Castries, Saint Lucia: Vieux-Fort- a town located near the southernmost point of Saint Lucia is worthy of fighting for, not as the British and French did in brutal colonial form, nor for partisan points or Kingpin territory or notoriety. It is worthy of fighting for as a marker for what can become the fate and future of any community where Saint Lucians live if we settle for this reality as business as usual.
Rhyesa Joseph- a student of the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, highlighted several historical aspects of the Vieux Fort and stated that it questions what the measure of development truly is outside of GDP figures and tourist arrivals, which are the staple benchmarks of success for the average Caribbean politician.
Know here: What does Rhyesa Joseph have to say about Vieux Fort of Saint Lucia?
Historically, it is the space of many firsts, from European exploits, to sugar plantations, and American military occupation among many others.
The crisis that has erupted did not materialise suddenly, unexpectedly or without conscious acceptance and facilitation. It is one of the loudest and more sinister demonstrations of violence and impunity.
A gang does not emerge and gain legitimacy in a community accidentally, neither do two or three. Gangs emerge, expand, create community and embed themselves often where political systems fail or are inadequate.
While facilitating the flow of drugs and arms, they have simultaneously built play grounds, sent children to school, financed families, and embraced children, particularly young black boys from indigent homes into their fold who have dropped off the radar of both educational and social services. They essentially co-opt the system, and become intricately linked to functional and legal activities and processes.
A discussion on the supremacy of gangs cannot take place without reflection on and political will to act on the inadequacies of human services, educational resources,economic equity and targeted approaches to the vulnerable.
In the immediate aftermath of what was an unholy Trinity of bloodshed the aim understandably is to stop the carnage. But it will not be enough.
After we have stopped pulling bodies off our streets, the reasons, networks and circumstances that facilitated their demise have to be tackled for the long term. We are currently reaping the fruits of the seeds that have been planted for over two decades and possibly longer.
If we aren’t strategic, sincere and committed about the ways in which a community grows and our involvement in it we deal with as we have been the consequences of it’s implosion and degradation.
It cannot be looked at as a “Vieux-Fort” problem as though guns and people don’t travel throughout our island, and are not interconnected.
It cannot just be strategies to address crime fighting alone. We must contend with
- Families- their responsibilities, empowerment, and intervention programmes
- Employment- alternative, sustainable means of earning an income where people have decent wages
- Police- having proper facilities, remuneration, training and a robust and equitable system of rewards and punishment, relationships of trust with members of the community
- Civil society groups and the commercial sector- their activism in creating spaces for positive development, support and community custodianship
Community assets in Saint Lucia
- Untapped sporting talents, an international airport that has no strategic linkages to community activities or commerce, and plentiful arable lands.
- Government/Governance- policies, procedures, and development strategies that are inclusive, outcome-driven and decentralized in their focus, addressing the corruption that has led to crippled social services and resources such as the Saint Jude Hospital, George Odlum Stadium and the Administrative Complex/Wasco office saga.
- The issues are complex, and so the solutions too will require multiple actors and strategies.
However, Vieux-Fort of Saint Lucia is worth fighting for.