‘En Rouge!’ Emma presents united female front

Emma Hippolyte welcomed on stage to much fanfare!

Never before have any two major events in St Lucia, entertainment or otherwise pulled such enormous crowds on the same day. Usually one wins out, leaving the other a complete fail but on Sunday, November 20 it was quite a different scenario and almost impossible to tell which of the island’s major political parties had a greater showing. Reports were that there was a record-breaking gathering at the Beausejour Cricket Ground when the United Workers Party launched their candidate for Gros Islet Lenard ‘Spider’ Montoute. Minutes away the Gaiety grounds shook, literally, as supporters of the St Lucia Labour Party enthusiastically took in the launch of their candidate for Gros Is Let, Emma Hippolyte.
Lively motorcades led all from south to north of the island on Sunday and one couldn’t help comparing the excitement and bacchanal to that of the carnival season. Trucks overloaded with supporters zoomed past blasting everything from Soca to new political remixes and St Lucians wasted no time getting into a party mood, drinking, dancing and waving flags all along the way. From early on the overloaded trucks seemed like a dangerous situation that would have dire consequences and it would only be later in the day that reports would come in about people who’d fallen off trucks and gotten seriously injured during the island wide motorcades.
Just after 5pm hundreds assembled on Gaiety grounds in Gros Islet prepared to show support to their party, individual representatives and not to mention the candidate being launched on the occasion.
Former minister of Culture Menissa Rambally was master of ceremonies, and she introduced the first speaker, a youthful voice in the form of Crystal Charles who said her sole reason for being onstage that evening was to spread the message of hope to young people.
“I am here to tell you the young people of St Lucia there is hope!” she exclaimed. “There is hope of a brighter future for us. There is hope for us aspiring young St Lucians. For almost five years, we the young people of this nation have been suffering and crying out. Crying out because the present administration has failed to create employment for us school leavers, secondary and tertiary. Our thoughts and ideas are being ignored. There are no avenues for self development!”
Years from now she said, the success
of St Lucia on the world stage would be left for young people to attain.
The young woman continued in a captivating and determined tone that dared anyone to take their eyes off her: “St Lucia we have remained stagnant for too long. I am here to tell the young people, dry your eyes and weep no more there is hope. Our cries have been heard and we are going to be rescued. The SLP has heard our cries. We are the future of this country, future politicians and leaders, business owners, CEOs, parents . . . we are important!”
Emma Hippolyte’s brother came out in a show of support and thanked all for making a concerted effort to support his sister who he said had always been able to succeed against the odds. He implored all to be sure to cast their votes and left the audience in a resounding; “En Rouge” chant.
Former representative for the Gros Islet constituency Julian Hunte gave Hippolyte his full support and urged all to vote for a government that was best placed to “move St Lucia forward in challenging times.” He made mention of his party’s recently released “Blue Print for Growth” manifesto and told supporters the future of the nation was in their hands.
“Anyone who isn’t a Labour party
supporter here at this meeting keep quiet!”
Hunte said. “The people of St Lucia who
have decided to stand up against corruption, against lies, against propaganda and
incompetence must feel proud of SLP for the last five years. You heard no other voices. Nobody else stood up, and you hear them coming forward now. When the injustices took place, no one stood up. You must be proud of the St Lucia Labour Party for standing up against all the injustices, incompetence and the propaganda of the St Lucia Labour Party.”
Needless to say the senior SLP member quickly corrected himself with the latter statement. Hunte told supporters not to
forget that the SLP had been around
for 61 years and was a “distinguished political party with a proven record of struggle and achievement.”
“We have championed the cause of vulnerable and marginalized St Lucians,” he said. “The SLP stands ready to secure better days for this country. I have known Emma for a long time, worked closely with her and we are providing this constituency with the opportunity to be represented by a lady of class, dignity and proven confidence.”
That type of candidate he said was “needed in these challenging times.”
“This constituency of Gros Islet is traditionally a Labour seat!” Hunte campaigned. “This election despite how much noise any of them make . . . Gros Islet is returning home to Labour!”
His words triggered another round of
the “En Rouge” chant, then master of
ceremonies Menissa Rambally expressed:  “Shame, shame! Shame on your Spider, because if you could not in the last five years have anything better to say, do not try to discredit a woman of substance and a woman of quality. You see, Emma Hippolyte can stand tall and proud anywhere in this country!
Next up was the SLP’s candidate for Soufriere Harold Dalson who expressed: “If you’re going vote for something, vote for something good. If you’re going to vote for someone, vote for someone who can lead the charge on your behalf, who will represent you with the integrity and pride that we now need in politics.”
Women were in the forefront at Sunday’s rally with representatives Austina Fanus (Micoud North), Lelia Harracksingh (Micoud South) and Alvina Reynolds (Babonneau) all coming forward in a show of support.
“It is koudmen time women! Women, it is time to rise up and clean up your country,” Alvina Reyonds said sparking yet another round of “En Rouge!”
“Our country is scarred. St Lucia is bleeding. St Lucia is in pain!” she continued.                 “We need to rise up and save St Lucia, women and men of Labour . . . The ladies of Labour along with sister Emma, no matter what maypwis. scandal, we shall not be moved! We shall stand firm and fight. We bind ourselves together to ensure prosperity comes back to fair Helen!”
The party’s Choiseul candidate came on and had everyone in a celebratory mood with one of the party’s upbeat remixes and a short address, then it was time for the woman of the hour who made a special entrance complete with confetti
and the Labour team standing behind her in a show of support.
“I have heard your disgust with poor governance and I too share your frustration and fears with continued damage caused to homes and properties from rivers and water courses every time it rains,” Hippolyte said.             “Like you, I too keep hoping and yearning for an improvement in the quality of our lives. I present myself to you as the next parliamentary representative, committed to working for the good of the people in Gros Islet and the overall good of the people of St Lucia.
“I present myself to you, committed to uphold good governance, transparency and accountability at all times.”
With just a few more days to go until St Lucians head to the polls, it has become clear that this election is far from predictable.

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