Closer, more meaningful ties with the Diaspora
November 1, 2022
Closer, more meaningful ties with the Diaspora

An enormous sense of pride seems to have been reignited in the Vincentian diaspora, particularly, though not exclusively, in New York. This follows the lighting of New York’s iconic Empire State Building, a global landmark, and the flag-raising ceremony at Bowling Green, last Thursday, Independence Day.

In New York in particular, home to the largest Vincy population outside the homeland, this sense of St Vincent and the Grenadines truly being on the international stage has imbued both increased pride as well as spurred the demands for closer, more meaningful ties with Youreimei, as the indigenous people called our home.

And it is not just in New York that the symbolic display of our flag on such an important occasion has given a heightened sense of importance and national identity.

The feeling exists not only in the rest of the diaspora but here at home as well. It has also swept aside the empty scoffs of those who attempt to belittle our impressive achievements on the foreign policy front.

Yet as we bask in these positive signs, we must also be aware that each such forward step demands a more meaningful integration of our citizenry abroad with their homeland.

That is manifested in the constant complaints from diaspora Vincentians about the quality of the relationship and demands for it to be placed on a higher level.

Many complain that it seems as if Vincentians abroad are used and appreciated only in times of disaster when assistance is critically needed, or at elections when political parties are seeking funding and support.

Calls are being constantly made for a new level of relationship which recognizes the importance and strategic value of the human capital that we possess abroad.
Just as we seek foreign investors, so too should investment opportunities in our country for Vincentians living abroad be pursued. There is even a trend of thought that incentives to attract such potential investors in our diaspora should be made even more attractive than those for foreigners.

There are of course implications for handling the modalities of this, but it must be clearly seen that there is a concerted effort to attract Vincentian capital, both material and human, to invest and participate meaningfully in our development thrust. There are Vincentians and persons of Vincentian descent abroad who possess skills very relevant to our development needs and who have gained practical experience working in other countries. We need them as much as we would welcome investment from them directly rather than they having to resort to Wall Street’s stocks and bonds. We must demonstrate in practical terms how such a relationship could be mutually beneficial.

There is also the long talked-about issue of a pathway to citizenship for second-generation Vincentians, making them part and parcel of our thrust in national development. Both the identification with and their involvement in our future can only redound to the benefit of all.

As we bask in the heightened profile of our country, let us take advantage of the favorable climate to act now.