U.S. An Equal Opportunity Visa Revoker!

Lucky St Lucian women: look who's standing up with Robert Lewis on their behalf!

The several allegations of sexual harassment leveled at wannabe Obama replacement Herman Cain have attracted widespread media attention in the United States and in Europe, as well as throughout the Caribbean.         The charismatic former pizza-vendor turned millionaire has sought to blame his detractors within and without his own party for starting and fueling the distracting controversy that now threatens his bid for the Republican nomination.
Whenever convenient, he has also feigned amnesia. However, while Cain seems unable to recall how much some of his accusers were back in the day paid to disappear, he recalls with astounding clarity details of an episode when he compared one accuser’s height with that of his wife. But one thing Herman Cain has never done in relation to his present circumstances: he has never sought to take refuge behind the P-word—by which I refer to the word privacy and not to what I suspect some of my more prurient readers may be thinking.
Cain and his enablers know well the whole point of election campaigns, presidential or otherwise, is to afford voters the opportunity to scrutinize, compare, appraise and finally choose the aspirants best suited for public office.
It is close to inconceivable that Herman Cain would dare say to the electorate that certain aspects of his character and his history are too personal to be exposed to public examination. Of course, that is not to say our own election candidates, who unabashedly refer to themselves as “lesser evils,” do not routinely rush in where their counterparts in less accommodating regions fear to tread. The Red Zone’s pack leader has contemptuously refused on several occasions to clear the smog around his agreement with Jack Grynberg, except to say—contrary to all the evidence—the agreement they secretly signed eleven or twelve years ago, and which never came to light until last year, has expired and therefore he need not address it. Even if the contract were no longer valid, would that be enough reason to sweep the episode under the carpet, to flush it down the water under the bridge and pretend it never existed? After all, at the heart of the secret arrangement that went sour are several unanswered governance-related questions.
With characteristic arrogance, Kenny Anthony continues also to dismiss as a waste of taxpayers’ money the Ramsahoye Report that indicted him on several counts of gross and expensive “maladmini-stration.” There is also his involvement in several other contentious public issues such as the NCA affair, the Helen Air loan guarantee, and the Rochamel-Frenwell debacle that he is disinclined to talk about. Also deserving of close public examination are his statements before parliament that proved not to be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
Instead of facing up to the several unanswered questions relating to his time in office, Kenny Anthony has again recruited Anthony Astaphan to speak for him. The Dominican lawyer has dutifully been making the talk-show rounds, all in the expressed hope of persuading Saint Lucians to return to office the man they had good reason to dump in 2006. Which is not to say Astaphan believes himself what he expects others to believe. But then he is a lawyer. And lawyers are not normally paid to attach much importance to the truth that does not serve their clients.
Speaking of truth, consider the following: “Saint Lucians recognize we are in the middle of a serious crisis, a crisis of minimal growth, a crisis of lay-offs and unemployment, a crisis of crime, of murder and unsolved mysteries. In the midst of these worsening crises all of us would have expected our government, our prime minister, to openly discuss ideas about our way forward. Instead we have a government in denial; in denial over the seriousness of the crime situation, especially the drug situation and its effect on our country’s reputation . . . in denial over the millions it has squandered while breaking the laws it swore to uphold; in denial of the fact that it has on its hands an economic crisis that has caused many Saint Lucians to lose their businesses.”
Moreover: “We have a government in denial of the bitterness and tension introduced into our society by its bad legislation. We believe that in the face of the government’s dismal record we are entitled at this time to make clear demands on them. We demand that the prime minister come clean, not only about the past but also about the future he has planned for
us . . .”
The uninformed reader may be excused for assuming the quoted words were taken from the current opposition leader’s most recent address from the steps of the Castries market. They sound so much like what Big Red has been saying for almost four years about Stephenson King, with absolutely no regard for the crushing realities of a recession that has brought even the great United States to its economic knees. The revealing truth is that the cited speech—which refers pointedly to Kenny Anthony’s stewardship—was delivered over the electronic media by none other than Vaughan Lewis. Not long afterward, truth be damned, Lewis took his famous dip in the transformative bog under the bridge and miraculously was born again. So long, Tu Ju Soo, hello pristine apostle of the former prime minister in denial. Of course, Castries Central voters were not impressed. At the time of his rebirth the newly converted was in serious debt, a libel court having ordered him to pay thousands of dollars for impugning the good name of Kenny Anthony. Lewis alone knows why he has never defended his own reputation against the several sorties in the “selected speeches” proudly reproduced in The Rainbow’s Edge—and why he now serves as a front-line Red Zone shill!
