Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

So many times the same tale: the discovery by Columbus (in 1498), the takeover by the British (1627), the formalisation as a colony (1783), slavery and sugar, volcanic eruptions (the first in 1812, the second in 1902); and then the long, slow route to what is still only partial, starting with universal suffrage (1951), permission to join the West Indies Federation (1958), internal self-government (1969), and at last a sort of independence (in 1979, during which year La Soufriรจre erupted once again).

Unlike nearby Saint Lucia, a further move away from Britain was rejected in a 2009 vote; the suggestion had been the replacement of the monarch by a republican President and constitution, but let's be honest, given the kind of people who put themselves forward to be Presidents, a dynastic monarchy, constitutionally ring-fenced, may actually be a better option, especially if the man most likely is "Comrade Ralph" Gonsalves, the current Prime Minister, now serving his third term of close friendship with fellow-comrades in Venezuela (I always thought "serving a third term" was what repeat criminals did in jail, not Prime Ministers in office, or Presidents, in the case of Burundi, or alternately both, in the case of Russia).

In 2003 the islands were removed from the list of countries which were being uncooperative about money-laundering; which means that they are now being cooperative; which means that they are still money-laundering. Nor is this likely to change, given the people who inhabit several of the islands - a boat-trip around Mustique and Palm Island and Union Island for example is likely to get you arrested if you don't have a formal invite, because these are private islands, gated communities protected by armed security guards, and who can say who lives there, possibly Hollywoods starlets, possibly Russian oil magnates, possibly Somalian pirate gang-leaders; the information is simply as unavailable as is access for ordinary people and tax-inspectors. A single room at the Cotton House, for example, will cost you $1,000 per night, out of season.

And in the meanwhile, the rest of the population either services the playground or cuts down the ever diminishing banana crop - no, that is inaccurate; the number of bananas is still the same, but the number of bananas which the European Union will purchase has diminished, and given that bananas represent 30% of national income, and unemployment is already so high that mass emigration is now the norm, it is highly possible that several more of these Caribbean islands will become privatised in the decades ahead, either purchased as empty plots of land by the ridiculously rich, or private because you are the only person left to pick up the pieces of molten lava.

Marks For: 0

Marks Against: This business of trying to give marks has become too depressing; I shall leave this blank.

Copyright © 2015 David Prashker
All rights reserved
The Argaman Press

No comments:

Post a Comment