He who rides a tiger…

headlineWhat does the prime minister know that the opposition brotherhood in parliament know that we the people don’t know but desperately need to know about the U.S. State Department-Saint Lucia Police Force fall-out?

The prime minister seems to be planting loaded hints all over the place but never a key by which to unlock their mysteries. Consequently, the largely partisan audiences at his political rallies are left to make what they will of what he says and then to pass it on without any evidence—regardless of related consequences to the nation’s peace and security.

Certain mindlessly accommodating sections of the electronic media appear to be falling over themselves in their rush to disseminate verbatim the prime minister’s clever insinuations, evidently unconcerned about their possible dangers. Indeed it would appear the reporters are quite clueless about what might be behind the prime minister’s announcements from his party perches.

Two weeks ago, he had decided the time finally had come to address the nation on the earlier cited State Department – local police controversy, long a life and death public concern. Following countless self-serving denials by the office of the prime minister that there had been a change in normal U.S. – Saint Lucia police relations, the inevitable had occurred. The nation’s police commissioner was prevented from boarding an aircraft to Philadelphia, where he was scheduled to attend an important police conference.

On August 9 the prime minister’s press secretary issued a release confirming public anxiety over “the decision by the United States to disallow officers of the Royal Police Force from participating in several training programs arranged or financed by the United States.”

Moreover, that the issues were “serious and complex.” Through Jadia JnPierre’s office, the prime minister promised to “explain and address” the reasons for the “actions of the United States against officers of the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force.”

On the evening of August 20, the prime minister delivered via TV a speech entitled “An Unhappy Episode,” wherein he blamed the “serious and complex” problem on police officers whom he said shot and killed “twelve individuals . . . during the tenure of the government of the United Workers Party.”

He added that the killings had coincided with the launching of the Stephenson King government’s “Operation Restore Confidence” that had started with an address to the nation on May 30, 2010 during which the then prime minister “warned criminals that there will be no refuge, no stone will be left unturned and there will be no hiding place for anyone.”

Additionally, the same prime minister had on February 12, 2012 issued a second warning to local criminals: “They will be hunted down, they will be found, they will be prosecuted, they will be judged and will be made to pay the consequences for the crimes committed against our peace-loving and law-abiding people.”

If on first hearing there seemed nothing unusual about the above quoted statements, the prime minister in his next breath informed the nation about a “hit list of targeted persons deemed to be criminals.” He said he had seen with his own eyes such Ahit list while still in opposition, between 2006 and 2011.

The prime minister went on: “In the aftermath of the launch of Operation Restore Confidence some twelve persons met their deaths,” described “by some as extra-judicial killings.” He said the killings had “attracted the attention of the United States, the State Department in particular,” resulting in “the actions taken against the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force” under the Leahy Law.

If the prime minister’s speech left unanswered several vital questions—including why it had taken him two years to address the alleged executions issue; what he did upon receipt of the so-called hit list (the existence of which the police commissioner had repeatedly denied); since resuming office what actions had he taken or intended to take in relation to the cited twelve deaths—the horror insinuations that the prime minister has been making from his political platforms since August 20 have not helped.

Already, he had in his televised address connected, if only vaguely, Stephenson King’s speeches with the deaths of twelve “persons deemed to be criminals.” He never actually explained the connection, at any rate not on TV, but there were the hints. As if to make matters worse, lately the prime minister has been naming names and claiming they know more than they’ve said about the twelve homicides, in particular an unresolved four that had occurred in Vieux Fort.

In Canaries recently, while holding forth on the ongoing police controversy, the prime minister claimed opposition MPs were in imminent danger of having their U.S. visas revoked. So again, I ask, what does the prime minister know about the extra-judicial killings and a hit list that he has not yet revealed—at any rate, to the people of Saint Lucia?

It is interesting to note the United Workers Party has so far not challenged the prime minister’s obvious attempts at linking the King administration to the hit list the prime minister claims to have seen some time between 2010-2011, and the associated dead dozen. If the Americans are satisfied that members of the previous administration had somehow aided and abetted—or actually ordered—the extra-judicial executions earlier cited, why have they not acted accordingly? Why only against the police? Who were the members of that ad-hoc crime squad cited by the prime minister in his televised address? Are they still on the force?

