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Prime Minister's 2003 Independence Message

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Independence Message 2003

Guarding Our National Pride Amidst the Global Tide

By Honourable Dr. Kenny D. Anthony
Prime Minister of Saint Lucia

The year 2003 finds us as a nation in deep reflection on the full meaning and importance of our independence as we face the challenges of globalization. Our sovereignty is confronted with new challenges at the political, economic and cultural levels that threaten to repeat the colonial experience. Under this process, our avenues for internal self-actualization are now conditioned by external economic and political forces that have negated many of the strategies for independent development that were pursued in the post independence period.

Our protected markets in Europe have been swept aside by the process of trade liberalization, exposing our farmers to the full glare of global competition. Policies devised to assist our fledgling manufacturing industries are now being ruled as being contrary to free and open competition, and are being contested by more powerful states. Concessional aid and development grants have been reduced to a trickle with the end of the Cold War, as Saint Lucia now finds her value as a partner in global ideological and geo-political competition diminished. At the political level, the environment which supported the aspiration of self-determination and which respected the principle of non-intervention has been steadily eroded, and we are now at the mercy of the powerful. And at the cultural level, our resistance to cultural imperialism has been somewhat compromised by cable television and the Internet, deepening our craving for and dependence on foreign tastes, ideas, values and mores.

It is such circumstances that have no doubt given rise to the theme of independence 2003: Guarding Our National Pride Amidst the Global Tide. In a very real sense, the selection of this theme is a reflection of the new democratic spirit now pervading Saint Lucia, as it was the result of nationwide consultation in which the public was encouraged to submit relevant themes. The appropriateness of this theme is gratifying, because it reflects a general awareness of our condition, which is the first step in shaping a coherent response. This also reflects the truism that “mankind sets himself only such tasks as he is able to solve”.

Indeed, by asserting the need for National Pride as a bulwark against globalization, our theme this year is fully cognizant of the response that is required. And how capable is Saint Lucia of defending its cultural patrimony against the global onslaught? A land rich in local cultural expression, a society overflowing with artistic talent (as seen in our art, poetry, song and dance), a young nation which has produced two Nobel laureates, a country which loves learning and scholarship and respects and cherishes its traditional practices, our nation possesses a profound platform for survival in this era of challenge and change. Indeed, there are many countries in the Caribbean that are still struggling with the questions of identity that Saint Lucia has long since answered for itself.

Cultural assertion, however, though significant in itself, is inadequate. We must accept that we are an integral part of the global family and we cannot willfully extricate ourselves from the logic of the world economy and from the consequences of international politics. Our independence and our sovereignty can only be advanced if we equip ourselves with the tools for prosperity and self-advancement and by overcoming the habits of dependency and mendicancy bequeathed to us by our colonial heritage. We must always remember that while we are victims of the colonial experience, that same experience has transformed us into champions of freedom and democracy by our own efforts. As descendants of uprooted and enslaved people, our capacity for freedom is manifested in our historical ability to create space for ourselves in any context of confinement. Similarly, we in this region have fashioned the oil drum (an instrument of labour) into the steel pan (an instrument of music and celebration), which has been widely acclaimed as the only musical instrument invented in the 20th Century.

We must therefore never adopt a posture of resignation to defeat by global forces. That is not in our tradition. Saint Lucia must strive always to move upward and forward and to identify for herself, not just the difficulties ushered in by globalization, but the opportunities for progress and prosperity. We must always remember that globalization began, not in the 1990s, but with the Columbian enterprise five centuries ago.
We have therefore had an experience of five hundred years of survival in the global order. Let History be our guide and let us renew confidence in ourselves, firm in the knowledge that we can and will survive and prosper amidst the global tide.

February 20, 2003


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