Though the protest march of Friday 18th May, 2012, started off with a relatively modest crowd of approximately 150 people, by the time it completed its circle of the downtown shopping district, the ranks of protesters had swollen to about 500, who were actively parading the streets, with placards and voicing their disgust with the current poor state of the economy and the unreasonable rates being charged for electricity, both to private householders and the commercial sector. At least another 2,000 looked on from the sidewalks, showing solidarity but also expressing fear of retribution if found actively involved.
Among those looking on from the sidelines was the former Premier of Nevis, and that island’s current leader of the opposition, Mr. Vance Amory. Amory is also a member of the Federal National Assembly of St. Kitts and Nevis.
The people were in a defiant mood and it became a march dominated by the overpowering presence of women, many who were single mothers, mixed with an almost militant core of young people, all expressing their frustration.
Though the post march meeting was addressed by the leaders Operation Rescue, that organized the event, it was the spontaneous speeches from a few of the women that grabbed the attention and appealed to the emotions of the large crowd that remained until the end. These women shared aspects of their life stories, and how the difficult economic climate and high electricity rates have been affecting their families. It was a cry, a sincere utterance of personal grief and anguish, which at times resonated with the experience of so many others, too afraid or shy, to step forward to make known their suffering.
There was a call by some speakers and supported by the public that perhaps the people of the country should plan a massive protest to refuse to pay their electricity until some government action is taken to reduce the rates. According to one speaker, “When former Premier Robert Bradshaw said power to the people, he meant it, but it appears as though the country’s current Prime Minister does not understand what that meant, and instead has been transferring the feeling of power to foreign entities”.
The air was filled with anger against the country’s Prime Minister and the ruling Labour Party Administration. One speaker claimed that Dr. Douglas was “a synthetic Labour and not an authentic one” because his policies have been contrary to the principles once espoused by the Labour Party of earlier times.
Kittitians were called on to wake up to the reality of their existence; to take action to change the nation’s leadership through the prescribed legal means. Another speaker charged that, under the present administration, the country has been serving a 17 year sentence of ‘hard labour’ because the government has condemned them to a life of misery.
Even though the people have the power in their hands to vote out and change the government, said another speaker, it seems like there is a fear, amongst the populace, to rise to the occasion, to take action to fight back against the injustices thought to be impacting the citizenry.”We are our own enemies, expressed a female speaker on the platform, because though we have the power, we are not taking the steps to rid us of the leadership that is hurting the country.” She assured listeners however, that a new day is coming, starting from today, (Friday 18th May) with the protest march.
If there was one central theme that coloured the march on Friday, it was that of “frustration”. There is a certain mood of uneasiness in St. Kitts and if left unchecked, it could mushroom into a tornado of political change.