Our Readers' Opinions
May 14, 2004

Few lines on the Tobago Cays

EDITOR: I have listened to and read some of the interesting and sometimes contradictory statements made with respect to the Tobago Cays fiasco. I was taken aback by some of the pronouncements.{{more}}
We were told that private interests could not be trusted to adequately manage such a precious resource because their profit seeking contradicts the need for environmental safety and protection. Are those who hold this view saying to us that private business interests are inherently greedy, reckless and have little concern for the environment? Is this an admission that private businessmen are only concerned about profiteering, and disregard all other issues? Have individuals undergone some type of ideological transformation and are now denouncing the capitalist mode of production? What has happened to the notion held by many that the private sector should be the engine of growth?
It has also been said that the Tobago Cays constitute a veritable gold mine, but it should not be managed for profit.
We were also told that the Tobago Cays belong to the people of the Southern Grenadines and that they object to the monies made from the Tobago Cays going to the consolidated fund.
First and foremost, the Tobago Cays are part of the state of SVG. They do not belong to the people of the Southern Grenadines any more than they belong to the people of Fancy, Layou, Mespo or Kingstown for that matter.
The objection to the monies made in the Tobago Cays going to the consolidated fund is an untenable position. What happens if people in other areas of the country start saying that wealth generated in their areas must be spent there? The areas that do not generate a lot of wealth will suffer.
The people of the Grenadines are also said to be fed up with being directed by mainland politicians. Is this the initiation of a renewed call for secession?
It is important to note that while it’s laudable to be patriotic and nationalistic, these are not phenomena that can be compartmentalized or stacked away only to be taken out when it is opportunistically convenient. I have been disappointed with the level of sentimentalism and emotionalism that was brought
to bear on the discussions. Emotionalism has never been a reliable precursor to clear and sound reasoning.
A number of articles in the printed press did nothing more than relay the sentiments of the people involved without providing profound reasons for their concerns and objections. When we take positions it is imperative that we pay more attention to the profound and long-term implications of these positions. We must be consistent.
Some of us will do anything to protect our precious natural resources, yet our dealings with our most precious resource (our people) leaves a lot to be desired. Many treat workers as mere tools, yet profess to be concerned about our natural resources. The plight of the poor and dispossessed finds no resonance in their heart of hearts. Genuine concern is overarching and all embracing, not compartmentalized.
We will do well with some friends of the poor, the indigent, the youths, the elderly, and the street children among us.

Dr. Franklyn B. James