Hundreds of workers in Grenada have joined the fight to stop the sale of Camerhogne Park to a foreign investor.
Workers demonstrated their commitment to the cause by participating in a march against the sale of Camerhogne Park that was held simultaneously on Labour Day parade, which commenced at the Mc Donald College in Mali, St. Patrick on to the Fond Playing field at Mt. Rodney.
Speaking to reporters following the event, Senator Raymond Roberts, Chairman of the Save the Camerhogne Park Committee expressed satisfaction with the response of the workers to the effort.
“The turnout is excellent,” he said, noting that “this is Sunday (a day that most people take the time out to go to church)…we had workers in both their union shirts and Save Camerhogne Park T-shirts…It was just to send a message to the government that the workers of Grenada are not in favour of the sale of Camerhogne Park”.
According to Sen. Roberts, the workers “feel strongly that the park belongs to the ordinary people of Grenada…they will pursue legitimate debate with the government that the park ought not to be sold”.
“It was a worker’s issue, workers use the park for many things…the workers wanted to show some sense of commitment to the park…We support the investor (but) he must go elsewhere not in Camerhogne Park,” he said.
President of the Grenada Trades Union Council (GTUC) Kenny James also incorporated his concern on the Camerhogne Park issue in his May Day address to workers.
James said: “The issue of Camerhogne Park, the people’s park is also of concern to us as a Trade Union Council. While on one hand we agree that additional hotel rooms can mean additional jobs, we agree that there is a growing need for private investors and investment.
“We agree that private investment can be one of the vehicles to reducing the high levels of unemployment among our youth; we agree that the Grand Anse court facilities can do with an upgrade, on the other hand, we disagree with the approach taken by the administration to even consider relocating the park.
“We disagree that the new park will be or can be better than the present park, we disagree that Grenadians don’t use the Park, we disagree with the people’s representative being the one making presentations on behalf of the investor and above all we totally disagree with disposal of the people’s patrimony under the guise of economic development.
“Comrades, Camerhogne Park is our Park and if the people say no, then the people’s representatives must also say no. Brothers and sisters beyond doubt we are a small island developing state with a small economy and great exposure to external shocks and vulnerabilities. Nevertheless, we cannot allow this situation to totally dictate the way in which we treat our people.
Also participating in the march to save Camerhogne Park was former Prime Minister Tillman Thomas, who said the turnout of workers for the march was a “good reflection of how people are committed to Camerhogne Park.”
In an interview with THE NEW TODAY newspaper following the march, Thomas said the “majority of conscious Grenadians are prepared to defend Camerhogne Park.
“…Generally, you go around and talk to people and they are opposed to the sale of Camerhogne Park”, he said.
Thomas, who claimed to have always been a defender of the patrimony and heritage of the Grenadian people, expressed the view that “as citizens of Grenada we should be treated as such.”
“We should not be treated as second class citizens and Camerhogne Park, Grand Anse Beach as a matter of fact, belongs to the People of Grenada and the people should have equal access to the Grand Anse beach.”
He expressed the view that “those who are proposing the sale of Camerhogne Park are not fit to be Grenadian….”.
“…We must be treated with respect. I think it is a total disrespect to the people of Grenada and that proposal, someone referred to it as an indecent proposal…I think it is an insult to the Grenadian people.”
According to Ex-PM Thomas, those who remain silent on the issue should be seen as “unpatriotic”, and that those who commit themselves to Grenada “must defend Camerhogne Park because it is for us to enjoy and for others to share it with us. Not to push us in a corner and let others come and enjoy it. ” The former Prime Minister also expressed the view that “we also have to fight to regain the 21 acres of land that was given to the Lewis Hamilton outfit since it must be seen as part of patrimony of the Grenadian people.
“So it’s a struggle and we have to continue that struggle, those of us who are patriotic and committed to Grenada will always continue to ensure that our heritage and our patrimony is reserved”, he said.
“The Government, they are trustees they can’t just act on their own. It Camerhogne Park (et cetera) doesn’t belong to the government. The government is a trustee for the people of Grenada and are supposed to act on behalf of the people and not on behalf of co-called investors,” he added.
He charged that most of investors who come to the island to do business under the ruling New National Party (NNP) administration “generally come looking for benefits for themselves and not for the people of Grenada”.
“We have seen it, the history is there. We have Leveara (and) several other areas where they (investors) came in to do development and it ended up as a burden on the backs of the Grenadian People so we have to stand up now and defend our patrimony,” he told THE NEW TODAY.
“We do not want foreigners to come here and control what belongs to us. They could share it with us but it is we the people who must have equal access and benefits. The Grand Anse beach does not belong to tourists and foreigners, it belongs to the People of Grenada”, he said.
The Save the Camerhogne Park Committee is in the process of planning a series of activities to take place at the park each month.
Committee Chairman, Sen. Roberts said every month there will be activities at the park dubbed “Rumble in the Camerhogne Park.”
“…We are going to do something public every month. In May we are going to have “Hands around the park”, a road race in June. In July, we are going to have another event for when the Grenadians come (home) for Carnival.
“We are going to get a young group of lawyers; we are hoping to tap some from outside to take this battle beyond the streets. We need to take it to the courts. There is a legitimate process and we are going to go that way.
“We are not going to be influenced by the Prime Minister (who has said) that every 50 people he meet (there) is one against it …we are going to get about five (5) or (6) people to take a recording from people in the constituency of St. George who support the cause to keep Camerhogne Park.
Sen. Roberts also noted that the Member of Parliament for the South St. George Constituency, Implementation Minister, Alexandra Otway-Noel has been rather silent on the issue of the park.
“We haven’t heard from the Parliamentary representative in the South, like she gone to sleep – the people want to know if she is alive…”, said the Labour Senator in the Upper House.