SAINT LUCIANS made me proud last week.
I never imagined as many as two thousand of us would have signed a petition calling on the US President to take back something he said.
I knew people would sign, but not as many and not as fast. After a day at Place Bideau (the square devoted to the memory of Venezuelan Liberator Simon Bolivar and his Saint Lucian comrade-at-arms Jean Bsptiste Bideau), I was surprised to learn as many as 400 had signed.
I always felt people would respond. After all, Venezuela gave us 7,000 free laptops for our students, teachers and principals, $27.6 million dollars to keep the NICE programme employing persons who would otherwise be unemployed, three new ALBA bridges – and much more.
I supported the campaign as much I could in the media. I even suggested the petitions should have been taken to all schools, as well as to all towns and villages.
I arranged for a friend at a top local tertiary institution to get a sheet to collect 100 signatures, but she chickened-out, claiming students were told their names and addresses would be noted by the Americans and they would be denied visas.
Some I approached to take the petition to schools felt it wasn’t a good idea. But I pointed out that students and teachers at secondary schools Castries and the North – from the Convent to the College, from the Castries Comprehensive and Sir Ira to the Gros Islet Secondary – were all thanked profusely by those behind the successful campaign to have the DCA reject the application for construction of a hotel at Trouya Beach.
I also feel that it’s never too early to expose students to the fact that politics drove and still drives and determines their lives yesterday, today and tomorrow.
I have no doubt that given a free chance without fear of reprisal of any kind, every student who got a free computer from Venezuela would have signed, as well as most if not all parents, after explanation that the petition was not against America but for giving peace a chance in the Caribbean.
The Venezuelan Government set out to get ten million signatures from across Latin America and the Caribbean to be presented to President Obama at the Summit of the Americas in Panama City last weekend. My information was up to the day before, over nine million signatures had been collected in Venezuela alone, with another three million from Cuba.
As it turned out, the day before the Summit, before President Obama left Jamaica for Panama, he told the press Venezuela was “not a threat” to the US. That said, he was effectively publicly nullifying his Presidential decree of March 9 (exactly one month earlier) declaring Venezuela a “threat to the national security interests of the United States.”
The public declaration notwithstanding, however, the decree has not been officially rescinded by the President, which means the call supported by signatures of millions, including more than two thousand Saint Lucians, still stands. The petitions submitted to President Obama’s party in Panama City, therefore, are still asking him to do what needs to be done, for, as long as the decree remains official, it allows for those sorts of covert military and other clandestine interventions in the territory of any country so declared.
When it came to Washington opening the way for US military and political intervention in Libya to topple Muammar Gadaffi, the first thing done was to declare his regime “a threat to US national security” to unleash the covert military and intelligence operations to train the armed groups opposing the Libyan regime. Then, once those operatives are deployed, the whole clandestine operation becomes one of a “national security” nature and therefore cannot be officially confirmed or denied while in progress. (Same with everywhere else the US has deployed troops, whether in Grenada, Afghaniustan or Iraq.)
Interestingly, the US doesn’t seem to consider ‘ISIS’ or ‘Boko Haram’ to be national, regional or international security threats, maybe because they do their killing so far away, perhaps because they haven’t killed enough Americans to deserve America’s wrath.
But to have declared neighbouring Venezuela a national security threat to the USA simply to get at seven persons Washington considers close to President Nicolas Maduro is simply outrageous – and I’m proud that Saint Lucians are not only wise enough to see that, but also brave enough to say so.
Yes, Saint Lucians have again made me proud.
Once again too, I’m proud of my own contribution, over long years, to the continuing process of increasing public understanding of regional and international issues.
Bravo Sent Lisi!