I am reminded at this point of another recent brouhaha, this one involving Taiwanese funds allegedly put to personal use by personnel from the King administration. According to the prime minister when he addressed the nation on the matter, he was in the process of passing on damning information to the police and to the DPP. But with all the traveling he has lately been doing, chances are all he has so far managed is to have related “Private & Confidential” documents posted on his press secretary’s Facebook account and on the government’s website. Oh, I am reliably informed that the attorney general’s office has written to certain former government ministers inviting them to volunteer information against themselves.  Additionally, that a special committee is at work at the cemetery, er, I meant to say at the office of the DDP! More on that later.

Might it be remotely possible the prime minister is dragging his feet on the police matter for reasons of self-preservation? Could be fearful of saying all he knows about the allegations against the police and former government ministers for reasons he knows best? It should be remembered that long before the dead dozen earlier cited, other individuals deemed to be criminals were shot dead in broad daylight and in plain sight of several witnesses of the kind who see no evil, hear no evil and certainly speak no evil. One of the day’s victims of a lunchtime shooting was a well-known, colourful, local character and much sought-after financial contributor to political campaigns at election time.

Speaking of which returns us to that hit list the prime minister claimed without evidence to have seen in 2010-2011 but never mentioned until two weeks ago. Consider the following, taken from his address on law and order—delivered in March 1998: “Lent should be a period when we rededicate ourselves to finding the means whereby we can move properly together, as one people. It should be a time for building . . . for strengthening our common bonds . . .”

“But there are those among us who instead see the Lenten season as a time to kill, a time to terrorize our peace-loving community and to play out their internal quarrels in our streets. This state of affairs began with the killing on Wednesday 4th March of one Michael Alexander, also known as Gaboo, who was shot dead as he rode a bicycle along the Allan Bousquet highway in the vicinity of Balata.”

The prime minister described that homicide as “swift and professional.” He also referred to the earlier “cold-blooded assassination in broad daylight of one Adolphus Clarke aka Bonny, in the Mongiraud area.” As for the several other casualties of the violent crime wave, the prime minister dismissed them as “a struggle among rival gangs, not some widespread national crime wave assaulting any and every person in our community.”  (This was one of the conclusions aggressively attacked by certain opposition politicians when echoed by the King administration in relation to the much-discussed 2011 killings.)

While announcing his retaliatory “Operation Restore Peace,” the prime minister issued to the nation’s criminals the following promise: “Starting today and continuing until it has obtained its operational objectives, the police will undertake a firm and sustained operation to secure our streets and rid our communities of this distasteful behavior. The actions undertaken by the police will be numerous, varied and the operation will take place at different levels and throughout the country. Operation Restore Peace will use all lawful means to bring an end to the type of criminal action we witnessed last week and to apprehend the perpetrators thereof.”

Additionally: “While the rights of innocent parties must be protected the police should be prepared to act resolutely against those who are involved, those who assist the main perpetrators and any person or persons who hinder or attempt to obstruct the success of this operation. This government will stand firmly behind the police in all their lawful actions in this matter.”

He said the police were slowly but surely closing in on wanted criminals, “notwithstanding the rumors about various hit lists.”

Remember, the year was 1998!

Finally: “To those of you, the criminals, who have inflicted the pain of the last few days on the people of this country, I promise you a tougher time than you ever imagined possible. The net will be stretched around you and slowly but surely close in to trap you—and terminate once and for all your unlawful activities. I promise you can run but you surely cannot hide. You shall find no hiding place . . . until peace is returned to our native land. The criminals may have started the battle but I assure you law and order will surely end the war!”

Clearly, before Operation Restore Confidence “persons deemed to be criminals” also met sudden death. Ask Balata’s Madam Sequine, whose guest house was the scene of a police shooting that left her living room submerged in a river of blood. A long delayed inquest was later abandoned!

In the prime minister’s own telling there were also “rumors of hit lists.” If indeed the Americans have evidence against our police or former government ministers why have they not passed it on to the government? Or if indeed they have, then why all the vague talk and no action? Why no reference at this time to the alleged gang-war casualties of 1998 through 2011?

I tell you, my fellow Saint Lucians, the truth would shock you. Meanwhile, the big question: Does our prime minister have the balls to do the right thing or will he continue to encourage wild speculation for political purpose? It goes without saying that it is high time the leaders of the United Workers Party, within and without the House, contributed to this particular discourse—in its own and the nation’s best interests.

Then again, Confucius he say: He who rides tiger cannot dismount!


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