Since the announcement of the DSH Project for the south of Saint Lucia, there have been concerted efforts to undermine and misrepresent the conditions under which the project will eventually be implemented.
The government was evidently caught flatfooted with the leaking of the purported framework agreement long before it had intended to make any of the terms or final agreements public. It is almost certain that timelines would have been planned for the engagement of the public in town hall meetings, direct conversations, and other manner of public sensitization for such a large project.
It is without question that this DSH Project has been given more transparency and public scrutiny than any other project in the history of Saint Lucia. In a single word, unprecedented.
Although demands have been made for the Framework Agreement to be made public, it is well understood why such action would be unwise and possibly disadvantageous to either the government or developer. Those from the Opposition who have already been in government and been exposed to such principles in business can be seen as nothing other than disingenuous to demand it be released.
The prime minister has also stated on multiple occasions that this Framework Agreement is merely an understanding between the government and developer, to negotiate in goodwill, the terms initially set forth, until they both arrive at a mutually acceptable Agreement.
It is obvious, that whatever document was leaked could only have been the starting point, and therefore would change in content as negotiations progressed. It does not take a rocket scientist to understand such simple reasoning, yet despite the numerous town hall meetings and press statements, the incessant barrage of unsubstantiated accusations, half truths, and blatant lies persist.
But before we get lost down this paranoid worm hole lets pause for a moment and really consider how so many people can concoct such wildly irresponsible and incredible scenarios of doom and gloom, without one inkling, not one damn bit of information, from the ongoing negotiations between government and DSH. Persons on social media and elsewhere who somehow have acquired overnight degrees in subjects which have taken those with actual certifications, years of schooling, internship, and experience, to have even the slightest notion of what really is going on. It is nothing short of hilarious and downright incredible the number of botanists, environmental experts, racehorse gurus, oceanic visionaries, architects, garbolagists, and master negotiators, without holding one damn day at any of their miraculously obtained Google expertise. What’s that expression about every hole having an opinion? Oh, but wait, lets not forget the avocahs sans papier – you know, the lawyers with no qualifications.
Unashamedly, those who engage in the unveiled propaganda against the project insist that the Agreement is final, yet put forward a list of clauses which they would like changed to receive their full blessings. But how can they in one breath say it is final and then in the next expect changes to be made?
Over the months since the DSH Project was thrust onto the public stage, all level of disinformation and faux reasoning has been thrown at the Saint Lucian populace. From 40,000 passports needed from CIP to fund the project, to scare tactics of mass displacement of residents in the south, dogs and other animals strolling across a causeway to decimate lizards and snakes on Maria Island to Saint Lucians losing their patrimony.
Oh how that word, patrimony, has been used and abused in this discussion. From not wanting to lose what our ancestors left to us, to not allowing our island to be overrun by Chinese workers and rich criminals and money launderers who can afford our passport.
We all want development in Saint Lucia and are all honestly concerned about any negative impact this DSH development may have on the environment. However, we continue to remain aware of the process required for such developments. The EIAs (Environmental Impact Assessments) which have been called for, and are a necessary part of the application and approval stages must be concluded in the appropriate sequence.
Useless bickering and noise-making at this stage will not answer any of the burning questions, since required details and expertise will not be answered by arguments on the streets, but by reports from qualified professionals contracted by the developer and government to present their findings. Then, and only then, can any formal approvals be issued or denied.
Any pronouncements or arguments on the street are based solely on speculation and fear mongering, and akin to worrying about the placement of food on a dinner plate when the chicken has not yet been fried. Much of the arguments are simply putting the cart before the horse, and are an exercise in futility as the conditions in the Framework Agreement will most likely be significantly changed by the time all is said and done.
It is clear that public input is only warranted after a certain point in the negotiations has been reached. If not, then why were the negotiations by the former SLP administration and DSH unheard of by any citizen of Saint Lucia outside of the ministers of government? Should everyone have been invited to jump in and express their man-in-the-street opinions?
