Our Readers' Opinions
December 18, 2009

The Comrade and the ULP must get a grip!


Editor: At the risk of being reminded how unpatriotic and politically and intellectually backward the ‘Vote No’ call was for the November 25, 2009, referendum, one still thinks it is important to place on record some of the rationale. Important also is for us to be cognizant of the fact that Dr. The Honourable Ralph E. Gonsalves a.k.a. Comrade could well be on the way to make the record as one of the ‘worst things’ that could have ever happened to the progressive movement in the Caribbean region.{{more}} Above all, the record of this particular time in SVG should reflect a viewpoint from a woman’s perspective, especially one who is a disillusioned (and maybe disgruntled) member of the Unity Labour Party (membership No. 2635), but remains committed to the international labour movement.

How ironic at a time, 2009, that the world should witness landslide victories of socialist leaders of two major players in the world’s economy – the United States and Japan, and the disastrous rejection of the socialist leader Comrade Ralph of a developing country – SVG. The Comrade could not even muster the support of 50% of the Vincentian electorate, never mind the required 67%, to cut the colonial ‘navel string’ from its colonial mother – Britain, and the 55% it had at the 2005 election.

There can be nothing radical about securing, in our constitution, corporal punishment by hanging, thus breaking the necks of murderers or even reinforcing the illegality of same sex marriage, effectively gay bashing in a predominantly Christian society. Already, these matters are governed by existing laws, and since the discussion of marriage only between man and woman implicitly introduces sex in the constitution referendum debate, then it would have been more far-reaching to have included a discussion about the treatment or mistreatment of women and girls in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

The priority of a discussion of the abuse of women and girls over and above that of heterosexual unions is illustrated in a 2007 joint report between the United Nations and the World Bank that ranks SVG among the top 10 countries in the world for recorded cases of rape. Against this background of evidence, the Comrade should find himself in a situation where he would be accused of raping a police officer and that police officer was asked by law enforcement officers to write her own account of what she alleged happened. Worst yet, we witnessed prominent women politicians from the ranks of the Comrade’s socialist Unity Labour Party taking the stage at a subsequent support-de-comrade rally to sing the chorus of support “We Will Never Let Comrade Fall.” When one combines such socialist aberrations with daily reporting of constant abuse of political critics, allegations of political victimization at the hands of the same Comrade who holds the record for his success at suing Vincentians in the same Court from which he skillfully avoided an investigation into his alleged misconduct, then the ULP must be commended for their audacity. In fact, the ULP was naïve to expect Vincentians to not grasp the first opportunity to show their disgust at them having the Comrade in the lead of anything notwithstanding their progressive agenda which includes the ground-breaking effort of a constitution reform. Is our data collection process sophisticated enough to show how women voted in that referendum?

For there to be a revival of the most conservative analysts and commentators among us is evidence that our hope for revolutionary politics in SVG was misplaced when in 2001, the Unity Labour Party was elected to govern Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, with Comrade Ralph at its helm. How come in 2009 Vincentians are swayed by the politics of the 1980’s when the United States Republican President Reagan and the British Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher reigned supreme with their anti-communist, anti-socialist politics that furthered a global economy that widened the gap between the world’s rich and poor and the developed and developing countries? For example, Reagan and Thatcher were able to rip the heart of the final draft of the Law of the Sea Treaty and with the support of Caribbean politicians such as Jamaica’s conservative Prime Minister Edward Seaga, they created and ratified the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

According to some experts, the history of international law is the history of The Law of Sea Treaty and vice versa. It was rejected by the world’s conservative leaders for its “collectivist and re-distributionist provisions …” and the rationale that “no national interest could justify handing sovereign control of two-thirds of the earth’s surface to the Third World.” Further, this treaty was a major part of negotiating a New International Economic Order that was spearheaded by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) spanning over 15 years (1973-82). At that time, the UNGA was comprised of vibrant, socialist leaders such as Jamaica’s Michael Manley and Tanzania first President Julius Nyerere who challenged superpower domination over the global economy and the seabed. They demanded the transfer of resources from the West to developing countries through U.N.-organized groups of international corporations paying a global tax. Interestingly, how can the Saint Vincent and the Grenadines New Democratic Party justify their membership of the International Democratic Union (IDU) with Arnhim Eustace as party leader and General Secretary Daniel Cummings as contact person? This organisation was formed in1983 and serves as a reminder of the politics that denied “handing over sovereign control … to the Third World.”

Only the Comrade and the leadership of his ULP seem to not ‘get it’! that the Comrade has, in essence, become a liability not just for progressive politics in SVG but the region. When analyzing the referendum debate, a great part of it focused not on the constitution and other laudable efforts of the ULP but on the conduct of the Comrade as a person and as a political leader. So for the Comrade to think that history will “damn” the proponents of the “no” vote and not “damn” him harsher for squandering an opportunity to actualize the dream of previous pioneers such Manley and Nyerere thus denying Vincentians the opportunity to experience life under a truly progressive government is astonishing. Is the arrogance of the Comrade and the ULP so ingrained that they are unable to accept that their education revolution has failed? Insulting is the notion that a financial bribe or a “feeder road” here and there is all that it takes for atonement. Get a grip, Comrade!

Luzette King