September 30, 2005

When friends come a visiting

This Wednesday, our nation laid out the red carpet to welcome His Excellency Chen Shui-Bian, the President of China on Taiwan. He heads a country that has been a great friend of St.Vincent and the Grenadines for the last 24 years.

A great multitude of people of all walks of life gathered at the E.T. Joshua to welcome the leader. But as he touched down in a LIAT, one of several flights which ferried the members of his large delegation to this country, the thought must not have been very far from the minds of many that had we a better facility, the “inconveniences” referred to by Prime Minister Gonsalves during his welcoming address would have been absent.{{more}}

Indeed, among the issues down for discussion between the Head of State of Taiwan and the Head of Government of St.Vincent and the Grenadines, was the construction of the international airport earmarked for Argyle.

Taiwan had been announced by Dr. Gonsalves as being among one of the countries comprising what he called “the coalition of the willing” that would be assisting our people with airport development.

But just two weeks ago, we welcomed some other important figures from two other member countries of the willing, though not with the same fanfare but with equal seriousness. From Cuba and Venezuela came Rogelio Acevedo, the President of Civil Aeronautics of Cuba with ministerial rank and Ramon Carrizalez, the Minister of Infrastructure of Venezuela. They came accompanied by other high ranking personnel from both countries eager to get to work on advancing studies on the geology, topography and the wind behaviour of the Argyle area in preparation for design work on the proposed airport.

Following these high-ranking officials’ visits, other specialists arrived here and have begun the specialized studies.

The visits during this week and the previous two demonstrate an interesting display of plurality in the foreign affairs of this country. It showed that, like the United States of America does, we are capable of maintaining relations with countries even though those nations may have differences with each other. Our relations therefore are testimony that we can look out for our own interests without getting into the fights of other nations. After all, the only thing constant in life is change and we just may see tomorrow, the Taiwanese people being reunited with their mainland brothers, as Hong Kong did earlier. Then we may see the Taiwanese and Cuban people shaking hands even as we shake hands with both countries to advance our mutual interests.

Until then, we must continue to embrace all friends with the best Vincentian hospitality whenever they come a visiting.