WHO ELSE BUT THE MIR­A­CLE MAN?

The Star (St. Lucia) - - COMMENT - By Rick Wayne

Even be­fore he had trum­peted to the world his Ne­an­derthal propen­sity for grab­bing ‘em “by the pussy”; be­fore in kiss-and-tell fash­ion he shared on-air with sin­gu­lar shock jock Howard Stern his in­ces­tophile fascination with his own daugh­ter’s pos­te­rior; be­fore he openly bragged that it was “only to be ex­pected” all the women on his real­ity-TV show would flirt with him—“con­sciously or un­con­sciously”—his rep­u­ta­tion among our lo­cally pre­sumed best brains was set. Which may ex­plain why the front­line pro­pa­gan­dists of the then in­cum­bent party had taken to re­fer­ring to Allen Chas­tanet as “the trop­i­cal Trump.” Cer­tainly it could not have been some­thing Chas­tanet had said rem­i­nis­cent of the “very, very, very rich” man who lived in New York’s fourth tallest tower!

What Allen Chas­tanet’s de­trac­tors des­per­ately sought to do in the ear­li­est days of the Don­ald’s cam­paign for Pres­i­dent of the United States, when ev­ery­where save here he was con­sid­ered a mil­lion­aire buf­foon, was to paint Chas­tanet as a back­wa­ter Trump and too rich to un­der­stand poverty; “the poster boy of Saint Lucia’s eco­nomic class”; an of­fi­cially de­clared liar un­der oath; a white but tal­ent­less power seeker de­ter­mined fur­ther to pros­per from the sweat of help­less poor black Saint Lu­cians; an im­poster who had claimed for him­self cre­den­tials he never earned; who had noth­ing in com­mon with reg­u­lar cit­i­zens— could not speak a word in their na­tive tongue—and whose sole claim to fame was that he was the not par­tic­u­larly cher­ished son of mil­lion­aire busi­ness­man Michael Chas­tanet whose own “count­less con­tri­bu­tions to lo­cal com­merce” had ren­dered him in the dis­cern­ing eyes of the gov­ern­ment al­to­gether de­serv­ing of the Or­der of the Bri­tish Empire.

Of course it was well be­fore Allen had de­clared him­self an elec­tion prospect when Ci­ti­zen Michael’s spe­cial ser­vices to the na­tion had re­ceived of­fi­cial recog­ni­tion. In­deed, Allen’s de­ci­sion had placed fa­ther and son at great risk, es­pe­cially af­ter the prime min­is­ter’s re­peated pub­lic dec­la­ra­tion that the 2016 elec­tions amounted to war— with Michael and Allen on one side and the prime min­is­ter’s army on the other—this at a time when hardly a week went by with­out a ci­ti­zen’s life hav­ing been un­ac­count­ably taken.

Mean­while the Chas­tanet name was tak­ing daily bash­ings from at least three TV and ra­dio out­lets. Which is not to say they broad­cast only vit­ri­olic in­ven­tions. Keep­ing his crit­ics well sup­plied with am­mu­ni­tion was the hardly se­cret in­ternecine war that had its roots in Chas­tanet’s un­ex­pected elec­tion as leader of the United Work­ers Party, ear­lier widely con­sid­ered a mis­sion im­pos­si­ble, to say noth­ing of Stephen­son King’s re­moval as leader of the House op­po­si­tion in fa­vor of Gale Rigob­ert. That de­spite all odds Chas­tanet had pre­vailed, not just once but twice, was up and across a mir­a­cle of bib­li­cal pro­por­tions. Af­ter all, he was fight­ing not only his nat­u­ral en­e­mies but also dis­grun­tled for­mer brethren who con­sid­ered him a Ju­das, if only for do­ing what no one had ever thought to at­tempt since the for­ma­tion in 1964 of the United Work­ers Party. In all that time—un­til he re­signed to ac­com­mo­date Vaughan Lewis— John Comp­ton had ruled the roost as undis­puted monarch of all he sur­veyed.

All ef­forts to block Chas­tanet at the pass hav­ing failed, his nat­u­ral and other en­e­mies with their com­mon am­bi­tion pulled out all the stops. If some­how he had man­aged to wrest control of the UWP de­spite their com­bined ef­forts, they nev­er­the­less de­ter­mined that Chas­tanet would be leader in name only. With elec­tion time fast ap­proach­ing, he still had not iden­ti­fied the con­stituency for which he planned to do bat­tle. Ru­mor first sug­gested a return to Soufriere, where he had been forced to eat sul­phur at the feet of Harold Dal­san. Then it was Mi­coud South, rep­re­sented in par­lia­ment by Arsene James. In any event the in­cum­bent party threat­ened Chas­tanet with a “se­cret weapon.” (Al­ways theirs was the lan­guage of war!)

