St Lucian fisherfolk: The scapegoat for COVID-19 upsurge, ‘backdoor’ narrative

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By Caribbean News Global contributor

CASTRIES, St Lucia – Statutory Instrument, 2020 No. 165A published in the St Lucia government Gazette on Friday, October 30, 2020, said: “In an effort to prevent, protect against, delay or otherwise control the incidence of transmission of COVID-19, a registered local fisherman, shall not enter or leave an area including a designated landing area under regulation 23 of the Fisheries Regulation, Cap, 7.15 from the 2nd day of November to the 8th day of November 2020”.

This unilateral decision by the government is also pursuant to the Prevention and Control Act which the government facilitated through ‘disposable Senators’.

Caribbean News Global slu_-fishers St Lucian fisherfolk: The scapegoat for COVID-19 upsurge, ‘backdoor’ narrative

Both decisions lack merit, consultation, proper use of governance measure to safeguard prevention and control, preservation of civil liberties and the rule of law.

Likewise, the government of Saint Lucia decision-making apparatus lack the capacity to follow the science, true economic arguments’ and applicable data, has led to irrational and unproven thought process resulting in the dumb decision; to revoke fishermen licences, as scapegoats for backdoor, COVID-19 upsurge.

In a press release, November 2, The Saint Lucia Labour Party (SLP) said: “It is telling that one certified accommodation property has since recorded seven cases of COVID-19 and that this hotel has not been shut for any length of time yet, instead, fishers – none of whom have tested positive for COVID-19, are being asked to stop their business operations.”

Caribbean News Global (CNG) reported last Friday Saint Lucia government implements enhance COVID-19 protocols amid advertising … ‘enjoy the high life’.

To date ‘new measures’ to curb the spread of COVID 19, has significantly affected the likelihood of ordinary Saint Lucians, without applicable assistance to relieve pain, suffering and starvation. Meantime, the front door tourism sector and selective enclaves of which the ministry of health has reported relative to COVID-19 cases … ‘enjoy the high life’ – the people of Saint Lucia are deprived and made to suffer unnecessarily.

On October 30, 2020, France hunkered down for second COVID-19 lockdown until December 1, 2020.

On October 31, Saint Lucia’s premier tourist market, the UK, announced COVID-19 lock-down, from November 5 until December 2.

On Sunday, November 1, the ministry of health announced confirmation of six new cases of COVID-19. This brings the total number of cases diagnosed in the country to 84.

Caribbean News Global slp-banner.jpg St Lucian fisherfolk: The scapegoat for COVID-19 upsurge, ‘backdoor’ narrative

The Saint Lucia Labour Party (SLP) on Monday, called for the immediate repeal of Statutory Instrument, 2020 No. 165A that, “restricts local fishermen from leaving port for seven days, from Monday, November 2 to Sunday, November 8, 2020,” and further advised, that they, “strongly condemn this action which is draconian, excessive, without logic and good sense. It once again demonstrates that the current prime minister is absolutely apathetic and insensitive where ordinary Saint Lucians are concerned and that his government continues to lack empathy for the poor and marginalized in our society. Fishers are an important plank of our rural economy and support the livelihoods of hundreds of households.

Notwithstanding the draconian application of the Prevention and Control Act and use of badly structured add-on legislation, the prime minister and minister for finance made no allowance for a social safety net, and/or compensation for his unilateral decision to stop fishers from earning their livelihood.

The SLP observed: Can’t the prime minister not comprehend what one week’s loss of income will mean to them?

  • Does the prime minister not realize that the fisheries sector did not benefit from any concessions as part of the COVID-19 Relief Programme; that, like the farmers, the fishers did not receive the promised $1,500 support for income loss?
  • Is the prime minister unable to comprehend that the sector continues to suffer from the government’s “gas tax” for roads applied to their operations on the sea?
  • Why is the government not sympathetic to a sector comprising in the main of courageous, hard-working, enterprising Saint Lucians?

“This action against the fishers will only bring unnecessary and biting hardship to Saint Lucia’s fishing communities which are already reeling from the national economic contraction and the government’s closure of the Saint Lucia Fish Marketing Corporation and its hand over to private sector interests. This has severely disadvantaged fishers who have had to resort to old ways to market their catch, while not fetching competitive prices,” the SLP stated, “the prime minister’s action against fishers is being labelled as a border control measure, it seems to be motivated instead by the need to maintain the “Backdoor” blame narrative for the recent spike in COVID- 19 cases as this deflects from the inadequacies of “Front Door” protocols.”

The SLP expressed that this act of targeting local fishers, again, shows the prime minister’s blatant biases, preferences and misplaced priorities.

Stating acceptable counsel, the SLP, said: “It understands the need for additional measures to curb COVID-19 but urges the government to provide more sensible, meaningful and non – discriminatory steps to combat its health and economic challenges, while properly guarding ALL doors, front and back.”

Caribbean News Global pjp_slp St Lucian fisherfolk: The scapegoat for COVID-19 upsurge, ‘backdoor’ narrative
Leader of the Saint Lucia Labour Party (SLP), Philip J Pierre

This country needs leadership that is not brutish, rash and without compassion but one that is prepared to consult and dialogue with its citizens,” the SLP affirmed.

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