"The Power of the Dream" - Address by Hon. Dr. Kenny D. Anthony to the Annual Conference of the St. Lucia Labour Party - Nove...
"The Power of the Dream"
Address by Political Leader of the St. Lucia Labour Party
Prime Minister of Saint Lucia
Hon. Dr. Kenny D. Anthony
to the Annual Conference of the St. Lucia Labour Party
Gros-Islet Primary School
Sunday November 4th 2001
Representatives of the Diplomatic Corp,
Representatives of National Civic Organizations,
Specially Invited Guests
Our Esteemed Guest Speaker and Prime Minister of St. Vincent & the Grenadines Cde. Ralph Gonsalves,
We have come here today united in the power of the dream. We have come here today as Labour Massive because we feel the flame forever burn. We come here today on our 51st General Conference to teach the lessons we must learn to bring us closer to the power of the dream. Our 51st General Conference is a time for reflection, and introspection. We the children of labour have come together to review and to look ahead but in doing so we must of necessity rethink and revalue.
More Than Just Another Party
In 2000 the St. Lucia Labour Party celebrated the 50th Anniversary of its founding. God granted us the good fortune and fortitude to have experienced this milestone blessed with the largest electoral mandate ever granted to a political party in our history. For fifty years and more, the St. Lucia Labour Party has stoutly defended the interest of the poor, the disinherited, and the workers. For fifty years and more our party has been the champion of the indigenous, and has stood for all that is Caribbean, all that is truly St. Lucian. For fifty years and more, the St. Lucia Labour Party has defended the cause of justice, and fairness.
Brothers and Sisters if we reflect on that history, we will discover that the St. Lucia Labour Party has always been more than just another political party. The St. Lucia Labour Party is the Mother of Democracy in St. Lucia. It is the party that gave birth to all other political formations in St. Lucia. It is from the unwavering ranks of stalwarts of Labour that the weak, the greedy and the self-ambitioned severed themselves to create other political organizations that better represented their ambition and that of their class sponsors. Labour has been the great tributary, the mighty river from which all have flowed. Many who have diverted from the path have since become dried up, dead-end gullies; some are struggling to maintain the flow of their ambition. That is why our party song with great foresight has maintained that "though cowards flinch and traitors sneer, we’ll keep the red flag flying here".
An Idea Whose Time Has Come
The St. Lucia Labour Party is not just a party – it is an idea whose impulse is buried deep in the aspirations of the ordinary St. Lucian. It was the dream that fired the poor, the barefooted, the jobless, the worker, the hard-working ambitious, all who struggled to be more than they were. It was the dream that helped us as a people to wake up to our potential, to see the contours of our greatness, and to strive to be all what we could be.
It is because of this history and this reality that we must never give up the dream. You heard the song – Power of the Dream. Listen to what it tells us:
Yes mamai Layba – it is the power of the dream that brings us here. We must feel the flame forever burn, remember the lessons that we must learn – it is the power of the dream that makes us free.
Every great movement for justice and freedom, every cause for liberation has been fired by the power of the dream. Dreams embody the noblest ideas and there is nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come.
What are the ideas that Labour has upheld? What are the principles that we proclaim? What is the dream that we present?
Principles of the Labour Party
Our party has been at the forefront of every struggle for national political advancement and individual liberty in St. Lucia since our earliest formation.
The Saint Lucia Labour Party struck the first blows against the Colonial order and set the timetable for our eventual Independence. We did so at a time when the bourgeois groups were denying the right of ordinary people to participate in the political process and to shape their own destiny.
The Saint Lucia Labour party championed the cause of the wage workers in the cane fields and banana fields and was instrumental in establishing the rights and powers of trade unionism in this country. Every unionized worker today, and every existing trade union is standing on the shoulders of the great pioneers and heroes of the Saint Lucia Labour Party.
Our past historical actions can show you what we stand for and what we represent: Freedom, Justice, Equality, Democracy, Equal Economic Opportunity, National Independence, Sovereignty and the liberation of the poor.
So today, brothers and sisters, the Saint Lucia Labour Party continues to champion the cause of individual liberty and national liberation. You see it in our economic plans designed to help the poor and you see it in the free, open and democratic society which we have sought to develop. We will never turn back on our ideals and we will never compromise our values.
