Wednesday, April 13, 2011

PM Gonsalves delivers powerful message


Solidarity is the hallmark of a developed people. That is according to Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, who delivered the University of the West Indies Students Today, Alumni Tomorrow (UWISTAT) Vice Chancellor’s Ambassador Corps, Cave Hill Prime Minister’s lecture.

Speaking on the topic ‘Developing into a Developed State: Challenges Faced by Caribbean Nations in Achieving Developed Nation Status’ on Monday night at the Henry Fraser Lecture Theatre, Faculty of Medical Sciences, UWI, Dr. Gonsalves told the packed theatre that solidarity is key to development.

“Brightness can’t get you to a university if you do not have an opportunity to attend one. What is the essential fact of this university is that it started because of the struggle and solidarity of ordinary people. So your brightness, while it is necessary for you to enter here, it is not sufficient condition of your presence. That is why you have to be in solidarity with the people who send you here, and solidarity is the hallmark of a developed people,” said Dr. Gonsalves.

“I realise that when you are finished you have to buy a car, a house and look for a spouse. These are normal things, but you can do these things while still being in solidarity with people and by doing your best to help to make the country and the people better because they have sacrificed to bring you here. That is part of the process of development,” he asserted.

Dr. Gonsalves told those in attendance that if nothing else, remember sacrifice, solidarity, love of country, the region and God.

The PM said that improving the region’s physical and social well-being must be done in the context of our Caribbean civilisation.

“We never had an empire, but that does not make us not a civilisation. We have a legitimacy. We have a history and we have a trajectory for further ennoblement. So when we have the quest for the advancement of social and material indices, we don’t [have to] become a mirror image of the United States. We have to do it within a socio-cultural framework of a Caribbean civilisation.”

Noting several challenges that the Caribbean faces such as small size, lack of competitiveness, limited material resources, the legacy of slavery and colonialism, he pointed out that crime is a serious issue impacting the push to ‘developed nation’ status.

The way forward, he noted, was – among other things – having a people-centred vision, making the region safe and enhancing law and order, enhancing health and wellness and social security, and building our Caribbean civilisation.

He addressed the impact of the economic crisis on the region: “We have a series of challenges and they are getting even more severe in this period. The world economic crisis of 2008 and continuing is still with us; the recovery is haunting, in some places episodic...We see the cuts in the USA, the UK. All those things are taking place and making life difficult for us...”

Prime Minister Gonsalves suggested that Governments speak honestly to the people in light of the current circumstances.

“It is not a time for foolishness. The opening lines of the Barbados National Anthem say ‘In plenty and in time of need’ because the founding fathers realised there would be some difficulties, but we must not treat every difficulty as if it were a crisis...”

He said if this is “communicated to the people in a manner in which they would understand, you would therefore find solutions to hold you in these times of difficulty before they become looming and perpetual crises. That is part and parcel of our task in our civilisation as we move to improve our material well-being and our social security within the context of our Caribbean civilisation.” (AR)

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