Reports circulating throughout the region and the wider international community that the Obama administration in Washington had revoked the U.S diplomatic visa of former St. Kitts and Nevis Prime Minister, Dr. Denzil Douglas would ring alarm bells in the corridors of power in Grenada.
Despite denials from Douglas who was unseated last month after 20 years at the helm, there are credible reports that the U.S government had taken action against the now Opposition Leader in St. Kitts over his island’s controversial sale of passports to foreign nationals.
Some very nice diplomatic language was used: US officials confirmed that “the revocation was part of a gradual process, although not done deliberately to coincide with the election campaign”.
New Prime Minister Dr Timothy Harris has all but confirmed the reports when he said that it was “indeed a sad occasion” as he referred to the revocation of Douglas’ US diplomatic visa.
In his own words, Dr. Harris said: “The United States, the most powerful country in the world, determined that Denzil Douglas was improper and unfit to be accorded a US diplomatic visa and it is a shame and scandal for any national leader to have had such a condemnation put on him”.
The powers-that-be in Grenada should take careful note and better be on guard that Washington is not making any joke with the promoters in these “banana republics” of passport selling programmes regarded as detrimental to the national security concerns of the United States.
The cash-strapped Keith Mitchell-led government in St. George’s is definitely looking to the sale of passports, now rebranded as Citizenship by Investment (CBI) to bring in millions of dollars in quick time to try and take the country out of its current financial predicament.
It is widely felt that Dr. Mitchell is most dangerous as a politician when he has money in the kitty to spend but becomes very vulnerable when he is short of cash. This gives life to the belief in the NNP quarters that money is the oxygen for their brand of politics in the Spice Isle.
Already, there are reports coming out of certain circles within government that the dollars are not coming in large numbers as was previously anticipated but more like the drips given to a sick patient at the hospital.
It appears that the Mitchell government was targeting the Chinese market given the fact that the Asian giant is now turning out the most number of millionaires in the developed economies in recent years.
This newspaper understands Washington is engaged in high level diplomatic talks with the Chinese government for co-operation on the fight against international terrorism which incorporates passport selling.
Washington has clearly found an ally in Beijing in the current Chinese President, Xi Jinpin who has embarked upon an anti-corruption drive even if it involves top party and government officials.
The Chinese will be loathe to co-operate on information exchange with the United States who will be eager to get the names of suspicious persons in possession of more than one passport to facilitate their movements around the world.
Within weeks of the return of PM Mitchell to the Botanical Gardens as head of the government, there were some people linked to the administration who were engaged in talks with a Chinese outfit that was trying to lay their hands on 1000 Grenadian passports for sale in the Far-east.
It appears on the face of it that there was a pre-election deal worked out in which the Chinese were willing to pay US$200, 000.00 for each passport but the game seemingly changed after February 19, 2013 as more dollars were being demanded by the middle men.
Our information is that the counterparts in Grenada had doubled the price and were demanding US$400, 000.00 for a passport out of fear that the original price of US$200, 000.00 would be seen as an attempt by Grenada to undercut St. Kitts and its passport selling scheme.
If passports from Grenada end up in the wrong hands, the country will have a big price to pay for it.
Our situation is further compounded by Grenada’s recent flirtation with Venezuela in the so-called ALBA alliance which seeks to push an anti-imperialist propaganda line.
There is a saying that when you are aligned be prepared for the backlash. Our leaders must not sacrifice the nation at the expense of getting a few dollars in their anxiety to “deliver” on their promises to the electorate.
The U.S still has the ability to make us catch the cold whenever “Uncle Sam” choose to sneeze.
The issuing of one single Travel Advisory ban on the Spice Isle would have negative implications for the tourism sector which is now the mainstay of this economy.
PM Mitchell is known to be concerned about his so-called legacy and would not want to suffer a similar fate as Denzil Douglas in St. Kitts.
With the next general election race due to start after December 2015, the ruling New National Party (NNP), already under pressure to “deliver” jobs and investors in keeping with its many campaign promises would be hard-pressed to recover from a massive blow to Grenada’s economic prospects.
PM Mitchell and company should be wise enough to understand that they would have to look beyond the CBI in the current dispensation.