All the hypocrites and parasites who have pretended to support our ideals have had to run away from our party because they simply do not like the poor people of this country. Take a look at the history of all the people who have betrayed the Labour Party and you will see that the one thing which has pushed them away is their selfish ambition and their aristocratic and bourgeois instincts. They just cannot stay committed to the struggles of the poor.
End Petty Internal Squabling
But whilst we can identify the enemies of the party it is important that we do not make enemies of potential allies. There is a tendency to build a wall of suspicion against the new recruits of the Labour Party who wish only to serve this great institution and to advance its causes.
On the other hand, the new labour recruits must learn to respect the old soldiers of Labour. You must study the history of your party very closely and develop an appreciation for their struggles. We know too well that the present struggles are linked to the struggles of the past. We are all soldiers of labour and we are all committed to the advancement of St. Lucia.
We should not allow ourselves to get sidetracked by petty and senseless distinctions which the enemies of our party have planted between us. We live in times of rapid change when the only certainty is change itself. Our Party cannot exist outside of the imperatives of the existing historical processes which affect all nations, countries peoples and organizations. The greatest challenge for us as a party is to take the principles that we have championed and give them relevance to today.
For my part, I am proud of the way our party has been able to attract the talent of young leaders. I would like to recognize Brother Ignatius Jean, Brother Nick Jean Baptiste and Brother Felix Finisterre. They are the evidence of a labour machine that is alive and well. They are the evidence that our party will never suffer a leadership crisis like that of the UWP, because our party is a party which knows how to attract the best and to prepare our young people for the role of leadership.
Opposition Playing with Words
It is our strength in the present and our readiness for the future which has made the opposition so desperate. You see this desperation in the way they respond to our every little action and in the way they twist words to suit themselves.
Remember how they responded to my Armageddon statement. Out of a three hour meeting, they used this one phrase for weeks and weeks of propaganda against the government. The opposition pretends that they do not know what a metaphor is.
They did the same thing with the Affirmative Action resolution. They pretend that they did not know who was the real author of the affirmative action resolution and used it as a little stick to beat the government. They pretended that they could not remember the actions of the UWP government.
Every government must take care of its own. It is a natural law of politics. But the pervasive nepotism of the past required a change and the Saint Lucia Labour Party has been the architect of that change. St. Lucians wanted a government that would work for all of the people and provide opportunities to every Saint Lucian on the basis of merit, effort and potential. You should be proud of your government and you should not allow yourself to believe the cheap attacks of an opposition which is bent on playing with words and distorting the truth in order to save itself from extinction.
We must never allow ourselves to fall into the politics of the past where words become the foes of reality and there is no connection between what is said and what is done. We live in different times and our electorate is more sophisticated than that. We must mean what we say, say what we mean and do what we say. That is the only way in which governance can be restored to faith and the participation of all St. Lucians in the development and progress of our country be assured.
You should not allow yourself to be distracted by the pettiness and shallowness of a group who will never agree to the ideas, programs and actions of your party.
Our party is the only party which has a coherent plan for the development of Saint Lucia in these difficult economic times. Because of our ideals we are best suited to ensure fairness and justice as we brace ourselves for the sacrifices that the present conditions demand. We all know who the friends of the UWP are. We all know who would be the first to suffer in any period of difficulty under the UWP. Throughout the history of UWP governance, it was always those who were already dispossessed who had to bear the brunt of austerity. It was always those who were already sacrificing who had to bear more sacrifice.
Your Party has much to contribute to St. Lucia in these trying times. Labour is the only party which can defend and promote the independence and sovereignty of our country. Labour is the only party committed to a progressive ideological direction for St. Lucia.
We have always believed that national development is ultimately not simply about modern buildings, flashy cars and great highways. It is about national character, it is about pride and confidence, it is about finding one’s place in the world alongside the rich and the powerful, the poor and the powerless and to be recognized for what you are. That was why – in 1997 facing the new Millennium – we told St. Lucians that there was only one road to the future and it is Labour and that there was only one light to this path and it is the Star.
