Just as bamboo-bursting and house-to-house at Christmas are intrinsically Saint Lucian, so too is prejudice created by politics. For decades it has been engrained in us that we must choose one party and stick to it. You must either be Labour Party red or United Workers Party yellow.
The political divide in Saint Lucia is at the centre of most news stories. It’s a given that every report is laced with politics, angled to serve one party or another. Even gossip is politically coloured. As are the most heart-wrenching tragedies. Talk about the latest suicide, the ever-rising crime rate, unemployment, our poor infrastructure and before long you’ll be engaged in a debate that might more usefully be conducted in parliament. Of course, the two hottest issues centre on what is or is not going on with Desert Star Holdings and St. Jude.
Last Sunday the Saint Lucia Labour Party hosted its annual Conference of Delegates under the theme “Mobilize, Organize, Consolidate”.
Opening the afternoon was the former leader of the Saint Lucia Labour Party, former prime minister and current representative for Vieux Fort South, Dr Kenny Anthony. As expected, he expressed his annoyance with the United Workers Party, claiming that “sixteen months of honeymoon is enough”. But those who may have expected him to elaborate were soon set straight as
Dr. Anthony quickly moved away from what he considered wrong with the government that replaced his administration in June 2016 to a monologue about personal grievances.
For most of his time at the microphone Dr Kenny Anthony moaned about personal attacks by the UWP. By all he said he seemed convinced the Allen Chastanet administration was engaged in a campaign to destroy him. “I don’t think
that there is any constituency that the United Workers Party has invested as heavily to remove a candidate as the constituency of Vieux Fort South,” he said.
But what seemed to cause him the greatest pain was his perceived deliberate neglect of the people of his Vieux Fort South constituency, and the government’s relationship with DSH, which had its beginnings with Dr. Anthony’s administration – a two-year secret that came to light only after July 6, 2016.
Despite that the Chastanet government has repeatedly denied suggestions it plans to demolish the half-completed structure that has cost over $100 million, Dr Anthony assured his audience on Sunday that if the government “touched St Jude” it would feel the combined wrath of the people of Vieux Fort, north and south. He declared: “Understand that we will fight you; we will fight you in parliament; we will fight you in the streets; we will fight you in our courts; we will fight you in our homes, in our communities and wherever we may have access to media that is interested in truth and justice.”
But what did Dr Anthony really mean by “fight?”
For many who have been calling the talk shows, Dr Anthony was “inciting violence, and pushing to disturb the peace”. Some said he had not spoken as was expected of a former prime minister who cared about the welfare of this country. Of course, he had his supporters. A Vieux Fort resident called to say, “I believe that he aimed to make it very clear that the residents of Vieux Fort will no longer remain silent on the issues.”
Another resident from the south agreed that the United Workers Party was indeed targeting Dr Anthony. “They don’t attack the Saint Lucia Labour Party; they always attack Kenny,” she said.
From this reporter’s perspective, on Sunday Dr Anthony did come off as a bit too self-assured. He projected an undeniable air of arrogance that was hard to deny. It is regrettable that a politician of Dr. Anthony’s stature would for any reason promote violence in our country. There are several other routes open to him if has a serious complaint. He would do well to think less of his bruises and more about the people whom he has more than once sworn to protect. He should also be especially careful not to be perceived as possessed of a persecution complex!