NOT too long ago, St. Lucia’s Ambassadress to the Diaspora was featured in the news expressing her disappointment over the fact that several St. Lucian nationals living abroad had not acted on their declared intention to return home for the purpose of investing, due to the high level of publicity given to criminal activity here.
During her remarks, the Ambassadress referred to crime in Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago, clearly inferring that we shouldn’t be making such a big deal about crime in St. Lucia.
While I can well understand the Ambassadress’ exasperation over the negative impact that the constant reference to criminality, in the echo chamber of social media in St. Lucia, is having on her efforts to woo investors to our island, I have serious difficulty in entertaining any action, statement etc. that might tend to make light of the numerous murderous acts that have brought so much pain and suffering to so many families in our country.
During the time that I served as St. Lucia’s Consul General in Toronto (1998 – 2007), Dean of the Toronto Consular Corps (122 countries) (2003 – 2007), Chair of the Consular Corps Association of Toronto (2003 to 2007), Dean of the Caricom Consular Corps (2003 – 2007) and Head of the OECS Consular Corps (2003 – 2007), the issue of safety and security was always considered as an important prerequisite for investing in any country. This was particularly highlighted by Diplomats from third world countries especially in Africa, Asia, Central and South America and the Caribbean in any discussion dealing with investment matters.
It is, therefore, not un-natural for anyone, including Saint Lucians living abroad, who would like to invest here, to express concern about the state of criminal activity on the island and how it might impact on their eventual decision to invest here. After all, St. Lucia is presently the most unsafe and most lawless country in the OECS; sadly, it is a level of “lawlessness” that permeates every sector of the St. Lucian society and makes a “victim” of every single law-abiding Saint Lucian; it ranges from shady “conflict of interest” deals to daring daylight robberies and brutal murder.
Indeed, there have been more murders in St. Lucia during the last five years, than in all the other OECS countries combine over the last 20 years, and while there might be some Government officials here who would like us to think that this is not a situation that requires the most serious attention and remedial action, similar officials in other OECS countries are doing everything possible to avoid the scourge of criminality.
Indeed, recently, the Superintendent of Police in Grenada was heard to say that Grenada will never be a Jamaica or Trinidad as far as crime is concerned. It is not surprising, therefore, that while we already have 20 murders in St. Lucia for this year, there has not been a single murder in Grenada.
Madam Ambassadress, there are well over a hundred individual families in our island feeling the anguish, suffering and various levels of deprivation, resulting from the unexpected death of their love ones. These are people whose hopes, dreams, expectations and plans for a better life have been shattered beyond repair. No investment dollar can ever fix that, and to attempt to trivialize their loss, distress and hardship can never be justified.
Whether we realize and accept it or not, ALL ST. LUCIAN LIVES MATTER regardless of who is pulling the trigger or wielding the knife or cutlass.
While, when it serves our purpose, we like to shout to the rest of the world that St. Lucia has more Nobel Laureates per capita than any other country, NOTHING WE HAVE DONE AS A NATION DURING THE LAST FIVE YEARS HAS REFLECTED ANY ASPECT OF THE LEGACY OF EITHER DERRICK WALCOTT OR ARTHUR LEWIS IN A SIGNIFICANT WAY.
The tendency to liken St. Lucia to other countries whenever we are trying to play down, rationalize or justify a negative occurrence here is wrong and must not be encouraged. We should never place ourselves on a level playing field with Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago when it comes to criminal activity, especially murder. To do so, is to give the impression that it’s okay for something bad which happens in another country to happen here, instead of taking all the necessary measures to prevent it from occurring.
Should we compare St. Lucia with Jamaica or Trinidad, let it be when we have wised up to the fact that well-presented political rhetoric does not automatically materialize into jobs and employment opportunities;
When we decide to contrast our St. Lucia with Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago, let’s do so when our island’s health care delivery system is, at the very least, as available, dependable and affordable as that of Dominica;
If we are to analogize St. Lucia with Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago, let’s do so when our voters begin to understand that there is much more to gain from electing representatives who genuinely intend to improve on the quality of our lives than electing those who pay us to vote for them;
Let’s contrast Saint Lucia to Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago, by adequately acknowledging and properly appreciating the tremendous contribution made by Teachers and Nurses to the people of our country;
If we must equate our country with Jamaica or Trinidad & Tobago, let us do so when we will have the right and entitlement to call the police, like they do in Antigua, for hotel security officers who prevent us from getting access to our island’s beaches;
If we must measure our St. Lucia with Jamaica or Trinidad & Tobago, let us do so when we can stand up and unequivocally demand a high level of accountability and transparency from the Government of the day;
If we must categorize St. Lucia with Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago, then let’s do so when the governance of our country is based on (a) the strict adherence to the rule of law, (b) integrity of intention and purpose, (c) a policy of inclusion of all St. Lucians regardless of political persuasion, (d) the dictum of the greatest good for the greatest number, and (e) an overall commitment to put the interest of St. Lucia first in everything that we do.
And when we have become matured enough to realize that being “meek and humble” all the time, instead of being “bold and strong and pro-active” only makes it easier for un-caring, un-scrupulous and selfish politicians to take advantage of us and use and abuse us, then can our country be well and truly juxtapose with countries like Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago.