THE advent of Allen Chastanet as Political Leader of the UWP in 2013, was viewed by the dreamers in the Party as some sort of miracle that would somehow rehabilitate the bruised and battered image that the UWP had suffered between 2006 and November 28, 2011. Never mind the fact that Allen Chastanet himself was one of the leading players in the UWP’s scandal-plagued term, UWP delegates persisted with the quick-talking, unthinking Chastanet – whose statements often stand in stark contrast to the facts.
Maybe they were relying on Chastanet’s money connections and banking on the short memories of St. Lucians to do the trick, but two years into Allen Chastanet’s leadership the shine has come off the poster boy of the economic elite; the wheels of the Chastanet UWP are wobbling under the weight of its hasty driver’s ineptitude, and people are now panicking and baling off Chastanet runaway “Talk-Spin Express.”
Those who were expecting manna from heaven and serious leadership from Allen Chastanet, must be bawling for murder at the mess which this destructive bulldozer has caused. Truly, the pitfalls of political expediency have come back to bite the messiah seeking, money grabbing and power hungry persons, who once again, want to plunder the public purse.
Chastanet’s supporters committed a cardinal sin and miscalculated badly when they dumped Stephenson King to instal minority Parliamentary Representative and political greenhorn – Gale Rigobert–Zaide as Leader of the Opposition. In the process, Gale herself has been marginalized and even the gregarious and garrulous Guy Joseph is constantly overshadowing her and usurping her authority. Imagine, it is Chastanet’s puppet – Guy Joseph – and not Gale or any other senior UWP Parliamentarian who is suing the state over the Boundaries Commission report! And he and Chastanet are doing so despite the fact that Ms.Leonne Theodore-John – the UWP Lawyer on the Boundaries Commission, as well as the other UWP member – Mr. Eldridge Stephens – both approved the report!
The illogicality and unintelligence of Chastanet’s position on the Boundaries Commission Report is made more glaring by the fact that he seems to be suggesting that the constitutionally mandated right of citizens to democratic representation should be subverted because of financial reasons. IsChastanet and his UWP clique serious in advocating for democratic rights to be curtailed in times of economic difficulty? Surely, this cannot be the position of someone who is genuinely interested in democracy and developing St. Lucians. His record shows a clear inclination to blow away our money on anything foreign or involving expatriates, but when it comes to the national or regional interest, Chastanet always has a problem! This is symptomatic of someone with a definite anti-St. Lucian bias and St. Lucians should be well advised not to entrust Chastanet with the leadership of our country.
Clearly it is necessary to cut some of the large constituencies and we cannot sacrifice democracy and representation for Allen Chastanet’s misplaced and undemocratic agenda. Ironically, he is intransigent about his wasted millions but does not consider protecting our democratic institutions important enough financial investments! What arrogance! So the political gospel according to Allen Chastanet, is to spend our money on what he wants but not on what our democracy needs. Chastanet has certainly reached the commanding heights of idiocy, but if he was smart enough and not so bent on opposing for opposing sake; he would have seen the value of preserving our democracy as well as the opportunity to get a seat to contest, without having to further divide his party.
The problem is: that the selfish and misguided Chastanet choir made the mistake of believing its own propaganda that he was a guru Tourism Minister; and so conned themselves into actually thinking that he could be a guru Political Leader. Well, a tourism novice in Labour’s Lorne Theophilus has since eclipsed all Allen Chastanet’s so-called achievements as Minister. And thanks to his “political foot-in-mouth disease;” Allen Chastanet is turning out to be a major disaster for the UWP.
The same goes for UWP General Secretary and former Agriculture Minister Ezeckiel Joseph – who was touted as a guru Minister of Agriculture – but was simply implementing Taiwanese Agricultural policy. Labour’s Moses “Musa” Jn. Baptiste has, with his quiet efficiency and without any fanfare, easily eclipsed Ezeckiel in agriculture; especially with respect to banana production and Black Sigatoka control.
But going back to Allen Chastanet: he is probably the worst Minister of Tourism that St. Lucia has ever had, considering the unprecedented level of state resources that were placed at his wasteful disposal. George Mallet, RomanusLansiquot, Philip J. Pierre, and MenissaRambally did much more in comparison, with much less resources. None of these other Tourism Ministers had more than $20 million for tourism, but Chastanet was given $50 million and what did he do with it?
