October 11, 2011
Minister ‘Gomery’ Daniel is a good, decent man – PM

Persons who were expecting Agriculture Minister Montgomery Daniel to apologize for what some have considered unacceptable remarks may have to wait a while longer.{{more}}

At a meeting convened by Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, between himself and the staff of the Ministry of Agriculture on Thursday, October 6, at the Peace Memorial Hall in Kingstown, Minister Daniel, when it was his time to speak, spoke on, among other issues, the importance of banana to the economy of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, as well as the work ahead for his staff, if the industry is to recuperate.

He also presented a cheque of $23,000 to Ezekiel Sutherland, the 2011 Fisherman of the Year.

But an apology for statements made at a constituency meeting in Sandy Bay, on Sunday, September 25, where Daniel referred to indentured servants and slaves, did not materialize.

The only reference to Daniel’s statements came from Prime Minister Gonsalves, who said he does not believe Daniel is a racist, nor were the comments evil.

Dr. Gonsalves used the opportunity to address the issue, indicating that he has spoken to his colleague on the matter.

Noting that Daniel could have made his statement in a different way, Dr. Gonsalves said that the indigenous people of the country (Garifuna and Caribs) have been the most marginalized and despised, historically and up to the present time, more than any other group of people inhabiting the island.

“I am not defending what he said; let me make that point clear…. But you know that there is no racism in this statement. You know that Gomery is a good and decent man who loves the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines; loves the farmers and the people in his constituency.

Some people have been making a lot out of these statements; you might say the comrade (Daniel), having made the point which he made, should have softened it a little by saying ‘I don’t mean to insult anybody’…. After he spoke, he could have put a caveat, he could have polished it off in another way….”

The Prime Minister, giving some information on Daniel’s family background, joked that it would have been difficult for the Minister to go anywhere, since the Minister was of mixed descent.

“As I say to my partner ‘Gomery, I say to him ‘ My brother, the way things are, half of you staying here, because your mother is a pure Carib, but the other half of you is back to Africa….”

It is true that some of us born here. It is true that some of us father, like ‘Gomery’s father, came here on a ship from Africa; and some like my fore parents came here in 1845 on a vessel from Madeira; but we are all one.” (JJ)