October 4, 2011
Still no apology from Minister of Agriculture Montgomery Daniel

Despite calls from some persons here, Minister of Agriculture Montgomery Daniel has neither apologized for, nor retracted racially divisive statements he made last week.{{more}}

Daniel, who is the parliamentary representative for North Windward, has, however, said that he did not intend to “disrespect” Vincentians.

The Minister, who is also under fire for his handling of the Black Sigatoka disease currently affecting bananas, called in to the radio talk show “Shake Up” last Friday, “on a matter of clarification and updating”.

Daniel said the whole matter is “strictly political” and he had to respond.

“It is strictly political and you realise what it is…. Knowing who I am, I had to respond, where I know it is best for me to respond in that way.”

Daniel made the controversial remarks at a meeting of the ruling Unity Labour Party (ULP) at his home village of Sandy Bay, in his North Windward constituency, on Sunday, September 25.

He was describing what had transpired on Friday, September 23, when he went down to read the pickets carried by persons protesting the Ministry of Agriculture’s bungling of the Black Sigatoka disease.

“One of the placards that I read on the line said ‘Gomrey must go’. Well, I tell you, comrades comrades I tell you. I know where I come from, and because I know where I come from, I know where I can go. Comrades, as an individual, I heard certain comments. But I say to you, I am born of Carib descendants. Nobody ain’t got to tell me that. I born right here. Nobody ain’t got to tell me that. Comrades, no boat ain’t bring me here in chains, and I did not come here in indentureship, so I know where I come from, and Comrades, I know where I am going.”

Those comments have infuriated some Vincentians, who view them as racist.

Host of the “Shake Up” programme last Friday, Dr. Jerrol Thompson, told Daniel that he (Thompson) would have lost respect for him, had he not responded to the remarks which Daniel alleges were made.

“How would people have felt, if you, the constituency rep, the leader in that particular area, a leader in this country, would have sat back and taken that, what would have been coming over as a slur, you take that sitting down, without saying anything. Would they have had respect for you? I wouldn’t! I tell you that!” Thompson declared.

“Of course not,” Daniel replied.

Daniel said when Carib Chief Joseph Chatoyer was killed and the Garifuna people taken away, the yellow Caribs “found themselves running into those areas of Sandy Bay, Rose Bank, Petit Bordel and Greiggs to an extent.”

He said the greatest concentration of Caribs was found in Sandy Bay.

“I, as a representative of the people in the Garifuna community, I had to clear the air in that regard,” Daniel said.

“I really regret, I really do not want to have this matter seen as one of a racial one, because we are all Vincentians. Be it wherever, whatever is your identity, we are all Vincentians; we are here to develop St. Vincent and the Grenadines; it is our home, and I believe all of us are to work towards ensuring a better Vincentian society for all of us.

So that I hope, having intervened, the public will understand, and I have not, in any way, tried to disrespect anyone, but of course, in politics, you are always going to get the derogatory ideas and derogatory slurs at you. Particularly for me. And, I really, I really, want to make sure that we handle this situation, to the extent whereby, that we do not divide St. Vincent,” he said.

The Minister said he wanted Vincentians to know that in no way at all, did he intend to “disregard, disrespect Vincentians as a whole, wherever they are”.