St Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister, Dr Ralph Gonsalves seems to be scraping the table for a verbal confrontation with his Grenadian counterpart, Dr Keith Mitchell who has closed this country’s borders as a measure to suppress any potential imported case of the COVID-19 virus.
At a recent press conference on the mainland, Dr Mitchell spoke of the need to increase surveillance to better protect the people of Carriacou and Petite Martinique as there were reports of Vincentian boats entering the sister isles with various items including provision, despite the current lockdown.
Dr Mitchell also stated that his priority is to protect the people of the sister isles as the health of the citizens takes priority over everything else including ensuring that he maintains his support base.
He further told the nation that while he cannot impress upon another sovereign state what measures they need to enforce he was adamant that he would not allow anyone to breach this country’s rules in the wake of this deadly and crippling pandemic.
The prime minister who also has the portfolio for National Security further impressed on the acting Commissioner of Police who was also present at the press conference, the need to beef up security to better protect the border between the sister isles and St Vincent and the Grenadines.
However while not pointing to the prime minister’s concern; Dr Gonsalves seems to have responded to the comments made by Dr Mitchell.
In a WhatsApp video showing Dr Gonvalves at a function on St Vincent and the Grenadines, spoke directly to the people of Carriacou and Petite Martinique assuring them that they can come to St. Vincent and the Grenadines to purchase items.
“…To the people of Carriacou and Petite Martinique, if you having difficulties getting food we can help.
“Now we have a lot of it on Union Island and we could get to Union Island. I want to tell my brothers and sisters that and if you want cooking gas we can help you…” said Dr Gonsalves in an unverified WhatsApp video.
Many locals have viewed the statement as unfortunate in light that the residents of the sister isles have been called upon to remain at home to prevent contracting the disease.
“This is not the time for this Dr Gonsalves, you should be encouraging the people of Carriacou and Petite Martinique as part of this tri-island state to obey the rules that are now in place. COVID-19 is a serious issue and therefore the more people stay home, the better to militate against any potential spread,” said a local in Carriacou.
“Dr Gonsalves must remember that there are protocols in place to prevent any spread and he as a leader should encourage us to adhere to the new rules rather than saying that we can come to purchase items. These are not ordinary times and these measures are in place temporarily.
The relationship between Carriacou and Petite Martinique and the St Vincent Grenadines has always been and continues to be strong.
We have a great trade that has been in existence for decades now however due to COVID-19, there is a need for us both to put a halt as the virus is deadly and seems very contagious.
Therefore we must be careful especially as there are unconfirmed reports that two of the twelve cases in St Vincent and the Grenadines are from the most southern of SVG’s archipelago, “said another who is appealing to the residents of the sister isles to adhere to the repeated calls from health officials.
Dr Gonsalves has been coming under increasing pressure from a section of the Vincentian public who are of the view that he waited much too long to take proper and decisive action in dealing with the current pandemic.
Many of the nationals there believe that his lack of action is more political than protection-driven.
The assumption seems to be emerging that Dr Gonsalves is more concerned about securing another term in office when nationals there go to the poll in general elections constitutionally due by year’s end.
“Look Grenada’s Prime Minister, Dr Mitchell stated clearly that he will do all within his government’s power to protect and secure the health of the people of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique and not worry about losing support and votes.
That is a leader and a prime minister who cares about his people first and foremost unlike the one we have here in St Vincent and the Grenadines who’s looking to secure support to remain in office and doesn’t seem to care about protecting the people of this country against COVID-19 was a statement on one of the talk shows on a radio station in SVG.