Now, 47 years later, PAM is heading back to the streets for a march against high electricity rates.
This time the public demonstration, which is scheduled for this Friday, 18th March, 2012, through the streets of Basseterre, has been organized by a group known as Operation Rescue, which is led by former Labour Government Minister Dwyer Astaphan, former PAM government minister Richard Caines and educator/historian and activist, Mr. Washington Archibald.
Leader of PAM, Mr. Lindsay Grant issued a strong call on Wednesday for his party supporters to participate in the march, reminding the public that his party was formed out of a protest, against a charge for higher electricity tariffs, way back in the 1960s.
Grant said that his party also demonstrated against electricity rates again in 2004, eight years ago, when they thought, as a party, that the cost of electricity was too burdensome for the ordinary man and woman in St. Kitts.
“You would also recall that some three persons within the hierarchy and the leadership of the People’s Action Movement were arrested, charged with some 18 (alleged offenses), 16 of which were dismissed.” Grant himself was one arrested.
Grant added, “We demonstrated also against the destruction of persons appliances which were being destroyed, and so on Friday, we have come to a decision that we are behind the march in principle; as a march against the cost of electricity being too burdensome at the present time, and being unaffordable by the majority of persons in St. Kitts and Nevis and also business houses.”
The PAM leader said that because of the high electricity rates, people in the country are hurting. “As a consequence, we of the People’s Action Movement are calling on all our supporters to mobilize, to turn out and march on Friday in their numbers, as a protest to the high cost of electricity.”
“The fact of the matter is that we have been fooled time and time by this present government, because we only have to look back as far as 2004, when nine days before the general elections, we the consumers of electricity, were given $500 to make us feel good, and now the same electricity is hurting the majority in this country; and that is why on Friday it is important to march and demonstrate the dissatisfaction of the citizens by the pressure of this government, when it comes to electricity.
A few weeks ago, Prime Minister Denzil Douglas admitted that the rates are too high, indicating in rather dramatic fashion at the time, that when he sees bills of some persons, he wants to cry, given how much is owed. He therefore encouraged, in a somewhat unusual fashion, that all citizens who felt that the rates were too high, should turn out on Labour Day, (7th May), to march against the high rates of electricity, that he, as Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, and also a former Minister responsible for the utility service, played a leading role in raising the tariffs to the high levels presently in place.
His call was not given the strong response hoped for, so observers are now waiting to see what level of support would be given to Friday’s march against the government’s high electricity rates.