Conversations with a Tyrant
Submitted by Nathan ‘Jolly’ Green
‘You don’t belong here comrade,’ you belong in Cuba, even Venezuela, not in Saint Vincent. You have devoted so much time and energy and given SVGs political support to others at the UN and elsewhere that we in SVG disprove of, leaving us feeling neglected and second class to those countries. You really should consider living where you choose, but Saint Vincent should not be on the list.
When your ancestors came to Saint Vincent, they came because they were invited to fill the jobs previously held by slaves. The planters did not want to employ the ex-slaves, mainly out of spite. But in many cases ex-slaves did not want to work for their old masters, perhaps they were the majority.
In the Portuguese island of Madeira, people were starving due to an ongoing famine, with harvest and crop failures for several years. Agents for the Caribbean planters came and those Madeirans that wanted to emigrate or work for a period in the Caribbean were enlisted. The enlistment required entering into contracts, and the contractual system was called Indentured Labour, which was a legal contract binding the Madeirans into the service of a planter for a specified time, with specific terms. At the end of their contract they had the right free passage back to their original homeland. Entering into the Indenture contract was a free choice by the Portuguese Madeirans; they chose to try and find a better life where there were no food shortages.
Mid-nineteenth and early twentieth-century Portuguese migration from the Madeiran archipelago to the Caribbean, while not unique to the Commonwealth Caribbean, is a phenomenon crucial to St. Vincent, and other British and French territories. After Guyana, St. Vincent was the single most important destination for Madeiran migrants in the 19th century.
After the Madeirans signed up to travel to Saint Vincent, they travelled to Southampton in England, from there they were carried to Saint Vincent on well-equipped ships to Kingstown, Saint Vincent. The ships had cabins for the families and larger rooms for groups of men only. Onboard ship was a surgery manned by a qualified doctor and nursing staff. The immigrants were fed, and well looked after, the same amenities that a fare-paying passenger would receive.
Now, comrade, I know in the past you and others have tried to equate Indentureship to slavery, and the ships that the Portuguese arrived in, to slave ships. But in the original slave ships Africans were manacled, chained, tied down on a bare wooden deck where they had little option to pee and poo where they laid. It ran all over those around them. They were laying like that until the ship’s sailors throw buckets of ice-cold seawater over them to wash them down. The Tight Pack method involved packing as many slaves into the hold as possible. It was expected that some would die, but a large number would survive the voyage. A ship’s hold was cramped – only five feet high, with a shelf running around the edge to carry more slaves. The slaves were loaded in so close together that one captain described them as being ‘like books on a shelf’.
Many died, and many suffered mental anguish for the rest of their days. They had been brutally captured and sold into slavery by other Africans, kept in pens and prisons in forts and barracoons on the West Africa coast by their African captors, then sold to foreigners, slave traders of every nationality.
Then you comrade insult the memory of every slave transported in this way by claiming the Portuguese suffered the same fate as the Africans. But the insult does not rest with the ancestors, it is an assault of, and an insult to every black person in SVG today whose ancestors were slaves.
Now you have joined us at the hip with the Cubans who are mainly white and disrespect black people on their island, blacks there have few if no jobs, third rate living conditions, and are third-class citizens.
Telling us that you, a white man, are the blackest prime minister in the Caribbean, making nasty remarks about black citizens, making racist statements against Arnhim Eustace. The lack of respect, the failure to know your place makes it obvious you do not belong here comrade, you belong among like-minded people in Cuba or Venezuela.
Now is the time comrade, it is time to consider leaving SVG, let the people live a better life under a new government which is uninfluenced by you, your family, or your organized dynasty.
SVG is not your family plantation; you are not the great white planter, you are not going to be allowed to use the mental form of the bullwhip on the minds of poor innocent and ignorant black Vincentians any more. It is over; it is over!
Many people have suffered under your rule, even if you did not carry out or plan the atrocities yourself, it has happened under your watch, and I believe you could have stopped it.
People have had their property, their family land, seemingly unfairly compulsorily purchased, then in some cases to remain unpaid for numerous years. Businesspeople raided by police with sometimes falsely obtained search warrants as a form of spiteful harassment.
People like Bigger Bigs had their business destroyed with the loss of lots of jobs for poor Vincentians.
You have had accusations against you of rape and sexual assault, of having a Swiss bank account containing $19 million US dollars. Yet nothing prosecuted or evidenced to the people that you are innocent of such accusations: no court cases, no satisfaction for the people in general, and your accusers in particular. Not that I am saying you are guilty of anything, but you have had the opportunity to clear yourself of all the accusations in court, but it has never happened. It would rightfully or wrongly appear that you have fought not go before any court on any of the matters. Which is a strange procedural action for an innocent man to adopt.
Remember when you said this comrade? Castro is the greatest man to walk the face of the Earth [a blasphemous insult to Lord Jesus]. Well, the opportunity is there now for you go and live in Cuba or go and join Fidel Castro.
There is extraordinarily little democracy left in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, the State has become a dark place, and democracy dies in darkness.