SVG recalls deputy NY consul general

St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ Ministry of Foreign Affairs has recalled Deputy New York Consul General Edson Augustus.

In a brief statement, the ministry said that on Wednesday, Feb. 5, it received reports “suggesting that Mr. Agustus, while posted in New York, was involved in activities outside the scope of his employment and inimical to interests of the Consulate General and the Government and people of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

“Having subsequently received sufficient confirmation of those reports, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines acted promptly in recalling Mr. Agustus, with immediate effect,” it said.

“All matters touching and concerning the said activities are under further review,” it added.

Top government officials, including Prime Minister Dr. Ralph E. Gonsalves, Foreign Affairs Minister Camillo Gonsalves and New York Consul General Selmon Walters, Augustus’s immediate supervisor, did not return repeated calls and email requests by Caribbean Life, up to press time, seeking comment or elaboration on the matter.

La Celia Prince, the ambassador to the United States, whose Embassy in Washington, D.C. has jurisdiction over the New York Consulate General, also declined to comment, saying it was a matter for the Foreign Affairs Ministry in Kingstown, the Vincentian capital, to address.

But Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace, a former prime minister, has called on the government to be more transparent on the issue.

“This kind of diplomatic letter is good to send to an embassy or a government – not to send to the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines,” he said on his New Times radio program soon after the Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued the release about Augustus’ recall.

“People need more information than this, otherwise the information would be given otherwise, you know,” he added, disclosing that he already has “certain information” in his possession.

“Come clean, say who all were involved other than him (Augustus), and let’s deal with the matter here in our country,” the NDP president urged the administration.

In addition, Eustace expressed apprehension that that Augustus’ alleged activities “would make things more difficult for Vincentians going to the United States, especially when an embassy official at that level gets involved in activities not consistent with his duties.”

The Opposition Leader noted that the Consulate “scandal” comes “only a few months after Canada has removed the right of Vincentians to travel freely without visas.

“It speaks to something smelly in our foreign offices,” he alleged. “This is a very serious matter, and the government has to become even clearer and say what it is that Mr. Augustus has done. If they don’t, somebody else will do it.”

Some reports also say that Augustus has refused to return home, as urged by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; that he is still in New York.

But other reports say he’s currently in Trinidad and Tobago, where his wife resides, as their young daughters attend school there.

Augustus also did not return requests by Caribbean Life to his cellular telephone and email account, for comment.

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