The implementation of the CSME is fast approaching if we are to keep to the deadline. Guyanese were at work in establishing the fact that the movement of labour and money can only enhance the Caricom Trade Agreement. If we do not keep the money and the people within the region, they will surely find their way outside of the region as many have done. I am extremely pleased to be elected to the office of President of the Guyana – St. Lucia Association at this time and if the timetable for the CSME is kept, I will be there to see the launch of the long awaited Agreement.

   The revitalized Guyana – St. Lucia Association held its sixth Annual General Meeting on the 19th June, 2004 at the Castries Comprehensive Secondary School and elected a new Executive comprising of the following persons:- Edward Harris – President,

Doodnauth Shivnauth – First Vice President, Bishnu Tulsie – Secretary, Alison Chester – Treasurer, David Christopher -  Public Relations Officer,  Shamsundar Jarbandon and Terry Campbell – Committee Members, Gene Neptune – Immediate Past President.

   At the AGM, the newly elected President recognizing the urgency of getting to work on pressing matters of the Association summoned a Meeting of the Executive on Tuesday, 22nd June, 2004 at which he presented a 25 points Action Plan to the members. Many of the points were either discussed or are already partially implemented. However, it was generally agreed that implementation has to be prioritized and implemented in the shortest possible time.

   In accepting the charge I took the opportunity to thank those who brought the Association to fruition and those who in recent times have revitalized it. In looking ahead, I take very seriously the tasks ahead of me. I am blessed with a team of men and women who are proud to be Guyanese and cherish the opportunity of being part of the St. Lucia family. Together we are committed to forging an atmosphere where all law-abiding persons can co-exist.

   Guyana and St. Lucia in times past had a very close relationship. My first visit to St. Lucia was as a direct result of meeting with St. Lucians and developing an admiration for their thrift and hard work while living and working in the interior of Guyana, where many St. Lucians sought their fortunes at the time. There were prominent shopkeepers in many parts of the interior and what is very interesting there is a well-established community in the Madhia area in the Potaro region where the cultural traditions of St. Lucians are maintained up to this day.

  I feel very much at home to deal with Guyanese and St. Lucian relations. I happened to have worked in the interior where gold and diamonds are mined and in the bauxite town where in both industries, St. Lucians did very well for themselves.

   I have never been someone to complain or allow those who refuse to get acquainted with their history to daunt my spirits at playing an active part in the St. Lucian experience be it cultural, social or economic endeavours.  Whenever I seek to find a St. Lucian who has savoured the Guyanese experience, Mr. Earl Bousquet always comes to mind. When I began writing in the local newspapers, I challenged myself to establish the same leverage as he did in Guyana.

    St. Lucia has afforded me the opportunity to express myself and I recommend to all Guyanese to feel free and act free, of course within the laws of the land. Step out and share with your Association and with your community. Do not be hindered by those who would wish for you to feel unwelcome. To be fair, Guyanese are well aware that outside of the Capital – Georgetown if you enter into a village where you were not born, you are reminded that you don’t belong there and hostile acts in some cases were done against persons.

   Against such a background based on experiences in my early adulthood in Guyana and my long association with St. Lucians in St. Lucia, I feel confident that with the support of a vibrant Executive, the cooperation of other fellow Guyanese and that of St. Lucians of goodwill/friends of Guyanese, we can be bold in ensuring that a new level of relations between Guyanese and St. Lucians hitherto unknown, would emerge.

   I am pleased to share with you some of the tasks we the newly installed Executive expect to achieve over the next 12 months, ie:

  1. Immediate expansion of the membership of the Association and strengthening of the Southern Chapter.
  2. To establish relationships with similar Association throughout the Diaspora.
  3. To keep Guyanese abreast of developments in their homeland and promote cultural exchanges through an Internet Discussion Group and a monthly newsletter.
  4. To promote Excursions to Guyana to give St. Lucians an opportunity visit and see at first hand the scope of development and experience the hospitality of the Guyanese people.
  5. To hold social functions and other fund raising activities to bring together Guyanese and other personas of goodwill.
  6. To share with all citizens of St. Lucia Guyanese Culinary delights and other areas of interest by hosting coaching clinics/classes around the island.
  7. Holding of Monthly Executive Meeting and Quarterly General Membership Meetings.

The foregoing are just a few projects that are proposed. We invite the participation of all Guyanese regardless of race, colour, creed or political persuasion to participate in the membership and work of the Association, so that together we can embrace other citizens of St. Lucia, and take full advantage of the opportunities afforded us in our adopted homeland. Do not chose to be a passive bystander but rather chose to be an active participant. Call 454-7619 during office hours and find out how you could get involved.

   Keep the faith, God is in charge!