St. Lucia Ascends the World Stage and the Principal Architect is called to Higher Service!

The week that ended Saturday, 27/9/03, saw the fulfillment of the dream of many St. Lucians, especially that of Mr. George Odlum who worked assiduously to make sure that St. Lucia maintains a positive posture in the United Nations in particular and on the world stage in general. Our Minister of External Affairs, International Trade and Civil Aviation is for the next year, President of the United Nations General Assembly. His Excellency, Julian R. Hunte, I am confident is up to the task and he will surely make us proud. I am particularly interested in his stated agenda to bring the problems of small, developing nations to the fore.

Then the new week dawned, Sunday, the 28th of September, 2003 and in the fulfillment of his vision for St. Lucia’s contribution to making the world a better place, Mr. George Odlum was called to higher service. Just a few hours later his relative, close friends and admirers got together on the Derek Walcott Square, in the heart of Castries to Celebrate the Life of George Odlum, a programme which was previously planned. Contributions were made by many from near and far. It was an evening that will long be remembered. St Lucians joined with his friends and well-wishers to make a public gesture of their love for Brother George. He will be given an Official Funeral on Monday, October 6, 2003.

It is commendable that Prime Minister, Hon. Dr. Kenny Anthony took time off from his busy schedule in NY to return to St. Lucia to visit former Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Mr. George Odlum in hospital along with colleague Prime Minister, Hon. Ralph Gonsalves of St. Vincent & the Grenadines. It must have been a moment of deep reflection. The closing events in the life of Mr. George Odlum must have brought him great joy and allowed him the opportunity to conclude, it is well with his soul. The challenge is for those who are left behind to further bring reality to his several dreams.Continuing in the spirit of the desired progress that developing nations seek to achieve, in spite of St. Lucia being a small island state, restricted by size, it took its place to chair the highest decision making Assembly relating to the economic and social behaviour of 159 nations, rich and poor alike. The leaders of the world gathered for the 58th General Assembly of the UN in New York, many of them spoke on behalf of their region and states. However, all eyes were on President George W. Bush as they looked to him for the lead as to what plans he had to unveil regarding Iraq. That was the main agenda item that every delegate had a position. The conclusion was encouraging in that Russia is on board, France and Germany included, but while the good news is that a possible agreement is in the making, and it is preference for more UN involvement, the UN is reducing its presence in Iraq. This however is likely to be a short term action.

Then it was the contentious meeting, whether it was right or wrong for St. Lucia and the other three leaders of Caricom nations to meet with President George Bush. In times like these each country’s needs are different and America knows this and until we can achieve together, a level of independence that will allow us to stand together, there can never be a united position in all international issues. I believe that leaders understand this quite well and it is for this reason that in spite of whatever crisis develops from time to time, they are resolved.

The beginning of real unity can only come about by economic interaction. Will Trinidad and Tobago be prepared to assist Guyana to achieve its full potential so that their combined wealth could be invested across the region to alleviate poverty and bring about sustainable levels of economic activity. We have to begin to see governments investing in each other’s country outside of social development bonds and debt relief? We must put into countries investments that will prevent them from getting to the stage where they have to be baled out financially as in the case of Dominica.

I remember the days of Ambassador Andrew Young when he visited Guyana and made it abundantly clear that the US Government does not invest in businesses and since then we have seen a hands off approach to business by Governments of the Region. Divestment became the buzzword. There must be a new thinking in this regard. A new approach, maybe a government - private sector relationship for investment in strategic areas where viability is assured. The whole idea that government cannot run business is a farce. What has been happening is that the wrong people, political patronage has got into the way which must be discontinued if we are to make progress in this area. The task must be to fill the positions with the best people in the business. As we progress into the future, especially, in these island states, Governments of the region must find ways to compliment traditional sources of revenue and reduce the current level of dependence on foreign assistance. I am convinced we can do much more for ourselves than we are doing right now. Corruption wherever identified must be eliminated.

Small Nations now have a voice at the UN and a real opportunity to promote a radical agenda that will witness radical changes in the future. Forward Ever, Backward Never!!!

Keep the Faith! Be Thankful.