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December 11, 2009
Sir James makes new declaration on Grenadines Independence

Sir James Mitchell no longer holds the view that the Grenadines should seek independence from St Vincent.

In an exclusive interview with SEARCHLIGHT last Tuesday, Sir James said: “I am a practical person. I don’t even think St.Vincent is big enough for a government.”{{more}}

SEARCHLIGHT’s Editor Clare Keizer raised the issue during an interview with the former Prime Minister which dealt several issues. Among them was his article “Learning a new language in order to feed the world,” published in the prestigious British journal “Biologist”; his reflections on the November 25th Referendum; the Union Island uprising, among others.

Asked directly if he still holds the view put forward almost thirty years ago, Sir James responded: “That confused the Labour Party …while they thought I was cutting away, I took over St. Vincent.

“It was a reaction to the way they treated the people in Union Island,” said the elder statesman, who came out of retirement in September this year to support the ‘Vote No Campaign’ led by his New Democratic Party (NDP) in the referendum.

“You have no idea what they did there, you know. You have no idea,” said Sir James.

“I told Milton Cato I could go down there in a bathsuit and settle it,” said Sir James, noting that a number of illegal activities were carried out against the people of Union Island.

When asked if it was his anger at what had happened that prompted him to issue the declaration, Sir James said frankly: “That’s right.”

The Grenadines Declaration of May 31, 1980, had stated the people of the Grenadines are conscious of the control of their destiny by people who are hostile to their aspirations. It added that they were also sensitive to the relentless exploitation of their resources without benefit to themselves.

Several other issues were also highlighted in the declaration such as the alleged violation of the Constitution to deny the people of the Grenadines representation and the suffering of the people “under the deliberate restriction of our progress by forces unrepresentative of the will of our people”.

The declaration resolved that a referendum be called “on Independence for the Grenadines to determine the will of the people of the Grenadines” in an effort to free themselves “from all forms of oppression.”

On December 7, 1979, six weeks after the country had become independent and two days after the General Elections won by the St. Vincent Labour Party, a group of armed men took over Union Island. News reaching the mainland was that the police station on the island forty miles south of St. Vincent had been attacked and the airport blocked off.

Regional law enforcement officers were brought in to assist local police officers in quelling the uprising.