The crowds came out to join the Nevisian Association of Washington D.C., on Saturday, September 15, as they gathered for their third annual honours banquet at the La Fontaine Bleu ballroom in Lanham, Maryland. In addition to persons in the Metropolitan Washington DC area, a sizeable contingent from as far away as New York and Nevis came out to share the evening with members of Nev-DC. This year’s event was highly successful, with attendance topping that for all previous years’ events.
Reports coming from attendees suggest that this year’s event was the best organized.
The honouree for this year’s event was Dr. Simeon Daniel, founding member of the Nevis Reformation Party (NRP), first leader of the party and the first Premier Nevis. Dr. Daniel was honoured for his many years of work in the interest of Nevis and its people, and for his significant efforts in securing adequate political representation for Nevisians.
As Mr. Daniel was unable to attend, arrangements were made for his daughters, who reside in the area, and are members of Nev-DC, to introduce him and accept the honour on his behalf.
Mrs. Ingrid Farrell, in the introduction of her father, highlighted his many educational and professional accomplishments; from his humble beginnings in Barnes Ghaut, Nevis, to his becoming the first Premier of Nevis and Finance Minister in the federal government. As a documentary ran in the background, chronicling Dr. Daniel’s life and career, Mrs. Farrell detailed the many honours bestowed upon Dr. Daniel during a long distinguished career.
The bipartisan audience applauded mightily when, in closing, Mrs. Farrell stated, “My father’s lasting legacy and dream for Nevis would be for a free, Independent and self sustaining NEVIS. For Nevis to become a world class destination, for a people free of domination and proud of their ancestry, and for each and every Nevisian to walk as equals anywhere in the world.”
Another of Dr. Daniel’s daughters, Mrs. Susan Clarke, accepted a plaque on Dr. Daniel’s behalf and read a letter from Dr. Daniel, expressing his sincere gratitude to Nev-DC for choosing to honour him at their annual banquet.
The Honourable Mark Brantley, Nevisian lawyer and Federal parliamentarian for Nevis District #9, was this year’s keynote speaker. He was introduced by former Junior Minister in the Nevis Island Assembly Mr. Colin Tyrell of Nevis, and was well received by the audience.
Mr. Brantley started the evening by praising his colleague, the late Honorable Malcolm Guishard. He praised Mr. Guishard for his unselfish service to our country and expressed the hope that Mr. Guishard be honored posthumously by Nevisian organizations at home and abroad.
He also had gracious words for the night’s honoree, Dr. Simeon Daniel, whom he described and “The Father of Modern Nevis” and praised him as the “architect of our 1983 constitution which bestowed considerable internal self-rule on Nevis and gave us Clause 113 to be used by us when we so desire to dissolve the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis and take our rightful place in the world of Nations.”
The main focus of Mr. Brantley’s speech was the Caribbean Single Market Economy. He gave an informative and interesting presentation, beginning with the three main components and the various features of the CSME. In the limited time available, Mr. Brantley delved into the issues as they relate to the right of establishment, work permits, access to land and the Nevis economy.
Mr. Brantley expressed concern over the right of companies from larger territories, which have larger, more sophisticated economies, to establish their presence in Nevis, thus competing with local companies such as TDC and Horsfords, without our government having the right to refuse. Due to the difference of capital availability across the territories, he expressed concern that an uneven playing field will be created as companies are allowed to move freely and establish themselves without hindrance.
While expressing a general favor for the free movement of people, Mr. Brantley expressed concern that uncontrolled migration of people into small member states of the CSME has the potential for serious socio-economic and socio-cultural upheaval. He said, “There is nothing that brings out nationalistic fervor as much as when indigenous people feel overwhelmed in their own country.”
He lamented the lack of any consultation with the people of St. Kitts and Nevis before embarking on a decision as significant as agreeing to the terms and conditions of the CSME. “The harsh irony is that an influx of immigrants to Nevis puts pressure on the Nevis Island Administration to provide healthcare, education, water, electricity and so many more of the essential services which are the responsibility of the NIA.”
According to Mr. Brantley, the Nevis economy does not support the large manufacturing base which is evident in the much larger territories of Jamaica and Trinidad, nor does it support the agricultural base of Guyana and the Windward Islands. The consumers of our high end tourism product and financial services tend not to be members of the wider CARICOM, but entities in the international market place. Thus Nevis will have very little of which to sell to other CSME member. On the other hand, these countries, with their well developed manufacturing and agricultural bases, will fill the store shelves of Nevis with their products. He noted this disparity as he demanded that the leaders of St. Kitts and Nevis negotiate better deals for our people.
As a way forward, Mr. Brantley made several proposals. He warned that the Caribbean must develop joint strategies if we are to remain relevant. He however believes that the current CSME as is stands, is an imperfect attempt. He proposed a tiered regime for the smaller CARICOM members, which takes into account the relative small size, limited natural resource base and the dreams and aspirations of our people. He proposed a CSME which is tailored to the needs of the people of the various territories.
Not one to succumb to pessimism, Mr. Brantley expressed his great faith and great optimism in Nevis and Nevisians. His speech was met with standing ovation from the large audience.
Noted Nevisian professor and economist, Dr. Everson Hull, in a brief presentation, praised Dr. Daniel as “A Nevisian Stalwart, a giant among us.” Dr. Hull recounted Dr. Daniel’s early battles against the central government, then lead by the Late Llewellyn Bradshaw, in his efforts to unite the people of Nevis behind the issue of independence for Nevis. He also praised Dr. Daniel for his insisting on the special clause – section 113- which grants Nevis the right to secede from the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis.
Members of Nev-DC entertained the audience, and the Image Band, lead by Nevisian, Laughton Sergeant, provided music as guests dance the night away.
The members of Nev-DC would like to publicly thank all who came out to celebrate with us. Special note must me made of the members of Hearts and Hands for Nevis who have been fixtures in each of our honors banquets.