Our Readers' Opinions
November 1, 2016
What a 37th anniversary sell-out – Hip-Hip Hooray!

Editor: Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves announced on Tuesday, October 18 that 36.7 acres of land at Mt. Wynne/Peter’s Hope have been sold to Canadian developers for EC$7 million. (SEARCHLIGHT, October 21, 2016).

What a sale! 36.7 acres for $7m is: $190 735/acre and $4.33/sq ft; US $1.60/sq ft. It sounds so incredible that it took all of my five senses to understand it. When I look at it, I see Thierry Nano; when I hear it, I hear William Wise; when I smell it, I smell Dr Aldo Rolla; when I touch it, I feel Dave Ames; and when I taste it, I am chewing upon Allan Stanford.{{more}}


For those who may not be familiar with Mt. Wynne/Peter’s Hope, it was one of the many estates in St Vincent owned by British settlers and managed by slave labour. In 1989, 150 years after the abolition of slavery, the Cassons, whose ancestors were slave owners, sold 681 acres to the then James Mitchell administration as a reparatory gift for the paltry sum of EC$5 million.

Standing at Peter’s Hope is the chimney of an old sugarcane factory. The land that is sold to the Canadians borders two beaches, one on the Mt. Wynne side and one on the Peter’s Hope side. Of very historic significance, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip on their maiden voyage to St Vincent on the Royal Yacht Britannia in 1966, were guests at a beach picnic at Mt. Wynne. Of relevance to the area also, is the site of the filming of the famous movie, Pirates of the Caribbean at Wallilabou, roughly one mile away.

With all that rich history, Mt. Wynne/Peter’s Hope should be considered sacred and holy ground, a national park, and should never ever be voluntarily passed back into the hands of those whose forbears committed acts of slavery and genocide on the indigenous peoples and on Africans. Mt. Wynne/Peters Hope is the only remaining piece of real estate that is owned by the State for future structural development.

Mt. Wynne/Peter’s Hope is currently served by electricity, pipe borne water, fixed-line telephone, Internet services and all other such infrastructure. I challenge that/those professional(s) who determined the price of Mt. Wynne/Peter’s Hope, to show where in SVG, with such infrastructure, lands that are being sold for less than EC$5/sq ft. History will never be kind to those who have sold this historic site for a paltry EC$ 5/sq ft to Canadian developers, as if they were offering the lands for sale to indigent squatters.

Writing in the ULP column in THE NEWS, on July 7, 2006, under the caption: SALE OF LANDS FOR INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, the author wrote:

1. “Genuine concerns that locals and the community as a whole would lose their patrimony, naked partisan politics.

2. “Further private citizens have been selling to foreigners.

3. “In Bequia a group of citizens have formed a committee – at the front are Rocky Mc. Intosh and Pat Mitchell. Stoking the fire are James Mitchell and Loraine Friday.

4. “Loraine Friday as lawyer, applies practically every week for Alien’s Land Holding Licences to buy land in Bequia for foreigners.

5. “As to Pat Mitchell, her voice is meaningless.

6. “National Properties is in charge of the sale of lands.

7. “1065.90 acres of land has been earmarked for sale, which is as follows:

(i) “In Bequia – Industry Park 500 acres; St. Hillarie, 16.50 acres; Crown Point 55 acres; Spring 45 acres and Friendship Height 22 acres.

(ii) “Mainland St. Vincent – Buccament, 27.40 acres, and Mt. Wynne/Peters Hope, 400 acres

8. “The fanatical NDP ring-leaders, will continue to bray in the wind.”

Dr Richard A Byron-Cox, on experiencing the reality in Canouan, wrote in the SEARCHLIGHT, October 14, 2016, under the caption: A 30 MILLION CAGE FOR THE POOR, BLACK RESIDENTS OF CANOUAN: “Even Judas would be appalled!! So, the Canouan residents are locked out of any say in the disposal of their lands and worse still in determining their destiny… north and south of the island have been sold off, a process initiated by Mitchell and completed by Gonsalves. The people are, for all practical purposes, penned in with a tiny unworked quarry spared as cemetery. So, is this “investment” for reinforced concrete to ensure their only escape is to answer the dust to dust, ashes to ashes call?… So, we have rich white foreign people, who should be asking permission to use our beaches, telling us what to do and seemingly aided by our Government!”

Speaker of Parliament Jomo Thomas wrote in the VINCENTIAN of October 7, 2016:

“We are moving along rapidly with tourism, even though evidence abounds that these islands get less than ten

cents of each tourist dollar. We have the experience of the Buccament Bay Resort where employees work long hours and don’t get paid their full wages on a timely basis. We have the sad case of Buccament Bay boss, David Ames, who is to face criminal charges of over $8 million. Yet we move deeper into tourism. We sell lands in Canouan at great inconvenience to nationals, where mostly rich people enjoy our beaches and treat our people like garbage. We sold prime real estate at Mt. Wynne for a fee far too low.”

Blazer Williams, chairperson of the Police and Public Service Commissions, writing in THE NEWS of April 15, 2016, under the caption: OF BEACHES, DEVELOPMENT AND SELF-RESPECT, says:

“The implication is that Black people make white people uncomfortable and as such, attempts must be made openly or subtly to keep them away. By implication, we are admitting that the very developers and their guests are racists! By implication also, we are supporting and encouraging racism… Development must not be seen as those who have the money being able to buy their way into heaven, kicking out the angels in the process.”

With the foregoing, one wonders if PM Gonsalves, who is of Portuguese ethnicity is uncomfortable with the disproportionately larger number of Africans and by so inducing whites to settle here will narrow the margin, or is he very comfortable seeing black people always at the lower end of the economic ladder. After all, the very menial jobs that his Tourism Plantations are creating are filled by university and college graduates, who by a large measure, hold much higher academic certification than their employers and bosses on these modern day glorified Tourism Plantations.

Matthew Thomas