Back home, political medals are awarded for laying asphalt here and there, sidewalk repairs, step-up and nice. Homicide is on the rise, and frequent traffic jams on the Castries/Gros-Islet road are the norm. The European VAT system is around the corner; stimulus packages rolling out for the boys and girls in the red section and at the diplomatic missions. Meanwhile, the politicians roam the globe in search of EC$100 million that they promised for jobs and more jobs.
In case you still think the last minister for tourism still holds the record for frequent flyer miles, ask foreign minister Hon. Alva Baptiste and the Prime Minister Dr Kenny Anthony — they now own the record.
But the real excitement is on the diplomatic front. At the UN is Menissa Rambally, and joining her is Julian Du Bois. Back in England, Hillaire Alexander is taking his cricket managing skills to Her Majesty’s Kingdom; while in Toronto, Canada, Michael Willius is singing Oh Canada, while he awaits reinforcement from the homeland. I take it you can see the pattern that is developing, one supporter each, Kenny and Alva. The whisper is that there is a Southern Alliance aiming for the leadership even, before Kenny is ready. Film at 11.
But never in my wildest dreams could I anticipate such a night in the life of the people of Saint Lucia. On one end of the globe, Alva Baptiste is talking mandarin Chinese. At home Dr Kenny Anthony is delivering a rambling legal argument why he has no choice but to maintain diplomatic relations with Taiwan, and in Canada, Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney announced that beginning at 12:01 a.m. EDT today September 12, citizens of St Lucia, St Vincent, Namibia, Botswana and Swaziland now require a visa to travel to Canada — reference.
The statement went on to say, “A key reason why the government has imposed visa requirements on St Lucia and St Vincent is unreliable travel documents. In particular, criminals from these countries can legally change their names and acquire new passports. In some instances, people who were removed from Canada as security risks later returned using different passports.” Ouch!!! What a night to remember, September 11, 2012.
It took Dr Vaughan Lewis and friends nine months to convey an opinion any first year student in International relations could have rendered, and to undertake a Foreign Policy Review; at an undisclosed fee; plus disbursements, compliments of the people of Saint Lucia. But somehow, Citizenship and Immigration Canada, (CIC) caught the government of Saint Lucia and the foreign policy advisor napping. As the saying goes; The Spirit of St Lucia — Bounty Rum — there goes transparency and accountability.
Now back to the Taiwan issue. Alas, as a gesture of goodwill, the Prime Minister Dr Kenny Anthony kept his promise with punctuality to address the nation. He began with a sordid history and ranging detail and, by his standard and legal acumen, struggled to deliver. But was content to say, “My fellow citizens, conscious of the dynamic reality of global geo-politics, we made no binding statement or commitment about the issue of our future ties with Taiwan in our 2011 Manifesto.”
From there on, his rumblings and indifference with the Taiwanese subsided only to complain that “The foreign minister disclosed that his government would henceforth make available to the government of Saint Lucia, a sum of US 12 million or EC 32.6 million dollars annually for the funding of projects. This figure was confirmed by the new ambassador. This amount, we believe, is a far cry from what was made available to the former UWP government during its tenure, but more on this later.” I beg your pardon? In this guava season, at the bare minimum, could you at least say thanks?
And the prime minister continued, “These issues have pre-occupied us over the past nine months.” OUR DECISION As you may be aware; the Government of Saint Lucia has undertaken a Foreign Policy Review that will guide us in our relations with the rest of the world. This review will, in time, be made public, once it has completed its journey through the Cabinet of Ministers. The review has been helpful in arriving at a decision. In respect of the issue of relations with Taiwan, it is interesting that the Review concluded thus: “…It is, in our view, an anomaly to perceive or present diplomatic recognition of Taiwan as an alternative to recognition of the PRC, a now global economic and political player.”
But hey, after nine months of labour comes child birth; get ready, the prime minister continued,” Against this background, the Government of Saint Lucia has decided to maintain diplomatic relations with Taiwan and to explore new avenues for mutual support and bilateral cooperation in the interest of both sides. We have made it clear to the new Ambassador that our future relationship with Taiwan must be based on respect for our laws, our traditions, culture and absolute non-interference in our domestic political affairs.”
Okay, I am sweating now, I rest my case. But to my amusement came the following, “It would be both historic and helpful – indeed it would be perfect – if Saint Lucia could find a way to benefit from ties with both China and Taiwan, however defined. This is a dream many countries share and there has been no better time than now to engage China and Taiwan on this issue — as it relates to Saint Lucia — in the context of their increasing “cross straits” mutual cooperation and understanding.” Wow! Isn’t that something?
Am pretty sure that the I’ve read something similar somewhere from the article Taiwan or China – make the call: “My guess is as good as yours with the one China policy, or will Saint Lucia become creative and get two for the price of one. Nevertheless, the difficult proposition of Taiwan or China is fundamental to a growth model in building a better future that must impact economic growth, happiness and a better quality of life that enable citizens to realize their goals.” It seems like the little party LPM is now setting-up something new ahead of time. They’re knocking hard lately and the prime minister of Saint Lucia Dr Kenny Anthony seems to have taken notice.
What else is left? Back to film at 11; Remember, the prime minister stated, “The delegation left the island over the weekend and is led by the Second Deputy Leader of the Saint Lucia Labour Party, the Hon. Alva Baptiste. It includes the General Secretary, Mr Leo Clarke, the Fraternal Relations Officer of the Party, Mr Earl Bousquet, and a representative each from the party’s women’s and youth organisations.”
Well, it is real; Saint Lucia has maintained diplomatic relations with Taiwan, but will vote at the UN with China, and will rejuvenate a political “fraternal alliance” with China on behalf of the Saint Lucia Labour Party, SLP. Is this a new form of democracy or a rehash version of communism?
But Canada, the great white north, is having none of that “241” pizza-like advertisement served in red tainted portions. Saint Lucia wasn’t listening and did not pay attention to the diplomatic communications. That was simply sloppy foreign relations intelligence.
And now, the dimensioning of the Saint Lucia consulate in Toronto means it is just another foreign office at the expense of local taxpayers with no influence. Will the consulate in Toronto continue will plans to increase staff and move to a new location in a trendy part of Town? Maybe, London, England, could be next to demand visas for Saint Lucians.