May 27, 2005
Cabinet revolts

Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves is yet to fully understand the reasons why he went to Mount St. Benedict, a Roman Catholic Monastery in Trinidad constructed in 1912 where he spent 10 days living among 15 monks resting and reflecting from May 7.

But as he reflected on his spiritual retreat, which sparked much interest amidst a tense political climate, the Prime Minister disclosed in an exclusive interview with SEARCHLIGHT he was forced to take a vacation after his Cabinet revolted.{{more}}

In 2001, shortly after the Unity Labour Party (ULP) formed government, Cabinet took a decision that its members must take at least two weeks holidays every year. Since then Dr. Gonsalves has been the only Cabinet member who had not taken a vacation.

“The Cabinet revolted and said that I am disregarding the Cabinet’s decision and I must go. They were very insistent on it,” said the Prime Minister.

He said the decision to go to Trinidad was made three months prior to his spiritual retreat. But he confessed he also wanted to use the opportunity to get some rest.

His wife Eloise Gonsalves, who spoke to Bishop Robert Rivas, head of the Roman Catholic Church in St.Vincent and the Grenadines, on his behalf, made the preparation for the Prime Minister’s pilgrimage.

Responding to the observation that he had become very fond of quoting the Bible of late after having been called a fire-brand Marxist/Leninist, Dr. Gonsalves quipped that he had always found the Bible to be an inspiring book as well, and always found comfort and solace in it. He said he had found many things in it that connect to human experiences and that the Bible has provided a dimension of faith for instances where the mind cannot rationally address certain matters.

Dr. Gonsalves said that during his stay at the monastery, he used his time to write a journal of 120 pages.

He said, besides enjoying a period of prayer, silence and contemplation he also had the opportunity to do gardening where he had the opportunity to assist with the planting of chives, parsley and sweet peppers.