Think! Think hard! Have you ever heard about Rochamel? Frenwell? Grynberg? Sure you have. But what do you really know about these issues? Permit me to answer for you. Very little, never mind the related publicity. Remarkably, even the governor general whom the Constitution at Section 65 says is to be informed by the prime minister of the general conduct of government, and who is entitled to answers to particular questions on the workings of government, has acknowledged in writing her ignorance on the dicey subject of Grynberg.
Are you familiar with the details of the Rochamel contract? How about the contract by which Frenwell’s debts were paid by the people of Saint Lucia without their knowledge, let alone consent? Have you read the details of that agreement? You know you have not. Let’s not start me off on Grynberg. The related agreement was secretly signed by prime minister Kenny Anthony in 2000 and later expanded by the same PM—despite Jack Grynberg’s refusal to do a damn thing in fulfillment of his contract until border disputes, imagined or otherwise, were settled by the Saint Lucia government; and despite that Grynberg was at the time in litigation with a sister island over border disputes.
Before DSH did you have the smallest idea what was a framework agreement? Again, more than likely the answer is no—unless you are a lawyer or someone who knows something about law. As I write it seems every Tom, Dick and Kondom is an authority on contract law, to the extent they sound like Johnnie Cochrans come lately!
It occurred to me during my interview with the prime minister on Thursday evening that Allen Chastanet had brought upon himself all the mindless distractions now keeping him from giving full attention to such vital matters as our comatose economy, our nonexistent justice system, and other issues vital to Saint Lucia’s survival. The DSH matter that since the election of the Allen Chastanet government has dominated the airwaves and occupied the attention of Saint Lucians here and elsewhere had been around for two years or so before June 6, 2016. You may then well ask: Why didn’t we hear about DSH until the people removed Kenny Anthony from the prime minister’s chair? Was there in Anthony’s time a framework agreement between the government and DSH? Was a letter written to the company’s CEO similar to that written to Mr. Robert Ainsworth by the prime minister before the last elections? Why have Saint Lucians read nothing about the negotiations between Kenny & Co and the DSH people? Why not word not a word not a word on Ainsworth from the former prime minister, even now?
More to the point, why do we know—or think we know—so much today about DSH? The simple answer is that the new prime minister chose prematurely to bring Saint Lucians into the picture before negotiations between his government and the developers had been concluded. Enter the framework agreement, leaked to one TV show and published on the Internet. Meanwhile, the prime minister was doing his utmost to be heard above the resulting din that seemed to take on new forms every other day: protests against dolphinariums—never mind that in 2014 the day’s government had without expressed public concern declared its support for a dolphin park at Anse Jambete; protests in the declared best interests of reptilian residents of Maria Island, and so on. What started out as apolitical expressions soon took on colors normally associated with uncontrollable local radicalism. New groups of concerned citizens suddenly sprang up in Vieux Fort and elsewhere. Even sections of the clergy joined their holy voices against the government’s proposals, however off key—further dividing one of the most polarized countries outside the Middle East. We need not mention the rebels without a cause. Neither the coming together of disparate groups, convinced what they smelled in the water was blood. Some have even talked of “new elections” less than a year after the country acquired a new government.
So now, my final question: Had Allen Chastanet conducted private negotiations with DSH in the usual way, behind closed doors; had he waited until he was ready to face parliament with a DSH-related bill, would we be now at one another’s throats? Had he done as was done with Grynberg and Frenwell—that is to say, had Allen Chastanet conducted and concluded his negotiations outside of Saint Lucia, would we now be fighting one another—victims for fork-tongued politicians? Was it naivete that led Allen Chastanet to hold that first press briefing that included the signing of a so-called Framework Agreement? Was his biggest mistake to treat Saint Lucians with more respect than had any other prime minister before him—to afford them transparency in government matters such as never before experienced in our simply beautiful country?
You tell me, dear presumed reasonable reader!