Over the past almost two decades every single administration on both islands in the Federation has, for history, attempted to justify their neglect of security issues By touting the need for building and shoring up our fledgling nation’s fragile economy’s “infrastructure”. What they mean is the physical structure of the country, including such things as roads, electricity, water and telecommunications, etc. Almost everyone agreed with this rationale, but seemingly all overlooked the three essential and foundational pillars of that structure, which are security, education and health. The electorate never really demanded that these three, and particularly security, be treated with equal importance in the annual budget submissions. Voters seemed content to have the leaders all sermonize, moralize and lecture on the subject of security while allowing alarming neglect and even downright reduction in funds to this critical aspect of life in the country as it was developing in the earlier stages. Today, we are living with the horror of what our leaders did – and our inheritance matches the paltry investment we made on security. An article in the South Florida Caribbean News magazine came across my desk, bringing home the realization that tourism news sources outside of our Federation are choking on the deterioration of our security situation. It is painfully obvious from this read that tourism, the mainstay of our economy, has been dealt a severe (I hope not fatal) blow! Sometimes an outsider’s perspective can be quite revealing as they often sees things with a bit more objectivity, and with a better grasp on the big picture. The article uses the title, Two Murders Welcome in the New Year in St. Kitts. Of course the murders alluded to are those in fact that occurred in Nevis. As it may bring perspective to our descent over the past three years into a sordid story of crime on our shores, here is an excerpt from the four opening paragraphs of the article: “ST. KITTS – Any hope of even a little peace and tranquility to usher in the New Year in the crime plagued Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis evaporated in the early hours of January 1st with the brutal execution style killing of 26-year-old Keithon Stanley. The first victim of 2010 met his untimely demise in the quiet community of Craddock Road in Nevis but was not even cold yet when Bevon Richards of Cotton Ground was shot in the neck about fifteen (15) hours later. “These two crimes just two weeks after the cold blooded slaying of Bernard Berry on 14th December made 2009 the most murderous ever with twenty-seven (27) officially recorded killings. Yet you could never tell if you listened to Prime Minister and Minister of National Security Douglas as he addressed the nation on 15th December. As he whined and complained about being forced to respect the authority of the High Court he gave no sign of any compassion or understanding for the many grieving families. “It continues, “In fact, the Minister of National Security is widely seen as a major hindrance to the work of the security forces in what is apparently a losing battle with criminal gangs. Throughout his tenure as Minister of Finance and then, since 2007, Minister of National Security the police force has been severely underfunded even while priority areas such as the Prime Minister’s Ministry has received continuously increased allocations. “In fact, in 2006 when the record was set with seventeen (17) murders the Prime Minister in his capacity as Minister of Finance actually reduced the allocation for National Security. As crime began to really rage out of control resources for crime fighting were drastically reduced. “To conclude the first part of this article, the writer states, ‘there has never been any explanation for this inexplicable and callous action but it set the stage for continuous underfunding of our vital police force.” South Florida Caribbean News. The article continues in a most interesting way as it mentions the former Minister of National Security, Mr Dwyer Astaphan. It claims that one of the reasons given for his resignation was that the increased budget submission of $150 million to fight crime was repeatedly blocked By the Prime Minister, which in turn negatively affected his ability to perform his duties. The story then issues a most scathing rebuke of the Prime Minister’s tenure as Minister of National Security, having succeeded Mr Astaphan. It says, “Prime Minister Douglas contemptuously dismissed the allegations brought By former Minister Astaphan and took the Ministry for himself and crime, but especially savage, gangland style, daylight killings, has really exploded. In the two years that Prime Minister Douglas has been the Minister of National Security; 2008 – 2009, there have been an astonishing fifty (50) killings.” Frankly, even the most outspoken critics of the PM on our shores, might be slightly gentler in their critique. But what about the Nevis Island Administration, from both parties, that has for so many years put its hands up in the air and said, “nothing to do with us, that’s federal”. I have always felt that this denial of responsibility, while understandable and even compelling on the surface given the constitutional mandate for the federal government to provide for security on both Islands, shows a lack of real leadership and continues to cede way too much strategic and tactical control to the federal government. The current Administration in Nevis however has taken things to an unfortunate low. It has taken the approach, despite clear historical trends, that a cozy relationship with the federal government is politically and economically expedient for Nevis. My God, what a most disappointing blunder! With its one official seat in the federal parliament but with the reigns of power on Nevis, the Parry-led NRP Administration has let down the people of Nevis By refusing to publicly criticize the Labour-led federal government’s woeful lack of attention to Nevis’ security situation, which has, despite the admirable efforts of good officers, continued to decline. Instead the NIA has followed the style and posture of the Leader in St. Kitts By associating itself much too closely and By seeking to give nice rousing speeches on crime matters. The NIA has even played politics with crime, effecting political reprisals. Personnel changes in leadership have been made, while claiming that it has no control over security matters. It ought rather to have INSISTED that frequent break-ins to homes, gangs, murders and police officers having to live in someone’s home due to an uninhabitable police station out-post, are simply unacceptable anywhere but especially for Nevis. Those who lead in Nevis must be agitator-in-chief and a thorn in the side of the incumbent administration in St. Kitts when Nevis suffers as badly as it clearly has done. Too few resources in St. Kitts have been allocated to the Federation to fight crime. The Federal Government continues to neglect Nevis. The Nevis Island Administration expects that laudable social programs which can only have long term gains, should be a substitute for immediate desperately needed resources to fight crime over here on Nevis. That approach won’t work! What has happened to the promise By the federal government to the NIA three years ago now that authority for security would devolve to Nevis? What about the promise of more officers for Nevis? Leadership is serious business. So is security. It is the lifeblood of the nation and the heart of Nevis’ infrastructure. What are we developing?
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