By Demion McTair. Updated 11:00 a.m., Tuesday, September 2, 2020, Atlantic Standard Time (GMT-4).
Kingstown, St. Vincent (ONE NEWS SVG) – Vice President of the opposition New Democratic Party (NDP), St. Clair Leacock, says Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves is a modern-day reverse, Robin Hood, taking lands from ordinary Vincentians.
Referring to former prime ministers, Mr. Leacock said at a political meeting on Monday night (September 1), that “Cato acquired plantations, Mitchell did the same, Joshua did the same. Gonsalves is the first prime minister that has not acquired any estate in St. Vincent and the Grenadines”.
“He is a modern-day reverse Robin Hood: taking away lands from the poor struggling Vincentian community, for what reason we don’t know, ” Mr. Leacock says.
Mr. Leacock made the point while discussing what he describes as failed promises by Dr. Gonsalves to deepen democracy in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
But the ULP administration has maintained that it has taken steps to deepen democracy.
Its members, including the leader – Prime Minister, Dr. Ralph Gonsalves have said the administration made the airing of Parliamentary proceedings public, removed criminal sanctions from public servants on their freedom of speech, and sought to amend the 1979 Constitution in 2009, to deepen democracy through the established of several commissions. The referendum was defeated.
The ULP says it had paid over EC $3 million in severance pay to about 1,000 former estate workers at Rabacca, Fitz Hughes, and Wallilabou. It says these workers were denied their severance payments for over 17 years under the NDP.
EXAMINING THE LAND CLAIMS
The NDP claims that it was their administration that championed land reform, making lands available for ordinary Vincentians but the ULP, in some instances, have sought to take away some of those lands.
The NDP managed to acquire lands at Mount Wynne/Peters’ Hope for hotel development, and Canegrove for agriculture. They also bought several estates and subdivided them for distribution to people at Rabbaca, Colonaire, San Souci, and Diamond.
The ULP has started the process of selling lands at Mount Wynne/Peters’ Hope for hotel development. But, the NDP leased two-thirds of Canouan island to developers on October 31, 1990, in a 99-year agreement for hotel development.
The ULP administration also regained, in 2009, over 100 acres of land at Chatham Bay, Union Island, through a long battle at the courts.
The are other land issues where both parties have had to acquire land from private citizens for different types of developments during their respective tenures in office.
Verdict: both parties have acquired lands for development purposes