Our Readers' Opinions
August 24, 2007

Camillo, represent with your head held high!


EDITOR: Katagelophobia – the fear of ridicule or criticism. Therein lies the problem with the whole hullabaloo about Camillo Gonsalves, the prime minister’s son, being appointed as St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ Permanent Representative to the United Nations. As several persons have pointed out, Dr. Gonsalves found himself in the unenviable position of trying to explain how he “had nothing to do with the appointment” yet “sent it to the Governor-General”.{{more}} A closer examination of his explanation reveals that he had nothing to do with the original idea; that it started with Sir Vincent and that as with all such appointments, he as prime minister, by virtue of his office, is required to make the presentment to the Governor General.

Why “unenviable”? How does he, even if he is not too crazy about the idea, refuse to lend his support to his son for an appointment for which the young man is obviously suited academically, temperamentally and is enthusiastic about undertaking? How does he fix his face to say: “You know Camillo, I nurtured you, and I educated you. You have the academic credentials. You are a well rounded and grounded young man. I have inculcated in you the importance of a good education. You have always heard me say: ‘Let the youth take their wings and soar like eagles’. You have seen me give wings to many of our youth and they have soared and are soaring. But you see Camillo, you are my flesh and blood and I have to worry about what people would say if I give you my support for this appointment. It is said that ‘charity begins at home’ but I have to take a pass on this one; better luck next time.”

As I see it, the biggest problem with Camillo’s appointment is the public relations fumble. The young man is obviously astute, erudite and ambitious, apt to learn and as someone wrote recently: “If he is a chip off the ‘old block’ will do well in his appointment.” So once the decision was made, there needed not be this clumsy not-so-well orchestrated choreography to explain it. The prime minister needed not do a “Pontius Pilot” regarding his support for his son; while at the same time expedite the process.

In the politically charged atmosphere which obtains in this country at this point in time, the only government appointment that young Mr. Gonsalves can have that would not court criticism and ridicule, is that of dog-catcher. You would be hard-pressed to find any such appointee from any country whose selection was based solely on academic credentials and experience. If anyone believes otherwise, I have a bridge I want to sell to you. You have to have someone who would advance the policies of the government,. stick to the script and toe the line. The last thing you need is a renegade or loose cannon holding such an important position. To those who are reasonable, rational and practical enough to understand the variables that are considered for such appointments, no explanation is necessary. To detractors, political foes and demagogues, no explanation is sufficient. Therefore, you do what you have to do and let the chips fall where they may.

The attempt to explain the process, only served as fodder for persons who mean the young man no good in the first place. Ask most of them really, why they are opposed to his appointment and they would suddenly develop a stutter. What’s at play here is the classic “herd instinct”, one sheep blurts and the whole herd follow suits, being totally oblivious as to the reason the first sheep made the utterance. A chorus of the monolithic, cookie-cutter mentality that pervades the land. A madding crowd, totally devoid of any semblance of individual cognitive thought.

To Camillo I say: Give it your best shot. Do not allow the ridicule and criticisms of your detractors to dissuade you from getting the job done. You would forgive me for indulging in a bit of nostalgia. Zip code 10017 was my stomping ground two decades ago, when I had my stint as a Communications and Information Officer at nearby Ford Foundation. I traversed the hallowed halls of the United Nations. You have the opportunity now to do so not merely as a visitor, but as a duly appointed representative of a chartered member, your beloved Hairouna. I say: “Go Represent!!” with your chin held high – goatee and all.

Benson Plaugh-Feddows