September 6, 2011
WikiLeaks – Glenn Jackson was most important contact

When Glenn Jackson was killed in 2006, the U.S. Embassy in Barbados lost the person they considered their most important contact in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.{{more}}

A confidential cable, originating from the U.S. Embassy in Bridgetown and dated March 30, 2006, said that the death of Jackson, who was Press Secretary and Personal Aide to Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves; and the departure, in December 2005, of Resident British Commissioner to St. Vincent and the Grenadines Terry Knight, who the Embassy considered one of Prime Minister Gonsalves’s closest friends, “significantly changed the political landscape of this small country.”

The cable said that the challenge of developing and maintaining contacts is particularly acute in the Eastern Caribbean, as officials of the Embassy, working out of Barbados, can travel only infrequently to the other islands they cover.

“As a result, it can be difficult to identify and cultivate key contacts without regular interaction with members of the political establishment,” the cable, released by WikiLeaks on August 30, 2011, said.

The Embassy said they were therefore “particularly fortunate” to “identify Jackson’s value and cultivate a relationship that made him our most important contact.”

Describing Jackson as one of the Prime Minister’s closest confidants, who attended all Cabinet meetings and weighed in on important policy issues, the Embassy said Jackson was “among a handful of people that were close to Gonsalves in a Government full of political appointees and bureaucrats of questionable ability.”

The Embassy said that a quality in common in the Eastern Caribbean is that “decision making and access to information is often concentrated in a small clique close to the prime minister”.

In the case of SVG, they say, “PM Gonsalves has taken this tendency to an extreme and nearly all Government initiatives are run directly from his office. As the PM’s top aide, Glenn Jackson was, therefore, exceptionally knowledgeable.”

The Embassy also lamented the departure of Resident British Commissioner Terry Knight, who, by virtue of what they describe as his “unfettered access” to the Prime Minister, could provide the Embassy with “valuable information regarding the PM and Vincentian politics.”

In an interesting take on social life in SVG, the Embassy described this country as a “rather parochial place for a cosmopolitan figure such as Gonsalves, who appreciated socializing with the engaging British diplomat. Their relationship was furthered by the especially close bond that developed between Knight’s and Gonsalves’s Trinidadian-born spouses. Numerous family outings and weekend barbecues led to many candid discussions that offered Knight unique insight into what makes Gonsalves tick.”

The Embassy said when their officials met with the British diplomat, they were treated to recitations of what “Ralph said” on all manner of issues, which added to their understanding of “the mercurial Gonsalves and his often contentious role in Caribbean politics.”

The cable said that, considering the small size of the countries in the region, Embassy officials can typically gather enough information during their periodic visits to meet the needs of the (U.S. State) Department. They, however, stated that in SVG, interest is heightened because “of Ralph Gonsalves’s role as a perennial thorn in Washington’s side and best friend of Cuba and Venezuela.”

The Embassy was therefore fortunate, they said, “to have among its contacts two individuals who could provide valuable insight on the PM and his small island-state. The departure of diplomat Terry Knight and aide Glenn Jackson’s tragic death were therefore described as “setbacks”.

On March 6, 2006, Jackson’s nude and lifeless body, with a bullet wound in the chest, was discovered in his vehicle, parked not too far from his home at Cane Garden. A young man, Francis Williams, was tried for his murder, but on February 27, 2008, the prosecution’s case collapsed after Williams’ alleged confession to the police was ruled inadmissible by the judge, who pointed to numerous flaws in the police investigation.