August 7, 2015
Garifuna delegation visits Baliceaux

Members of the Garifuna delegation presently visiting St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) had a chance to reconnect with their ancestors last Monday when they visited the island where their people were exiled over two centuries ago.

Vice-president of the United Garifuna Association and delegation leader Wellington Ramos, who journeyed to Baliceaux with members of the New Democratic Party (NDP), said that the experience was a wonderful one.{{more}}

“It is a wonderful experience because at least I stepped on the soil where I know for a fact that my people, our people were ….before they were imprisoned,” he said during a telephone call from the island to the New Times programme on Nice Radio.

The Garifuna leader observed that his visit to Baliceaux made him reflect on the time his people spent there and the hardships they must have faced.

“I don’t see how people can survive for a year…I’m thinking about the amount of punishment that took place and what they endured while they were on this island,” Ramos said.

“Before I came to Baliceaux this morning, I got up very early and I prayed to my ancestors and they gave me some instructions…I asked them what it is that I should do and based on their instruction, everything was done and when you are an obedient person — and you have to be obedient in my situation — so far, everything is working out, but…the thing is, my mind is imagining what it was like being in their situation. That is what I’m grappling with right now.”

Additionally, he took the opportunity to highlight the importance of “reconnecting after being disconnected” to the Garifuna people and spoke out against persons, who for various reasons may try to paint a negative picture of the exercise.

“We know what our focuses are and we are clear. They are trying to divert and deceive, but you cannot divert and deceive people who know what time it is. We are not foolish people; we are highly intelligent and I hope my presence here, along with Brother [Joseph] Guerrero is a message to all my people over the world that we are no joke to be reckoned with,” Ramos said.

The Garifuna delegation arrived in St Vincent and the Grenadines last week and has since taken part of a number of events in conjunction with the NDP, including having further discussions with the Party on honorary citizenship for Garinagu resident in the diaspora, as has been promised by Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace, once an NDP government is formed.

Baliceaux is the Grenadine island, located south of St Vincent, where 4,338 Garinagu — men, women and children — were taken between July 1796 and February 1797, after the Second Carib War, to await deportation to Roatan island, off the coast of Honduras. The Garinagu did not leave Baliceaux until March 11, 1797, but by this time, their numbers had dwindled to 2,248, the others having died of disease and from the inhospitable conditions on that small island, which is presently owned by a local family.