By Professor Richard A. Byron-Cox
In critiquing some policies of the Gonsalves’ administration (e.g. its socialism for the Rich via tax breaks), there is none more acidic than yours truly! Indeed, my uninhibited dissonance so enrages some ULP attack hounds, they make meals of my deceased mother’s entrails. I began thus to remind the “pit-mongers” I am no coward nor hypocrite. Consequently, the thesis that follows, is born of the integrity that humility, courage and nobility extol.
As the world tries to grapple with Corona; as local political pimps -steeped in traitorous selfishness- fan the flames of hysteria, becoming even angels of death to force this country onboard the run-away train of global paranoia; Admiral Ralph Gonsalves solemnly declares to his crew and passengers, “I cannot calm the seas. But have faith! We will bring this ship ashore safely.”
In a supremely masterful address on 25th March -which I rate as his best-ever speech as Leader of this nation-, interpreted for the hearing impaired through the services par excellence of Ambassador Mr. Terrance Davis; Prime Minister, Dr. The Honourable Ralph Gonsalves assured SVG that great is this little nation; and in the end; we shall prevail! In one hour of profound discourse Gonsalves set about allaying the unease, and in many cases fears of Vincentians in a meticulous, logical, reasonable and practical manner. This was an honest and deeply touching, very clarion call for us to choose optimism over despair.
Beginning with a factual review of the present Covid-19 situation in the CARICOM Caribbean focusing on SVG, Gonsalves drove home the wisdom of being very careful and sensible in our actions to prevent the spread of this menace, by being inter alia, armed with knowledge; and rational in our response. He expounded in layman terms on the multifaceted negative effects this plague is having on SVG from health and security, to social and economic.
Challenging fear just as Roosevelt did, Gonsalves outlined in crystal clear terms the actions we must take in concert to prevent this virus ever gaining the psychological or material upper hand. From strengthening health measures and border security to a bread-and-butter economic stimulus, Corona shall ultimately be disarmed by laser-like precision package where:
- Gonsalves did not speak in atmospheric, tangential, or generic terms. Rather, he displayed a binocular-telescopic focus on real details; even sharing in precise numbers how much of the Cuba-made Interferon drug -to date the most effective against Covid-19 – SVG has in stock, and how many more health professionals are engaged in our war against this universal enemy;
- Measures to meet the concrete, real needs of people abound. For instance, your water will not be disconnected for nonpayment which, if it were to happen, could be a death sentence in these times;
- Every vital economic sector is resourced with the clear intention to drive production, including boats for fishers, free seeds for farmers, and livestock on favorable terms for animal husbandry;
- The poor and powerless, the elderly and infirmed are closest to Gonsalves’ heart. Their vulnerability being more exposed, their champion reaffirms he stands guard. Covid-19 must first defeat him before it touches them;
- Those with mortgages have a six-month moratorium from the banks and other lending institutions. You will not be put out on the streets; And,
- He lifts the morale and spirit of our people, wrapping the package in the beautification of public buildings and injecting more uplifting vibes into culture.
The above it but a very skeletal representation of what this Commander-in-Chief delivered to boost morale of his troops and to assure his charges, i.e. this nation, that we can face fear knowing that committed and united, we cannot be defeated!! We will never succumb to hysteria and paranoia; but shall be governed by rationale and reason weathering this Covid-19 winter; to blossom in the spring of its aftermath; and march into a summer of new progress. Indeed, the package he delivered is forward-looking, underlining certainty in the full renaissance of our people’s Chatoyer spirit!
Gonsalves is nothing if not Mr. Solidarity! He assured his people that their pain is his pain, that while he doesn’t know why bad things happen to the good, he knows we must never yield to nefarious invitations to paranoia, rallying instead to make our collective best shine through. THIS OUR CALLING!!!
Ralph spoke to us in the role of leader, teacher, counselor, friend, brother, neighbor, tribune and comforter. Every syllable, word and sentence consciously meant to uplift, inspire, instill courage and a determination we will not rollover and die! He exemplifies a brilliant beacon of hope that his people can see even through the darkest clouds spawn by political scaremongers resorting to terrorizing the public to feed their anemic egos!! They must not succeed!