Did Kenny Re­peal David Eng­land Law Or Didn’t He?

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At a spe­cial sit­ting of par­lia­ment on 19 Au­gust 1983, newly re­turned to of­fice John Comp­ton re­called that since Saint Lu­cia be­came an in­de­pen­dent na­tion barely four years ear­lier—“in par­tic­u­lar, since the mil­i­tary coup d’état in Gre­nada . . . cer­tain coun­tries with im­pe­ri­al­is­tic de­signs” had been show­ing con­sid­er­able in­ter­est in the Eastern Caribbean. These coun­tries found “aid and en­cour­age­ment from sources in Saint Lu­cia and in other parts of the re­gion whose in­sa­tiable de­sire for power has been con­sis­tently frus­trated by the elec­torate.” As early as Oc­to­ber 1982, he said, the am­bi­tions of “these sin­is­ter in­di­vid­u­als had grown more sub­ver­sive and dan­ger­ous.” The prime min­is­ter had learned from the se­cret ser­vices of a friendly coun­try [CIA] about an un­usual gath­er­ing in the Repub­lic of Libya that in­cluded the lead­ers of cer­tain rad­i­cal groups in the Eastern Caribbean. “The height­ened fre­quency of vi­o­lent po­lit­i­cal agi­ta­tion since the 1982 elec­tions, the naked threats to seize power by means other than the bal­lot box,” said Comp­ton, “were all as­so­ci­ated with vis­its to Libya by the leader of Saint Lu­cia’s Pro­gres­sive Labour Party.”

In May 1983, Comp­ton’s Se­cret Ser­vice in­for­mants had no­ti­fied him that Libya was mak­ing avail­able—“for po­lit­i­cal ac­tiv­ity in the Eastern Caribbean”—huge sums of money, part of which was fun­neled through its sur­ro­gate in Saint Lu­cia, the PLP. In an ef­fort to alert the group’s lead­ers their clan­des­tine move­ments were be­ing mon­i­tored, per­chance they might aban­don their re­la­tion­ship with Libya rather than risk the con­se­quences, the prime min­is­ter had made pub­lic some of what he had learned from his sources in Wash­ing­ton. To his ex­pressed shock and dis­may, he said, there was no re­ac­tion from the PLP. It was as if the prime min­is­ter had never spo­ken.

One month later the Se­cret Ser­vice in­formed the prime min­is­ter of planned covert ac­tiv­ity in Saint Lu­cia and other parts of the Caribbean. In Libya, they said, spe­cial camps were be­ing set up to train re­cruits in “ter­ror­ism and sab­o­tage.” In mid-July the Se­cret Ser­vice con­firmed that the Libyan Em­bassy in Mex­ico had been in­structed to is­sue air­line tick­ets for travel to Libya in the names of a hun­dred or so young men from the Caribbean, twenty-eight of whom were Saint Lu­cian. The true pur­pose of their visit was re­vealed by fif­teen dis­grun­tled re­cruits who had re­turned home to the Eastern Caribbean is­land of Do­minica upon com­ple­tion of their train­ing in Libya.

By Comp­ton’s ac­count, the trust­ing young Do­mini­cans were lured to Libya with stu­dent schol­ar­ships and prom­ises they would be taught le­git­i­mate skills nor­mally as­so­ci­ated with lu­cra­tive pri­vate sec­tor ca­reers. They re­al­ized they had been duped by their re­cruiters in Do­minica, but only af­ter they had been trans­ported and con­fined to ter­ror­ist train­ing camps. On July 19, Prime Min­is­ter Comp­ton re­vealed, eigh­teen young Saint Lu­cians were is­sued Eastern Air­line tick­ets to travel in six days via Mar­tinique, en-route to Libya via France.

“The cover for this op­er­a­tion was a cul­tural per­for­mance to be held in Paris,” said the prime min­is­ter, “an event un­known to any­one else, nei­ther in Saint Lu­cia nor in the host coun­try.” The House main­tained a stony si­lence even af­ter the prime min­is­ter re­vealed that of the eigh­teen al­leged cul­tural per­form­ers, seven were known hard­core crim­i­nals who had done time for a va­ri­ety of of­fences rang­ing from threats with deadly weapons to caus­ing in­no­cent cit­i­zens se­ri­ous bod­ily harm.

