The New Today

Commentary

“With friends like these, who needs enemies?”

It is said, “with friends like these, who needs enemies?” An idiom that proves true in Grenada’s case as it is our historical and current political reality. By governments both local and foreign, we’ve been duped. But once we wake up, it will be hard to put us to sleep again.

Grenada, Carriacou, and Petite Martinique – our tri-island state that was granted an independence it did not ask for nor desire, is currently having relations with, and subordinating itself to, nations which the people do not desire to have relationships with.

The leaders of this state, these three inhabited islands, have always desired to seek their own interests, regardless of the cost to us, the people who inhabit these islands. How is it that there is enough in this country for certain people to have excess, yet not enough for Grenadians to get even a little – in fact, the cost to us is ever increasing.

So many in authority are so busy helping themselves that they do not do right by the Grenadian people. Some may believe that this sounds too otherworldly, but it is true: the nations where the Government acts independently of, and without concern for, the populace they rule are known as dictatorships. Does that sound familiar?

Beware, Grenada, the path you are on is not one of peace. It is one of dictatorship. This is even evidenced by the ‘friends’ we keep. As the saying goes, “Tell me your company, and I will tell you what you are.” Free nations that care about their citizens do not become such bedfellows with tyrannical dictatorships as we have.

Apart from China, Russia, and Cuba, our familiar ‘friends’, Grenada has relations with the following Eastern and Western European nations through its embassy in Moscow: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Albania, Bulgaria, Hungary, Monaco, Serbia, and the Czech Republic.

Additionally, we have not severed diplomatic relations with North Korea or Chile – holdovers from the time of Bishop and Gairy respectively. But the reason we don’t know this is because many aspects of our diplomatic activities don’t even unfurl in Grenada but in these aforementioned parts of Europe.

For example, we even hosted a Caribbean and Latin American (GRULAC) nations meeting in Moscow in March 2022. Russia has much more reason to be currently in the Caribbean than we think. How much do the Grenadian people know of these activities? Not much. Because it would appear that those in charge make it a point to keep us in the dark concerning our Government’s dealings abroad, as if it’s their business, not ours.

Grenada’s Government has even appointed unknown foreigners as our ambassadors. How did we find this questionable Russian, born in Ukraine, to be a Grenada Ambassador to his country, Russia, anyway? Oleg Firer, according to the Miami Herald, was part of the colourful tapestry of South Florida’s large entrepreneurial Soviet Diaspora many of whom, like Firer, wound up in Florida by way of Brooklyn.

The then Ambassador of Grenada, His Excellency Oleg Firer, during the opening speech celebrating Grenada’s Independence in 2022 said, “Celebrating Grenada’s Independence in Moscow, Capital of the Russian Federation demonstrates reliable friendship and commitment to deep bilateral relations with the Russian Federation, which was cemented 42 years ago and continues to grow” (Grenada Embassy in Russia).

He is also a friend/business partner of Olinga Mitchell, a former CBI agent etc., and had his ambassadorial position revoked in February 2023 and denied entry to the island around that time. He sued over stopping him from entering the country, and was in the news two weeks ago, when high court judge Raulston Glasgow using residual power, granted him sixty thousand dollars in damages.

Oleg who has been in the position since 2017 failed to prove in court he had a legitimate diplomatic passport according to Attorney General Claudette Joseph. He was never a citizen by legal provision, she said. He also failed to surrender his passport under the previous administration.

According to the Grenada Embassy in Russia, in the same Grenada Independence event in Moscow, 2022, H.E. Alexander Shchetinin, head of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Latin America and the Caribbean Department, commented, “[Grenada] for us is an important link with the Caribbean region, which is gaining more and more weight in Russian foreign policy.”

Or we can look at Grenada’s relationship with Ghana for example, a country with which we recently signed three Memoranda of Understanding. All of a sudden Africa is the way to find friends because we all come from there, we are told.

Going back to roots! This burgeoning relationship with Ghana, according to Loop News (Feb. 16th 2024), is part of a commitment to the United Nations Charter. So, it’s not based on what the people want – as usual – nor what is best for us.

The Grenadian people are virtually the first casualty of Government policy. Grenada is now a one-size-fits-all protégé of the UN, just rolling out diktats as if on a production line; a life ordered by a supra power to equalise and impoverish global human existence.

One World Order, as the first UN Secretary-General, Trygve Lie, spoke of. Of course, that frees political leaders from attending to the national interest. What’s the point of them doing that? Follow the money! Their approximately 300% increase in salary is only the basic. The included ten-thousand-dollar monthly allotment tossed in there for community development is in fact theirs. If not, there would be a proper protocol for accessing it as Government funds for community assistance.

These countries with whom we have diplomatic relations, have no actual connection to the Grenadian people. For example, the diaspora, which so often clothes and provides for local relatives, does not live in any of these places.

