GRENLEC distributes $83,000

GRENLEC’s Community Partnership initiative continues to touch lives as the company has distributed $83,000 to Care Institutions and Programme for Adolescent Mothers (PAM).

Representatives of Care Institutions and PAM hold cheque for the whopping sum of $83,000

Representatives of Care Institutions and PAM hold cheque for the whopping sum of $83,000

The island’s sole electricity company handed over cheques to the recipients during a brief ceremony held last week Thursday at its Dusty Highway office.

Senior Manager at GRENLEC, Jeffrey Neptune said the company recognises the sacrifices that the various institutions have made and is proud to have contributed over the years towards the development of the social fabric of Grenada.

“As one of the leading corporate citizens, GRENLEC is truly committed to giving back to the citizens of Grenada. GRENLEC has given tremendous support over the years and continues to support social development”, he said.

“Our commitment to the citizens of Grenada goes far beyond that of
social development but stems into the field of educational development and we hope that the contributions that you receive today from GRENLEC will go a long way in terms of augmenting the social and educational programme of your various institutions,” he added.

Lisa Charles expressed her thanks to the Electric Company on behalf of the Care Institutions and PAM.

“We are grateful for their support and commitment to helping us to give quality care to the persons that we take care of. We believe that given this opportunity, (we) will help them in the future, giving them a chance at life and the elderly – they would’ve made their contributions already – so we giving back to them and we want to thank GRENLEC for helping us to do that,’ she said.

The $83,000 is split between 11 Care Institutions – Hillarion Home ($5000), Hill View Home ($5000), Cadrona Home ($5000), Charles Memorial Home ($5000), Missionaries of Charity ($5000), Queen Elizabeth Home ($5000), Dorothy Hopkin Home ($5000), Top Hill Home in Carriacou ($5000), Bel Air Home ($18,000), St Martin’s Home ($5000), Grand Anse Home for the Aged ($15,000) and Programme for Adolescent Mothers ($5000).

Agriculture Minister supports Free Trade Zone

Agriculture Minister Roland Bhola is hoping that a free trade zone in Grenada would be beneficial to the farming community.

Minister Bhola who supported the Free Trade Processing Zone Bill 2015 that was passed in the Lower House of Parliament last week Tuesday believes that once a free trade zone comes to fruition, it will provide an avenue for Grenada to utilise a lot of the spoilage.

He expressed the hope that the Spice Island will be able to attract “the right people” with the requisite skills and funding so that the agriculture produce that goes to waste can be manufactured into secondary products.

The Agriculture Minister informed the House that during a conference which he attended in the Netherlands, participants were told that based on an assessment done by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), thirty percent of agriculture produce is either lost or waste before it gets to the consumer.

“If we have this zone, my hope… is that it will create an additional avenue so that farmers now can say there is another market being created outside of what we use as fresh fruits and vegetables, we can now have a market, a place where people are investing for processing,” he said.

During last week Wednesday’s “People’s Parliament” of the main opposition National Democratic Congress that took place at River Road, St. George’s, Caretaker for the Town of St. Gorge, Senator Franka Bernadine alleged that a huge amount of the farmers produce that is purchased by the Grenada Marketing and National Importing Board go to waste on a weekly basis.

Uncertainty surrounds cost of Chinese Houses

There are reports that people who have already occupied units at the housing complex at Mt. Gay, St. George’s that was built by the Government of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) remain uncertain about the cost of the houses.

Political Leader of the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) Senator Nazim Burke who addressed the plight of the residents at the Mt. Gay Housing Complex on a Radio Talk Show Programme said instead of giving out the houses to the people, the Government of Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell has decided to sell them.

Sen. Burke who served as Minister of Finance in the Tillman Thomas-led Congress Government between 2008 and 2013 told the host of the programme that the houses were meant for families who are considered to be vulnerable, and for those who were affected by Hurricane Ivan in 2004.

“This grant came out of the hurricane. It was in 2005 after the (Keith Mitchell) Government had established diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China that this grant was made in the aftermath of Hurricane Ivan. So the idea was to assist disadvantaged families and vulnerable people coming out of the hurricane,” he said.

