Whether six, eight hun­dred or thou­sands

The Star (St. Lucia) - - FRONT PAGE - ----Rick Wayne

Saint Lu­cia's ex­tended silly sea­son con­tin­ues at full throt­tle. On Wed­nes­day this week the re­cently elec­torally dis­missed Saint Lu­cia Labour Party is­sued a press re­lease declar­ing the na­tion's new prime min­is­ter a na­tional em­bar­rass­ment. The hardly new SLP as­sess­ment was based on a July ar­ti­cle in a Bar­ba­dos news­pa­per that quoted Mr. Allen Chas­tanet as say­ing the United States had in one year de­ported 800 crim­i­nals to Saint Lu­cia. The res­ur­rected former ex­ter­nal af­fairs min­is­ter Alva Bap­tiste, who had been atyp­i­cally silent through­out the so-called Juf­fali Af­fair, was in­ter­viewed by TV re­porters on Chas­tanet's lat­est con­tro­ver­sial state­ment.

The once again gar­ru­lous and very much alive Bap­tise, who be­fore the June 6 elec­tions had promised pub­licly that “only over my dead body will Chas­tanet be de­clared prime min­is­ter of this coun­try,” now saw the new prime min­is­ter as “reck­less.” Ad­di­tion­ally, that the cam­paign­ing Chas­tanet's plat­form state­ments had re­turned to haunt him.

Ob­vi­ously the SLP, in­clud­ing Alva Bap­tiste, was un­aware that in Fe­bru­ary this year the dis­carded Jus­tice Min­is­ter Philip La Corbiniere had com­plained to the on­line St Lu­cia Times that an in­creas­ing num­ber of crim­i­nal de­por­tees whom he claimed had been in­volved in “very se­ri­ous crim­i­nal ac­tiv­i­ties” were a mat­ter of con­cern for lo­cal au­thor­i­ties.

La Corbiniere de­scribed the de­por­tees as “trained crim­i­nals.” He said he was “sure some of th­ese de­por­tees have in­ter­na­tional links, be it with ISIS or other bod­ies or agen­cies. You can­not fol­low th­ese peo­ple around and put all the re­sources you have into that area.” He claimed the United States had “de­ported thou­sands of con­victed crim­i­nals to the Caribbean an­nu­ally since 1996.”

In its press re­lease this week the US Em­bassy in Bar­ba­dos also de­nied re­ported Chas­tanet claims that the Amer­i­can gov­ern­ment was “slash­ing fund­ing for se­cu­rity as­sis­tance in the re­gion” and in con­se­quence con­tribut­ing to re­gional crime.

Alva Bap­tiste con­curred with the em­bassy's dec­la­ra­tion that the US gov­ern­ment had “steadily in­creased fund­ing for re­gional se­cu­rity since Pres­i­dent Obama launched the Caribbean Basin Se­cu­rity Ini­tia­tive in 2009.” But both sources ne­glected to men­tion the U.S. sanc­tions in con­se­quence of the Kenny An­thony ad­min­is­tra­tion's bungling of IM­PACS, in­clud­ing the sus­pen­sion of funds, po­lice train­ing and travel op­por­tu­ni­ties.

Mean­while this week's em­bassy com­mu­niqué em­pha­sized that “the United States gov­ern­ment has never wa­vered in its se­cu­rity com­mit­ment to the Eastern Caribbean . . . to make the re­gion more safe and se­cure. The re­lease care­fully avoids as­sis­tance to Saint Lu­cia specif­i­cally. This week the St. Kitts-Ne­vis prime min­is­ter ad­dressed the clos­ing week­long cer­e­mony at the Ocean Inn for the Re­gional Se­cu­rity Sys­tem train­ing in­sti­tute's staff and com­mand course. As has been the case since 2011, mem­bers of the Royal Saint Lu­cia Po­lice Force were not in­vited!

Re­gard­less of the fig­ures men­tioned by Prime Min­is­ter Allen Chas­tanet (left) and former jus­tice min­is­ter Phillip LaCorbiniere, de­por­tees from the United States have proved costly in sev­eral ways to the peo­ple of Saint Lu­cia.

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