Our Readers' Opinions
April 5, 2011
Plight of Vincentians is more important than tourism


EDITOR: It is quite unfortunate that some persons, including high-ranking officials of government, media personnel and party loyalists, are more interested in pretentious appearances than real life issues that affect Vincentian people.{{more}}

One of the sentiments expressed against the recent series of protests held here in SVG against the dread bills was “that our delicate tourism sector will be negatively affected”. “Tourists will not want to come to SVG- they will be afraid,” lament the opponents of legitimate protests.

Would tourists be discouraged from coming to a country where they see people bravely and peacefully standing up against legislative attempts to reduce their freedoms? Certainly not! Not Americans, and European tourists (e.g. the French) whose history show them to be always ready to raise the red light, through protest and demonstrations, against unjust governmental policies.

It is more likely that tourists will be deterred from visiting our beautiful isle when they hear of excessive police force and brutality (supposedly orchestrated by the powers that be) being meted out to peaceful protesters. A government cannot expect to initiate evils through legislation and behaviour and then, when the people react, you say that we are ‘shaming the country’ and giving it bad publicity. Are you more concerned with ‘how it looks’ than the people’s reality? What is in the dark must come to light. Government must not expect to promote wickedness and then when their evils are exposed, they blame the light bearers. They chastise those who use social networks like facebook to bring the issues to people’s attention. Are you more concerned about gaining a few dollars through tourism than addressing the cries of the people?

It is this same attitude that encourages our womenfolk, in particular, to remain in abusive relationships and even risk losing their lives, because they are more concerned about ‘how it go look’. It is the same twisted mentality that causes self-serving politicians to place the construction of ‘pretty’ buildings and infrastructure above the genuine concerns of the people. Appearances seem more important than people’s plight. Materialism seems more important than morality and justice. While many of our people suffer, we want to hide their evident concerns to please the outsiders.

Maybe, in times past, the people of Egypt and Libya sought to present a ‘good face’ to the world while the dictators took away their rights through unjust laws. Maybe, if they had protested sooner-bringing to light their pleas, Dictator Mubarak and Gaddafi would have been stopped in their tyrannical tracks already. Today, the citizens of these countries suffer. And the whole world sees it- TV, facebook, twitter, etc, are loaded with pictures, reports and stories. The people’s unfortunate plight is highlighted only now. Who could so unreasonably and coldly talk about bad publicity and tourism?

We, here in St. Vincent, must continue to cherish our freedoms and defend them by every legal means. We must first look out for the interest of Vincentians. There is nothing wrong with outsiders/ tourists having an awareness of the real state of affairs in our country. Let them know the positives and negatives. Tourists like honesty, not hypocrisy.

The governmental authorities must do their best, with the help of God, to attend to the needs and concerns of the citizens. The media must also highlight the real issues that affect our people instead of being more concerned with political affiliation- not wanting ‘to mash the corn’ of a leader who insults his people. If the people’s voices are continually ignored and treated with contempt, we will use the media available, including facebook, to enlighten others about our real state of affairs. When we do, don’t accuse us falsely of giving SVG bad publicity. The plight of Vincentians is more important than tourism.

Ann-Marie Ballantyne