Friday, April 13, 2012


La Soufriere's anniversary

Today April 13th marks the thirty third  anniversary of the La Soufriere eruption. On that morning of April 13th, 1979 it was Good Friday and ironically a "Black" Friday as is today. As has become the norm, the media will be filled of reminisces and educational programmes.  I was not yet born but  through the years  I 've heard the stories of those two plus weeks in April when the volcano awoke from its slumber.  From all accounts it was a nerve racking time as people sought to come to terms with the reality that they could be in grave danger. Thousands of Vincentians in the northern areas fled their homes to take up residence in the many evacuation centres set up across the island.

Up to this day some of my relatives still have some volcanic ash and stones as keepsakes.The term "bodow"( a reference to the explosion of the volcano) became synonymous with  disaster aid and\ remains a part of the Vincentian lexicon. In fact it has  been broadened to include anything that is considered "free".Thirty thrree years on and communication is greatly increased but I often wonder how prepared we are in the event of an eruption. There are more private vehicles now than then but transportation will still have to be mobilised, Do persons in the danger zones know of centres where they should go? Despite public education on the importance of the volcano monitoring devices people continue to vandalise them.  After watching the fury of the Montserrat volcano all Vincentians should have a healthy respect for our slumbering giant. Have we no sense at all to interfere with equipment that could keep us safe?

Monday, April 02, 2012


Camillo Gonsalves arrested

There is a diplomatic brouhaha brewing following the arrest and brief detainment of Camillo Gonsalves St Vincent and the Grenadines' representative to the UN. Ambassador Gonsalves, who is also the son of PM Ralph Gonsalves was arrested and handcuffed by an  NYPD police officer for alleged disorderly conduct after walking through a barricade to get to his office building.

See details  here from Huffington Post

The Prime Minister,  responding to the incident on the Agency for Public Information has indicated that a legal team will be assembled to investigate the matter. As is to be expected the opinions have been fast and furious since last Wednesday's incident.

The Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations ensures that, at a minimum, any diplomatic agent enjoys “immunity from jurisdiction and inviolability in respect of official acts performed in the exercise of his functions.”

Article 29 of the Convention, which deals with the issue of “inviolability,” states: “The person of a diplomatic agent shall be inviolable. He shall not be liable to any form of arrest or detention. The receiving State shall treat him with due respect and shall take all appropriate steps to prevent any attack on his person, freedom or dignity.”

Article 22 states that the receiving state “is under a special duty” to “prevent any disturbance of the peace of the diplomatic mission or impairment of its dignity.”

Included in the Agreement between the United Nations and the United States of America regarding the Headquarters of the United Nations, which was approved by the UN General Assembly on 31 October 1947, the United States is bound, to extend these privileges and immunities to Permanent Representatives of the United Nations, even in instances where the United States itself does not maintain diplomatic relations with the countries accredited to the United Nations.

Given all of this does the Ambassador have a case for wrongful arrest or should he have given a better response to the less than courteous cop? I am always skeptical of police officers and their approach to civilians and more-so to people of color in the United States. So I'm not at all surprised that the Ambassador  is on record as having heard the officer say to his counterparts "I couldn't let him just walk into the building. Look at him he could be a terrorist." How many ways can we spell racial profiling? 

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