THE FOLLOWING IS A NATIONAL STATEMENT BY VALERIE THOMPSON:
My Fellow Grenadians, I again address you on this auspicious occasion of our 45th anniversary of independence. I must first inform you that I speak on my own behalf, as an activist on issues of national importance and I do not represent any group – political or otherwise.
Forty-five years ago, 1974, Grenada gained its independence from Britain and our Grenada flag was hoisted. Now, 45 years later, 2019, I fear that we would someday be seeing our flag taken down and replaced by that of a foreign nation.
My Fellow Citizens, when one follows what China has been doing all over the world, especially in Third World countries, one should be concerned.
To begin with, our government is with-holding information from us. It does not keep us informed. It is as if our country is a private entity with the government as the proprietor.
Our government does whatever it wishes without any consideration as to whether it has the authority or not. Take for example the matter of deductions from the salaries of teachers. It is all about power, with little or no regard to our constitution.
The Grenada government launched its National Sustainable Development Plan 2035 in May of 2015 but sometime in 2018, we had to learn from the Chinese – not from the Grenada Government – that they had written a Development Plan for Grenada. The South China Post report claims that “A China-drafted development plan for Grenada would give Chinese companies better access to future investment and infrastructure projects. Note who would benefit from our plan – Chinese, not Grenadians!
The Chinese team warned, in one document, that the development envisioned by blueprint would not be achieved unless the Grenadian government took strong, effective measures to ensure and protect the interests of foreign investors.” Note again, Grenadian Government to ensure and protect the interests of foreign investors – not Grenadians!
Lew Smith on a ‘Beyond the Headlines’ program asked our Prime Minister about this Chinese Development Plan for Grenada and he said that Grenada was seeking funding and the Chinese were willing to provide at least a draft after consultation with persons in the country.
Our Prime Minister also said that any national plan would have to be endorsed by the people of Grenada and that the final decision would have to be vested in the said people of Grenada.
We have not yet had an opportunity to endorse any plan but while we, the Grenadians, continue to hold consultations on our National Sustainable Development Plan 2035, it appears that the Development Plan by China is being implemented.
We find ourselves being invaded by Chinese individuals working on many projects all over our country. We do not understand why so many of them are here when so many of our people are unemployed. They bring in their vehicles, equipment, materials and their workers.
It is alleged that the Chinese was also given five of our heritage buildings for development as BOLT projects. These are the Governor General’s Residence, the York House, the Public Library, the Museum and the Melville Street Barracks. Will our government please confirm or deny this allegation?
BOLT is an acronym for Build, Own, Lease & Transfer. Any government, even entertaining such an idea with any foreign entity, is grossly irresponsible, foolish, unpatriotic and not worth its salt.
Our government needs to come clean with our people and tell us what is going on. Tell us what agreements have been signed with China. Tell us how much money we owe China and how these loans are to be repaid. Are we on our way to be recolonized & by China? Should we expect to wake up one morning and find that the flag of Grenada has been replaced by the flag of China?
My Grenadian People, do you really believe that our government is working in our best interest? It is quite clear that they do not care about what happens to Grenada and its people. We may all have been already signed away to China by these individuals whom we have entrusted to manage our affairs.
Recently, I heard a very vocal supporter of the government say on a radio program that he would be happy if our country was taken over by China as we would see more development than we presently do. Could anyone imagine a Grenadian making such a statement? Had he said the same thing 45 years ago, he would have gotten ‘bottle & stone in his tail’. Where is the Grenadian pride?
It is obvious that he is disillusioned by the lack of progress after being independent for the past 45 years yet we have a government with a ‘Don’t stop the Progress’ slogan.
Yes, we got independence from Britain so why should we wish to be dependent again, especially on China, a communist nation? Does that gentleman not know that there is no freedom of speech in China?
Any such opinion expressed by a citizen of China against his country may gain him the death penalty by firing squad!
Grenadians, we cannot say that we are independent yet depend on others for our survival. It is obvious that we are not doing enough. Imagine, 45 years old and we are still begging and being stifled by debt when we should be planting, growing and feeding ourselves.
Do you remember that a female minister told us a few years ago that we “must not bite the hand that feeds us”? She may have had a point as they do indicate to the outside world that ‘our mouths are on the ground’.
We still need support when we should be strong enough to stand proudly. We should not be depending on tourists to come and foreign investors to buy us out or run us from our beaches.
We have been blessed with so much, so much of what others wish they had. We must be appreciative, thankful and closely guard what we still have or it would be snatched away from us while we helplessly look on. We must open our eyes widely and see what is happening around us.
Do not be fooled by politicians who use their power to take care of themselves while keeping the masses dependent on them. As long as monies are dangled in front of them, it appears that they just sign on the dotted line without giving any consideration as to if and how to repay.
Look, listen, search and read to gain knowledge. ‘When our neighbor’s house is on fire, we must wet our own.’All over the world, China is taking the properties of other nations. In 2018 alone, China acquired over 20 deep water and air ports from several countries around the world. How did this happen?
China lends massive amounts of monies to countries which could never repay. Some people are calling it ‘debt-trap diplomacy’ or ‘debt colonialism’. Why should Grenada be any different?
It offers enticing loans to countries – especially developing countries – and when they default – not if, but when – they are pressured into surrendering control of assets. Many of these projects are linked to the “Belt and Road” initiative, being pushed by China, through massive infrastructural projects such as roads, airports, deep water ports and bridges. Why should Grenada be different?
So far, over 70 countries appear to benefit from multi-million dollar soft loans from China but when some of the projects fail, those countries become even more dependent on China which now owns ports in Africa, Latin America, Asia and the Middle East. Why should Grenada be different?
Grenadians, we should be doing better than we are at present but getting deeper in debt with China is like committing suicide. We have to produce to prosper, plant to eat, refuse the feeding from China and fight to save our country. It belongs to us – the Grenadian people.
On this, our 45th anniversary of independence, let us ponder on the words of our National Anthem:
“Hail, Grenada, Land of Ours, we pledge ourselves to thee,
Head, heart & hands in unity to reach our destiny
Ever conscious of God, being proud of our heritage
May we with faith and courage aspire, build, advance,
As one people, one family, God bless our nation.
HAPPY INDEPENDENCE, MY FELLOW CITIZENS!
I thank you.