By: Troy Prince
Proud North Leeward Constituent
“Nuttin’ nah happen fuh we down yah.” This is the chorus echoed throughout the villages of North leeward as residents reflect on the lives of members of the community.
Those of you who follow, love, and have dedicated much attention to North Leeward (NL) would vehemently agree with me that the Ralph Gonsalves led Unity Labour Party (ULP) government continues to neglect and kill the constituency of North Leeward. Indeed, we who advocate for better representation and attention from the government have long been disappointed with the lack of such.
In fact, for almost 2 decades now we have been crying out in North Leeward for more assistance and support from the government of the day. Clearly, as far as my eyes can see North Leeward is in a devastating state. The state of economic affairs in North Leeward is one that only brings about shock to those of us who knew North Leeward when it was a thriving constituency prior to 2001.
Firstly, the ULP and Carlos James are at a historic juncture as it relates to the welfare of the people of North Leeward. In 2020, Carlos James campaigned on the slogan “real representation”; this was his mantra, alluding that Patel Matthews at the time was failing to represent his North Leeward people as the Member of Parliament (MP). If we may put aside biasness and feelings, we can all agree that Patel’s tenure as MP for North Leeward leading up to the 2020 general elections was ineffective, since he was on the opposition’s side of the House of Parliament. It was always headed for doom. This is not to make any excuses for any personal faults and
responsibilities that Mr. Matthews may have had. However, let us not be naïve, or even blind to the fact that opposition MPs in St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) since 2001 have not been treated in the manner in which they ought to be treated in a democratic state. How many times have we witnessed opponents of the Ralph Gonsalves government being treated unfairly, criminalized, harassed and disadvantaged? The evidences are there to show that the roles, powers and responsibilities of the opposition in SVG have gravely been reduced. As a result, power for the last 2 decades has been monopolized by the ULP.
There is no commitment to democratic dialogue; listening to the opinions of the NDP in decision making has long been thrown out the window. Such actions by the ULP crippled Patel’s chances of being reelected as MP for NL in 2020. Instead, Carlos James was supported by the leader of the ULP and the country’s treasury won the NL seat by 1 vote in 2020.
Secondly, one would think that winning a seat with a one-vote margin would serve as a motive to ensure that promises are delivered. Contrastingly, it is evident that the arrogance of Carlos James has gotten the best of him. If he can be honest and reflect on his time as MP for North Leeward thus far, he would realize that his political career might just be short-lived. It is highly possible that Carlos James would only be a “1 term uncle”. Mr. James and his clique continue to fail to deliver to the people of NL, evidence of “REAL REPRESENTATION”.
Since the last election, it has been very difficult to articulate what Carlos James has genuinely done for his constituents. His followers blinded by red cataracts would argue that he has fixed the wharf in Chateaubelair, refurbished the Chateaubelair Hospital, rebuilt the Sharpes bridge, and patched potholes. However, praises like these have already been proven unworthy in an article published on I Witness News called “Undeserved Praises, Heaped on N. Leeward MP Carlos James”. In essence, the article revealed how disingenuous Carlos James continues to be regarding representing his constituents.
Thirdly, as I reflect on NL before 2001, I ask myself the following question: Are the people of NL better off now than before 2001, and even more so, now that Carlos James is given the chance to represent them? Before you answer, let me first take you on a journey back into a better NL. Growing up in the streets of NL as a young man for the last 32 years has allowed me to see NL while it was thriving and NL now is a graveyard. North Leeward before the ULP and Calos James had the following working for us:
There was a lucrative banana industry. The banana industry was supplemented by other agricultural produce that thousands of farmers proudly and happily used to be involved in. The agricultural sector in NL allowed farmers to be meaningfully and gainfully employed. This sector has since lost its life under the ULP administration. Up to this day, the people of NL are yet to have been given an alternative.
In addition to agriculture, NL had a vibrant fishing industry. Hundreds of fisher folks from Richmond to Gordon Yard were raking in thousands of dollars every week. This industry was also murdered by the ULP.
Another key income earner that had NL on a level that caused the other constituencies to envy us was the marijuana industry. This industry by far contributed the most to NL being independent and successful before 2001. Ganja farmers in these times were able to happily and comfortably build houses, buy vehicles, and provide for their families without having to borrow from any lending institutions. I remember the times when there was a constant circulation of the US Dollar, the Barbados Dollar, and the EURO. Small businesses were well-stocked and profitable. The blocks in NL used to be alive and entertaining. Now, the shops are closing at a rapid pace and the streets are like a ghost town as early as 8 p.m. in North Leeward.
Sadly, to date, as I walk the streets of NL, I must conclude that “death is knocking” on the doors. The deaths of the industries listed above are key contributors to the demise of NL. This has been coupled with the fact that since 2001, the biggest projects NL has seen are the Belle Isles landfill, Belle Isles Prison, and the Rayneau Quarry at Richmond. Note that none of these projects can provide any form of sustainable development in NL.
Alarmingly, the number of school dropouts keeps rising every school term. This consequently drives up the already sky-high unemployment rate in NL. Also, inflation of prices on basic food supplies continues to reduce a significant number of NL residents to beggars.
In summary, I know that this article will not be taken lightly by the vast majority of blind ULP faithful in NL. Also, those of you who cannot accept reality or take off your political spectacles would flag me for writing in such a manner. However, this is my reality and it satisfies my soul to get it off my chest. For far too long we have allowed ourselves in NL to be dumb and reduced to vagabonds. The time has come for the following to take place in NL: Rise and say enough! No more!
Demand better of these politicians and governments.
Take vengeance against the ULP and Carlos James for all the suffering they have brought on us.
Change the government and pray that our situation in NL takes a turn for the better.
My people of NL the time is now, and the persons who should feel the wrath of NL the most are Ralph Gonsalves and Carlos James. 1 vote! 1 term uncle!