The NDC Political Leader stated that ten years after Hurricane Ivan there are still people throughout Grenada living under the most dilapidated conditions.

He said one of the residents who spoke to him about their plight said the tenants are not being given a true picture of the cost of the units, but they are only hearing that the cost could range in the vicinity of approximately $30,000 from officials at the Grenada Housing Authority (GHA).

Sen. Burke said residents who occupy one-bedroom units have to pay monthly installments of close to $300.00, and for those who are in the two-bedroom units the payment is $375.00.

According to him, the documents that have been given to the residents do not contain the final price of the units.

Sen Burke said amenities such as cupboards that are needed for the houses are not installed, and the residents now have to bear additional costs to have them constructed.

He said the GHA letter to the residents which was shown to him states, in part, that, “should the government have reasonable cause to withdraw this allotment from you, it is clearly understood and agreed that you will not be entitled to the refund of any part of the money that you paid to the Housing Authority in keeping with this agreement.”

The NDC Boss said this does not give the residents any assurance of ownership of the units.

He said government owes the people a much more transparent arrangement which would allow them to know what they are getting into so that they will be in a better position to make a decision of what can work for them.

Keys to the houses at Mt. Gay were first presented to the former Government of Prime Minister Tillman Thomas in 2012.

Three hundred and sixty-one houses were constructed by the PRC.

A total of 153 houses were built in Soubise, St. Andrew’s, at Mt. Gay (180), and 20 houses at Frequente, St. George’s.

The official agreement was signed in 2009 between China and Grenada for the houses and construction began one year later.

Boyzie tops Soca Monarch Prelims

The 2013 Soca Monarch Champion Jalon “Boyzie” Olive has topped the preliminary round of the SMC/LIME Soca Monarch Competition which was spread over a four-day period last week.

Boyzie scored 209 points with his song “Battalions,” just two more than Little Natty and Thunder who scored 207 points to end up in the second place position.

In an exclusive interview with THE NEW TODAY newspaper, Boyzie said this was the first time he publicly sang the song as it is still in the demo stage in preparation for its release.

The former soca monarch winner stated that he was stunned by the way patrons accepted the song when he performed it last week Saturday during the third round of the competition at the Sauteurs Bus Terminus in St. Patrick’s.

According to Boyzie, “Battalions” would be the song he will use in the other rounds of the competition and hopefully for finals on August 7 once selected by the judges.

He spoke of being anxious to retain the coveted crown that he lost last year to the Sauteurs duo of Luni Sparks and Electrify.

Boyzie believes that his chances of capturing the soca monarch title next month is great as “Battalions” was composed for the big night of the competition at the Grenada National Stadium.

He described the song as one that tells the people he does not want to participate in the competition but due to the fact that his colleagues have pushed him, he is back with a vengeance.

“It is war on the night (of the competition). No easing up, full force. No friend, but you see after the night I will shake hands with you, I will just speak with everybody as normal, but you see on soca monarch night I have no friend, the King is back for his crown,” was the message Boyzie wants to send out to his fellow competitors.

The semi-final of the competition is fixed for July 24 and the list of selected artistes includes a host of  veterans who previously held the title, along with some young and upcoming artistes.

The top ten finishers who will perform in the semi-finals to be held at the Grenville Bus Terminus in St. Andrew’s are:

First position – Jalon “Boyzie” Olive (209 points)

Second position – Little Natty and Thunder (207 points)

Third position – Kennedy Mapp (199 points)

Fourth position-  Terra Kid (198 points)

Fifth position – Elimus “Inspector” Gilbert, and Black Blingers (197 points)

Seventh position – Muddy (196 points)

Eighth position – Super Star (195 points)

Ninth position – Shortpree, and Baby L (194 points)

The others who booked a place in the semis are Squeeze Head, Sylum and Snake Oil, Otis and Pappy Boi, Lil Vaughn, Cloud, Boogie B, Crane, Dash, Young Sound, Shem and Sheldon, Loose Cannon, Super Flying Flint, Magas, Shally Bally, Wassy K, Mystyk, Mr. Walkie, Original Mix, Young Stunna , Zingo, Black Wizard, and Mozo.

