With Carnival having been moved to mid-year in 1977, Vincentians have enjoyed a massive boost in participation while the economy has benefited tremendously particularly in the area of tourism. But the June/July period has its own drawbacks as it is the start of the hurricane season, and every Carnival expects to have to contend with rainy weather at some time or another.
This year is no exception and following the effects of the hot, dry season, the rains have started pouring, emanating from a series of tropical waves. Disruptive as they may be, we have the experience in handling such natural inconveniences, and save for the worst, we will undoubtedly cope with these natural dampeners. This year though we are confronted with new, far more troubling “dampeners”, if I can use that term without minimizing what is indeed a grave social problem.
I refer here to a wave of violent, and deadly attacks which daily sound the death toll for unfortunate members of our society and leave their bereaved ones drowning in sorrow and tears. We have for some time been experiencing this deadly phenomenon, fluctuating in frequency from time to time.
While public concern has been expressed over these occurrences, and the seeming inability of the security authorities to get on top of the situation, we have largely been distracted by arguments about the cause of these killings, especially by the use of firearms.
The latest series of these murders not only relegate these arguments to second place, but they have also significantly raised alarm in the society in general and have in fact intensified the demand for some firm measures to be taken to indicate heightened concern for public safety. These can no longer be ignored, nor will the customary appeal from the police “for information” suffice to quell public fears. There does not seem to be public confidence that the police are on top of the situation.
Last weekend, public safety concerns were raised several notches higher after a Cuban health professional, Dr. Alfredo Batista Salgado, was brutally attacked, his abdomen viciously severed and left bleeding just outside the Prison compound at McKies Hill in Kingstown. He was apparently making his way home to McKies Hill after attending the calypso semi- finals at Victoria Park. The Cuban internationalist health professional, one of many in the Cuban Health Brigade performing very valuable service to Vincentians, is still hospitalized.
This writer unreservedly condemns the attack on this representative of a sister Caribbean nation which, although burdened by problems much greater than our own, including facing a criminal and crippling embargo by the mightiest nation on earth, still sacrifices to help us. I am also alarmed by the relative low-key response by the government of this country and the lack of information being provided by the police. Is this how we treat people who have been invited into our home to help us? I salute Health Minister St. Clair ‘Jimmy’ Prince for his condemnation of the attack and extend my solidarity via the local Cuban Embassy and Ambassador to the government and people of Cuba. I am deeply disturbed by the train of events.
Permit me to quote from my column of June 9, just one month ago. I quote: “Our public servants and Ministers too, must treat Cuban internationalist workers with more respect, pay more attention to proper working conditions and living quarters for them. There are many complaints in this regard. This is not how you treat your friends”.
To this we must now add the matter of security. What could be the motive for the attack on Dr. Salgado? Was it a mere criminal assault of which he just happened to be an innocent victim? Or could it be something more sinister? We can neither treat it lightly nor sweep it under the carpet. Dr Salgado and company are not only guests of ours. They help to protect us through health measures. We must ensure their security and comfort.
– Speak up for Christ’s people.
I reserve my Carnival comments for next week, but in the meantime, I make an appeal to our Christian brothers and sisters here. We profess strongly to be a Christian people, followers of Jesus Christ of Nazareth but how much love do we have for Jesus’ own people, the people of Palestine?
In the year that I was born, a full 75 years ago, European Jews, with the support of the western powers led by Britain and the USA, drove the Palestinian people out of much of their homeland to create a homeland for the Jewish people.
Since then, year by year, month by month, week by week, day by day, the process of brutal expropriation and clear genocide continues. We now witness it each day on television. Can’t our Christian brethren say some open prayers for the people of Nazareth, Bethlehem, Jerusalem and Jenin? Is it not our Christian duty to condemn their continued persecution? Is that too much to ask?
- Renwick Rose is a community activist and social commentator.