“As leaders, we should know our limitations and control our aspirations by ensuring that they do not exceed our limitations”.
Those were the words thrown at Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell of Grenada by his Antiguan counterpart, Gaston Browne following a public spat that marred the just-ended summit of Caribbean Community (CARICOM) leaders in the Spice Isle.
An angry Brown flew back home after the Grenadian leader addressed the opening of the summit last Tuesday night in which he said that political influence was brought to bear on a LIAT decision to pull out a morning service from the island into the Grantley Adams International Airport in Barbados.
His comment was seen as a direct attack on the four Prime Ministers whose governments are paying to keep Liat afloat.
As Dr. Mitchell spoke on a number of controversial regional issues, the hall that was filled with several supporters of the ruling New National Party (NNP) government often broke into huge cheers and clapping.
Within minutes of leaving the conference abruptly, Browne hit back from Antigua and accused Dr. Mitchell of having what he called “an evocative romanticism” to dismantle the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) called Cricket West Indies (CWI).
“…There is a particular head who is of the view and I might add here the flawed opinion that with my support and other heads that he could achieve his compulsive, obsessive desire to dissolve the board”, said the Antiguan leader in his tirade on PM Mitchell.
As a public service, THE NEW TODAY reproduces the remarks made in the Antiguan capital, St. John by Prime Minister Gaston Browne:
“The committee among CARICOM leaders was publicly violated at the ceremony in Grenada; this has provided me the opportunity to speak frankly on a few issues.
Let me start with the governance of West Indies Cricket…the governance of West Indies Cricket seems to be an evocative romanticism of a particular Caribbean head.
Antigua and Barbuda as a matter of principle does not interfere in the internal affairs of institutions and governments that are governed by democratically elected officials. This is a universal principle on which my government stands.
The core members of the West Indies Cricket Board to the best of my knowledge were democratically elected by the territorial boards. The board operates independent of governments.
Now there is a particular head who is of the view and I might add here the flawed opinion that with my support and other heads that he could achieve his compulsive, obsessive desire to dissolve the board.
The latter he fallaciously argued would automatically resolve the multiplicity of problems facing West Indies Cricket almost overnight.
By the way in the event he had gotten my support for this fantasy, the question would have been, how would he have achieved this forced disillusion – talk is cheap.
As leaders, we should know our limitations and control our aspirations by ensuring that they do not exceed our limitations and I just want to say here too that we should also respect the rights of individual heads…very, very important.
There are a couple other issues that I would like to touch on and the next one that I would like to address is the whole issue of Venezuela and the crisis in Venezuela.
Antigua and Barbuda stands firmly with the CARICOM declaration from which I understand some heads may be seeking to (change).
The CARICOM declaration is in-offensive and it was intended to be in-offensive…it calls for a peaceful resolution of the political problems in Venezuela including the escalating violence. It specifically calls for a resolution through diplomacy and dialogue.
Most importantly the declaration firmly supports the universal principles of non-interference and respect for the sovereignty and independence of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and as far as we are concerned, adding offensive language to the declaration could offend the sensibilities of the parties concerned or may even embolden the parties to become even more uncooperative and violent.
Now in the event there are clandestine motives for regime (change) in Venezuela, CARICOM should not be utilised as a stalking horse for regime change or for external intervention be it wittingly or unwittingly into the internal affairs of Venezuela.
An ungovernable Venezuela represents a greater security risk for the hemisphere and certainly to the Caribbean region than the present untenable situation which is of serious concern.
So I just want to recommend that we deal with this issue in a very sensible manner and that we do not allow others to bully us into passing any offensive declaration that will undermine the attempt to achieve a resolution to the violence in Venezuela through diplomacy and dialogue.
As far as the policy on LIAT is concerned the policy should be based on shared burden and shared benefits.
LIAT needs more planes, it needs more pilots, the staff needs an increase, the airline is struggling to pay its debts. In fact it takes cash to operate an airline, not cheap talk, not political grand standing and those who do not contribute to LIAT’s operations and viability have no moral authority to demand increase airlift from LIAT.
The rationale is simple, you contribute and then you can make your demands, there are no free lunches.
The irony is that one Prime Minister is trying to engage me in the affairs of the West Indies Cricket Board but on the other hand he has refused to cooperate in ensuring the viability of LIAT or to contribute to the viability of LIAT”.