A Week to the Day

Image of a twenty-six year old Botham Shem Jean

WHAT a week it’s been.

In the past seven days we’ve seen, heard and felt everything from the fallout across the USA and Saint Lucia from the killing of Botham Shem Jean in Dallas to the sickout by Customs officers, strike notices from doctors and electricity workers, an anti-Government protest march, a court injunction restraining the government from demolishing a derelict building, a Hurricane Isaac threat resulting in a day-off – but for students only — and the announcement that Cabinet has revoked its earlier Conclusion regarding establishment of a Border Control Authority.

This maelstrom of events also set off a whirlwind of discussion and debate about everything from the way the Jean killing has reminded us of the inter-relationships between events in distant places, how ‘sickout’ actions can be very much alive and well by way of effect, whether doctors should even think of withdrawing their labour, the effectiveness of Sunday’s protest march, whether a court should sit on a Sunday (which it can), whether government can demolish a building termed “historic” without consulting the National Trust, whether the decision to send children home to clear schools in case they’re needed as Hurricane Shelters was right or wrong – and the wisdom of the government’s decision to revoke the controversial Cabinet Conclusion.

Justice is taking its course in the Jean matter and it’s brought home the ‘Black Lives Matter’ issue in a way no one would have wished. The nation is wondering ‘What Next?’ following the protest march (The Opposition Leader says a No Confidence vote versus the government in parliament.), the court is still sitting on the old prison demolition injunction hearing, Hurricane Isaac is now history – and the jury is still out on the future of the government’s plans for Border Control.

Revocation of the Cabinet Conclusion was a wise move that’s saved the country the inestimable pain of any full-scale industrial action by Customs Officers. The government says it remains committed to ensuring more effective border control, but it will clearly have to take a brand new look at how and when. Are we seeing a new dimension to Government policy called “consultation”?

There are still other unresolved issues, especially on the health front. The doctors haven’t yet said how or when they will do what they have threatened to. Victoria Hospital nurses are still nursing migraine-sized headaches about their future after the full transition to the OKEU hospital. Is the Government response a placebo or the real thing? And government is yet to publicly disclose details of whatever related agreement it has with the Health City Cayman Islands (HCCI) group.

Privatization of the OKEU hospital was not on the cards when the European Union (EU) committed over 160 million Euros to the largest project it’s ever funded throughout the entire CARICOM region. EU member-states like France that have contributed so much (and still does) to our health sector must be watching closely at unfolding developments.

The future of St Jude Hospital — and the George Odlum Stadium – is still largely unknown. Here too, the de-roofing of the stadium housing the hospital was stopped by Order, leaving patients and nurses, as well as the neighbouring community, still nursing anxieties about whether related health hazards earlier referred to by the protesting doctors have now been addressed or erased.

Call it a simmering spring or a summer of discontent, events of the past week do raise expectations that autumn leaves will remain the same and we won’t have to face a winter of woe or want. But, this being Our Saint Lucia, it would be better to enter a season of (continuing) mature compromises and consultations that will eventually redound to the national good.

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