Green Party makes a statement

Andre ‘Pancho’ deCaires explains what the Lucian Greens party is all about.

By description Lucian Greens is St Lucia’s only truly alternative party. According to the Party Leader Andre ‘Pancho’ deCaires it is, “A completely new and refreshing look at what governance of a pristine and fragile island state needs to do to maintain its ideal environment while forging ahead to seek a better quality of life of all its citizens.”
By definition, deCaires is an agriculturalist and an environmentalist with big dreams in terms of transforming and modernizing the agricultural industry in St Lucia. DeCaires will be contesting the constituency of Dennery North. Ever since their launch, Lucian Greens has been attracting loads of attention, perhaps not for all the reasons they would like. From the moment the party made clear that they stood for the decriminalization of cannabis (among other issues), they feel as if the issue has been sensationalized.
“It must not be misconstrued and taken like we are actually promoting the use of marijuana,” deCaires said during an interview with the STAR last week. “What we want to do is explain to people that it’s a plant, not a drug. People need to know how to define hard drugs—a hard drug is any substance when consumed in excessive amounts could cause grievous bodily harm or death. Rum is a hard drug; you can over indulge, get into an alcoholic coma and die. We as a society actually use sexual images to promote the use of alcohol, which is a hard drug, but in the very same country, we are incarcerating people for flowers in your pocket.                 “Marijuana to a small percentage of the people who use it is detrimental, it could send you off, but I ask you, which is worse, death or being sent off? People must decide. All we can do is educate people and let them make up their own minds about it.”
The leader of Lucian Greens Movement is also the chairman of Cannabis Movement. He adds that his endeavour is a Green movement about environmentalism predominantly and protecting the planet’s resources.  According to deCaires Lucian Greens is pushing a green agenda, tackling issues like global warming, empowerment of women, equal pay for equal work for women, the creation of recreation areas for children, food security, social justice and other issues.
“We’re against capital punishment,” he says of the party’s outlook to dealing with crime. “You can get the lifetime in jail but the system says don’t kill but then you kill—we’re not into that. The party leader spoke of the decriminalization of cannabis to fight crime, a way to assist the police by changing the whole perception of who a criminal was.
“It would also save money for the state if you don’t have to go to court for that,” he said of the whole cannabis issues. “You’re not going to have a man in jail who hasn’t really committed a crime against anyone, because that is non violent crime.”
deCaires didn’t dwell on the controversial cannabis issue for too long, “there’s so much more,” he said adding that in the agricultural manifesto, promoting the reintroduction of green houses was very important.”
“We have global warming, we have climate change, as a result it’s very hard to farm in St Lucia when there is so much rain,” he noted. “I lost over $5000 this month due to rain. I have a little piece of land where I do farming.
Born in Grenada, deCaires moved to Trinidad when he was three years old and later attended primary and secondary school on that island. He earned an dssociate degree in horticulture while at an agricultural college in Ontario, Canada.
“With the degree courses you tend to get out of there and get an office job in a lab or some governmental agency but I wanted to grow,” he told the STAR. “That’s what I do. I’m an outdoors person. I don’t have an office and I don’t live in an office. Since I left school I’ve never been in an office.
The party leader said he decided to get into politics “13 years ago when his partner and himself came up with the industrial hemp proposal that included using the benign species of the cannabis plant, using the fibers to create fabric and the oil for multiple purposes. It was felt that hemp could add value to products like banana and even cocoa while the three ingredients were combined.             During the interview deCaires went into extensive detail on the uses of hemp that he felt could introduce the value of various raw materials. He spoke of garnishing the same hemp fabric with crochet, shell and other adornments to create an Afro Caribbean look that would revamp the local fashion industry.
“We want to start a fashion industry, body care industry, which would employ people, add value all those things,” he said adding that when the hemp proposal was presented 13 years ago “government turned their backs.”
“We reached so far . . . yet no minister here wrote in support,” he said. “I realized this was good for country so that gave me the drive to make it happen. If those guys were not going to look at it, I would going to form a political party and make that one of our     issues.”
That’s where Lucian Greens comes in, a party with issues like food independence at the forefront, wishing to use hemp as a “flagship crop to really reinvigorate the whole agricultural industry.”
“If you ask anyone if going green is a good thing, I don’t think there is anyone who would say its wrong,” deCaires said. “We have the potential to make the country beautiful and keep it beautiful.
“A lot of the stuff that should be done like recycling are not being done. A lot of people come to the street up to me and really support it.”

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