Said the prime min­is­ter: “The op­er­a­tion was aborted when, act­ing on spe­cial in­struc­tions, the in­come tax depart­ment de­nied the listed eigh­teen in­di­vid­u­als exit per­mits. Their pass­ports were also con­fis­cated by the im­mi­gra­tion au­thor­i­ties.” He re­minded the House that on July 22, he had ad­dressed the na­tion on the mat­ter. “On July 24, how­ever, no doubt in an at­tempt to test the gov­ern­ment’s re­solve,” the prime min­is­ter con­cluded, “a soli­tary fe­male re­cruit at­tempted to leave the is­land via Lee­ward Is­lands Air Trans­port, only to have her pass­port with­drawn. In­come tax clear­ances hav­ing been de­nied, cer­tain in­di­vid­u­als now turned to fraud and forgery. Some time dur­ing the July 24 weekend, the of­fice of the in­come tax depart­ment was bro­ken into. The only items miss­ing on Mon­day morn­ing were a de­part­men­tal stamp and one re­ceipt book.”

By Comp­ton’s riv­et­ing ac­count, sev­eral at­tempts were made to char­ter an air­craft for travel to Mar­tinique. The first was by the lo­cal man­ager of Eastern Air­lines, Mr. Newman Mon­rose. He was turned down. Fi­nally, with Vic­tor Fadelin—the for­mer gov­ern­ment’s pub­lic re­la­tions man and close ally of Ge­orge Od­lum—Mon­rose char­tered two Saint Lu­cia Air­ways car­ri­ers at a dis­count rate.

“Four­teen of the spe­cial trav­el­ers to Libya turned up at Vigie Air­port. They were ac­com­pa­nied by well known of­fi­cials of the Pro­gres­sive Labour Party,” said the prime min­is­ter. “But the po­lice were waiting for them. On in­struc­tions from the for­eign af­fairs min­istry, their pass­ports were im­pounded. Later that evening Mr. Ge­orge Od­lum, who on oc­ca­sions like this usu­ally prefers to re­main in the back­ground, showed up with Vic­tor Fadelin at Port Po­lice Sta­tion to protest and re­mon­strate with of­fi­cers of the law. The po­lice forcibly ejected them from their com­pound. The in­volve­ment of the Eastern Air­lines agent Newman Mon­rose was duly re­ported to his em­ploy­ers. The prime min­is­ter re­minded them that, as an air­line em­ployee, Mon­rose had ac­cess to He­wanorra Air­port, a re­stricted area, there­fore posed “a se­ri­ous threat to the na­tion’s se­cu­rity.”

Then there was the non­na­tional David Eng­land. By the prime min­is­ter’s un­ver­i­fied ac­count, his name had at­tracted spe­cial at­ten­tion from the very first time it showed up in the “drag­net of in­for­ma­tion” sup­plied by the CIA. In early Au­gust, the prime min­is­ter said, so­lic­i­tors act­ing for Eng­land wrote to the Min­is­ter for For­eign Af­fairs to say that while their client had pub­licly de­clared his in­no­cence via paid news­pa­per ad­ver­tise­ments, they had them­selves con­sid­ered the grav­ity of the al­le­ga­tions against him and now wished to know what ac­tion gov­ern­ment planned to take in the cir­cum­stances.

Eng­land’s lawyers were of­fi­cially no­ti­fied that since he had been a res­i­dent of Saint Lu­cia for some six­teen years, and had sev­eral busi­ness in­ter­ests on the is­land, the gov­ern­ment would adopt “a com­pas­sion­ate at­ti­tude by per­mit­ting him to leave vol­un­tar­ily.” In that case, Eng­land would be free to re­visit “from time to time, to su­per­vise the wind­ing up of his sev­eral busi­nesses.” If he re­fused to leave of his own ac­cord, ap­pro­pri­ate steps would be taken: Eng­land would be de­clared a pro­hib­ited im­mi­grant, in which case “he would never be per­mit­ted to set foot on Saint Lu­cian soil.”

