Dwyer Hits Back at PM’s Allegations

On Tuesday, 16th October, 2012, Prime Minister Douglas said that it was his former Minister of Tourism, Mr. Dwyer Astaphan who brought American investor Allan Stanford to St. Kitts.

He added that Astaphan journeyed to Antigua to negotiate the price of the land just outside of the Robert L. Bradshaw International Airport. 

“It was Dwyer Astaphan himself who called me from Antigua and wanted me to agree on the telephone as to what the price of the land must be that Stanford was offering to pay. It was I as the Prime Minister who told Dwyer Astaphan, ‘you got to be crazy.  Come back to St. Kitts and bring that matter before the Cabinet and let the Cabinet sit down and let Stanford come to St. Kitts, sit in the Cabinet room and negotiate with the government the conditions under which he must buy government land’,” Dr. Douglas disclosed. 

He added: “That is why today when some people are making all kinds of noises, I laugh. I laugh because they are hypocrites, political hypocrites and political prostitutes as well – sorry to say that – but that is what it is.” 

“That fundamental question had escaped me. Who was it that brought Allan Stanford to St. Kitts to buy land at the airport? It was Dwyer Astaphan himself and his law firm who benefitted from the sale of that land,” said Prime Minister Douglas.

However on Thursday while speaking on public radio Astaphan responded to the comments, stating that Douglas is under a lot of pressure and he wants to deflect attention from himself, so he gets one of his old supporters and backers to call in with this orchestrated question, so that he could try to distract people’s attention from the suffering they are enduring.

“As I recalled it, there was another person in high office that had a close relationship with the Stanford people. As far as I understand, Caribbean Star had problems with the Antiguan government, in terms of negotiating arrangements to base its administrative headquarters there, or some other difficulties, and you know sometimes these investors try to play one (government) against the other”

Astaphan rejected Douglas’ comment that a call was made from Antigua to ask about the selling price. The former minister explained that a special committee had been established and included Cedric Liburd, (former Minister of Agriculture), Wendell Lawrence, (former Financial Secretary) and himself, (perhaps as Minister of Tourism). Cedric Liburd on Thursday afternoon confirmed in a radio interview that he was in fact a member of such committee, as spoken of by Astaphan. The committee reported regularly, stated Astaphan.

 “So to suggest I was calling from Antigua to say let’s sell the land at this price, is more than ridiculous” Astaphan proclaimed.

He went on to distance his law firm from the matter, indicating that he went into government July 1995, the agreement with Stanford was signed on the 20th February 2003.

Astaphan then made it clear “The Dwyer Astaphan being described by the stranger to the truth is not the real Dwyer Astaphan, but the stranger to the truth has a problem with the truth…”




Town Hall Meeting in Lodge to Discuss Land Use

At the time he was reacting to concerns raised about the loss of so much public land without open discussions with the people of St. Kitts. He made the claim, which has been strongly rejected by many, that his government had been discussing the matter publicly for over a year.

That comment however, only caused further aggravation amongst the populace with individuals calling the media to register their protests.

Additionally, the main opposition party in St. Kitts, the People’s Action Movement, PAM has been going around the country, as recent as last night (Wednesday) taking the issue to the communities, and getting citizens to express their opinions.

Now, it appears as though the Prime Minister and his administration have had a change of heart, and have now organized a town-hall meeting to be held in Lodge Village to discuss land use for housing and other areas. Lodge is one of the areas that will be affected by the land swap deal with 103 acres to be transferred from government ownership.

According to a government release on Thursday, 18th October, 2012, the Office of the Prime Minister in collaboration with the Ministries of Finance and Sustainable Development are scheduled to have a joint Public Town Hall Meeting, in Lodge next week. 

The meeting will be held at the Lodge Community Center on Wednesday 24th October 2012 at 7.30 p.m. 

The team of Government Officials will address issues related to debt restructuring and future land use for housing, agriculture and economic development. As one political observer told MiyVue.com late Thursday afternoon, it would be impossible for the discussions not to be dominated, from the perspective of those who attend, by questions and comments about the recent land swap for debt reduction deal, recently approved by parliament.

Town hall meetings to discuss similar issues are being planned for other areas and the general public is invited to all, said the release. Interestingly, PAM too is planning island-wide town-hall meetings to drum-up opposition against the measure.

This announcement comes just two days after Prime Minister Dr. Denzil Douglas stated that no more discussion was needed on the Land for Debt Bill Government passed in September.

Calls to the media have all suggested that the bill should have had only one reading in parliament; then made open for public discussion, before moving to the other readings, and final implementation as law.

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