Countries That Failed To Qualify For World Cup 2022 Saint Lucia – Are We Going Bananas?

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Saint Lucia – Are We Going Bananas?

I am from the island of St Lucia, a former French and British colony (the two colonists fought 14 times over the island with the British ultimately victorious). St Lucia is about 238 square miles, made famous by our twins (Gros and Petite Piton) and two Nobel Prize Winners (Sir Arthur Lewis and Derek Walcott); the first in the field of Economics and the last in literature (the first black recipients in this field).

Our main economic source until recently was the export of bananas. There was a change in trade agreements with Britain which forced the USA to pay us less for bananas. Britain for a long time bought bananas from Saint Lucia at a higher rate as part of an agreement between the island and the former coloniser. When these terms were changed, Saint Lucia could not compete in the free market and we were now selling to the British for pennies. Farmers who support their families and our country by selling bananas suddenly face a serious drop in income. Many people who had jobs that depended on the banana industry found themselves unemployed and for the first time in history, St. Lucia began to feel economic pressure.

This brings us to our current argument.

For years there have been proponents and opponents of what now appeared to be a naive choice of being dependent on one crop for our livelihood. Mono-agriculture has always been frowned upon especially if that one plant is hard on the soil (ie growing bananas).

Considering our wealth of agricultural and fishing resources it seemed that common sense would have demanded that researching something else or diversifying all together would have shown foresight on the part of the current governing political party, the United Workers Party which operates the export of bananas. .

Needless to say, St Lucia (which, if I do say so myself) is one of the most beautiful islands in the world and probably the most economically stable and prosperous in the Caribbean now being forced to rely on extensive on tourism.

As St. Lucian, I believe I can say this definitely; tourism is not really our cup of tea.

Although I think I can say unequivocally that we are some of the most hospitable and generous West Indians we can find; we do not at the same time beg or kiss a barrel well; we are no nonsense people and we will tell you the order quickly.

Now it is very possible that we have not experienced hunger or despair and that we are too proud. But the crux of the problem is that we like to create our own terms and decisions and we don’t like to be backed into a corner. And if history can be our guide, most of the tourist-driven economies are housed in countries that are no longer capable of self-determination. The opening price of some is bordering on money I guess.

So was this negligence foreseeable? Can we reverse this decline? And should we? As with all “developing” countries there are serious cases of abuse and corruption. Land and tax breaks being offered to foreign businesses without the consent or knowledge of the people. And apparently there are many back door deals with the Taiwanese or Chinese governments depending on which political party is in power.

Now, let me make this clear, St Lucians are very involved in the political process. For example, I have a cousin who has a famous radio show, ‘Juk Bwois’ which always rubs someone the wrong way because it caters to the backbone of St Lucia actually discussing hard and tough low-down politics with the farmers and the providers of the resources needed to run the country. His radio show is done in Kweyol (also known as Patois) which is our dialect and is unfortunately ignored when speaking. We have in St. Lucia two classes of people; people who speak Kweyol and people who don’t like people who speak Kweyol. The haters are trying to oppress us Kweyol speakers but have failed so far and only managed to look silly in the process since it was Kweyol who freed us from slavery.

But as always, I digress. Due to political activism and in some cases cantankerousness by people like Juk Bwois, the local citizen gets the latest information about events. The local citizen tries to be active and vigilant in holding our politicians honest (slightly so).

Having said that, the farmers still have no answers to the dilemma, more and more tourists are coming to Saint Lucia and the island is slowly becoming more commercial and changing to please the tourists who bring cash.

Is this for the worse or for the better?

Melissa K.

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