We have taken measures and initiatives that no other government has dared to take before. Some of these actions have been strategic because they position us for a better life or have major impacts on the kind of future that we will enjoy. This for example was the case with the battle over Cable & Wireless licenses. Look how intense this struggle became. What was finally at stake was not simply how much we paid for telephones – what was finally at stake was our very sovereignty as a country. And sadly, there were so many – including former UWP Ministers who were never anything more than public relations water boys for multinational interests – who did not understand this. In the end, it was nothing less than a struggle to define the national interest above that of a private, outside entity. The issue was not whether Cable & Wireless had been generous or selfish, whether it was a good corporate citizen or not – it was simply a question of what was in the best long term interest of St. Lucia and St. Lucians. And I must pay tribute to our Minister of Communications & Works Hon. Calixte George for his courage, his determination and his strength. Inspite all of the mepwis that he received, our debt to him must be recognized.
The Denial of the Opposition
Despite the clarity of our vision, and our steady stewardship in these difficult times, the opposition which complains about everything we do, has offered the country only carnival and pappyshow.
Mamai-La kondi gwan savan-a Bob Marley te di – "I’ve got so much things to say right now, got so much things to say." I’ve got so much things to say right now, I don’t know where to start.
The Iniquity of the Alliance
I am tempted to recount for you the history of the Great Alliance but what good will that do? Although there is so much that is farce in that off-season carnival, its history is not something that any respectable political party should gloat about. The story of the Alliance is nothing more than the most sordid chapter in the history of exploitation of the sensitivity of the St. Lucian masses. It is sad because it represented an attempt to perpetuate the greatest political fraud on St. Lucians. And this attempt was engineered by the Concerned Citizens, in other words, the Oligarchy – es ou konet yo, mamai la? They are the most isolated, most backward, the most greedy elements of the St. Lucian bourgeoisie. They are those pedigreed by birth and by power. These charlatans believe that they alone have a divine right to rule and to control. They are those whose wealth and position is dependent – not on some special ability but on having the access and influence to make things happen their way. They are the Concerned Citizens. They are concerned only about their wealth, power and position. They are so ashamed of their greed and selfishness that they cannot even stand up and identify themselves in public. In Odlum they found a willing accomplice, a willing instrument of evil, so infected with prime ministeritis that he could not distinguish between right and wrong.
Those Concerned Citizens tried their hardest to portray the government of the St. Lucia Labour Party as being against business. The truth and our record is that no government has done as much to promote business than we have. The record cannot be defaced! What are some of the things that we have done for business in our short period in office?
We Have Been Good For Business
We established an office of Private Sector Relations in the Prime Minster’s Office to provide institutional support to private sector organizations. This office is administering a grant of EC$6 million to the private sector and it is the only office of its kind in the Eastern Caribbean. We have established private sector agencies such as the Chamber of Commerce and the Small Business Association as Special Development Agencies, entitling them to receive concessions. This government also provided the most generous concessions ever given to developers through the Special Development Areas Act to promote investment and employment in deprived areas.
The Concerned Citizens hate us because we insist that no-one is more equal than the other. We have introduced economic equity – ni benefis pou matwin ek pou matiwenn. Concessions and benefits have been provided for entrepreneurs large as well as small; for the big investor and for the small trader. We have said that small business is as entitled to incentives as much as big business and overseas investors. We have created the Belfund to provide credit to small entrepreneurs. Taxi drivers have received special duty free concessions on their vehicles as instruments of trade.
We have privatized and divested government shares in the National Commercial Bank to allow citizens an opportunity to own a stake in this enterprise. By doing so we have extended economic democracy in St. Lucia – make it possible for every Lucian to own shares in profitable enterprises in their own country. We have provided private sector groups an opportunity to review and influence all important policies of the government by opening the avenues of dialogue.
Tell me who has benefited from these measures and initiatives? These things that we have done have helped small business, medium business and big business; it helped to make business better for all; it helped to spread a culture of entrepreneurship. But that is not the agenda of the Concerned Citizens, that unholy alliance of self-interest designed and crafted by Ausbert d’Auvergne and Michael Gordon – the owner of the Voice. Make no mistake about it, George Odlum was only the willing but naïve instrument of this iniquity.
Ending the Politics of Bluff
The Alliance was a sorry attempt to fool the people of St. Lucia using grand ideas about national unity when there was no unity within itself. And we wonder why people have become so cynical about politics and politicians! Odlum in his own divorce speech, gave a full account of the many ways in which Compton – from day one, FROM DAY ONE – outmaneuvered him. May mamai-la, Odlum pas hont pou wepete se bagay sala! Even the old charade of the prime ministership being passed to George from Compton after two years was repeated. It has been said that history repeats itself, first as tragedy then as farce.
