According to them, he has fooled, misled, used, abused and cheated both Labour supporters and others, he has been in too many ways a bad example to young and old, and his bad leadership has plunged the nation into undeserved social and economic pain and suffering.
And, in almost perfect choral harmony, they said:”Douglas got to go!”
One of them works at a hotel. She asked me about the march that I had announced on a radio talk show two days earlier. I told her that it was scheduled for Friday, 15th April, from 4pm, and that I was awaiting then appropriate approval.
She asked what the march was about, and I told her that it was about Kittitians and Nevisians, and our residents, in a peaceful and orderly way, of course, but also in no uncertain terms, expressing their concerns and feelings in relation to the very same issues which she and the other lady had just raised, and also in relation to any other issues on the leadership of our nation.
I asked her if she was afraid to march, and she said that maybe a year, or even six months, ago she might have been afraid, but not now.
When I asked what had changed her mind, she answered in words like these:
“Douglas changed my mind! He’s too lie and bad! He fooled us off and now look our suffering: VAT; Housing and Social Levy; wasting money; deals, deals and more deals; crime; electricity outages for years; wicked increases in electricity rates and now he’s put on the fuel charge again although he said that it would never be brought back; cost of living; businesses closing down; people working less than forty hours a week( like me, in the height of the tourist season); people losing their work( look just yesterday Clear Harbour closed down and sent home over 130 people); CLICO and British American; and on and on. Things gone sour us who were born in St .Kitts or Nevis, but it looks as if non-locals can do as they like.”
“And look at me. Up to now I, a big woman working for over twenty years, cannot get a house to buy in the land of my birth, although I have the money to pay for it.”
“Douglas likes people to beg him so that he could fool them into thinking that they owe him. And I’ll admit, for a long time I too was begging, although I felt humiliated doing so, because I really wanted, and still want, a house for myself and my children.”
“But I’m done with the begging. Look at all of those new houses that are still locked up and nobody is living in them. Well, what about me and my children?”
“Douglas isn’t going to fool and humiliate me any longer. I’m done with him, and if Labour keeps him around, I’m done with Labour too. In any case, this isn’t real Labour. This is Douglas. And I don’t want any more of him. Plus, elections have to come again, you know.”
“Sam and Tim are the next two in line for the leadership, but Douglas doesn’t like or respect either of them, and he has been ‘dissing’ them since 1995. It’s now time for the two of them to stand up or shut up. And it’s time for them to show their constituents and the country that they have the balls to do the right thing for the country.”
“The march is a good chance for them to mobilize their supporters. And it’s a good chance for their supporters to show them that they(the supporters) want to see more strength and enterprise from them(Sam and Tim), and to show Douglas and the world that they’re fed up and want a change of leadership now.”
She was very clear that if Sam and Tim did not stand openly in the cause of their constituents and of the people as a whole, then they both would be seen as accomplices of Denzil Douglas, rather than as defenders of the people.
The lady said: “I know that I’ll be marching, and I’ll be marching, not only to send a message to Douglas, but also to send a message to the world that I and people like me are fed up with him, and that we’re ready to stand up for what is right, and for ourselves and our children.”
“ I don’t owe Douglas anything and I am not afraid of him. My children and I are more important to me than he is. In fact, he is not important to us at all. Not any more. Because he has shown us that we are only there for him to use us, so we’re not important to him.”
“That’s why he got to go!”
The other lady was not as talkative, but voiced her approval all the way.
And I can tell you of conversations that I have been in recently which paint a very similar picture: more and more people are fed up and want a new leader. More and more of them are saying that they are no longer afraid of being victimized, and that if anybody is to be afraid it should be Denzil Douglas, not they.
In fact, they’re saying that they’re already suffering and being victimized under the hand of Denzil Douglas, and that if they continue to live in fear, then they will never stop suffering, so their only chance of ridding themselves of the suffering is to take a stand against the man who is the main cause of their suffering. (Remember, as recently as December,2009, he said that St. Kitts & Nevis had escaped the brunt of the global financial crisis. So it’s his fault!)
Now, these people who are experiencing an awakening aren’t so naïve as to expect that a new leader could quickly or easily remove the hardships that have befallen this nation over the past year. But they feel that new leadership is their only hope.
They see Denzil Douglas as a person who has lost his credibility and his moral authority to lead this nation. They get more and more angry with his arrogance his indecorous conduct, his pathological unwillingness to take blame for anything, his incessant bad-mouthing of his colleagues, his lies, and his stubborn and willful refusal to introduce proper accountability and transparency in Government.