The judges will narrow down the field to fifteen persons for the finals to be held at the national stadium.

Meanwhile, calypsonians are in the final stage of preparation for the preliminary round of the Groovy Monarch Competition which takes place this weekend.

Desmond Fletcher Gets 18 Years in Prison

After almost three years of waiting, a St. Mark’s family believes that justice has finally been done in a case involving 52-year-old Allison Edwards of Queen Street, Victoria who was murdered back in April 2013.

Desmond Fletcher (left) and Keiron Hillaire (right) being escorted from court Tuesday

Desmond Fletcher (left) and Keiron Hillaire (right) being escorted from court Tuesday

The suspect 28-year old Desmond Fletcher of Fairfield, Victoria was on Tuesday sent to the Richmond Hill prison to serve a sentence of 18 years for the crime.

Fletcher who pleaded guilty to Non–Capital Murder on January 26th, 2015 appeared before Madam Justice Price-Findlay at the St George’s High Court Number One for his sentence hearing.

The body of the deceased, who this newspaper understands was in a relationship with the now convicted man, was found in a shallow grave in the village of Bocage, St. Mark.

The Police have said that the deceased was murdered sometime between Tuesday, April 16 and Sunday, April 21, 2013.

An autopsy revealed that the causes of death were asphyxia due to strangulation, and multiple fractured ribs with haemopneumothorax.

This newspaper understands Fletcher has a history of mental and psychological issues and had been admitted to the Mt. Gay Mental Hospital on at least three occasions.

During the sentence hearing, Counsel for the accused, Attorney-at-Law, Ashley Bernardine told the court that Fletcher has become a model prisoner since the date of his remand on April 25, 2013.

The attorney later told THE NEW TODAY newspaper that his client, who has one previous conviction resulting from an altercation with the now deceased, comes from a big family and has been mentally challenged due to the drinking of alcohol and smoking of marijuana since the age of 13.

He pointed to Fletcher’s achievements, including his stint as captain of both the cricket and football teams at the prison, and his academic excellence as the accused is now preparing to sit the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) in January 2016.

In April 2014, Fletcher sat the National School Leaving exams, placing 2nd on the island.

Speaking with reporters following the handing down of Tuesday’s sentence, a sister of the deceased expressed satisfaction to some extent with the outcome of the case.

She recalled that “considering the gravity of the crime and the coldness of it…he killed her and like that wasn’t enough because he became his own La Qua…after he killed her, he dug a hole and buried her and for four days the family went searching for her and he walked the streets of Victoria with no remorse but now he going inside the court house and saying he doing exam…he should have studied that before he killed her.”

The High Court has credited Fletcher for the time spent on remand.

In addition to the 18-year jail term, the convicted man was ordered to continue Counselling for Anger Management and Substance Abuse with quarterly reports to be submitted to the Court.

Madam Price-Findlay warned Fletcher that in default he would have to serve 2 years imprisonment to run consecutively with the primary sentence and to continue with his education at Her Majesty’s Prisons.

Meanwhile, twenty-six year old Keiron Hillaire of Tivoli, St. Andrew, who was charged by police with Maiming following an incident dating back to January 3, 2014, is now a free man.

Hillaire, who was remanded at the prison for 18 months was granted a sentence of time served but with set conditions when he appeared before Madam Justice Price-Findlay for sentencing Tuesday.

The accused was ordered to pay compensation in the sum of $22, 000 to the complainant Nyron Isaac, who received a 7 centimeter chop to his right forearm, which resulted in him being unable to use his hand to make a complete fist.

The court ordered that payment be done in $500 monthly installments and in default serve two years in prison.

Justice Price-Findlay advised the accused to find employment within three months time or by October 2015 since the payments will have to begin at the end of November.

Hillaire was also ordered to serve 200 hours of community service and in default serve two years in prison.

He was also placed on a $15, 000 bond to keep the peace for two years with two sureties.

