Saint Lucia’s extended silly season continues at full throttle. On Wednesday this week the recently electorally dismissed Saint Lucia Labour Party issued a press release declaring the nation’s new prime minister a national embarrassment. The hardly new SLP assessment was based on a July article in a Barbados newspaper that quoted Mr. Allen Chastanet as saying the United States had in one year deported 800 criminals to Saint Lucia. The resurrected former external affairs minister Alva Baptiste, who had been atypically silent throughout the so-called Juffali Affair, was interviewed by TV reporters on Chastanet’s latest controversial statement.
The once again garrulous and very much alive Baptise, who before the June 6 elections had promised publicly that “only over my dead body will Chastanet be declared prime minister of this country,” now saw the new prime minister as “reckless.” Additionally, that the campaigning Chastanet’s platform statements had returned to haunt him.
Obviously the SLP, including Alva Baptiste, was unaware that in February this year the discarded Justice Minister Philip La Corbiniere had complained to the online St Lucia Times that an increasing number of criminal deportees whom he claimed had been involved in “very serious criminal activities” were a matter of concern for local authorities.
La Corbiniere described the deportees as “trained criminals.” He said he was “sure some of these deportees have international links, be it with ISIS or other bodies or agencies. You cannot follow these people around and put all the resources you have into that area.” He claimed the United States had “deported thousands of convicted criminals to the Caribbean annually since 1996.”
In its press release this week the US Embassy in Barbados also denied reported Chastanet claims that the American government was “slashing funding for security assistance in the region” and in consequence contributing to regional crime.
Alva Baptiste concurred with the embassy’s declaration that the US government had “steadily increased funding for regional security since President Obama launched the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative in 2009.” But both sources neglected to mention the U.S. sanctions in consequence of the Kenny Anthony administration’s bungling of IMPACS, including the suspension of funds, police training and travel opportunities.
Meanwhile this week’s embassy communiqué emphasized that “the United States government has never wavered in its security commitment to the Eastern Caribbean . . . to make the region more safe and secure. The release carefully avoids assistance to Saint Lucia specifically. This week the St. Kitts-Nevis prime minister addressed the closing week-long ceremony at the Ocean Inn for the Regional Security System training institute’s staff and command course. As has been the case since 2011, members of the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force were not invited!