The time is right, and – Poor/Rich Haiti?
R. Rose - Eye of the Needle
March 22, 2024
The time is right, and – Poor/Rich Haiti?

I have been trying to follow the various presentations and speeches of the younger people in national leadership position, to ascertain their level of understanding of the weighty issues confronting them, how they are maturing, as well as the level of delivery to the public. I have found that Minister of Tourism, Culture et. al. Hon. Carlos James, has been showing some signs of improvement and even won commendation from his Prime Minister on National Heroes Day, a commendation with which I agree.

Among his speeches though is one being singled out by the state media, in which he touches on additional National Heroes. In it, Minister James expressed the view that “the time is right” for further discussion on the selection of other candidates to join Chief Chatoyer on the exalted National Hero pedestal. Only days before, one of his political colleagues was in the media lobbying hard for a particular individual to be selected to join Chatoyer.

Ever since Chatoyer was unanimously selected, this matter of additional heroes have been raised again and again to the extent that, to me at least, it has become a “vexed” question. The more the unnecessary debate goes on, the longer the list of potential candidates grows. We are now committing ourselves to have at least one female among the number.

There is certainly nothing wrong with healthy discussion on an issue such as this. In fact, such discussions ought to be encouraged and facilitated. One of the problems seems to revolve around a failure to distinguish between actions of the highest order, as exemplified by the life and works of Chief Chatoyer, and outstanding national service. In spite of criteria developed and published to guide the National Hero selection, there is still misunderstanding.

The root of this may well lie in the fact that 45 years after independence, we are yet to have our own national honours. SVG has developed a reputation internationally for being a staunch anti-colonial country, and a proud one at that. Non-nationals who admire our country’s stance are however puzzled as to why we continue to settle for colonial honours – the Knights, the Dames and the various what I call “Empire-ists”.

The official explanation is that we must do constitutional change first, so why the delay? We jumped into that water 15 years ago. Could it be a hangover, or is it a fear of another rejection, akin to the last, albeit based on all kinds of unrelated issues? How do we reasonably explain this glaring contradiction? How long do we continue in this limbo?

In the meantime, the Hero discussion gets cloudier as more and more names are added, persons deserving of some form of national recognition, if not necessarily hero status. We must safeguard against confusing popularity with exceptional and deserved national service and allowing ourselves to be browbeaten by skilful lobbyists.
I don’t know what makes the Hon. Minister so sure that the time is right now, but the time is right, indeed overripe, for a number of issues. We can justly say that “THE TIME IS RIGHT” for:

Constitutional Reform, even in a limited form. A system of National Honours to be handed out on Independence Day.
A meaningful National Monument to Chief Chatoyer, and a relevant educational programme for young Vincentians to stop using the derogatory term “Carib” which disrespects the Kalinago people.

Dear readers, I leave the blanks for you to fill in —-


Every time the international news media mentions Haiti, we are told, again and again, that Haiti is a “poor” country. Despite this, major western nations who would normally not be interested in “poor” countries and their people, seem very interested in intervening in the Haiti crisis and contributing financially towards some form of military action. In fact, significantly, while the USA has committed US$300 million to the security (military) side of the intervention, it has pledged only US$ 30 million towards humanitarian aid.

So what is so attractive in Haiti? Veteran St. Lucian journalist, Earl Bousquet, writing in the VOICE newspaper raises some interesting issues. He began by pointing out that the US embassy in Haiti is “the largest in the western hemisphere and the 4th largest in the world”. What justifies this attention?

According to research conducted, Haiti has been found to exist on a tectonic plate rich in deposits of oil, gold, and other precious metals. Among these is one called iridium which has qualities like resistance to very high temperatures and to corrosion. This makes it ideal for modern industries such as spacecraft and deep water pipes, among others.

Haiti apparently has literally mountains of iridium, a precious mineral commanding the astronomical price of up to US$6000 per ounce, three times the price of gold.

That is not all however, for further estimates value gold deposits at US$20 billion, copper at US$8 billion with an estimated US$120 million of oil as well. Hardly a poor country one would say, so who says that “Haiti is poor”? Certainly, most of its people is, but that’s not the real cause for concern. There are rich rewards for “rescuing” Haiti.


  • Renwick Rose is a community activist and social commentator.