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Statement by the Hon. Shawn K. Richards On the ocassion of the signing of the historic “Charlestown Accord”

We make this pledge to Nevis today thatit  is not enough for some of us to prosper; we all must prosper. It is not enough for some of us to benefit from our country’s resources, we all must benefit. It is not enough for some of us to plan, but the plan must include all of us. Both Islands.

Before we can plan, we must confront our past. Our past has not been always characterized by smooth relations between St. Christopher and Nevis, has it?  In fact, it has been marred with challenges since before Independence, and we acknowledge that.

It is time to face these challenges head-on, not run from them. Not ignore them and pretend that they do not exist while we drift aimlessly through the 21st century.

St. Christopher has not always treated Nevis fairly, for a very long time Nevisians have rightly felt that they were being deprived of their fair share of the Federation’s resources, they were not benefitting from their fair share of investments, revenue, or services. This is not acceptable. So we have come to set that right.

Some cynics will say that another party in Nevis has already given PAM an opportunity to do right by Nevis when we were a much younger country, and it was not realized.  Well that may be so, but it does not mean that we should be defeated by history, we can choose to leave a better history for our children. In the face of improbable odds, people who love their country can change it. And we will.

So we have to put the past behind us.  Our country was young then; too young a nation perhaps to be able to handle the pressures of being newly independent while losing revenue from the sugar industry which was at the time practically our only source of revenue. We cannot allow that to cast a pall on our future. As real as our past challenges were, they can be faced, and they can be fixed.We have come here to confront them today.

The time has come to refresh the spirit of cooperation between our two islands; to reaffirm our commitment to that noble idea that all St. Kitts and Nevis is one family and every single citizen deserves a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.

We have come here to let every citizen of the federation know that the days of petty grievances, petulant recriminations, and old worn out dogmas that have strangled our aspirations for so long are at an end. When we were a young nation, it was okay to reason like a child, but as Paul told the Corinthians, the time has come to put aside childish things.

Too often in the past, we have tinkered with the notion of really working together, the halfhearted measures, and half-baked plans now belong to our past. It is time to realize the dream of Kennedy Simmons and Simeon Daniel of a better deal for Nevis. We pledge that Nevis will take its place as a full partner in this federation.

As we stand here on the eve of the General Election, we are within sight of the most important choice for this country since Independence.

Our nation is in crisis. Our economy is on its knees, our democracy is in tatters, and we are being held hostage by an illegitimate minority government. Slowly we have come to face the fact that the very people who should be making our nation better are the ones destroying it.

But more than that, there is an agonizing sapping of confidence across the federation as we watch our tourist industry decline, other nations of the world brand us as a threat to their security because of corrupt practices of our government. Each day brings further evidence that it cannot be business as usual.

To those who cling desperately to power through corruption and deceit, through unethical election practices like buying votes and padding the electoral lists, you are destroying your country, and history will not absolve you. Because you are on the wrong side of history. These outworn stratagems are inadequate to the needs of our time.

Now is the time to reassess our priorities as we prepare our nation for a new age.People of Nevis, this is your moment in time. The federation is ready for reform, the federation is ready for real unity. Unity of conviction, unity of purpose, unity of action.

We must harness new ideas and mechanisms to remake our government, revamp the relationship between our islands, and empower our citizens.

So let us make this day a day of remembrance, where we celebrate how far we have come together. 

But more than that, let us chart a new path for our future. Let us confront this new dispensation with new responses that embrace equality and cooperation all the while grounded in our traditional values of  integrity, and accountability.

Let us make a better country to leave to our children, a country that is truly united, a country where citizens work together for the benefit of all to create a better more hopeful world. We have the opportunity  to give them that. Today we commit ourselves to work together to put our nation on that path forever.

It is therefore with great pleasure that I sign this historic Charlestown Accord on behald of the Peoples Action Movement.

Thank you.




 

 

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