Foreign Affairs Minister Dr. Clarice Modeste-Curwen has embraced the Chinese-looking pagodas which are also referred to as gazebos at Grand Etang, St. Andrew’s.
The newlook face of the pagodas raised the eyebrows of a number of local heritage organisations, as well as tour operator, Simon “Mandoo” Seales.
According to Seales, the “Pure Grenada” tourism brand is being adversely affected by the Chinese-style pagodas at Grand Etang which he said is an international cultural park.
He registered his disappointment on the issue in a letter sent to the Ministry of Tourism and the Grenada Tourism Authority (GTA).
He feels it is an insult to Grenadian culture and its people and that the Chinese Government will never allow Grenada to erect a billboard with a jab jab on it on the Great Walls of China or at Tienanmen Square.
During a recent “Sundays With George Grant” radio programme, an official of The Grenada National Trust, Newton Alexander claimed that the pagodas are in the wrong place and said there was no consultation with the Statutory Organisations that protect the country’s cultural heritage on their construction.
In addition, Peter Wallace of the National Cultural and Heritage Advisory Committee who was also on the same radio programme said that apart from the lack of consultation, the Physical Planning Unit (PPU) within the Ministry of Public Utilities knew nothing about the construction of the pagodas.
However, speaking in Parliament last week Friday during her contribution on the 2016 budget debate, the Foreign Affairs Minister said she has no apology to offer the nation for the way in which the pagodas were constructed.
“Mr. Speaker, when the Ministry of Tourism asked the Chinese for… a gazebo and they give them… three gazebos and it look Chinese, what is wrong with that Mr. Speaker? I have no apology to make to defend it. You cannot play mas and ‘fraid’ powder.
“If you want the Chinese to help you, then when they bring a gazebo nothing is wrong if it looks like Chinese. I want it to look like them because if it is them that give you they must not hide it and make it look African or American, or otherwise, it has to look Chinese,” she said.
“We must know who (is) feeding us too, and we must appreciate who is feeding us, and I want to extend thanks and commendation to the Chinese for what they are doing for our country.
Minister Modeste-Curwen also praised the bilateral support Grenada is receiving from Cuba, especially in the area of scholarships in health.
She said last year Havana offered five scholarships to St. George’s, and this year 15 were offered.
She spoke of five of the scholarships being in the field of medicine, three for undergraduate study, and seven in different areas of specialisation in internal medicine, paediatrics, gynecology and obstetric.
However, the senior government minster registered her disappointment with scholarship beneficiaries who do not return home to serve their country.
She felt that since the scholarships are for the benefit of the people of Grenada the recipients should give back some years of service to citizens.
“You can’t turn your back on the people, something is very, very wrong (with) those who do that,” she said.
Minister Modeste-Curwen who previously served as Minister of Health is eager to see nurses who are trained in Cuba get to practice their profession.
She told the House of Representatives that while the local School of Nursing was not functioning, Cuba trained a number of people who wanted to enter the nursing profession.
However, upon completion of their training the nurses are not being employed since they do not have a license to operate.
The minister believes government should look at legislation that would give the nurses temporary license to work.
She also updated parliament on the work of the overseas missions.
She singled out the work being done by Ambassador Claris Charles in Cuba who was using a section of the embassy to provide housing accommodation for Grenadians seeking medical attention in Cuba.
The female Government Minister disclosed that this year Cuba accepted nine persons seeking medical attention in the Spanish-speaking country.
Minister Modeste announced that Grenada will soon establish diplomatic ties with the Holy See on the invitation of the Constantinian Order.
During a visit to Grenada earlier this year of a high level team of the Sacred Military Constantinian Order led by His Eminence Renato Raffaelel Cardinal Martino, one million Pound Sterling in projects was pledged.
She also said ongoing discussions is continuing with Italy to assist Grenada with heritage restoration.
The House was also informed by the Foreign Affairs Minister that by Christmas the Consulate in New York will be once again operational.
She said approval has come from the State Department to accredit the new Consul General, and to establish the Consular Office.
During a Town Hall Meeting in New York this year, Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell announced that Rosemarie Welsh who currently serves as Counselor in the Grenada Embassy in Washington DC will be taking up the position as Consul General in New York.
The Foreign Affairs Minister reiterated government’s policy to maximise the country’s presence in the international community while at the same time minimising the cost.