He wasted $2 million on Boxing in paradise, another $5 million on the Florida Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) Conference, $4 million on Caribbean Market Place Conference, $3.5 million on a failed Food and Rum Festival including the payment of US $850,000.00 for a tent, over $8 on American Airlines, Delta and other US airline subsidies; $1 million on a failed American Eagle service to Barbados; $1.5 on a brainless American Eagle flight out of Puerto Rico after American Airlines had moved its hub back to the mainland USA; millions on dubious overseas trip, most of which were not approved by the Prime Minister; hundreds of thousands of dollars on dubious cell phone calls, $1.22 million on an idiotic James Hepple consultancy, and the list can go on and on and on, like the Energizer Bunny.
As Political Leader of the UWP, Allen Chastanet has simply continued making disastrous decisions. He has orchestrated and unleashed the most divisive leadership the UWP has ever experienced in its entire 50 year history. Chastanet’s tendency to eliminate critics in the party is creating deep divisions especially as members see loyal and long serving supporters like Stephenson King, Eldridge Stephens, Michael Flood, Claudius Preville and others treated with callous contempt by the Political Leader and his selfish group. At the same time, many core UWP supporters are noting that Allen Chastanet and his top associates only joined the UWP after Kenny Anthony and the SLP refused to entertain their selfish and greedy demands.
Allen Chastanet opposes everything with no thought to reasoning, logic or facts; and yet he vindictively attacks and attempts to marginalize anyone who opposes him. So he likes to oppose but dislikes opposition to his often baseless positions. And to UWP supporters, the most distasteful thing about Chastanet’s current set up, is that his main side-kick is the repulsive turn-coat – Guy Joseph. It angers many core UWP’s that a virtual “traitor” like Guy Joseph is being paraded as a leading UWP spokesman on national economic issues, and is being given prominence of place over seasoned UWP soldiers.
In the candidate selection arena, Allen Chastanet is creating more confusion and mayhem. Claudius Preville was shut out of the process in Babonneau in a clear conflict of interest situation where Party Chairman – Ezeckiel Joseph – should not have presided over a process in which he was also vying for the position of candidate. In Castries Central, Petra Nelson has been battered and bruised out of the candidacy by Chastanet’s brash decision to support Labour turncoat – Peterson Francis. The situation is similar in Anse La Raye/Canaries constituency, where Keith Mondesir seems to have been surreptitiously replaced by Chastanet in favour of Hermangild Francis. Mondesir would no doubt be recalling quite vividly, Hermangild Francis following him everywhere on Election Day 2011 to foil his attempts at vote buying. UWP propagandist Amatus Edward has also been fatally wounded by Chastanet’s ungrateful sword in the Anse La Raye/Canaries Candidate selection process.
However, perhaps the unkindest and most unintelligent cut of all, is Allen Chastanet’s threat and attempt to replace Stephenson King. It is rather ironic that despite all the scandals which Chastanet, Guy Joseph and company brought upon Stephenson King’s government, he was able to achieve a decent 6-11 seats result in the 2011 general elections. And after orchestrating the unceremonious removal of King as Leader of the Opposition, Chastanet wants to further humiliate the man and remove him as the candidate for the constituency he has represented since 1987 for almost nineteen (19) years!
Clearly, no one is safe with Chastanet and his agenda seems more akin to that of an arrogant white aristocrat than a people’s servant and workers advocate. Over 175 years after the abolition of slavery and more than 60 years after the end of colonialism, we cannot be going back to this master servant relationship. Allen Chastanet and those promoting him need to understand that this is an age of enlightenment and democratic governance. Leaders and organizations must give their people and members the opportunity to participate in decision making. They must also be very mindful to give dissenting voices their deserved attention and due respect.
In recent weeks, Allen Chastanet who previously let his voice be heard on the most mundane issues, has been rather conspicuous by his silence on serious and pressing national issues like the IMPACS report, until recently, after pressure by U.W.P zealots in the media. As is widely suspected, he must have been asked to put a muzzle on his mouth which often disconnects from his brain and doesn’t allow his ears to hear and discern what it is saying.
From all reports, the marketing men and women are again at work to try to rehabilitate Allen Chastanet’s bruised and battered image. As we await his third coming, we must get ready to systematically dismantle the superficial façade which will be presented and to expose the real Allen Chastanet which we all know. We were conned with Compton’s remake in 2006 and as a result the country was setback by decades. Once more, Kenny D. Anthony has rescued and stabilized St. Lucia, so we must therefore be very careful not to fall for the same marketing trick again. Allen Chastanet was a leading character in St. Lucia’s 2006-2011 governmental debacle, and it smacks of unbridled arrogance for him to present himself as a saviour now. But that is his democratic right, and in the spirit of democracy, we have a duty to subject Allen Chastanet’s record to critical public scrutiny.