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Government of St Lucia: A universe of systemic false-hood

By Caribbean News Global fav

TORONTO, Canada – A press release from the office of the prime minister of Saint Lucia said: “The government of Saint Lucia met with representatives of various fishing societies to discuss protocols to manage the COVID-19 pandemic.” This is precisely the sort of misinformation and ‘public awareness campaign to fight fake newsthat the government and the minister for tourism, information and broadcasting must address, albeit the infinity for the alternative universe of communicating to supporters and cohorts.

In reality, the revocation [November 5, 2020] of Statutory Instrument, 2020 No.165A published in the Saint Lucia government Gazette on Friday, October 30, 2020, fisherfolk and their respective associations, showed up unannounced at the office of the prime minister, demanded and forced the government to attend to their concerns. This resulted in a series of meetings Monday – Wednesday, November 4.

“We journeyed down to Castries this morning [November 2] to see who we could have met. Luckily we did get an audience with the prime minister,” the spokesman for the group of fishers explained. A series of meetings followed. Prime minister Allen Chastanet did the now customary attribute of apologizing after the fact, without recourse to bad policy, thought process and actions – the ‘abrupt’ one-week suspension of fishing licenses.

“I have apologised to the fisherfolk because there probably should have been an immediate consultation with them,” Chastanet said.

Meantime, representatives offered solutions, the government made demands on the condition of the following:

  • Fisherfolk to work collaboratively with authorities to share information and adhere to new guidelines moving forward.
  • All valid fishers can go to sea from 4 am – 6 pm daily.
  • At all times, captains must carry their vessel documents and fisher IDs.
  • Before leaving port, captains must contact the Vigie or Moule-a-Chique Lighthouses to provide relevant information.
  • The number of people allowed to engage in fishing on the vessel will be in keeping with the number sanctioned as per the vessel registration certificate.
  • Anyone caught undertaking human trafficking activities will have their fishing license suspended for a period of one year.

Minister for agriculture and fisheries, Ezechiel Joseph is attributed with the quote: “We are going to continue revisiting the protocols and for the next three weeks, reduce the hours they are allowed to go out to sea, while we consider additional medium to long-term solutions.”

At a joint press briefing November 4, prime minister Chastanet emphasized the need for everyone to appreciate how dynamic this situation is and how vulnerable we remain as a country, especially at our borders.

This is our war to lose, this is our war to win. If we have to keep our borders open and persons working, we must stop this community spread. We know that restrictions put in place cause hardship on certain sectors, but we must all work together for the greater good to protect the vulnerable in our society,” the prime minister said.

It is interesting that the government of Saint Lucia introduced GPS for fishers and will be part of the fisherfolk [boat operator] license holder’s agreement. This opens up a wide-ranging issue, not the lease of tourism-related vessels, catamarans, and private boat operators. The related legislation, operation, monitoring and data collection.

It would be most useful if GPS and operational measure we introduced to measure the efficiency, use of state assets and Cabinet ministers, comparable to – an online interactive portal that tracks Jamaica’s public investment projects and makes information available to citizens in a user-friendly map-based format.

Meanwhile, the government of Saint Lucia is adrift to assist fisherfolks and native Saint Lucians, the government of Jamaica has allocated $120 million in production incentives for fishers and fish farmers. Approximately 4,740 licensed fishers across 137 fishing communities will benefit from grants in the form of vouchers for a total value of $67 million.

In a statement Thursday the Saint Lucia Labour Party (SLP) complimented the courageous fishing community, said: “This incident has underscored the value of consultation with the people as a vital element of good governance – something which the prime minister has disdainfully avoided since he assumed office. In that regard, the SLP again calls on the government for meaningful engagement with all relevant stakeholders to arrive at more sensible, effective and non-discriminatory policies to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

The article ‘St Lucia gone fishing: COVID-19 bubble kaput’ explained; “The charade to revoke Saint Lucian fisherfolk licences, on the pretext of back door COVID-19 upsurge is invalid. From a national intelligence viewpoint, this confirms the inefficiency of the security apparatus and has exposed the marine unit, immigration, customs, etc., thus leading to a larger systemic issue.”



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