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St Lucia Labour Party plans protest march and mass rally

By Caribbean News Global contributor

CASTRIES, St Lucia – The Saint Lucia Labour Party (SLP) announced Friday, that on August 24, 2020, wrote to the commissioner of police seeking permission to stage a public march and mass rally in the city of Castries on Sunday, October 4, 2020, was approved.

The stated reason for the March “is to demonstrate public dissatisfaction with several policy decisions being pursued by the present government, the SLP press release stressed. “But to say public dissatisfaction is really an understatement, there is public outrage in the country. The government has plunged this country into an economic morass, which is vindictive to those who oppose it and tramples on our constitutional norms and freedoms, deaf to advise and dictatorial in its style of governance. This is what we are protesting.”

The SLP further stated that besides the constitutional morass and collapsing economy “this march, which we expect to be the largest demonstration in our history, is to protest the government’s failure to properly deal with the economic crisis in the country caused by its own economic mismanagement and exacerbated by the COVID 19 pandemic,” added, “we are protesting the billions of dollars of loans that have been laid on our backs and that of our children by this government. We are protesting the rising food prices and the government’s failure to assuage the hunger and distress of the unemployed. We are marching against the neglect of our agricultural sector – the disrespect shown to our banana farmers and the disregard for our fisherfolk.”

The SLP’s protest march and mass rally on Sunday, October 4, 2020, is also scheduled against:

  • “Misplaced priorities of this government than gave more importance to the building of a horseracing track than to the completion of a hospital, which insists on borrowing $600 million to construct a new airport when the COVID- 19 pandemic has decimated the tourism and airline industries worldwide.
  • Protesting the insensitivity of a government that received $78 million from the IMF, meant as income support for citizens affected by COVID 19 and spent it otherwise.
  • Protesting the poor state of our health care and a myopic education policy that lacked the vision to see the relevance of laptops for secondary school students.
  • Protesting against the belittling of our patrimony and our heritage, the sale of our lands o to undeserving foreigners at ridiculously low prices, the eagerness to facilitate empty-handed foreign so-called investors and consultants instead of our people with their entrepreneurial ideas and ambitions.
  • We are marching against corruption in government, naked political interference by the prime minister in the public and police services, brazen vindictiveness of the prime minister against those who oppose him and those who, on principle, dare to refuse to carry out his dictates.
  • “We are marching against a government which from its first days in office has continued to trample on our constitutional and parliamentary norms and refuses to consult with the people on pieces of legislation of serious importance to them.”

The SLP advised that the latest example of the COVID-19 (Prevention and Control) Bill, in typical fashion, sent the Bill for the consideration of the opposition days before parliament, thus frustrating preparation and appropriate response.

More significantly, two civil society groups – the Saint Lucia Hospitality and Tourism Association (SLHTA) and the Saint Lucia Bar Association, whose members are to be greatly impacted by the Bill, wrote the government asking for the deferment of Bill to allow for public consultation.

Conversely, when the government refused to agree to these requests, and in the light of the opposition departure from the House of Assembly in order not to give legitimacy to the government’s action, and approval of the said Bill, “ we are therefore marching in protest against yet another example of the government’s highhandedness,” the SLP said in a statement Friday.

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“The stars have been well aligned and so we call upon all citizens of goodwill, all civil society organisations, to come and join us in this March to forcefully demonstrate to this government that the people will no longer tolerate them, that every member of this government must go and make way for a Saint Lucia Labour Party government that will ‘Put you the people first’ … and liberate our country from a government that is a danger to our people and our future.”

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