It has become more than obvious that as ridiculous assertions against the DSH Project have been debunked and dismissed, other angles of the same questions are hurled in nothing more than a desperate attempt to impede the process of negotiations and incite fear and doubt in the minds of Saint Lucians. Initially, much noise was made about the mangrove being too sensitive for such a venture and needed to be removed from any plans – this was eventually done. Then the garbage dump was another sore point – then it was removed. Much noise about the Escrow Account was next – only last week the prime minister said on a televised interview that the Escrow Account option had been abandoned, and now the monies would be deposited in the Sovereign Fund.
Aren’t these all indications that the Framework Agreement is going along just as the prime minister said, and still subject to negotiation?
The mischievous tactic, at this stage, to debate on the meanings of single words and what final and framework mean, are nothing more than noise and distraction meant to confuse the people.
Isn’t it ironic, in fact farcical, that the persons involved in Juffali and Grynberg are now at the forefront of any discussion of transparency and accountability? When credibility has been touted as an essential component of this DSH discussion, it does seem rather comical some of the faces behind the arguments.
If the horse racing track is not yet an approved CIP project as some are now claiming, and the developer is fronting $59 million for its construction; would that be considered a negotiation in our favour, and a master stroke by our negotiators? Are we to conclude that these detractors are now siding with the developer rather than the government? If the developer is lacking in his negotiation skills and working out the deal in favour of our Saint Lucian negotiators, wouldn’t that be a good thing for our country? Some of these arguments are baseless and bewildering.
But you see, these tactics of confusion, and smoke and mirrors are well known to con men and Three-card Monte tricksters – with the sole purpose of buying more time to create more confusion. Distraction and agitation cause less retention of the facts in long term memory, since nothing has had enough time to settle into their minds.
It is no accident, and nothing more than trivial mind games meant to keep the populace in disarray and to impede any smooth flowing discussions and dissemination of information. Logically, questions asked under any circumstances would necessitate an appropriate response within a reasonable time. However, if each time the questions change or the goal post is shifted when answers are given we find ourselves in a situation of never-ending questions. This gives the impression that nothing is being answered. The fabricated confusion leads any observer to believe that the entire process is fraught with problems and uncertainty.
How can the detractors constantly call for transparency and explanations of what is happening with the DSH Project, yet when such information is made available, double down and say they don’t believe it. Are they fabricating the foundation to support their pre-planned strategy not to accept anything at all? It seems that regardless of what information and answers are given there is an adamant strategy of unrelentingly calling everything false and unacceptable. It is also quite revealing that many questions which have been asked are answered yet these continue to be asked as if answers were never given.
Since the appearance of Invest Saint Lucia’s Pinkley Francis and Bradley Felix’s appearance on a popular radio talk show last week Thursday, and Prime Minister Allen Chastanet’s appearance on a televised show that same night, the argument of the Agreement being final has been debunked. Not to be outdone, the new target has now been shifted to the developer Teo Ah King when former Prime Minister, Dr. Kenny Anthony accused him [Mr. King] of causing division in Saint Lucia. Seriously!
His further utterances of “no peace in Saint Lucia” reveal nothing other than a desperate attempt to instill fear and apprehension in the people of Saint Lucia to derail the DSH project.
Regardless of how many times it is said by detractors that they support the project, but not in its current form, their actions belie their every word. At the SLP sanctioned demonstration by the Vieux Fort Concerned Citizens Coalition (VFCCC) and the demonstration in Castries, placards were displayed which blatantly expressed no interest in the DSH Project going ahead. At the Vieux Fort demonstration persons on the truck could be heard clearly saying over the loudspeakers they had no interest in anything to do with DSH. And of course the appearance of Dr. Kenny Anthony at that demonstration with sentiments opposed to that put forth by his party show nothing other than his tacit support of the group.
The lowest point was when a belligerent caller last Thursday demanded to have a debate with the prime minister. The gall and unbridled arrogance of that voice made it clear for everyone to understand the deep seated animosity and vitriol within. In the inimitable words of a former member of parliament which is recorded in Hansard, and forever in the history of Saint Lucia, “Since when that’s your role.”
The incessant false information, half truths, blatant lies, and propaganda serve no purpose other than to impede the progress of Saint Lucia.
Patriots I think not – more like traitors!