Who talks about their uncle sending money from Armenia? Or their aunt sending a barrel from Ukraine? Perhaps the disconnect between the countries that we the people love and those our Government is associated with tells us about where the hearts of our leaders lie.

What countries do our people most wish to live in or visit? Our Government does not want what we do; they do not share our desires nor our interests, but they seek their own. They want friends who grant money with no strings attached, because they want no accountability. And in order to keep these friends that bring no benefit to the general population, the Government must convince us into thinking Grenada cannot be developed.

If we have no hope, they have no one to hold them accountable. Don’t they see us as pawns to be manipulated and exploited?

Government officials make a point of telling you what you do not have, why you cannot make it, why you are not important. They have never told you what you do have. Here they are: we have a main, uncommon, natural sheltered deepwater harbour, sufficient rains (excess in some regions), a type of landscape that allows for more surface area than a flat country, like so many other places in the Caribbean.

These mountains are advantages; they allow us to maximise water usage with the aid of gravity, to give our crops longer hours of sunlight, and ensure that our crops are not susceptible to floods. These hills were used for windmills in time past, but as technology progressed, we have simply fell by the wayside with regard to energy generation to accommodate local industries.

These mountains are in fact very useful, many flat topped, and suitable for agricultural use, as history has proven. It is not as though these mountains were never used for farming – cane, indigo, cocoa, cotton, bananas, and other crops have long been cultivated on our hills.

The Government is frequently reactionary, and they always speak of plans and frameworks and projects they intend to implement, but in reality many of the core areas that need help in this Grenadian society are never addressed in any sort of strategic, intentional, and timely manner.

They have not strengthened the weak; they have not healed the sick, but have let the hospitals and clinics degrade; they have not bound up the injured, the broken, or provided a way to help the crippled; those gone astray they have not brought back; they have not sought the lost; but with force, cruelty, and harshness they have ruled the people.

We are told to celebrate the completion of 1.7 miles of road, a distance the lady Minister gave in feet: 8,840. Is that not deception? That figure represents two years’ worth of roadworks for the entirety of St. John’s.

Government ministers also boasted about an analogue scale placed in a fish market in St. Mark’s, and promoted the sweeping of a basketball court in St. David’s. All these minor things are treated as matters of national concern and importance, and the Government insists on a job well done. Job well done, is it?

If only to save the image of your Government, you should have avoided pronouncing those miserly things for a community meeting, not a broad Town Hall. It’s counterproductive PR. Egg on your face.

Our relations with Grenada’s main ally, another so-called friend, China, have granted us the great benefit of having our markets flooded with cheap, weak, and ill-functioning products, made by slaves in detention centres frequently filled with political prisoners, dissidents, and often people whose number merely needs to be added to the statistics, people who have committed no actual crime.

If there are petty criminals, they are not the majority. For it would appear that those committing the greatest crimes are in fact those in charge of the law.

We buy their goods, we trade our vote at the UN, we give them permission to be in our waters, monitor our airwaves and even concern themselves with the contents of our newspapers, and in return we receive poorly built structures and the wholesale development plan of our nation under the BRI programme.

Then they get our own citizens visual artist, dubbed journalist, to write for them in the People’s Daily, the official newspaper of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party (which provides direct information on the policies and viewpoints of the CCP in multiple languages) about the wonders of Chinese modernisation. Pity! They have a good laugh at us from time to time one would imagine.

The Caribbean nations, outside of those considered the large economies, are generally considered unimportant and worthless if not for our beaches and sunshine. In some circles, Grenada specifically is even regarded as the worst nation south of Cuba. Yet the Chinese are here.

Now even the Russians are in the hemisphere here, in the Caribbean Sea, on military exercises, they say. Are we really as unimportant as we are told ad nauseum? How many Russians hold Grenadian passports?

Do not relent, Grenadians. Let the tenacity of your will and prayers and voice prevail! Our existence is not threatened by hurricanes, and it takes about half a century to get two or three of such disasters.

The sea level rise that ‘risks our very existence’ has no sufficient evidence either, as the erosion of a patch of Carriacou proves no such thing. We are told we can have no natural resources, yet we exported, historically, cotton, sugar and other goods by the millions of tonnes. How many lies have we been told, and we have believed?

There’s a reason why the Communists want to be here, and it will be a great day when Grenadians, by the majority, begin to see the reason/s why. There’s a reason why the Government lies to us about who we are, what we have, etc. And there’s a reason why we cannot give up on us; not Grenada, not Carriacou and not Petite Martinique.

Little gestures to feign action and concern won’t work. We see through them. It is up to us. We as a people, must speak out and say that we will not believe the lies, and we must hold those in charge accountable. Hold on, Help is on the way!

Zarah Chase