Who is LaCorbiniere’s crime target?

Minister for Justice
Philip La Corbiniere promises the government will be tackling the criminal masterminds behind the recent spate of violence.

Throughout the weekend I took several calls from Saint Lucians at home and abroad who wanted to know how I’d rated Bill Clinton’s recent endorsement of Barack Obama at the DNC national convention, as well as the current president’s own contribution on the final night to his reelection effort. What else could I say? I echoed most of the published rave reviews. Great speeches, great orators! And then I received this email from a friend in Atlant, Georgia: “Was it not disingenuous to say to the electorate that he [Obama] will pay down on the debt with money that is really unavailable, while also acknowledging that the American people want to be told the truth? The President completely ignored the recommendations from his jobs council and yet Biden talks about the territorial tax suggested by the jobs council to Romney. When are politicians going to level with the people and stop concentrating on keeping their own jobs?” Good final question. I fired off my own question back at my friend in Atlanta: “When will we the people quit applauding half-truths and outright lies?” While still pondering my friend’s question, I later reminded myself that Romney, Obama, Clinton and their surrogates are in campaign mode. Their sole purpose is to keep their respective troops happy and excited and delirious right up to the minute they cast their ballots. Same as with our own politicians who routinely promise voters what they and the people who applaud them know they cannot deliver. Remember the 7000 jobs promised during the 2006 campaign? Remember the promised resurrection of our banana industry? Did anyone even wonder how either of the two miracles might be possible? Did we really believe any of that? Were any of us even slightly embarrassed at hearing our respective party leaders speaking such nonsense? Remember the 4-lane highway that we all knew was pie in the sky? Remember “jobs, jobs, jobs?” What about the $100-million investment in the private sector? Let’s not even go near the character assassins. Then again we’ve also knowingly elected truly questionable candidates more times than I care to recall—too often for the country’s good! The saddest part, for me, is that we permit politicians to insult our intelligence long after their campaigns have ended. I almost fell out my chair during the televised most recent Budget address when the people of Saint Lucia were assured our comatose tourism industry would be buoyant again within the next eighteen months or so. Never mind the contrary indicators, not one of the opposition MPs bothered to seek clarification, even though the promised recovery of the local economy is almost wholly dependent on the return of the industry. Small wonder that at the most recent House session the prime minister had the chutzpah to predict the world economy would be buzzing again “in two years.” Not even Obama and Romney in full campaign mode have gone as far! And now it’s the turn of the justice minister Philip LaCorbiniere to “promise them anything” if that’ll make them shut up about crime. Last week the minister announced his government would now concentrate on the leaders of local crime, who he said sat behind their polished desks while their minions carried out their criminal orders. A short time earlier the minister had in effect suggested the almost weekly fatal shootings were a carry-over from the criminality that had preceded his government’s reelection, not any indicator of continuing crime. It is no secret that when he was attorney general and the Labour Party candidate in the 2006 Castries Central by-election Mr LaCorbiniere’s office had targeted a certain member of the United Workers Party. He was often referred to as a money launderer and a criminal about to be arrested by agents of the DEA. That never happened but it was often bruited about that it was only a matter of time before evidence surfaced that would nail the culprit. So, could that be what prompted the justice minister’s recent statement? Pointless speculating. Let’s instead ask the minister to explain himself. Is he suggesting organized crime has taken hold of Saint Lucia? How did that happen? When did it happen? Are members of the force involved? Can the minister support his allegation with hard evidence? Shouldn’t the public be told the details? Shouldn’t the police? For crying out loud, what’s the minister waiting for? As I say, in the heat of election campaigns such outbursts may be excused. But when they come from a minister of justice what choice do we have but to hang on to his every word? We do not expect government ministers when addressing life and death matters to spout hot air. On reflection, perhaps this is how I should have answered the email from my friend in Atlanta: “The politicians will start leveling with the people when it is no longer profitable to do the otherwise!”

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