November 2, 2007
New UN envoy urges nationals to give back more to homeland

by Nelson A. King in New York 02.NOV.07

Newly-appointed St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ Ambassador to the United Nations Camillo Gonsalves has urged his compatriots to give back more to their homeland.

Gonsalves, a lawyer, the eldest son of Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, made the appeal Sunday while delivering the keynote address at a gala luncheon at Crystal Manor in Brooklyn, marking the 28th anniversary of the nation’s independence.{{more}}

In his first major address to nationals here since replacing Margaret Hughes-Ferrari, another lawyer, who has been recalled, the younger Gonsalves said Vincentians have a “unique and indispensable role to play in this new era of nation building.”

“In the early days of the Diaspora community, Vincentians did not have the numbers, the income and the respect that you have earned to this point,” he said.

“As a community, you have grown larger and more assertive; you have earned promotions, raises, and higher education; you are managers, CEOs, and business owners; you have clout both in New York and at home.

“Your remittances are vital. It is impossible to overstate the importance of the money that you send back home,” he added.

“As you advance, it is right and proper that you share the fruits of your success with your families who remain in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. But you must do more,” he continued.

Gonsalves urged nationals to remit their knowledge, expertise, perspective and their time to the homeland.

“Just because you don’t live in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, it is no reason to abandon your sense of community and collective sacrifice in favour of the individualized, selfish, ‘me-first’ ethos of other civilizations,” he said.

“St. Vincent and the Grenadines needs and expects your support,” he said.

Gonsalves said while nationals celebrate their independence, they are also “celebrating the collective accomplishments of individuals, both famous and anonymous, who have brought the nation to this point.”

“It is our job to continue their journey,” he said.

“We must have a nobleness of purpose and an independence of spirit, to find our path in this new era,” he added.

“For, however long you decide to remain overseas, fly the flag of pride and nationhood and independence high for all to see,” he continued.

“Each and every one of us, at home and abroad, must work together to build a new St. Vincent and the Grenadines,” he said.

Gonsalves said the incumbent administration in Kingstown is crafting a “modern, post-colonial society that is centered on the needs and interests of our people and our Caribbean civilization.”

“The revolutions that you hear the government discussing these days – education revolution, wellness revolution, etc. – are part and parcel of a greater post-colonial revolution, where St. Vincent and the Grenadines does not simply attempt to get by as it has always gotten-by,” he said.

“Instead, this post-colonial revolution marks the birth of a new phase in our journey of independence,” he added.

Gonsalves said the “modern civilization” is being built through, among other things, constitutional, educational, judicial and security reform; enhanced foreign policy; tourism expansion; and general economic development.

“In short, St. Vincent and the Grenadines is comprehensively building a modern, post-colonial nation by fundamentally reenergizing every sector of our societal development,” he said.

“These are truly exciting times to be a Vincentian,” the new UN envoy added.

Gonsalves essentially echoed the remarks of New York Consul General Cosmus Cozier, who a week earlier had appealed to his compatriots to do more for the homeland.

“We have entered a different era, the era when baby boomers are coming of age,” Cozier told an Ecumenical Service of

Thanksgiving Sunday, Oct. 21, at St. Mark’s United Methodist Church in the Flatbush section of Brooklyn.

“We, in the Diaspora, can make our contribution, and we must continue to do so whether in academia, finance or community development,” he added.

The luncheon, organized by the Council of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, the umbrella Vincentian group here, and the New York Consulate General, culminated a week of activities, commemorating the independence anniversary.