Unfortunately, the prisoner was unable to walk free following Tuesday’s hearing, as no one was present to sign the bond for him and he was transported back to Her Majesty’s Prison.

GTM now operates on Wall Street

GTM group of insurance companies has established a new branch office at Wall Street in Grand Anse, St George to help better serve customers.

Staffers attached to the GTM Wall Street Office

Staffers attached to the GTM Wall Street Office

GTM officials held a brief opening ceremony last Thursday at the new office located upstairs Gittens Drug Mart.

Company officials told members of the local media that the opening of the new branch office is intended to strengthen and build on their traditions.

According to GTM’s Branch Manager, Judy McCutcheon, the focus of the new outlet will be to provide a friendly customer-type focus to those who visit the office to conduct business.

“Recognising the challenges faced with traffic congestion and parking, we opened these doors to provide an easier option for our clients. Doing business with you our clients in what we consider to be the emerging commercial capital of Grenada will be our pleasure as we envision it to be easier and more comfortable,” McCutcheon said.

The female GTM boss disclosed that the new office will offer the same service as the head office on Church Street, St. George’s – Life, Health, Property, Liability, Travel Liability and Motor.

“Our aim is to give our client a great sales experience in all areas of our business and to be that one stop to doing insurance business.

We will be offering a full range of services at this location and our office is staffed with friendly and competent customer care representatives who are able to efficiently take care of all your insurance needs,” she told reporters.

Agency Manager at GTM, Delon Felix, said one of the challenges faced at the Church street office was parking and it is believed that the new office will help ease the situation.

“We recognise over the years from our St George’s office there has been quite major problems for parking in the area on Church Street. In fact, we have no parking on Church Street. We looked at a number of ways that we can curb such problems and we recognise that it makes a lot of sense to find a new location where we can at least facilitate parking to create the ease and convenience for our customers,” Felix said.

He noted that persons are much more comfortable doing business in the south.

“Now that we are in the South, we expect them to be able to walk into our office, so we expect to capture a lot more businesses from the commercial sector and from persons in the south of the island compared to persons who were not even going to consider us before,” he remarked.

GTM Group of Insurance companies has been in operation in Grenada since 1959.

Pure Grenada storms UK market

A Grenada tourism delegation was in the British capital, London last week to help promote the Spice Isle as a major attraction site.

GTA Team in LondonThe delegation was headed by Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Grenada Tourism Authority (GTA), Rudy Grant and included representatives from some of the major hotels operating on the island.

The list included Calabash Hotel, Flambouyant Hotel & Villas, Le Phare Bleu Boutique Hotel & Marina, Mount Cinnamon Resort & Beach Club, Sandals LaSource Grenada, Spice Island Beach Resort, Blue Horizons Garden Resort; and True Blue Bay Resort.

According to a GTA release this “unprecedented Pure Grenada collaborative education campaign in the UK” was able to engage “major airlines and tour operators, whilst training over 180 travel industry professionals and networking with top media”.

The release said that meetings “were arranged with senior management from British Airways and Virgin Atlantic to further cement the strong relationships between GTA and the carriers that each serve Grenada twice weekly from London Gatwick”.

It was disclosed that the Grenada delegation hosted three educational events for travel agents and specifically mentioned that last Monday, Wednesday and Thursday the members “educated travel agents at upscale venues at London Gatwick; in central London; and in central Manchester respectively”.

The release said: “On Tuesday evening, Mr Grant and the hotel representatives hosted over 20 top UK media and bloggers including The Sunday Times, Daily Telegraph and LBC radio, providing a taste of Pure Grenada with spices, chocolate and rum.

“Throughout the week the GTA met with decision makers from leading tour operators including BA Holidays, Best At Travel and Prestige World, all of whom will continue to offer Grenada to UK travellers”, it added.

Grant was quoted in the GTA release as saying that the UK Roadshow gave the delegation an opportunity to meet with “key influencers in the UK travel industry and media to tell them why Grenada must be their destination of choice for 2016”.

“It’s critical that we remain top of mind with the travel trade and media as we approach key holiday booking periods. With our new Grenada Music Festival in April and the Grenada Chocolate Fest in May – in addition to our Regattas and other activities – we are creating a strong calendar of events to entice new and repeat visitors throughout the year”, he said.

