By Professor Richard A. Byron-Cox Ph.D
As St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) curses and quarrels its way to a next general elections, flavored episodically with comic relief à grâce de intellectual imbecility of some of the pretenders to power, my Caribbean patriotism demands I hold a torch to the disingenuous stories peddled to deceive,by a gang practicing conscious amnesia. And so, herein, I address the nefarious deception, indecent and ridiculous falsehood that James Mitchell’s was an honourable Premiership-not to mention great- simply because it spanned 17 years! Slavery spanned 500 in our Caribbean!
John Paul II and MLK. Jr. among others are in unison that the true measure of any society is its treatment of its weakest and most vulnerable. When Mitchell left office more than 27% of the SVG’s population were indigent, and close to 40% poor!! The Poor Relief was 60 EC dollars monthly. 40,000 in a population of 100,000 literally when to bed hungry every night! Mitchell’s hand-picked successor, the starched, petty-bourgeois-minded Eustace,was alarmed at SVG’ spoverty! Yet, the present Mitchell circus troop spouts their crack pipe foolishness about “good old days” under him. No such second existed, much more days!
Mitchell took a resolution to parliament giving him sole and absolute power to administer economic asphyxiation by way of an Italian Mafia-style nylon cord, called the Ottley Hall Marina!Then unashamedly hid behind the dark drapes of the Privy Council to avoid the light of accountability for his private squander of over 200 million from the public purse! This is one Mitchell’s most notorious financial flippancies with the people’s money, but it was a learnt behavior,as the 18 million Estrankaaffair and millions spent on non-existing traffic lights confirm.
The circus troop’s pretense of historical amnesia is but the behavior of political dastards!
Mitchell was more devastating than hurricane Mitch in his destruction of the state sector of the economy. Sugar was murdered and Georgetown became an economic cemetery. The Diary was summarily cremated with the “diamonds” given to fraudsters from Trinidad! Arrowroot, cooking oil, the Campden Park Industrial Estate, the Marketing Cooperation, the stone crushing industry among others,were all victims of the Mitchell guillotine. And as bananas succumbed to the removal of trade preference,in a speech to open the Union Island fisheries complex Mitchell contemptuously trumpeted, “I open this so that when dem aint ha’ banana up there (pointing to St. Vincent), you go have fish down here.” I was standing less than 10 feet from him.
Yes, confession is good for the soul! Mitchell needs to confess!!
After razing industry, Mitchell did zilch to tackle unemployment. When asked about it he responded, “Italy is bigger than SVG and it has unemployment.” His is the most anti-poor and anti-worker administration SVG has seen since suffrage in 1951! After refusing public servants’ just demand for increase in salary, he tabled the “Greedy bill.” Justice came out on the streets protesting! Mitchell brandished violence, thundering, “I done tell my police force …….. if is war dey want,is war dey go get!”
The clowns in James’ circus now tries to deform history and slaughter truth!!
Special harshness was dished to our nations’ future, i.e., its children. The public library was consciously all but destroyed. Only 33 out of every hundred of secondary school-aged children got a place in one. Salt was poured in the wound as a significant amount could only attend half day school. James wasn’t done. Only four primary school teachers ever saw the doors of a university. Many preferred menial jobs up north to the alternative starvation wage at home. Schools were so decrepit -wattle and daub fashionable in the Grenadines-,that their repair was priority numero uno for Gonsalves on taking office. And as if there was special spite for boys, Mitchell’s gang made a woman head of the lone all-male institution in the country! I await the day a Prime Minister will have the cojones to act similarly with any of the two all-female institutions!
More than 80% of the lands on Canouan was given away to Mitchell’s party’s foreign friends. Locals are now sandwiched between the rich and famous in the north and south. This deal was sealed thus, “Do what you want to do, once the people of Canouan get something.” The so-called investors could simply build a pit latrine and say, “That’s for the people,” and they would have fulfilled their obligation!! And, a mosquito-infested swamp became the nightmare reality of an illusionary marina on Union Island.
The National Commercial Bank was an open sesame for party swindlers and international conmen. There is the sickening episode where the bank tried to get its money back from one of these thieves, only for him to sue the bank and get even more money from it!!Mitchell’s contempt for the people was on permanent display. A monstrosity was built in the heart of Kingstown; the young were encouraged“to bat but don’t score,” he diagnosed that the nation had “breadfruit mentality” and publicly declared that he had no obligation to truthfully answer the opposition’s questions in parliament. He tried to starve the Vincentian Newspaper into submission to his will;and his AG threatened journalist Glen Jackson and politician Ralph Gonsalves with jail time for participating in the democratic process! There is much more, much much……more that seriously damaged SVG and retarded our development!
James is here advised to stop the falsification of history!! He needs to listen to master calypsonian Carlton “CP” Hall’s “The Gambler.” It’s noxiously despicable and an assault on reason for him or anyone to claim his was honourable! He must remember even after being kicked out, he effectively denied the country a progressive constitution!!
Richard A. Byron-Cox is an international law specialist and author of the critically acclaimed, “Were Mama’s Tears in Vain?”