CAN ALLEN TRUMP PIERRE?

‘Your job here is not to make Kenny look bad. or to make philip J. pierre look bad. Your job here is to run the coun­try!’

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

O n the very first episode of TALK im­me­di­ately fol­low­ing our most re­cent gen­eral elec­tions I warned— yes, warned— that we may well have ex­pe­ri­enced the last demon­stra­tion of public faith in the elec­toral process as we’ve known it since adult suf­frage. De­pen­dent on how the new gov­ern­ment chooses to con­duct public af­fairs, I added, how we in­stall and re­move ad­min­is­tra­tions could un­dergo a heart-stop­ping ir­re­versible sea change.

The UWP’s vic­tory on June 6 had fol­lowed a rel­a­tively peace­ful cam­paign, by which I mean to say there had been no re­lated loss of life, no in­ex­pli­ca­ble fires, no bloody riots in Wil­liam Peter Boule­vard—un­like in 1979. On the other hand, there had been un­nerv­ing threats by bold-faced in­di­vid­u­als with state trap­pings at their un­ques­tion­able dis­posal. There were re­peated open dec­la­ra­tions of war on at least one par­tic­u­lar fam­ily, fu­eled by hyped-up sur­ro­gates at home and abroad, on lo­cal ra­dio and TV—to say noth­ing of pseudony­mous ubiq­ui­tous trolls.

There were bla­tantly SLP-ori­ented pro­grams on tax-funded Ra­dio Saint Lu­cia and suit­ably salted TV shows hosted by the prime min­is­ter’s chameleonic press sec­re­tary under her pro­tean hats. There was, too, the cus­tom-tai­lored Red Zone with its built-in re­pel­lants, de­signed to keep away horse­flies and not com­mit­ted to the no­tion of so­cial­ism for the rich, to bor­row from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. It seemed most of what em­anated from the above-men­tioned had been de­signed by the fa­ther of di­vide and rule for the pur­poses of an in­di­vid­ual self-con­vinced his life’s pur­pose was to re­turn to the plan­ta­tion the prog­eny of for­mer slaves.

Worst of all, per­haps, was the pal­pa­ble con­tempt shown the peo­ple and their cher­ished in­sti­tu­tions. Not even the of­fice of gover­nor gen­eral was spared. One sur­pris­ingly bel­li­cose MP vi­ciously de­clared from the priv­i­leged House floor that par­lia­ment was a den of thieves, of rene­gades and money laun­der­ers. Pop­u­lar pro­pos­als for con­sti­tu­tional re­form were ef­fec­tively chucked aside, as if in­deed they were re­flec­tive of peo­ple in­ca­pable of think­ing for them­selves.

The most revered na­tional awards were sur­rep­ti­tiously handed to no­to­ri­ous scoundrels with Mid­dle East­ern names and unin­spir­ing his­to­ries. Am­bas­sadors were ap­pointed unan­nounced; se­cret agree­ments signed with char­ac­ters world fa­mous for their shock­ing pro­cliv­i­ties. And then, just when it seemed the op­po­si­tion party and its sup­port­ers were least pre­pared—and vic­tory con­se­quently guar­an­teed the in­cum­bents—an elec­tion was foisted on the na­tion that took even the gover­nor gen­eral and the elec­toral of­fice off guard.

Some­thing had to give, and give in did. With less than four weeks of cam­paign­ing, a broke and only re­cently re­united United Work­ers Party romped home with eleven of the seven­teen seats in con­tention. The peo­ple had let it be known in the most ef­fec­tive fash­ion that enough was enough.