Odlum would do well to heed the words of Bob Marley once again. "Why boasteth thyself O evil man?
Playing smart but not being clever"
You working iniquity to achieve prime ministership…
whosoever diggeth a pit, shall fall in it.
Like Bob Marley, I TRUST the wisdom of the ordinary people. I saw it before and I said it before but they did not like my language! This election will be like the final battle between good and evil. They are coming to the "bitter end" of their ambitions when they will have no choice but to retreat in oblivion to Valhalla. It will be the moment in history when the forces of the past masquerading as the answer to the future will be decisively placed in the dustbin of history by the people. They are desperate – Compton is fighting for nothing less than the preservation of his legacy as he would like to see it portrayed; while Odlum is making his final futile bid for prime minister. Mamai-la es yot ja tan denye nouvel la? Odlum has approached a well-respected medical doctor asking him to lead the Alliance and that he would allow him to be Prime Minister for 6 months after which he should pass it to George. George PMS – prime ministership syndrome really bad, it really sad!
Compton and George, both working iniquity to achieve vanity! Compton ruled this country for 30 years, no history book can ignore that fact. And in that 30 years no-one can deny that we made progress as a people but that does not make John Compton God to write the final chapter. History belongs to the people; it is not HIS-story. And the people alone in their wisdom will determine its direction and outcome!
An Unrelenting Media Assault
Mamai-la, I’ve got so much things to say right now, so much things to say. The Concerned Citizens decided from early that with 16-1 there was no opposition, so the media should become the opposition. We made a solemn commitment to freedom of the expression that we have proudly maintained despite the unrelenting criticism that was directed against us from day one. We can stand proudly here today and say that we have been through the fires of criticism that no government has ever experienced.
One of the great American press barons once said that "Freedom of the Press is for those who own the press" and we have seen the alliance of the press in operation. The Voice of the Oligarchy, and the Crusader of the off-season carnival, playing to particular agendas.
Labour Has Delivered
One of the lines of attack that they pounded from the beginning was that the government has failed to deliver. Now let’s face reality – no government can please all the people all the time. No matter what you do, someone will be upset about what you have done, or what you have failed to do. So there will always be some ground for criticism. But no-one who really followed the work of this government can accuse us of not delivering!
As Comrade Damian has said, if we have done so much in times of need, how much more could we have accomplished in times of plenty. This government has done more in times of need, than previous governments have done in times of plenty!
In every sector, we have delivered. We will be printing a detailed report card on the Contract of Faith showing every single promise made in that document and showing what was done or not done. This will speak for itself. Never in the political history of this country has any political party kept its policies so much in line with its manifesto. We asked the people of St. Lucia to judge us by our program and we have kept that faith. Labour promised and Labour delivered.
Labour promised and Labour delivered, yet there are those who are disgruntled. Why? Because there are two kinds of disgruntled people: those who believe that government can solve all problems and there are those who believe that government is the cause of all problems.
What can we say to those who believe that government can solve all problems? Only a patient education in the facts of life and international reality can change this. Even the mighty US government has no control over many aspects of its own economy; how can it be expected to be otherwise for a small dependent state such as St. Lucia?
When the price of bananas drops on the international market is it the government that caused such a drop? When the European community changes the preferential system is that the fault of the government of St. Lucia? What is important here is what measures have been taken and what efforts have been made to address these difficulties.
Some of our actions have been humanitarian because they reflect the simple compassion of a government that feels the hurt and dislocation of the most vulnerable of its people. This was the case of the relocation programs for the areas that experienced land slippage – in Black Mallet, and Boguis. This was also the reason why we relocated the residents of Barons Drive following the destruction of Hurricane Lenny in Soufriere. Of course there are those who felt strongly that government should not be providing such assistance. Yes, an act of nature is an act of God and not the fault of the government. And yes, people ought to have insurance to cover these things. But do we stand without concern when the lives of so many are dislocated? Can we afford not to care?
I can go on and list so many other significant achievements of the government mais mamai-la mwen sav, ou sav, yo sav ek nou sav yo sav so an pas ped tan assou sa! Kon gwan moun te ka di, dose who knows knows, dose who don’t knows, don’t knows!
