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July 10 2013

St. Kitts & Nevis: Arrest Escalates Political Tensions

Political tensions in St. Kitts continue to rise following the arrest of the former People's Action Movement leader Lindsay Grant during a protest march in the capital last Friday.

The move was intended to pressure the country's Prime Minister, Denzil Douglas, to either call an election or to step down to allow the formation of a unity government. Grant was leading a “march for democracy” down Church Street and reached a police barricade set up at the intersection with Central Street when the incident took place. The video and photos below cover some of the action…

The details of the events that followed are still being disputed, with some claiming that Grant crossed the police barricades and was subsequently accosted by a police officer, and others saying that it was the actions of the officer which forced Grant across the barricade.

Protesters on the march

Protesters on the march

Grant was arrested and held at a nearby police station. Soon, large crowds began to protest in front of the station until Grant was released six hours later; discussion was heated on the “Largest St. Kitts and Nevis Facebook Group”:

Protesters outside the police station.

Protesters outside the police station.

King Black Coral blamed the police for the incident:

It's a shame that Skn [St. Kitts and Nevis] police force turn a peaceful protest into a violent one. When the criminal element have been taking over the federation where are they[?] It's so sad to say but once again the ugly face of politics is destroying our land of beauty. I witness[ed] it growing up and now it's back [to the] same thing just on the different side. This tit for tat needs to stop otherwise our federation will definitely be ruined.

Eural Huggins disputed this and felt that the protesters were largely responsible:

Ppl like you who will condone wrong for political expediency…have you watch[ed] the video? Their claim is they took that route because the ghaut was running…well if you are marching and see a barricade with police why would you want proceed if you claim to be peaceful? There were other options which they refused to take.

Sheldon Pemberton compared the recent protests to Denzil Douglas’ past action:

1993: Dr Douglas lead (sic) an illegal violent protest through the streets of Basseterre. Who is ready to die defending our Democracy with Lindsay Grant[?] The time has come for the Nation of David to take down Goliath and his cronies. Will the People Of David take their Destiny of Freedom in their/our hands[?] The choice is Ours. And Freedom had (sic) it's (sic) Price. Lets [show] the world and our children that WE ARE READY TO TAKE OVER TO MAKE OVER OUR NATION and pull it back from the jaws of a DICTATORSHIP.

Latisha Richard believed the protests were not about politics but about principles:

Why ppl saying we willing to die for politicians?? Marching for democracy is dieing (sic) for politicians? Then we want to say ppl are not standing up for the country's motto… when there's a clear stand ppl are still confused… What's sad is that the ppl who are saying these things are unsure of a job and are arguing, “Labour gimme a wuk”. It's the duty of the GOVERNMENT to supply jobs for alllll citizens whatever government is in … marching doesn't mean you're choosing sides it means you see a flaw and you want it to change… if you don't care abt the situation why do you wish to have a voice in the matter? I applaud the Robert Bradshaw labour party … but you're blind if you can't see that the labour party now is not the labour party of yesterday …

E Naevisia Scarborough, however, was ambivalent about the nature of the protest, given history of protests on the island:

 In 1967 my mom was 13, in '93 I was 14 and now in 2013 my son is 13. Three generations, nothing but babies, scared shitless by this kind of unrest and ppl believe that its (sic) ok because……. I don't condone '67, '93 or 2013. We need to get our act together. Lots of ppl saying the march was peaceful but up to which point[?] Mr. Grant provoked the situation. If all a y'all believe that we have the right to walk anywhere we want at anytime, how is it that he is the only one who tried to break the rule and pass the barricade and he is the only one who got arrested[?] There should have been lots more sitting on the bench last night. But u see I guess Mr. Grant has something to prove by getting arrested.

The photos used in this post are by Jeffrey Phipps, used with permission.

July 03 2013

St. Kitts & Nevis: Protesting the Prime Minister

It's a twist rarely seen in Caribbean politics where party loyalties are fierce, but political tensions are high in St. Kitts and Nevis following the defection of two senior ministers from Prime Minister Denzil Douglas‘ ruling St. Kitts and Nevis Labour Party.

The move has placed the government in a minority position in the country's National Assembly, and the Prime Minister has not summoned Parliament in more than six months, presumably to avoid facing a vote of “No Confidence”. Meanwhile, the two ministers, Timothy Harris and Sam Condor, have formed a political party of their own, the People's Labour Party.

