a virtual fight over his administration’s handling of the inherited COVID crisis.
The party issued a statement Wednesday (September 22) taking Pierre and his government to task over every aspect of their handling of the COVID-19 crisis since taking office on August 17.
It quoted the UWP Leader pummeling the SLP administration and accusing it of everything from “falling asleep at the wheel” to being “willing to sacrifice lives in pursuit of a Mission Impossible.”
Headlined Has the Pierre Government Surreptitiously Implemented a Herd Immunity Strategy for Saint Lucia? The statement says:
“Given the lack of protocols to slow-down the COVID-19 infection rate, it would appear that the Government has abandoned plans to ensure and encourage citizens to get vaccinated.”
“It seems the administration has also come to appreciate the price to be paid for shutting down the economy.”
“Instead of tightening its limited protocols and save lives and livelihoods in the best interests of the public, the government has fallen asleep at the wheel.”
“The consequences are inescapable. Active Cases now exceed 2,500, with no respite in sight.”
“There’s a dramatic increase in critical cases and in the number of COVID-associated deaths and the Government has made no attempt to reintroduce the use of hotels for infected patients, especially considering Victoria Hospital only has 100 beds.”
“The government is well aware that if the trend continues this hospital will soon be filled with critical patients, as has occurred disastrously in other countries.”
“With its back to the wall, indications are that the government may have decidedly surreptitiously to simply allow the entire population to become infected, hopefully to achieve Herd Immunity.”
“UWP Leader and Leader of the Opposition Allen Chastanet, who successfully led Saint Lucia through previous outbreaks, says this was the same strategy implemented by some other countries in the earlier stages of the outbreak with deadly consequences”
“If in fact the Government has decided to go in this direction,” says Mr. Chastanet, “it means they are willing to sacrifice lives in pursuit of a mission impossible.”
“We cannot accept this game of dice when the lives of our people are at stake.”
“Keep in mind our rate of diabetes and hypertension, among the highest per capita in the world. Has the Government decided how it will manage the numbers of people being infected simultaneously so that the current facilities and country are not overwhelmed?”
“Has the Government understood the post-COVID health implications to the population and the potential increase in health costs to the citizens and to the country?”
“We are about to pass the 10,000 contracted cases, or just over 5% of the population. That means 94% of the population have not had COVID as yet…”
“It is clear that ‘The Science’ must include the physical capacity of the health system, the health of our citizens and their resilience to being infected and the strength of their immune system.”
“It is imperative we keep the infection rate as low as possible. The government must consider the financial capacity of the country to handle the revenue fallout and the increased cost.”
“The UWP recalls the discouraging false statements by members of the current government when they were in opposition. No wonder they now appear mired-down by their earlier-held positions in the face of the previous government’s well-intended efforts.”
“Our country is under siege and the current administration is offering the people little defense. Even more concerning is the demonstrated lack of empathy, even with the country in free-fall.”
“The government must immediately change course.”
“If you allow COVID to continue spreading, the citizens of this country will soon reach a point of desperation, such as we’ve never seen…”
The lengthy statement — issued days after Mr Chastanet landed home and just following the exposure of an alleged scandal involving purchase of COVID vaccines for Saint Lucia under his watch — offers no solutions from a party that led the country’s fight against the COVID-19 virus from March 18, 2020, when it was declared a global pandemic.
Nor does it explain why as much as seven million dollars ($7M) of Saint Lucian taxpayers’ money is being referred to in a questionable deal involving Saint Lucia, Barbados and The Bahamas paying questionable private sector outfits to provide vaccines they failed to before the UWP was voted out of office.
The statement also incorrectly refers to Mr Chastanet as “Leader of the Opposition”, even though since he won his seat on July 26, Mr Chastanet has failed to attend any of the three business sessions of the Saint Lucia Parliament that followed the first Joint Sitting on August 17.
Nor has Mr Chastanet taken the Oath of Office as MP for Micoud South — and he hasn’t been appointed to the position by the Governor General, as constitutionally required.
The statement also evaded questions on the minds of most who’ve seen, heard or read and tried to follow the unending twists and turns in the various related media exposures.
A top Barbados government official on Wednesday described the process of accessing vaccines internationally as like doing business in “The Wild, Wild West!”
In that sense, Mr Chastanet’s statements sound like an open invitation to a 21st Century Castries version of a virtual cowboy ‘Gunfight at Blue Coral’ — over COVID.
However, the general hope is that the UWP — and its leader — will publicly explain, sooner than later, exactly how much Saint Lucian taxpayers’ dollars went down the Deep Black Hole of Calcutta in a botched deal to buy one million vaccines from a supplier who couldn’t acquire them in the first place.