CG McIntosh, calls for diaspora unity, congratulates Vincentian, first female pilot to fly AA to homeland

Rondy “Luta” McIntosh, consul general of St. Vincent and the Grenadines to New York, addressing an audience at the Guyana Consulate during a Republic Anniversary celebration last year.
Photo by Tangerine Clarke

Rondy “Luta” McIntosh who was appointed Consul General of St. Vincent and the Grenadines to New York, in August 2023, said his dream is for his country people and Caribbean nationals, to unite more to develop their homeland, during a Jan. 2 phone interview with Caribbean Life.

“We can help each other, lift each other up and always maintain that bond, to build your country back in the Caribbean,” said CG McIntosh.

He said the diaspora plays a very important role in the development of “our country, but we have noticed a lot of brain drain happening around the Caribbean. Persons go to universities to get their education and I think the goal of every government is that they come back to their country and help us to build and develop, but the reality is, all will not come back, some will spread their wings and go where there are more opportunities and more resources in metropolitan countries.”

“I would like to say to aspirants, especially from the Caribbean, you should never forget where you came from and even those who were born in America, should never forget that they are there because their parents were born in Saint Vincent, or somewhere in the Caribbean.”

“Send something back home for loved ones, always keep that connection. Let us not lose our culture or our identity because we are not in the land of our birth. We are in the greatest diaspora community in the entire world, the United States of America.

“The Italians, the Jews and Germans, everybody is in the US, but the beauty is you can find your own people and still maintain that semblance of our Caribbean. We can still practice our cultures, the food that we eat and our carnival, in the Labor Day parade, the different functions, and celebrations, that we have in the Caribbean, so my dream and my wish is that we unite more,” said CG McIntosh.

The diplomat congratulated Captain Rochell Roache-Lanza, a national and the first female to captain an American Airlines aircraft to Argyle International Airport, in her homeland on Dec. 9, 2023, as a remarkable achievement.

He noted that SVG is a small multi-island state, which comprised 32 islands and cays, and proud of its success in having the capacity to match international airport standards, where large aircraft land, “and to add the accomplishment of a young Vincentian and the first female to pilot a large aircraft to our international airport is something very significant for us as a nation and people,” said CG McIntosh, of Captain Roache-Lanza, who was born in Bequia, and attended the St. Joseph Convent Kingstown, the daughter of Marilyn and Earl Roache of Yambou.

CG McIntosh, who was welcomed with open arms, and has become quite popular in the diaspora, lauded Captain Roache-Lanza, a former air traffic controller at the E.T. Joshua Airport who served in that capacity in Canouan and Union Island.

The aviator who developed a passion for becoming a pilot and got her wings in Canada and served as a pilot with LIAT and Caribbean Star, going on to fly with Arik Air, West Africa’s largest commercial airline, that back then operated a fleet of 23 state-of-the-art regional, medium haul and haul aircraft, including two airbuses, was lauded for her magnanimous accomplishment.

“Her achievement sends a message to other young people that the sky is the limit that you can achieve anything regardless of how small our nation is. Once you put your mind to it and you put the effort into it you can achieve greatness,” said McIntosh referring to the airwoman, who after completing her contract, returned to Texas, where she taught and conducted FAA check rides, which are practical test, one must undergo in the US to receive an aircraft pilot’s certification.

“What this young lady has achieved is very significant to us and Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves, and the opposition leader, dignitaries were there to salute her and to welcome her. I want to commend her for achieving this greatness and the mere fact that the head of the nation was there, that is important. We must celebrate our own people when they go far and beyond,” he noted. Roache-Lanza, after training, joined AA in Fort Worth, as a full and experienced pilot.

“It is a remarkable accomplishment because American Airlines fly to Saint Vincent from Miami. It is a direct flight and one of two commercial airlines that fly direct from the United States. The other, Caribbean airlines fly direct from JFK to Saint Vincent,” he said, while praising the pilot, the wife of Captain Stewart Lanza, who flies with Western Global Airlines.

“It should not at all be understated, what this young lady has accomplished and the whole nation celebrated with her. The print newspaper, the electronic media, social media, we were all elated and happy that we are seeing someone who shares our homeland, shares our friendship and family ties.”

“We were happy to be there to experience and witness history in the making,” said the diplomat.