Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves says the list of invitees to next week’s ceremonial opening of the multi-million dollar Argyle International Airport will include “a couple of presidents” and “a vice-president”.
But Gonsalves, who has in the past described the EC$700 million airport as one of his major political achievements, would not disclose the names of the foreign heads of government besides saying that one of them is Guyana’s President David Granger, who is also chairman of the 15-member Caribbean Community (CARICOM) grouping.
“I don’t think there is any overwhelming security issue attached to President Granger,” Gonsalves told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC), adding later that the Cuban and Venezuelan governments will be represented at the event.
“A member of the Cuban government is coming. I ain’t telling you who. A member of the Venezuelan government is coming. I am not telling you who. Because I have to say thanks to them,” he said.
Venezuela and Cuba have contributed significantly to the construction of the airport.
Prime Minister Gonsalves said he is also hoping to bring back to St. Vincent for Tuesday’s event, 60 of the Cubans who worked on the airport.
“You had, at various times, over 220 Cubans that came here and at one time, you had up to 112, but we are bringing back 60 of them to thank them, like we are thanking you,” the Prime Minister told the former property owners.
Gonsalves said all heads of government of the 15-member CARICOM have been invited to attend. But he said Grenada Minister Dr Keith Mitchell and the Premier of Montserrat, Donaldson Romeo, have indicated that they have prior engagements, and so too “a couple of fellas”.
Gonsalves was especially hopeful that Dominica’s Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit, whose country is the only independent CARICOM state without an international airport, would be able to attend the ceremonial opening on Tuesday.
“I hope Roosevelt will be able to come because I would like Roosevelt to come and see because he has the mind and he has a vision for an international airport so I want him to come and see it and be part of it.”
Gonsalves said that Hazel Manning, the widow of former Trinidad and Tobago prime minister Patrick Manning, will also attend the event.