Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Saint Lucia

First sighted by Columbus as late as 1501, a French colony after 1635, ceded to Britain in 1814 as part of the Treaty of Paris, turned by the British into another of their innumerable sugar plantations, worked by slaves from Africa until slavery was abolished in 1834, it was one of the earliest of Britain’s overseas territories to become independent, being allowed a form of representative government in 1924, a constitution in 1936, universal suffrage in 1951, and finally self-governance in internal affairs in 1967, paving the way for full independence in 1979. By then the British had lost interest anyway, because the production of sugar cane was no longer viable, and so they closed it down and tried bananas instead. With less than 200,000 people inhabiting the island, and living in the shadow of its two volcanic peaks, there is little for anyone to be politically adversarial about, and anyway the weather's too hot and the beaches too inviting. A minor spat in 2003 when the Parliament voted to replace the Oath of Allegiance to the British monarch with a pledge of loyalty to itself; but the British got over it, eventually.

“Marks for” are very high indeed, for the splendid sulphur springs which are every tourist’s preferred destination, and for the arbitrary, haphazardous and chanceful fact that Derek Walcott, Nobel Prize for Literature laureate in 1992, grew up in St Lucia.

Marks against: None that I can think of; it doesn't even get a listing by Human Rights Watch, and Amnesty International only mentions it in passing, and that as one of the countries that had absolutely no one on death row - the kinds of listing, or absence of listing, that every civilised country should aspire to. Maybe having such a very different type of flag is also significant!

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