“There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.” ~ Former British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli
After various claims of “taken out of context”, “deliberate buffoonery to provoke the US”, “never before published statistics” and other excuses, Saint Lucia Prime Minister Allen Chastanet evidently decided last week to retreat from his blatantly false claims of the number of criminal deportees to the country from the US and offered an unflattering apology.
So what name should we give to Chastanet’s “buffoonery”? One of Disraeli’s three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies or statistics? Or was it a “terminological inexactitude”, a phrase introduced and popularised in 1906 by another British politician (later prime minister) Winston Churchill for the purpose of, in effect, calling his parliamentary colleagues liars?
One has to ask who is advising Chastanet on foreign policy matters, if anyone. Who gave him the “statistics” he used? Did he or anyone in his extended Office of the Prime Minister actually do any research? Especially when all such data are readily accessible online on the US Department of Homeland Security website, making nonsense of the claim that such numbers were not hitherto published before Chastanet’s “deliberate buffoonery” forced the US to reveal them.
Chastanet apologists claim that his “buffoonery has triumphed where brilliance hasn’t” in getting the attention of the US, which apparently the previous government had been unable to do. But has it really? Or if it has, it is hardly in a positive or constructive light.
The US perceives it needs to do nothing in relation to deportations since, as clearly stated by the Bridgetown embassy, each country has an international obligation to accept the return of its nationals who are not eligible to remain in the United States or any other country.
Neither does it need to do anything in relation to the Leahy Law sanctions. The onus is, and always has been on Saint Lucia to deal with the alleged extra-judicial killings in 2010/11 by officers of the Royal St Lucia Police Force (RSLPF) “through credible judicial processes and prosecutions” if the government wants the sanctions lifted.
The problem for the current and former administrations is that they have no clue how to do that without causing serious unrest within the fragile RSLPF in particular and society in general.
In fact, the problem is so intractable it leads me to speculate whether former prime minster and leader of the St Lucia Labour Party (SLP) Dr Kenny Anthony may have been reluctantly relieved when he lost the general election last month.
As I commented shortly before the election, whichever party formed the new government may lose by winning.
Anthony was elected in 2011 after allegedly spilling the beans to the US on the previous United Workers Party (UWP) government’s incompetency, corruption, mismanagement and its responsibility for implementing Operation Restore Confidence, which ultimately resulted in the Leahy Law sanctions that were imposed during the succeeding SLP term in office.
Hence, could Anthony, without the knowledge of his own political party, have secretly begun to assess his vulnerabilities and come up with an exit strategy that would enable him conveniently to ride off into the sunset? Certainly, well-placed sources within the US Intelligence community seem to think so.
(1) He must have been aware that the RSM/Grynberg matter had not vanished into thin air as he might have hoped;
(2) The Leahy Law sanctions represent the 800lb gorilla in the room that was next to impossible to get off his political back without any form of prosecution of the police officers involved in the extrajudicial killings;
(3) Further, any attempt to enforce the Leahy Law mandate by such prosecutions may trigger mutiny within the police force, leading to major political and social unrest;
(4) Anthony may also have suspected that he could become a target for US intelligence covert action, since he had adopted the Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez doctrine of duping the “Gringos” by deceiving the State Department via the US Embassy in Bridgetown and US law enforcement into revoking the US visa of his strongest critic and most vocal politician on the island, the then Cabinet minister Richard Frederick;
(5) As finance minister, he must have been acutely aware of the parlous state of the Saint Lucia economy and the widespread dissatisfaction locally after being forced to implement value added tax (VAT) impacting mostly the poor working class.
As a result of the imbalances in economic development, disenfranchisement and rising crime levels that challenged his administration and became difficulty to tackle, coupled with the fear of covert action against him, did Anthony therefore set his hasty exit strategy in motion to leave office, including the surprise timing of the early election and setting up his own party to fail?
In the 1971 movie “How to Frame a Figg”, the plot centres on corrupt government officials using the incompetent and naive Hollis Figg (played by Don Knotts) as the fall guy for their nefarious activities.
Apparently, the term “Figg” has since become part of the vernacular of intelligence services to describe a gullible individual that has been recruited, usually without his or her knowledge, as a scapegoat or conduit for (dis)information.
Has Chastanet become Anthony’s “Figg”?
In any event, the 800lb gorilla has been neatly packaged and handed back to the UWP – the very same political party that gave birth to it.