Should anyone be surprised to learn the most recent convert to Red Zone philosophy is Desmond Brathwaite, the former gender affairs minister whose penchant for pushing women down flights of stairs with his foot (as opposed to actually kicking them), while brandishing a gun is a matter of record?  Even I was taken aback upon discovering Braff as a dedicated defender of women on the platform of Robert Lewis, the Red Zone’s hope for Castries South. Doesn’t that sound a little bit like vice paying homage to virtue?
Speaking of which: last Friday evening I caught the tail end of a TV news clip that featured parliament’s most advertised Seventh Day Adventist animatedly bringing hell and damnation on the exposed head of Richard Frederick after he suggested the “mother of a candidate-colleague” had been deported from the United States and her visa revoked. Lewis’ message seemed to be that the relatives of election candidates were off limits and that once again Frederick had crossed the line.
Evidently our best-known AIP (Adventist In Parliament) has recently undergone an attitudinal sea change and now is of the view that the revocation of visas held by private citizens, whether or not related to election candidates, is nobody else’s business.
How convenient! Indeed, I had fully endorsed the earlier publicized Red Zone sentiment that visa revocations involving Saint Lucians represent an indelible blot on our nation’s universally admired good name. After all, say Mr Private Citizen’s visa was revoked by the U.S. authorities for reasons related to money laundering, drug trafficking, prostitution and so on. Wouldn’t we, from that moment on, and for obvious reasons, take a special interest in Mr. Private Citizen—especially if earlier we had never suspected him of involvement in illegal activities?
Shouldn’t we also take a new interest in said exposed private citizen’s local connections? And say our investigations led to a close relative who just happened to be a sitting MP or a candidate currently on the campaign trail. Should we not want to know just how close is their relationship, whether it extended past family ties? Would we be comfortable with not knowing how closely connected was an AG, a cabinet secretary or a minister of education with say, a deported drug baron? (Remember the sordid stories that followed an incident involving a Hewanorra Airport female staffer and a cocaine dealer? For weeks after the man’s arrest at Heathrow his suspected local facilitator’s links with individuals from one of our two main political parties made headlines. There were even threats of libel suits, remember?)
So yes, whether the holder of a canceled visa is a private citizen or a government minister, or just a relative, the impact on
Saint Lucia’s image is automatic. The red coats said as much, until quite recently. In any event, pointless quibbling over who hurts Saint Lucia most: besmirched private citizens, government ministers or police officers.                     The fall-out from a proven association with money laundering or drug trafficking is the same, regardless of the involved individuals. Besides, isn’t it supposed to be public information when a foreign government has deported a Saint Lucian? Are the police not automatically brought into the picture? Is the deportee not supposed to be under constant surveillance? In the best interests of internal security, shouldn’t the public be informed about deportees, whether or not related to parliamentarians?
Why then would Robert Lewis, who with his party colleagues has (rightly) made much about the Frederick case, seek to hide behind the flimsy private-citizen shield? When it comes to crime in Saint Lucia, are private and public people not equal in the eyes of the law? What would it take for an election candidate with nothing to hide simply to say yes, for reasons disclosed or undisclosed, his mother or sister was deported from the U.S. and her visa revoked? How dare any parliamen-tarian imply relatives are off limits when it comes to scrutiny and accountability at election time?
But then perhaps the reluctance in this case is based on lack of information. Could it be that the cited visa revocation and deportation were effected without disclosed reasons, in much the same way that Frederick claimed his own visas were revoked without explanation—though Robert Lewis and his fellow Red Zoners don’t believe a word of that? Might embarrassment be the real reason Lewis and his red brothers don’t want to talk about a reported revocation close to home? Or might the reason be more sinister? We should all try to remember that without information the people perish. Or to put it the Jeffersonian way: “As long as my country is well informed, I have great confidence in my country’s future!”
Last week the Red Zone’s party organ posed to readers the following question: “So what if Emma Hyppolyte had a long-term relationship with a married man? Does that make her less a Christian than Stephenson King or Guy Joseph?” We will attempt an answer next time around.

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