Vincentian PM: ‘Much to celebrate, despite challenges’

Vincentian PM: ‘Much to celebrate, despite challenges’
Ralph Gonsalves, prime minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, addresses the 71st session of the United Nations General Assembly, at U.N. headquarters, Friday, Sept. 23, 2016.
Associated Press / Craig Ruttle, File

In extending greetings and congratulations to Vincentians in the Diaspora, on the occasion of the country’s 38th anniversary of political independence, Prime Minister Dr. Ralph E. Gonsalves said “it is evident that we have much to celebrate, despite challenges.”

“Almighty God has spared us the ravages of hurricanes and storms, and made it possible for us to come to the assistance of our neighbors who have been affected by recent catastrophic weather events,” said Gonsalves in his remarks, read in part on Sunday by New York Consul General Howie Prince at a gala Independence Luncheon Sunday at Grand Prospect Hall in Brooklyn, organized by the Brooklyn-based umbrella Vincentian group, Council of St. Vincent and the Grenadines Organizations, U.S.A., Inc. (COSAGO).

“We pledge to support in any way possible, and continue to pray for their safe-keeping and rapid recovery from the devastating losses occasioned by these severe weather events, which serve as stark reminders of our vulnerability as Small Island Developing States, whose developmental gains can be reversed or obliterated by a single natural disaster,” he added.

Stating that nationals must be ever grateful to God for his faithfulness, the prime minister urged that they do so by celebrating this anniversary “with a special sense of gratitude and humility, and by acknowledging the achievements, which have been made possible only through His grace.”

He said that among the nation’s most notable successes are the accomplishments of young people, “who continue to shine and to make us proud.

“Their achievements in areas such as academics, sports and culture are deserving of special mention,” said Gonsalves, adding that they are “demonstrated in the results recorded in this year’s sitting of the regional examinations at the various levels.”

Among these, he said, is the “historic feat” of the top performers at the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examinations (CAPE), three of whom tied for first place and for the Prime Minister’s Award, noting that the “feat” is “worthy of special mention.”

The Vincentian leader said his administration remains “firmly committed to sourcing, creating and providing opportunities for all our citizens, including our young people, to achieve their full potential and to excel.”

He said Kingstown is also committed to the goal of engaging all citizens in the “conceptualization, articulation and implementation of this country’s development agenda.

“Our people-centered post-independence narrative encapsulates the concrete and tangible, and the metaphorical and symbolic,” he said. “It is reflected in, among many other things, the emphasis placed on programs aimed at the advancement of all nationals and, also, on the execution of projects of great value and significance, which express our national pride and identity.”

Gonsalves pointed out that the Argyle International Airport is one such project, stating that the completion of which is “representative of the will and tenacity of our people in the face of great odds, including the prevailing global economic conditions during the entire period of construction.”

He said improved air access opens up “new and exciting possibilities in the areas of transportation, tourism and trade,” adding that “our citizenry is keenly attuned to this fact.”

In essence, Gonsalves said the international airport “symbolizes the value we place on our unique culture and heritage and, equally, on our connections to the rest of the world, and the opportunities to participate actively and on an equal footing with our regional and international partners.”

As Vincentians celebrate and continue to chart the course of their development, the prime minister urged that nationals “be wise in the conduct and management of our affairs, wary of any attempt to distract and divide us, and united in our efforts to improve conditions for ourselves, our loved ones and our fellow nationals.

“Let us, too, stand firm in our on-going fight against those who have chosen crime as a way of life,” he said without elaboration.

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