The GTA boss went on to say: “I am heartened and excited by the interests shown by the travel trade and media we have met with.

Throughout this week, many persons I have spoken to reflected on the authentic and unspoiled environment along with the experiences that Grenada offers.

“Our direct engagement with those persons who every day sell destinations and our ability with these activities to have their undivided attention while exposing them to the uniqueness of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique will help to enhance our tourism sector.”

Tourism has emerged in recent years as the lead sector in Grenada in terms of job creation and foreign exchange earnings.

Free Trade and Processing Bill

The Keith Mitchell-led government in St. George’s is making moves to go-ahead with plans that were formulated under the former congress administration to facilitate a Brazilian company that expressed interest in setting up a free zone on the island.

The government took legislation to Parliament last week Tuesday in connection with the Free Trade and Processing Zone Bill (2015).

The Bill seeks to establish a free port area in the country with special customs and fiscal regimes in order to promote the industrialisation of goods and rendering of services to foreign markets.

Brazilian development company, Urbaniza had signed an agreement with the former National Democratic Congress (NDC) government of Tillman Thomas in 2011.

According to Economic Development Minister, Oliver Joseph, who presented the revised Bill to the Lower House for consideration, the “free export processing zones presents the best opportunity for development and wealth creation in any country, with a high potential of job creation.”

He noted that free zones currently exists in many country’s around the world in North, Central and South America, the Caribbean, Europe, Middle East and Africa.

Minister Joseph expressed the view that “if we can get the free zone operating here it would create jobs that would significantly reduce the unemployment figure in the country”.

The Mitchell government has indicated that based on figures from the Statistics Division within the Ministry of Finance, Grenada’s unemployment currently stands at 29%.

Minister Joseph has described the venture from the Brazilian company as one with “good potential”, as well as “a good initiative”.

He said: “In the Caribbean we have 51 free zones – the Dominican Republic alone has 35. Costa Rica has been very successful…reaping tremendous benefits; 256 companies operating the free zone have created more than 18,000 direct jobs and 110, 000 indirect jobs in Costa Rica. So the potential of job creation is huge”.

“Having seen the successes around the world, imagine Mr. Speaker, what this free zone would do for a small island like Grenada with a population of 100, 000…and that is why we embraced the opportunity…”, he added.

Prime Minister Mitchell said the Brazilian initiative will result in major development in St. Andrew and would go a long way in attracting investors to the country.

“It will encourage people to take risk in Grenada at this time,” Dr Mitchell told reporters following Tuesday’s sitting of the Lower House.

Dr. Mitchell told the House that “the Free Trade and Processing Zone Bill (2015) is a clear indication that his government is laying “a solid foundation for the future of our beautiful country”, adding that “this initiative was not started by us (but) we took our time looking at all aspects of this project and concluded that it was in the best interest of the country to proceed because we have all to gain and nothing really to loose.”

The Prime Minister also made a linkage in the Bill with the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF’s) strong endorsement of Grenada’s economic performance over the last year following the second review that was conducted last month.

He concluded that the project by the Brazilian company will be sending the “right message to investors”.

“This is the kind of thing that you are seeing here in this Bill (Free Trade and processing Zone Act (2015) that we are seeing coming forward at this particular time”, he remarked.

In its latest report, the IMF reported major gains by the Mitchell-led government with the implementation of the three-year Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) and that “significant progress has been made,” but it pointed out that the country’s unemployment situation remains “elevated.”

Dr. Mitchell told the House at its last sitting that the Fund sees Grenada as having “one of the better performing economies in the Eastern Caribbean at this particular time,” noting that “in just over two years the country’s economy moved upwards from being one of the worst in the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS).

He added that despite no major project on stream last year, “our growth rate reached 4.8 per cent.”

The Prime Minister described the IMF endorsement as “an extremely positive thing in terms of how people perceive the direction the country is going and the fact that having the IMF endorsement with the support from the World Bank and the European Union (EU) and the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), we will get further support for our Home Grown Programme and economic activity in our country….”

