When we get Balliceaux… a historic wrong would be righted – PM
Prime Minister, Dr Ralph Gonsalves preparing to lay a Wreath at the Obelisk
March 19, 2024
When we get Balliceaux… a historic wrong would be righted – PM

Hundreds of Vincentians, members of the visiting Garifuna delegation and members of the Diplomatic Corp converged at the Obelisk in Dorsetshire Hill on Thursday March 14, 2024, to pay homage to this country’s sole National Hero, Garifuna Chief The Right Excellent Joseph Chatoyer.

Speaking at the Wreath Laying Ceremony, committee member of the Garifuna Heritage Foundation, Marlon Joseph noted that this year’s ceremony marks the 229th anniversary of the death of Paramount Chief Joseph Chatoyer whom he described as a badge of honour shining against the splendid apparel of this nation’s history.

Joseph said Chatoyer continues to be an ideal representation of courage, resilience and determination in the face of adversity.

In his address Prime Minister, Dr Ralph Gonsalves said St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) has a special place in the historiography of the Caribbean having had the shortest period of the enslavement of African bodies because of its rugged terrain and because of the determination of the Kalinago and the Garifuna people to resist being colonized.

“So while I have pain for the death of Chatoyer, and while I have pain and suffering for the 2000 and something persons who died in a six-month period on Baliceaux, nobody must ask me not to celebrate them because they live everyday in me…”, the Prime Minister told the gathering.

“When we get Baliceaux in our hands, I will celebrate with joy and commune with the spirits of the ancestors on that day where an historic wrong would be righted.”

The Prime Minister shared that he wrote to the chief surveyor on January 2, 2024, on the acquisition of Baliceaux by the Government of SVG as a cultural, historic, memorial site. He said he was hoping that the transaction- purchase or acquisition- would be effected before March 14, 2024.

“They have not been able to get it done because they went late to Baliceaux to do the evaluation. And I haven’t gotten the evaluation report as yet but the chief surveyor is in communication with the lawyers for owners, and the Attorney General. His office is carrying out a title search to see whether those who say they are owners, are in fact the owners.”

The Prime Minister also noted that his government has always engaged in making the links with Garifuna descendants in Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, North America and anywhere else where they reside as it is part of the administration’s diaspora policy to reach out and engage as we address the collective memory of our history.

On the matter of selecting other notable Vincentians for national heroes status, he said such names as George Augustus Mc Intosh, Ebenezer Theodore Joshua, Robert Milton Cato and Dr. J.P Eustace were being considered.

“There have been further discussions, and the idea is that the pantheon of heroes ought not to be entirely masculine. There is more than one woman in our history who can easily be considered to be elevated to the status of national hero.”

At the wreath laying ceremony, Dr. Gonsalves received a Humanitarian Award for championing the cause for reclaiming Baliceaux from the 2023 International Indigenous  Film Festival.

President of the Garifuna Heritage Foundation, Zoila Ellis-Browne also received an award for championing the cause of cultural preservation in St. Vincent and the Grenadines (API).