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Attack on NNP policies in The Grenadines

Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell

“I have never been the political type but after looking at how this government has stripped Grenada of its dignity, I will do everything that I can to make sure that this government can never be re-elected in Grenada. I will give my life to make sure that this doesn’t happen.

That’s the vow of an angry Grenadian living and working on Union Island which is administered by St. Vincent and the Grenadines in light of COVID-19 restrictive regulations imposed by the Keith Mitchell-led government that affected travel between the small islands in the Grenadines.

The individual who spoke to THE NEW TODAY blasted the “foolish rules” that were put in place by Mitchell’s ruling New National Party (NNP) administration that severely affected trading ties among the small neighbouring islands in the Grenadines which have been in existence for centuries.

He said that St. George’s has given priority in these times totally to the battle against COVID-19 without taking into consideration the other health issues facing the residents in the small Grenadine islands like the need to visit the doctor and dentist.

“He (Mitchell) is fighting this stupid game with Ralph Gonsalves when peoples’ real lives is the concern… rather than trying to understand how is this thing really affecting the people here. We have real issues that (are) more than if you have a virus that will not kill you,” he added.

According to the individual, the coronavirus is not killing healthy people based on the science, but affecting mainly those people with underlying health issues and problems.

PM Mitchell has accused his Vincentian counterpart of encouraging residents on Carriacou & Petite Martinique to break the local law by offering them cheap gas and food items at a time when Grenada has closed its borders due to COVID-19.

The local living on Union Island said the people in the Grenadines do not see themselves as belonging to either Grenada or even Mainland St. Vincent.

He charged that the concept of Grenada or St. Vincent being in charge of any of the small islands in the Grenadines only exist in the minds of politicians but not the residents themselves.

“The people do not see this place (Union Island) as a place with boundaries – these are artificial boundaries that have been created not by them but others,” he remarked.

He said: “The people of Petite Martinique are on this island (Union Island) today as we speak in the bar drinking. People are moving between Union Island and Petite Martinique every day still even with the lock down.

“People are coming to Union Island to pick up supplies to go to Petite Martinique every day. There is no border between the islands due to their closeness, he added.

He went on: “It is rather foolish to imagine that you can stop the people from going between the islands. I have family on every single island. You cannot deny me from sending supplies to my cousins on another island.

“I do not care about some act that you passed – that is ridiculous. That is like telling somebody on the top of Market Hill (in St. George’s) that you cannot go to the bottom of Market Hill. It is ridiculous. It’s like preventing somebody in St. Paul’s going into La Borie. You can’t do that because all of our connections are between the islands – you have to interact.

According to the individual, the people in the Grenadines “have a different concept of borders and boundaries” than those people living on either Mainland Grenada or St. Vincent.

“It is clear that the governments do not understand this. We are doing projects on Union Island and the supplies have to come from Carriacou,” he said.

He pointed out that some of the supplies are not available in Union Island itself and are bought directly from Carriacou which is closer to them in proximity than Mainland St. Vincent.

“Some things are just not available here that we have to get from Carriacou,” he quipped.

The Grenadian said the Mitchell government “has not prioritised the needs when it comes to the livelihood of the people” of Carriacou and Petite Martinique because living “on a tiny island is not like living on a big island like Grenada”.

“You’re talking about Petite Martinique (that) have 500 people. You cannot isolate the people from the people living next door. That doesn’t make any sense,” he added.

He referred to a number of grocery stores that are operated on Union Island that are owned by persons who were actually born in nearby Carriacou.

He indicated that the vessel, Lady JJ which sank two weeks ago, was most likely overloaded in bringing back supplies from Carriacou to Union Island because the captain was forced to do so since he does not know when permission will be given to him again to enter Grenada’s jurisdiction in Carriacou.

The administration in St. George’s has dispatched a coastguard vessel in the waters around Carriacou and Petite Martinique to prevent persons from the neighbouring islands from coming in to inter-mix due to the Coronavirus.

There has been no reported case of COVID-19 in any of the small Grenadine ward islands but 26 on Mainland St. Vincent and 23 on Grenada.

According to the individual, given the existing trade links between the islands in the Grenadines, the Mitchell government was wrong in cutting off the relationships between the islands as they are too dependent on each other for survival.

“You cannot treat the Grenadines like you treat Trinidad which is like an island – likewise Grenada which is an island, which has everything on the main island.

“These small islands do not have that. We must travel between the islands.

People (on Union Island) go to the dentist in Carriacou – you take a (speed) boat and 20 minutes you are in Carriacou instead of three hours to St. Vincent.

The Grenadian pointed out that the people living in the Grenadines have other serious health issues besides COVID-19 that they must attend to in their own best interest.

He said that these restrictions imposed by St. George’s have been burdensome on residents of Union Island who cannot now go to Carriacou to take advantage of a cheaper service but spend more time and money to go all the way up to St. Vincent to see the doctor and dentist and have to overnight at additional costs for the same treatment.

He said: “This is the reality of living here. These stupid politicians have not given this any thought, they have not made it a priority to make sure that the services that are needed are addressed. They just literally abandoned the islands.

“People in Petite Martinique do their banking on Union Island so in order for them to get money from the ATM or deposit their money when they get or wherever they get it from, they must come to Union Island,” he added.

According to the local man, despite the presence of the Grenada Coastguard in the area, the residents of Carriacou are still defying the laws imposed on them by the Mitchell government to travel to Union Island to conduct business.

He said the people hold the view that “their survival is more important than these laws that they are creating – the law must serve the people, not the governments.

“The government is a servant of the people. Sovereignty is with the people, not the government. The government has to understand the needs of the people first and address those needs.

“The government is not the entity to be served – it is the people. The government is the servant. The servant cannot be telling the people what to do.

He cited the situation in which a speed boat ride to Carriacou will last only 20 minutes to conduct business as compared to the journey of 3-4 hours between Union Island and Mainland St. Vincent with stops in about three other Grenadine islands.

He said that by the time the resident of Union Island reaches St. Vincent it is already late in the day and the person is forced to sleep overnight in a guest house at cost to conduct business on the following day.

“It takes 20 minutes on a speed boat from Union to Harvey Vale (in Carriacou) or to Windward it is even less. So normally, people will just jump on the boat, go to Carriacou, they see the doctor and they come back home the same day… no big expense.

“But now to go to the doctor or dentist, you now have to literally overnight and pay the boat almost a plane fare to go up and to come back down.

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