Dr. Mitchell announced that Grenada is expected to receive “EC$8 Million” from the IMF within the next two weeks and millions more from the World Bank, Caribbean Development Bank (CBD) and the European Union in the form of grant support.

He said the monies will be used to further develop economic activities in the country to help small businesses to develop training opportunities and training opportunities in agriculture and tourism.

CSO still to sign Social Compact Document

After six months of the signing of the Social Compact Document by members of the Committee of Social Partners, the grouping of Civil Society Organisations (CSO) has still not affixed its signature to the document.

CSO’s Chairperson, Judy Williams who made the disclosure on a radio programme that is produced by Civil Society, and aired on Chime FM said the environmental concern that was put forward with regards to the Tyrrel Bay Marina project in Carriacou has still not been addressed and is a stumbling block.

CSO is concerned about the impact of the project on the destruction of the mangroves, increasing coastal vulnerability, and erosion of the livelihood of persons who depend on fishing in Carriacou.

A public consultation was held in Carriacou on June 21, 2014 at the request of Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell, and at that consultation an independent consultant representing the interest of the Ministry of Agriculture, Lands, Fisheries and the Environment reminded Grenada of its international obligation as a party to various multilateral environmental agreements, and also advised of fundamental steps to be taken.

Williams said CSO does not intend to sign the Social Compact unless their concerns are addressed.

“People out there, I want you to know that Civil Society still has not signed the Social Compact,” she remarked.

Williams said CSO which participated in the preparation of the Social Compact took it very seriously.

She said the members of the group feel strongly that if the organisation is to participate, the issues that are of concern to them must find their equal place in the document.

She noted that during the initial discussions, government sought to bring to the table casino gambling and the Citizenship By Investment Programme (CBI) as economic pillars to generate income for the country, and these issues were opposed by CSO.

“For us, the Citizenship By Investment Programme… lacks transparency, and it lacks credibility. We cannot put this as… a programme (because it) has so many negatives… and it’s tarnished, it has been tarnished in other countries,” she said.

CSO had also opposed the move that was being made by the cash-strapped New National Party Government to take a haircut from the state-owned National Insurance Scheme (NIS).

The Social Compact document was signed by Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell who is the Chairman of the Social Partners, the Conference of Churches of Grenada (CCG), the Alliance of Evangelical Churches, Private Sector bodies and the Grenada Trades Union Council on January 13.

Williams indicated that CSO’s participation at the level of the Social Partners is to vent the issues and concerns that the people of Grenada face on a daily basis, and it has taken very seriously the opportunity for sharing at the level of the Social Partners.

CSO comprises the group of organisations that make up the Inter-Agency Group of Development Organizations (IAGDO).

Meanwhile, Member of the grouping of Civil Society Organisations (CSO) Sandra Ferguson has voiced her concerns about the environmental impact the so-called Silver Sands project is having on the Grand Anse beach.

Speaking on a local radio porgramme, Ferguson indicated that the multi-million dollar project involving a multi-millionaire from Egypt is destroying the world famous Grand Anse beach.

She indicated that it has been recommended that that area should not be touched as it is being served to filter the water that goes into the sea to protect the reefs.

CSO Chairperson Judy Williams who supported Ferguson’s concern said that what has been brought to the fore with that particular project is unplanned development.

Williams suggested that some time should be spent through the National Development Plan 2030 to have a broader understanding of development.

The Mitchell government is said to be spearheading efforts involving the Social Partners to create the 2030 plan for the development of the Tri-island State.

Mitchell’s ruling New National Party (NNP) had campaigned for the 2013 general elections to defeat Congress on a plan that called for the creation of a new economy for the island, and an influx of foreign investors to provide thousands of jobs to bring down unemployment.

No to gun-boat diplomacy!!!

THE NEW TODAY salutes the Prime Minister of Trinidad & Tobago, Kamla Persad-Bissesar for taking the lead among the leaders of member states of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and voicing her full support for Guyana in its current border dispute with neighbouring Venezuela.

