Front Page
May 23, 2008
Heavy equipment arrives for Argyle airport earthworks

The first 13 pieces of equipment needed for the first phase of the earthworks for the Argyle International Airport arrived here from Panama last Monday, and the government made sure that every body knew it.{{more}}

A ceremony to bless the US$5 million worth of equipment was held last Wednesday at the Campden Park Port, with Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves reminiscing on the efforts put into raising the funds, and putting the machinery in place to ensure that the airport becomes a reality.

As he reencounted his efforts in securing support from Cuba, Venezuela, Taiwan and other allies, Dr Gonsalves was critical of the opposition New Democratic Party (NDP), which he says has three positions on the airport.

He said that they are opposed to the airport, confused about it, and are in denial, all at the same time.

He chided the former NDP administration for not doing any airport development on mainland St Vincent during their 17-year reign, while touting his government’s airport accomplishments of building the Canouan Jet Airport, and the work being done on the international airport, during it’s seven years in power.

Dr Gonsalves noted that leading up to the finalizing of the plan for the airport project, his government listened to proposals and suggestions from various international groups and agencies and held many discussions before settling on the way forward for the airport.

He also lauded the support he has received from friendly governments, and said that the pledge of support from leaders like Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and his Cuban counterpart, former president Fidel Castro meant more than signed documents, as he was convinced that he could trust their word, and commitment to the fulfillment of the airport dream.

He explained that while other nations are giving money towards the airport, the Design and Supervision, along with the technical workers being sent by Cuba is also of immense value to the project.

Among the Cuban contingent is Leonardo “The Professor” Perez, the man charged with overseeing the construction of the runaway, who referred to Dr Gonsalves as a dreamer who has got everybody around him to dream also.

The Charge D’ Affaires of the Venezuela Embassy here in St Vincent and the Grenadines, Gustavo Curiel also addressed the ceremony, and said that President Chavez was personally involved in arranging all the assistance being given for the Airport project. He said that Chavez’s commitment to the project was reaffirmed during his state visit in February of 2005, and said that the relationship between the two countries is becoming more productive.

Dr Gonsalves, for his part, again used the opportunity to stoutly defend his close relationship with the Venezuelan leftist leader, Chavez.

“These (the equipment) would not be here if there was not a Bolivian revolution, these would not be here if there was no Hugo Chavez, so those who want to turn Hugo Chavez into some kind of monster, I am not going there with them. Because those who demonizing Chavez not sending the equipment for us to build the international airport,’ Dr Gonsalves said.

Head of the International Airport Development Cooperation (IADC) Dr Rudy Matthias said that while people questioned what was being done on the project over the last two and a half years, many things were happening behind the scenes.

He too was in high praise of Dr Gonsalves, without whom, according to Matthias, the project would not be coming to fruition.

He thanked the homeowners of Arglye, whose properties were acquired by the Government, for mostly cooperating with the government in the re-location exercise, and said that he is convinced that the large majority of Vincentians are welcoming the International Airport, while only a small minority “can’t deal with it.”

The equipment was blessed, and yesterday, they should have been transported in a caravan from Campden Park to the construction site at Argyle.