CASTRIES, St Lucia (CMC) — Prime Minister of St Lucia, Allen Chastanet has dismissed statements made by a lecturer of the University of the West Indies (UWI) in which he warned against the rise of the businessman-politician in the Caribbean.
Head of the Department of Government, Sociology and Social Work at the UWI Cave Hill Campus in Barbados, Dr Tennyson Joseph, identified the St Lucian prime minister and US President Donald Trump as examples of why businessmen as politicians are bad for society.
Joseph, who unsuccessfully contested the 2006 general election in St Lucia against Chastanet's United Workers Party (UWP), told a lecture in St Vincent last week that the region should regard the development of the businessman politician as “a new window for the re-emergence of the left”.
But Chastanet told reporters that any comparison between himself and Trump stops at the fact that both of them are business people, insisting: “my experience in government is long and deep”.
Chastanet said his experience in government dates back to the mid 1980's when he was first employed as an economist and later become the director of tourism in early 1990.
He said he had also worked with the 'quasi-government' Air Jamaica and returned to St Lucia to serve as minister of tourism for five years.
“My understanding and knowledge of how government works is very substantial and I think that my administration has benefitted from that and certainly I would like to think that we have been very clear on what our policies are and when you look at it.
“ I think with what we have achieved with one year in government, or just over one year, hopefully Joseph himself would have recognised our success in government,” Chastanet told reporters, adding that other than make allegations, the UWI lecturer did not substantiate anything he was saying.
“Those were some of the same things he was saying about being a white man and all this. We have seen several articles written by Mr Joseph which I think are racist,” Chastanet said, expressing his surprise that the UWI has not taken note of Joseph's articles and statements in the past.
“I am really surprised that the University of the West Indies has not called him out on that and that he would be allowed to continue to teach students,” Chastanet said.
Meanwhile, the main opposition St Lucia Labour Party (SLP) has criticised the call by Chastanet for Joseph to be dismissed.
The party said that it is not surprised at the “vindictive, punitive and authoritarian behaviour” on Chastanet who instead of regarding Joseph's lecture as part of his 'democratic right and public responsibility to express his views…sought instead to express surprise that Dr Joseph is “actually still a professor at the University of the West Indies”.
“The St Lucia Labour Party takes comfort in the fact that the University is a mature institution of higher learning which is built on the principles of academic freedom and intellectual autonomy and its hiring decisions are not made by itinerant, insecure, vindictive politicians. Had it been otherwise, the UWI would long cease to exist.”