The Trinidad leader did not have to wait on a summit of Heads of government of the community and the putting out of a joint communique to outline the region’s collective position on the Guyana/Venezuela situation.

Persad-Bissessar demonstrated real leadership by putting up her hand and expressing solidarity and support for Guyana against the bullying acts of the rulers in Caracas.

Several of the other leaders remained silent on the issue for weeks and choose to wait on the Barbados summit to put out a joint statement pledging support for Guyana.

This newspaper suspects that several of the Prime Ministers within the community do not want to damage their relationship with Venezuela and are rather cautious in making individual statements to outline their own individual government’s position on the Guyana-Venezuela impasse.

Two leaders in particular – Roosevelt Skerrit of Dominica and Dr. Ralph Gonsalves of St. Vincent & The Grenadines – are strong supporters of the present rulers in the Spanish-speaking nation and are major beneficiaries of assistance from the oil-rich nation.

Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell in Grenada is beginning to get some kind of assistance from the Venezuelans and this might mainly be due to the alliance existing between the so-called proponents of “Project Grenada” and the ruling circles in Caracas.

The records will show that under the 2003-08 New National Party (NNP) government of Dr. Mitchell that the Venezuelans did not deliver on their many aid promises to St. George’s.

There is documentary evidence in which the Grenadian leader complained to the United States that his Vincentian counterpart Dr. Gonsalves did a dirty job on him with the Venezuelans to the point that the promised financial and economic assistance from the late Hugo Chavez did not materialise.

This newspaper is not aware of anything that might have changed significantly and substantially for the Venezuelans to see PM Mitchell in a different light.

The “Project Grenada” component of the new alliance with the NNP especially with former Congress member, Peter David might largely be responsible for the assistance coming into Grenada by Venezuela and not any liking for the Grenadian leader who can be all over the place diplomatically.

Dr. Mitchell will never be seen as a “favoured” and “trusted” regional leader by the powers-that-be in Venezuela after spilling his guts to the Americans on Dr. Gonsalves and other regional leaders who are enjoying much better relations with Caracas.

It is the view of THE NEW TODAY that some of our leaders have been compromised because of their need to benefit from the cheap oil and gas offered by Venezuela on low-interest credit to keep their political chances and economies afloat.

It is extremely difficult to see any of the so-called “compromised leaders” like Gonsalves and Skerritt making separate and independent statements like that done by Prime Minister Persad-Bissessar in which she voiced her government’s total support for Guyana in this open act of aggression and hostility by the Venezuelans.

This paper calls on PM Mitchell, NDC’s Nazim Burke, Peter David and Chester Humphrey to openly state their positions on the current Guyana/Venezuela situation. There should be no ducking and hiding – let your voices be heard.

THE NEW TODAY fully supports Guyana and calls on Venezuela to allow the waters of the Caribbean to remain a zone of peace and do not think for one moment of engaging in any gun-boat diplomacy in this part of the world.

Guyana is crucial and critical to the overall development of the rest of the English-speaking Caribbean.

The recent oil and gas find in the area now being claimed by Venezuela has the potential to turn around the Guyana economy and this will be a win-win situation for all member States of CARICOM.

A prosperous Guyana will provide jobs and other opportunities for the peoples of the Caribbean similar to what the Panama Canal did to our fore-parents many years ago.

The doors to the United States, Britain, Canada and other major Western industrialised countries are increasingly closing to our people and the opportunities for our people to go abroad and earn decent salaries to send back home in the form of remittances are now very, very limited.

Our people have to start looking more at home for their well-being and survival and a strong and vibrant Guyana could become the real silver lining for all of us in this region.

If Venezuela chooses to engage in acts of hostility against Guyana, the NEW TODAY will have no choice but to agree with the words spoken many decades ago by late Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister, historian and scholar, Dr. Eric Williams that Caracas has hegemonic designs on the Caribbean.

Venezuela’s claim to Bird Island – just off Dominica is a clear manifestation of the thinking of the political and military leaders in that Spanish-speaking country.

How many of our leaders can tell Caracas straight to the face that if you touch Guyana you touch the entire English-speaking Caribbean?