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Tobias Clement: Grenada Coastguard turned away Vincy boats from Petite Martinique

Tobias Clement comments on the Coastguard issue

Grenada’s newly appointed Opposition Leader Tobias Clement has issued a statement which confirmed THE NEW TODAY report that the Grenada Coast Guard has been preventing goods from St Vincent to enter Petite Martinique.

Clement has commented on allegations that THE NEW TODAY had published “Fake News” in an article carried Sunday night that indicated that the Grenada Coast Guard had turned back a boat with supplies from St. Vincent heading to the small island of Petite Martinique which is administered by the government in St. George’s.

In a statement issued Monday evening, the Opposition Leader who is from Petite Martinique addressed the incident in which Acting Police Commissioner Edvin Martin denied that anything of the sort had ever taken place.

Minister for Carriacou & Petite Martinique affairs, Kindra Maturine-Stewart had branded the New Today  article as “Fake as me wig and dem”.

But Clement said he is aware of the incident in which goods which originated from St. Vincent were dropped off on Petite St. Vincent (PSV) and the small boats that were taking them over to Petite Martinique were prevented from doing so by a Grenada Coast Guard vessel in the area.

PSV, controlled by the Ralph Gonsalves government in St. Vincent, is the closest of the Grenadine chain of islands to Petite Martinique.

The Opposition Leader who is the Member of Parliament for St. George North-east said that an incident did happen in which goods that came from St. Vincent were put on the smaller boats at PSV but were turned away from entering Petite Martinique by the Grenada Coast Guard.

In his statement on the Coast Guard issue and goods for Petite Martinique, Clement said: “The situation is acute in Petit Martinique. For hundreds of years goods have entered the tiny Grenadine island coming from St. Vincent and the Grenadines via small boats. The government has stationed the Grenada Coast Guard between Petit Martinique and St. Vincent for several days with the expressed intention of preventing the movement of food. The Coast Guard has stopped boatmen in the channel and turned them away.

The Government ignored the main questions: Is the Coast Guard stationed in the waters around Petit Martinique? Why is the Coast Guard stationed there while leaving the entire southern, western, and eastern coast of Grenada open to illegal operations?

This is an abuse of power and a complete disregard for the plight of our sisters and brothers in their time of need.”

The full statement released by the Leader of the opposition under the headline, “Food verses Lumber and Cement” is as follows:

As the Covid-19 virus continues to baffle the best medical brains in the world, our government pronounced victory in its press briefing on Saturday, 18 April 2020. What followed was a move to relax prevention measures and allow selected areas of the society to operate. They gave no rationale for the basis of the selection of who can and cannot function during that time.

Related:  Blood flowed in Carriacou

Parliament did not debate the impending relaxation of categories of business during its sitting earlier in the week. This begs the question, whose decision was it to proceed with the relaxation? How did they arrive at the list of businesses allowed to operate?

Let us all agree that the State of Emergency is very necessary. We can also agree that to stop the pandemic, we may need a complete shutdown for a period. Everywhere, when there is a shutdown or lockdown, they put measures in place to attend to the needs of the disadvantaged, the poor and the exposed. 

The sudden lockdown left many persons exposed. Our Grenadian people have shown resolve, kindness, gratitude and brotherhood.  People have come together to help each other; to be their brother’s keeper. I repeat my offer of help to my brothers and sisters in this time of need.

The Prime Minister has advised his MPs not to be out there. Is he afraid for his MPs or is he afraid for himself? How are the needs of the poor and vulnerable attended to? A few hampers help, but it is not enough. As the lockdown continues the government needs to have a more structured approach to helping the poor and vulnerable on a consistent and fair basis.

Our sisters and brothers in the Diaspora were the first to recognise the need for solidarity. They packed barrels, boxes and crates and sent to Grenada, Carriacou and Petit Martinique. To date, several of these containers of supplies are sitting on the port without permission to clear them.

Instead, they gave priority to the clearing of lumber and steel and other non-perishable goods based on their contribution to the government’s coffers.

From Grenada to Carriacou and Petit Martinique, people are talking of how vexing this situation is. It leaves them to wonder how much, or for what, the Prime Minister and his government cares.

The situation is acute in Petit Martinique. For hundreds of years goods have entered the tiny Grenadine island coming from St. Vincent and the Grenadines via small boats. The government has stationed the Grenada Coast Guard between Petite Martinique and St. Vincent for several days with the expressed intention of preventing the movement of food. The Coast Guard has stopped boatmen in the channel and turned them away.

The Government ignored the main questions: Is the Coast Guard stationed in the waters around Petit Martinique? Why is the Coast Guard stationed there while leaving the entire southern, western, and eastern coast of Grenada open to illegal operations?

This is an abuse of power and a complete disregard for the plight of our sisters and brothers in their time of need.

May God have mercy on us in this critical time.