So Labour promised and Labour has delivered. And now that the clock is chiming, we must in this decisive hour face the people once again. We have answered for our stewardship ek mamai la sa ka bwele yo! They are annoyed and incensed that we have been able to do so much in difficult economic times! Sa ka kweve tje yo! They are now claiming that our election platform is full of flashy and expensive tricks. What tricks? – they told the people for five years that we failed to deliver so instead of coming to the people with talk, we brought pictures. The Chinese say one picture is worth a thousand words so instead of standing here and telling you we did all of these things, see them for yourself in the videos that we produce. We have brought new levels of sophistication to politics – this is the age of proof. We bring you the evidence of what we have done in these documentaries so having shown you the foundation, we can focus on the design of the house that we want to build.
Before the clock strikes – mamai la mwen ka tan kloch-la ka sone! Es ou ka tan-li osi? Before the clock strikes, I want to outline the unfinished business of your government and the direction that Labour will continue to take in the new term.
Building on One Foundation
When we launch our new manifesto you will see a restatement of the fundamental policies and direction of a second Labour government. This new manifesto will largely be a continuation of the foundation work that was started in this term. We are building for the future. In education, in youth and sports, in health, in financial services and many other areas we have policies and sector development plans that have come out of processes of consultation and which map out what is to be done in these areas. In many areas we have already started implementing these and the challenge now is to move forward with renewed energy to realize these goals.
Sisters and brothers of Labour, the television screen has brought St. Lucians face to face with the harsh realities of today’s world. After September 11, none of us can be the same again or see the world through rose coloured glasses. The years ahead are going to be difficult and tough ones. Let us not delude ourselves, the coming period will be one that will require a government with strong vision, clear ideas. It is a period that will also require strong civic organization – it will call for national will, a sense of unity, a willingness to sacrifice. As the international economy get more difficult and the politics of uncertainty ushered by the emergence of terrorism on the world stage takes hold, we will face our most difficult moments as a people and as a country. This therefore is not a time for games or for political guesswork. It is a time when we must all take serious stock of these looming challenges and ask serious questions about ourselves and our capacity to deal with them. As a party we must also ask whether we deeply feel that we can measure up to that challenge – and we must honestly make that commitment to our children and their future.
I want to warn and to appeal to all – SLP as well as UWP, Alliance or non-Alliance that the international environment is too grim for us to waste time in petty political games. We have a future to ensure, we have a country to preserve, we have children to protect. If we must argue, then let us debate over serious issues. If we must choose, let us examine serious options. If we must fight, let us target a common enemy and not each other. There is no sitting on the fence. As the Guyanese poet Martin Carter said, "all are involved, all are consumed." Everyone of us is involved. Who would have guessed on September 11th when we saw tragedy unfold on our TV screens, that within weeks its impact would be loss of hotel jobs in St. Lucia and elsewhere? Globalization is no longer something happening out there – it’s impact is immediate. Globalization is no longer just the internationalization of economics and trade, it is also about disease, about culture, about terrorism – what happens globally impacts locally. And all of that is why the choice of a government is such a serious matter. No matter who you support, it is your responsibility to think seriously and deeply about how these issues are affecting us. Even beyond just choosing a government, the situation also requires the active involvement of every St. Lucian in helping to find answers and doing everything we can in our own way to create solutions. As Robbie sang, "there will be mountains to climb, there will be rivers to cross, I know, but I’m gonna make it through, I’m gonna make it through."
Robbie is a prophet – he is right. We can and we will make ti through. Not only because Jah is on our side, so no-one can deny but also because Caribbean people have been the most resilient people in modern history. We have survived the most difficult of human historical experiences and we have prospered.
So children of Labour, we are now at a critical crossroad. The ghosts of the past are still attempting to haunt the future and this coming election will be a decisive moment when they must be put aside once and for all. We need to face the future without ambiguity and with a clear sense of national resolve and with clear vision. It is unfortunate that the opposition is in such disarray that there is no serious debate about this direction but this is so because they have allowed the purveyors of mischief to highjack their process. Mamai-la, kloch la ja sone; weve la ni klete!
Mamai la kloch la ka sone – ki le e ye? It is Labour time again!
There is only one road that continues to lead to the future and it is Labour.
There is only one light to that path and it is the Star.
Long live the St. Lucia Labour Party!
Long live the people of St. Lucia!
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