Late last week, the opposition People's Action Movement and the PLP led a protest march through the streets of the capital in an attempt to force the Prime Minister to either call an election or to step aside to allow the formation of a unity government.

P.A.M Chairwoman Cyndie Demming addresses the crowd

P.A.M Chairwoman Cyndie Demming addresses the crowd

Permission for the march was initially withheld by the police and was finally granted hours before the event. Prior to the march, there was a smaller protest, but quite curiously, only one blog – Barbados-based at that – took note. It reported on a press conference held before permission for the march was granted, in which the opposition leader laid out his justification for the march and for continued protests against the government:

The two elected members of PAM and partners in the CCM [Nevis-based Concerned Citizens Movement] and PLP have also written twice to the Governor General, confirming that all six of us, who make up the majority of the elected members of parliament, no longer have any confidence in the government and Dr. Douglas as Prime Minister. We have stated to the Governor General twice in letter that when the Motion of No Confidence is called, we will all vote in favour of it. We have also written twice to the Speaker of the National Assembly, echoing the same message that we communicated to the Governor General, and after six months, not one of these gentlemen has taken the appropriate constitutional action.

Marching through Basseterre

Marching through Basseterre

There were reactions to the march on the Facebook pages of some of the parties involved. On the People's Action Movement's page, Jacqueline Elliot felt that the march was not enough:

PAM and PLP the time has come to take our country back[...]instead of marching, everyone go down Church Street and do not move[...]you stay right there[...]close down St. Kitts. Marching last[s] a couple of hours[...]you need to stay down Church Street like they are doing [in] Egypt.

Caribbean Queen, on the contrary, thought the march could be the start of something big:

SK people is begging for a change, something they can look up to, call their own, something they hold on to and say, I made this happen, something they can [tell] their children that they were a part of, a story to remember, let it begin now.

"No Confidence in P.M. Denzil Douglas"

“No Confidence in P.M. Denzil Douglas”

Rita Jarvis Pondt echoed these sentiments:

When fox can get the grapes he say dem sour. Lot more surprises coming. I'm not in the kitchen, but I can feel the heat. I can see people are fed up of all the lies and games that are being played everyday. I am so in support of the unity march yesterday and was very happy that it was successful. This is a sign that people are not going to tolerate anymore cr[a]p.

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Gathering at Independence Square in Basseterre

Other than Facebook, YouTube appeared to be the new media forum of choice: several videos of the street protests were uploaded, most of them garnering an average of a few hundred views.  
         

The photos in this post are by Macclure Taylor, used with permission, courtesy the People's Action Movement Facebook page.

December 15 2011

December 05 2011

St. Kitts & Nevis: Poor Credit Rating

Abeng News Magazine notes that “the credit rating of St Kitts and Nevis…took a hit when it defaulted on a bond payment the end of November”, adding: “Maybe because there isn’t an Occupy movement in Basseterre, or because the people of one of the most indebted nations in the world aren’t like Greeks ‘behaving badly’, the news didn’t cause a stir in the region.”

November 07 2011

Caribbean: the meaning of identity

Creative Commess hosts a blog symposium “about Caribbean people, about West Indian people, about our contemporary experiences … ranging through race & identity to culture, mental health to constructs of beauty and more,” with contributions from seven Caribbean bloggers.

July 25 2011

Caribbean: Commonwealth Stories for Online Time Capsule

The Royal Commonwealth Society is creating the world's largest online time capsule in honour of HM Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee in 2012 and wants regional/Commonwealth bloggers to share their stories. Get involved, here.

March 04 2011

December 29 2010

October 01 2010

St. Kitts & Nevis: Arrow's Day

By Janine Mendes-Franco

Repeating Islands notes that today is an official day of mourning in St. Kitts and Nevis, in honour of the late calypsonian, Arrow.

June 07 2010

St. Kitts & Nevis: Jumbie Tree?

By Janine Mendes-Franco

“‘You parked us under a silk cotton tree at NOON?'”: Lifespan of a Chennette reminds us why that's not a particularly good idea.

February 24 2010

Barbados, St. Kitts & Nevis: Corruption Watch

Barbados Free Press has its eyes on St. Kitts and Nevis when it comes to transparency and government accountability.

December 29 2009

Curacao: Kayaking through Caribbean

Repeating Islands blogs about an activist from Curaçao, who “has paddled more than 1600 kilometres in a kayak to raise awareness for the environment.”

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