CASTRIES, St. Lucia Jan 16 – Prime Minister Allen Chastanent says he refuses to believe that poverty is behind the upsurge in criminal activities in St. Lucia and urged citizens, particularly parents, to re-think their priorities.
“I refuse to accept that poverty is the cause for the kind of crime that we are seeing in St. Lucia today. Too many St. Lucians have been poor and have never resorted to this level of crime,” Chastanet said at a vigil and march for peace in the communities of Bois D’Inde and Jacmel, north east of here on Sunday.
The activities were held to mark the death of five people over a weekend earlier this month.
“There are clearly people who know who committed the crime and I know people are scared of coming forward. We will be creating some hotlines in which you can call up anonymously to be able to give information. You cannot have sympathy in your heart for a person that is willing to shoot somebody in cold blood.
“You must not have sympathy in your heart for people who believe killing is of no consequence because that is a crime against society that is setting a wrong example for the young people and I am pleading with all of you form neighbourhood watches, let the police know, be part of the solution not the part of the problem,” he said.
He told the gathering “in order to change things we must be able to change ourselves.
“The young men that have been committing these crimes we must pray for them because to kill somebody means that your soul has been corrupted.
“Any respectful human being could not just so easily and so heinously and so heartlessly kill somebody,” he added.
Chastanet said that it was important for the society to change and re-think its priorities.
“We are responsible for our own future…how is it we believe in our society that killing ourselves is okay, and so I am asking all St. Lucians to take a deep breath and reflect on what is going on in your own house. How are you raising your children, how are you behaving in front of your children? What priorities are you making for your lives…?Is it more important to have the most modern phone? Is it the most important thing to have a nice pair of shoes or is it more important to spend time with our children?” He asked.
Chastanet said he had seen people doing an honest day’s work in order to make a living and to make sure also that their children get a good education and that his government, which came into office last February, is doing all that it can to improve the socio-economic environment for all citizens..
“We need something for our young people to do. We need to create after school activities. It cannot be after 2.30 (local time) the children have nothing to do. It cannot be that there’s no jobs in the south so that young people who grow up in a community in which everybody knows who they are, that they leave the community and now come to live in a ghetto where they are anonymous.
“My government will do everything that we can to restore family life values. We will do everything that we can to bring spirituality back to this country, but government cannot do it alone…we must say enough is enough,” Chastanet said, telling the gathering that change could only come when people are ready to do so.