Black Bay: so many questions, so few answers, so little time!

It is truly pathetic that our politicians, because of indolence or obtuseness or a numbing cocktail of both combined with the Spirit of Saint Lucia, never get to strike hot irons. So no surprise that for most of them Rochamel is of no political value. Rochamel is history. Rochamel is stone-cold dead in de marketplace. Forget about it. Let’s move on.

Actually Rochamel is, as George Santayana reminds us, the past that guarantees repetitions increasingly catastrophic if for any reason it should be forgotten. Kenny Anthony is usually reminded of the “hotel formerly known as Hyatt” only when his House opposition have been caught with their drawers around their ankles and need desperately to point a big toe at a cult deserter or a fire-breathing demon.

Consider this from the very recent past: at the last sitting of parliament the prime minister had suggested to the leader of the opposition that as finance minister he had been an utter disaster, especially when it came to determining growth figures. Before you could say Spider, some amateur Mandrake hell-bent on redirecting the rotten discharge to the prime minister’s Olay-ed face had hauled out the cobwebbed Rochamel and put it into squeaky service.


The ghost of Rochamel was also invoked after the prime minister pronounced his immediate predecessor “the worst finance minister this country has ever had!” By remarkable coincidence, in the far headier atmosphere of 1997 he had also bestowed on Vaughan Lewis the same dubious accolade. But then already we’ve read that sorry recollection in Wednesday’s STAR, pointless repeating it here.


It should also be noted that the prime minister had recalled the most recent House debate while addressing a Ciceron commingling that fully expected to be regaled with pejorative tidbits about the yellow submarines. So, naturally, the audience thought it absolutely hilarious when their leader subtly cited Guy Joseph’s occupations and preoccupations, known and unknown.

You could’ve heard a silenced Blackberry (I imagine, anyway!) when their commander-in-chief revisited “one of the most unusual debates in the parliament of Saint Lucia, unusual in many ways.” He proceeded after that “to highlight three or four points” to bring home his observation, as he put it, among them the “cult” of the yellowbirds and “the illiterate bus driver,” matters already dealt with last Saturday. It remains now to analyse what the party leader referred to as “the disclosure by Stephenson King over the Black Bay lands.” To quote a universally famous friend, “repetition kills the soul.” But then he was also fond of saying, what the hell, we all gotta go some time.”

Alas, I only wish his own departure time were still years ahead of him . . . Said the party leader, clearly in Fish Alphonse mode, at the Ciceron gathering: “Stephenson King told parliament, and I couldn’t believe it, in effect: what are you on the Labour Party side complaining about, that they entered into a transaction, the transaction failed but the government gets more land.”Okay, so the syntax sucked. But you and I know Kenny knows the folks know he can speak perfect English when the occasion demands. Obviously, the Ciceron meeting was not one of the occasions.

In all events, for the particular ladies in red and their male counterparts en rouge it would’ve been LMAO time even if their leader had told his comic story in butchered Swahili. And anyway, they’d heard several versions of it throughout their successful “better days are coming!” campaign. The party leader went on: “It is at this point that I finally understood in my own mind . . .” Well, where else do we understand things if not in our minds? But please remember he wasn’t addressing a law school graduation in Jamaica. Those were his peeps, his homies, so to speak.

Yes, finally he had understood in his mind that “Stephenson King could not possibly be fit, either for the leader of a party or conceivably for prime ministership in this country . . .” (For a moment there I thought he might’ve said something about scout troops. Perhaps he imagined someone might have accused him of pinching other people’s lines. You never can tell!) Well, somebody had to tell the crowd the truth about the Black Bay lands fiasco. Somebody qualified to lead, whether party sheep or turncoat PhDs. So who better than the party leader. By his own account, this is what he believes had occurred: “The UWP administration took 229 acres of land at Black Bay and placed the value of that land in a company owned by the Irish.”

Conceivably, by “Irish” he did not mean to suggest the company in question was owned by all the people of Ireland. Put the loose talk down to the venue, represented in parliament, it turns out, by an evangelizing education minister. Continuing with what he believes happened, as opposed to what he had verified: “The Irishmen took a loan, they could not pay back the loan and the company collapsed.” Something close to what happened to the hotel formerly known as you-know-what. “The bank that loaned them collapsed,” said the party leader, “and went after them.” Do collapsed banks go after mobile people? Moving right along: “Now this government [presumably the ‘better-days guys!’], to get back that land, had to borrow $12 million to get back the land.” (Okay, okay, I know I said repetition kills the soul but some people are made different from the rest of us.)

Question is: Why did we need to borrow millions to get back land that in the first place never went anywhere? Whoever might own it, Black Bay will remain an unmovable chunk of Saint Lucia. Future developers will need special permission from Saint Lucia governments before they can lay down a brick, a blade of grass or a ladjablès cow foot on the property. I imagine the day’s government will always be at liberty to agree only to convenient investment arrangements. We didn’t have to borrow $20 million to get Black Bay back. Black Bay never left us. As for the untold story that “there were another 200 odd [how odd?] acres of land at Canelles that was owned by the Jamaica government and some private individuals whom the former prime minister approached to acquire these lands to be placed in the same company . . .”

Forget the gibberish, all I want to know is how did the “Jamaica government” and “private Jamaicans” come to own so much of Saint Lucia? When did that happen? How come none of us knew this until a month or so ago? Besides, if Jamaicans can for years own idle lands in Saint Lucia, without a single governmental comment, then what to make of that? But I guess we’ll in due course be hearing more about this Jamaica jerk pork. At any rate, following the prime minister’s promised investigation by the AG’s office. By the way, who exactly is Saint Lucia’s attorney general? Has anyone set eyes on her-him outside their office? So many questions, so few answers, so little time!

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