By all the prime min­is­ter re­ported to par­lia­ment on 19 Au­gust 1983 David Eng­land, in­stead of grab­bing the prof­fered life­line, al­lowed him­self to be used by the or­ga­niz­ers of the Libyan es­capade in their at­tempts to mo­bi­lize pub­lic opin­ion against the gov­ern­ment and dis­tract from the main is­sue— by Comp­ton’s ac­count “the in­tro­duc­tion of ter­ror­ism into Saint Lu­cian pol­i­tics.” Comp­ton cited sev­eral bomb scares and pub­lic ral­lies that ad­vo­cated vi­o­lence and civil disobe­di­ence, and promised that “no threat, per­sonal or oth­er­wise, no num­ber of pe­ti­tions or bombs will di­vert the gov­ern­ment from its re­solve to per­form its prime func­tion of en­sur­ing the se­cu­rity of the state and all who live within its bor­ders.”

The prime min­is­ter vowed that all nec­es­sary steps would be taken to pro­tect Saint Lu­cia’s way of life, both leg­isla­tive and ex­ec­u­tive. There would also be “pop­u­lar mo­bi­liza­tion to es­tab­lish the aware­ness of the enor­mity of the threat to un­der­mine and en­dan­ger the very foun­da­tions of our demo­cratic na­tion and peace­ful state.” While Saint Lu­cia had for many decades been the home of many peo­ple of dif­fer­ent races and places of ori­gin, of dif­fer­ent po­lit­i­cal and re­li­gious per­sua­sions, and while their con­tri­bu­tions to the coun­try’s de­vel­op­ment had been much ap­pre­ci­ated, no one, said the prime min­is­ter, no one would be per­mit­ted to place Saint Lu­cia’s se­cu­rity at risk.

“When ter­ror­ist ac­tiv­i­ties in­volve a non-na­tional,” he added point­edly, “this con­sti­tutes a fla­grant abuse of this coun­try’s hos­pi­tal­ity and the pres­ence of such per­sons in our midst can­not be tol­er­ated.” In or­der to en­sure the quick­est dispatch of un­wanted in­di­vid­u­als, he said, he was in­tro­duc­ing a bill that be­cause of its ur­gent na­ture re­quired im­me­di­ate pas­sage. In the best in­ter­ests of sea- and air­ports se­cu­rity, the new law would keep “per­sons who are con­sid­ered threats to the na­tional se­cu­rity away from re­stricted ar­eas.”

Be­fore tak­ing his seat again, the prime min­is­ter is­sued a fi­nal warn­ing: “Hon­or­able mem­bers, I am sure you re­al­ize the dan­ger­ous times in which we live. We have sought to con­duct our af­fairs in peace, seek­ing no for­eign en­tan­gle­ments or al­liances, but en­deav­or­ing only to im­prove the well-be­ing of our peo­ple and the eco­nomic ad­vance­ment of our coun­try. But the in­sa­tiable de­sires of some politi­cians, some ex­trem­ist el­e­ments in our so­ci­ety, pre­vents them from ac­cept­ing the judg­ment of the peo­ple as ex­pressed through the bal­lot box.

“To sat­isfy their am­bi­tions, they seek to in­tro­duce into our midst in­ter­na­tional ter­ror­ism with all its bloody and painful im­pli­ca­tions. Their spon­sor, Libya, is now con­sid­ered an in­ter­na­tional out­law and its leader’s sup­port of ter­ror­ist ac­tiv­ity has brought death and de­struc­tion around the world—from Mon­tene­gro to Ire­land, where they sup­port the IRA. The hand of Libya can be found in nearly ev­ery act of ter­ror­ism, re­gard­less of where it oc­curs.”

For­mer Prime Min­is­ter Kenny An­thony: Did he prom­ise David Eng­land back in 1997 far more than it was pos­si­ble for him to de­liver? Or was it a mat­ter of po­lit­i­cal con­ve­nience?

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