They see him as being on the side of the problem, hence they cannot see him as part of the solution.
They see too much cronyism and corruption.
And they have had enough.
Even people who still sing his praises openly are fast losing the will to keep defending him, as they suck their bitter bush. One who recently departed that dwindling group, asked me on Wednesday afternoon if it was true that the new SUV that Douglas is being driven around in is about a $280,000.00 vehicle, and I said yes. The duty would be about $100,000.00, but the fact is that Government paid about $170,000.00 for it and would have lost the opportunity to make the additional $110,000.00 in duty and taxes on it.
Then he asked if the new Lexus that the Governor-General was being driven around in was about a $430,000.00 purchase and I told him yes. The Government would have paid about $300,000.00 for it and would have lost about $130,000.00 or more in duty on taxes that it would have collected had the Lexus remained on the lot to be bought by someone.
So, he asked:”You mean to say that in these hard times, when this man is telling us to tighten our belts, and threatening us with public embarrassment and Court action if we don’t pay the VAT and the lights bill, he can still find nearly three quarters of a million dollars to buy two cars, one for the GG and the other for him? Two brand new cars? In a time like this? And it isn’t to say that these two cars were necessary!”
My answer to him was that a good leader tries to protect his people against suffering, but that when suffering is unavoidable, he suffers with them, rather than living like a heartless Emperor and doing so with their money.
And I told him that just on this issue alone, it was clear that Douglas is not a good leader.
He said to me:”You will see me in the march!”
Then on Thursday, an older lady came to see me, accompanied by her son, a professional person. She too wants to see the end of the Douglas era, and said that she would be in the march.
She also shared some recommendations with me as to how additional pressure might be applied. One was a NO VAT Day. Once or twice a month, on a Thursday, consumers would refrain from buying any goods or service that was VATable.
Also on Thursday evening, a former Government Auxiliary Worker( formerly designated as Non-Established Worker) asked me if he was eligible for a pension.
I told him that on Labour Day, 2006( I think it was that year) after the march, Denzil Douglas had pledged to introduce a pension scheme for Auxiliary Workers, that it would be a contributory scheme, but that it had not been put into operation yet.
Workers can get a gratuity and are included in the Government’s Medical Plan, as far as I’m aware, but they get no pension from Government.
He said that he was confused because he had heard Denzil Douglas say earlier that very day in Parliament that such a scheme was in place although the law for it had not yet been passed. I told him that the law would first have to be passed.
So he asked why it had taken so long? And I told him that that was how Denzil Douglas wanted it.
The poor, disappointed man asked:“Why he so lie?”
He was now beginning to understand that that was just another example of Denzil Douglas saying whatever he felt like saying( remember, it was Labour Day, 2006, and, guess what, another Labour Day is just around the corner again), because over the years he had gotten away with it, that so he felt that he could say whatever he wanted to say.
The man said to me:”Not this time. Look for me in the march!”
Then this morning I got a phone call from Nevis, asking if the march was for Nevisians as well. I said:”Of course. It’s for everybody.”
Then I asked the caller why the question, and he answered that Nevisians are feeling the hand of Denzil Douglas too heavily in their affairs, that his hand has disturbed the landscape and the conscience of Nevis, that many Nevisians are not willing to put up with this ferrying of votes and the shenanigans, and that they want to demonstrate their feelings and concerns too.
He said:”Look out for some of us. We’ll be there”.
Folks, this march is for everybody who has a concern of any kind whatsoever with the leadership of Denzil Douglas and with the state our Federation. It affords us all an opportunity to demonstrate our concerns and feelings, peacefully and forthrightly, as is our right and responsibility in a democracy. And that is exactly what we intend to do.
It is your march. Join in.
Remember, your public meeting at Bank Street, Friday, 8th April, 2011, from 4pm. And your march, The Freedom March, on Friday, 15th April, 2011, from 4pm followed by a rally at Bank Street /West Independence Square.(Note that approvals have not yet been received).
Workers, ask your employers to let you go at 3pm.Employers, please co-operate and allow your workers who wish to be in the march to leave early, and please do not deduct the hour’s pay. That would mean so much to them and to the nation.
And to one and all, this march is a people’s march. It’s not intended to promote any one or other political party. Followers of all parties are welcome. Just, please do not wear any party colors, and remember that all of us have to be peaceful and orderly.
Make up your own placards and join in.