Iron­i­cally, the leader of the op­po­si­tion party (the in­cum­bent’s main tar­get for over six years!) was dubbed “Saint Lu­cia’s Donald Trump” by his tor­men­tors. It turns out the re­brand­ing was not al­to­gether in­ap­pro­pri­ate; even though the in­ten­tion had been to re­make Allen Chas­tanet in the im­age of the world’s best known grab­ber of fe­male pri­vate parts, the ir­re­duc­ible truth was that Chas­tanet’s as­tound­ing vic­tory on June 6 un­der­scored the anger of dis­grun­tled and left-be­hind Saint Lu­cians—as did Donald Trump’s shock­ing de­mo­li­tion of Hil­lary Clin­ton’s elec­tion ma­chin­ery, ear­lier con­sid­ered unas­sail­able.

It re­mains to be seen what trump cards the new pres­i­dent holds. What­ever emerges in the days ahead, and re­gard­less of cost, it’s a safe bet in Washington it will no longer be busi­ness as usual.

As for the much abused peo­ple of Saint Lu­cia, while they may have been for too long pas­sive and ac­com­mo­dat­ing of me­di­ocrity, it would seem they have re­cently un­der­gone an at­ti­tu­di­nal re­boot.

The camel’s back fi­nally cracked under the in­es­timable weight of ac­cu­mu­lated ar­ro­gances, naked con­tempt, in-your-face nepo­tism and pal­pa­ble dis­re­gard of the law by our law­mak­ers.

On Tues­day, even as mil­lions of Amer­i­cans were tak­ing their re­venge on so-called “es­tab­lish­ment politi­cians,” the Allen Chas­tanet-led gov­ern­ment was serv­ing no­tice on op­po­si­tion House col­leagues—some of whom had been three terms in gov­ern­ment—that in the best in­ter­ests of the peo­ple they planned to turn con­ven­tion on its ear.

For a start there was the mat­ter of the Value Added Tax that the pre­vi­ous prime min­is­ter had cal­lously im­posed on Saint Lu­cians de­spite his own ear­lier ad­mis­sion that it was anti-worker, anti-poor and op­pres­sive.

Shortly before the June 6 polls, he had ridiculed Chas­tanet’s pledge, that upon tak­ing of­fice his gov­ern­ment would re­duce the killer tax, then set about elim­i­nat­ing it al­to­gether.

At Tues­day’s House ses­sion, the prime min­is­ter hav­ing an­nounced a re­duc­tion in the VAT from 15 to 12.5 per­cent, the op­po­si­tion con­tin­ued to ar­gue for its re­ten­tion. Bad habits die-hard. How would the new ad­min­is­tra­tion make up for the short­fall? They asked, re­peat­edly, never once ac­knowl­edg­ing that from the mid-80s suc­ces­sive ad­min­is­tra­tions had talked about the need to con­trol gov­ern­ment spend­ing but never once at­tempted to walk the walk—un­til the ar­rival of Allen Chas­tanet. Al­ways his pre­de­ces­sors had made up for “short­falls” by sink­ing their vam­pire fangs into the peo­ple’s ex­posed jugu­lar, never by tight­en­ing their own belts. Al­ways it was the pri­vate sec­tor that suf­fered the un­lim­ited con­se­quences of of­fi­cial profli­gacy.

The new prime min­is­ter hinted at fu­ture rad­i­cal ad­just­ments, all of them de­signed to re­duce gov­ern­ment spend­ing, all likely to shake up his hooked-on-con­ven­tion op­po­si­tion col­leagues.

At long last it seems the peo­ple may have elected a gov­ern­ment ready to put its fu­ture on the line in the best in­ter­ests of the na­tion.

Then again, as Ge­orge Od­lum had ob­served back in 1973, “the politi­cians have fooled the peo­ple too many times . . .” It re­mains now to be seen whether the Allen Chas­tanet gov­ern­ment will be “the next batch of politi­cians to fool the peo­ple” and risk be­ing “hanged in Colum­bus Square”—if only sym­bol­i­cally!

Prime Min­is­ter Allen Chas­tanet ad­dress­ing par­lia­ment on Tues­day: How de­ter­mined is he to break eggs to make omelets for Saint Lu­cians?

The Prophet Ge­orge Od­lum in his last days!

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