Saint Lucians have witnessed the horrific daily accounts on the relentless and brutal attacked waged against the people of Syria by the regime of President Bashar al-Assad. Saint Lucians along with the democratic world shared the collective grief and disappointment at the fact that the recent United Nations resolution on the situation in Syria was crippled by the shameful veto actions of Russia and China.
Whereas these developments may appears to be far removed and unrelated to our situation locally, I am of the view that these developments bear direct relations to the current deliberations of the Government of Saint Lucia with regards to Saint Lucia’s foreign Affairs posture i.e. diplomatic relations with Taiwan or China. The position taken by the Communist Government of China in its veto of the UN resolution on Syria is consistent with the inhumane stance which they have adapted through their support of the Sudanese regime which has perpetuated a process of ruthless genocide against the defenceless natives of the Dafur region of Sudan since 2003. That regime through the support of the Chinese has been responsible for the slaughter of over ½ million people with over three (3) million made into refugees. The regime in Khartoum has been able to benefit from the supply of Chinese military hardware, China being Sudan’s largest supplier of arms. China is thus a knowing and willing accomplice in the Bashir regime’s genocide in Darfur.
China’s human rights record is well documented and stands out as the country with one of the worst human rights records internationally. Today any country which is in trouble at the UN over abuses of human rights can always rely on a Chinese veto in the Security Council. China is the best friend of the military regime in Burma – one of the world’s most oppressive regimes – and of Robert Mugabe’s bankrupt dictatorship in Zimbabwe.
Saint Lucians have had the benefit of comparing the economic and social benefits derived through diplomatic relations with Taiwan and China over the past fifteen (15) years. I am convinced that the majority of Saint Lucians understands where our nation’s best interest is provided for. Our people are all too aware that the interest of our nation has been best served through diplomatic relations with Taiwan and that ordinary Saint Lucians and communities have benefited directly by far through the friendly relations and goodwill of the Taiwanese Government over the past five (5) years under the Government of the United Workers Party. The Taiwanese through their cooperation assistance have impacted in a phenomenal way on our overall development process. Over the past five years they have registered meaningful contributions to our nation’s development in the health, agricultural, education and technology and sports sectors. In addition they have brought direct benefits to thousands of Saint Lucians through their “grass-roots projects” which included developments initiatives such as: drainage, footpaths, sidewalk, public facilities, bus shelters, community centers, multi-purpose Courts, road and water Projects to highlight a few examples. The Taiwanese contribution over the past five years under the United Workers Party Administration by far outstrips that made by the Chinese over the ten years of Labour Party rule between the period: 1997 – 2006.
It is therefore critical and imperative at this time that Saint Lucians demand that the Government of the Saint Lucia Labour Party adopts a foreign policy position that is consistent with the will of the people of this country. Saint Lucians must also maintain a vigilant stance in monitoring the foreign policy direction of the current Government to ensure that the image of Saint Lucia as a country which upholds democratic values along with the relationships with our traditional friends is not compromised. The recent posturing of the Government through alliances with the ALBA grouping is a cause for concern. Only recently the Prime Minister of Grenada issued a call on regional Governments to focus their efforts on strengthening Caricom instead of flirting with ALBA. Individual members of that grouping and the grouping as a collective have taken some positions recently which must be a cause for concern. We note for example Cuba and Venezuela’s support for the regimes in Iran and Syria. Only recently Venezuela shipped an estimated US $50. Million worth of diesel to Syria in a show of defiance to the international community. Such support can no doubt be used by the Assad regime to fuel the continuation of bloody attacks which the regime has unleashed on its citizens whose only offence is to express their will to be governed by a democratic political system.
One is forced to question the silence of the current SLP Government or its failure to condemn the atrocities being committed in Syria. Is our Government fearful of offending the Chinese and its ALBA comrades? Are our humanitarian and principled values being compromised on the altar of some strange political ideology that is foreign to our culture and Christian traditions? These are questions that should occupy the minds of curious Saint Lucians at this time. I dare say that we Saint Lucians should remain vigilant and not allow our Government to prostitute and damage our international reputation and image internationally.
I take this opportunity to calls on the Government of Saint Lucia to take the necessary actions to remove the current anxiety of Saint Lucians and its obvious procrastination on the issue of diplomatic relations with Taiwan or China. The ultimate position of the current Administration should be guided by the sentiments and will of the people of Saint Lucia in maintaining diplomatic relations with the Republic of China on Taiwan.
By Clifton St Marthe
Editor's note: Pics inserted by blog management