If Chas­tanet heard, he seemed un­de­terred. Some, such as I, imag­ined he sim­ply had no idea what he had got­ten him­self into. Mean­while I teased his fa­ther: “Why don’t you put some real money be­hind your son’s cam­paign?” As if I needed to be told! More than once Michael, a long­time friend, had told me he wished Allen had stayed out of politics. “But what to do?” he would add. “In life you have to deal with many things, like it or not. That’s what he’s de­cided to do . . . and, well, he’s my son.”

The sug­ges­tion that Allen Chas­tanet was loaded of­ten brought tears to my eyes. That’s how hard I laughed when­ever in­di­vid­u­als, with Chas­tanet the El­der on their minds, re­ferred to Allen’s “cam­paign chest.” Fun­nier still was that he had agreed to pay Arsene James mil­lions to step down and bring about a by-elec­tion that he hoped would win James’ co­op­er­a­tion. What many seemed not to re­al­ize was that Allen’s fa­ther ex­pected him to put in his sev­eral hours at the fam­ily ho­tel—or he didn’t get paid. And no for­tune at that. As for a by-elec­tion, that was the last thing Allen Chas­tanet hoped to trig­ger. “I’m in­ter­ested only in the real thing” was his re­sponse when I prod­ded him, “not a by-elec­tion.” No need to go into what tran­spired just seven months ago. No one read­ing this need be told that Allen out­foxed all the pun­dits.

Wor­thy of rep­e­ti­tion: Six or seven weeks be­fore the elec­tions the United Work­ers Party was still dis­united and bit­ter, squab­bling all over the me­dia, con­tra­dict­ing one an­other, is­su­ing thinly veiled threats, and clev­erly lev­el­ing blame—aided and abet­ted by Chas­tanet de­trac­tors on FB and the gov­ern­ment-in­flu­enced me­dia. And then, there they were: Le­nard Montoute, Sarah Flood-Beaubrun and yes, Mr Heavy Roller him­self. Al­most ev­ery­one had been ready to bet money King was so bit­terly op­posed to Allen that he’d sold his dig­nity, if not his soul, in ex­change for an over­seas diplo­matic post af­ter the UWP had lost the elec­tions. Al­most un­til the last minute the for­mer prime min­is­ter had kept ev­ery­one guess­ing—and then shown them what he was made of: UWP to the bone!

Sud­denly ev­ery­one was say­ing Allen had pulled off an­other mir­a­cle, Arsene James hav­ing re­tired and made room for his party leader. Only then did the SLP’s elec­tion strate­gists de­cide the time was right to drop their WMDs. Kenny An­thony rat­tled the na­tion to its core by declar­ing June 6 Elec­tion Day. If his in­ten­tion was to catch the UWP un­pre­pared, the in­cum­bents scored a bullseye. No posters, no yel­low flags in sight, not even the usual yel­low tee shirts bear­ing the names and im­ages of UWP can­di­dates. While the other side had shown ev­ery sign of readi­ness, even their front­line soldiers were taken by sur­prise—which raised the in­ter­est­ing ques­tion: Who’s the dummy that planned the sur­prise at­tack?

But bad news was in the air. At least one im­por­tant poll pre­dicted dis­as­ter, and not for Chas­tanet’s os­ten­si­bly rag­tag UWP. The SLP leader seemed to be on ev­ery lo­cal TV channel, save DBS. But af­ter he fol­lowed Chas­tanet on Ti­mothy Poleon’s

Newsspin, stut­ter­ing and lack­ing in con­fi­dence, an­swer­ing callers’ ques­tions like a po­lit­i­cal neo­phyte, even the bold­est of his war­riors had good rea­son to sus­pect their de­clared war had had the same af­fect of shoot­ing them­selves in the foot!

The sur­prise elec­tion pro­duced a not so sur­pris­ing re­sult. Eleven-six, in fa­vor of the UWP that un­til four weeks be­fore polling day was a party in name alone. It re­mains to be seen what hap­pens next and whether Al­lan Chas­tanet re­tains his Man­drake skills. Even as he warns of “no more busi­ness as usual,” that the mak­ing of omelets de­mands bro­ken eggs, his im­me­di­ate pre­de­ces­sor, near in­vis­i­ble and silent since his party’s drub­bing at the polls, has reap­peared. Rem­i­nis­cent of 2007—when he was in op­po­si­tion and by his own ac­count fresh out of pur­ga­tory and ready again to lead, start­ing with a protest demon­stra­tion against the Stephen­son King gov­ern­ment by dis­grun­tled CSA per­son­nel—Kenny An­thony re­cently came out of hid­ing. On the oc­ca­sion he ful­mi­nated against what had been a na­tional se­cret in his time as PM un­til his suc­ces­sor brought it out into the open: the DSH project—about which much more from me (at last!) in the com­ing days. But enough. The pur­pose of this piece is to jus­tify our choice of the mir­a­cle worker Allen Chas­tanet as STAR Per­son of the Year 2016!

Prime Min­is­ter Allen Chas­tenet (right) with Prince Harry dur­ing the re­cent royal visit to Saint Lucia.

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