My fellow Antiguans and Barbudans
I returned home today, cutting a brief one-week holiday with my family in St Lucia.
Since my wife and I were already there to carry out official duties, associated with my current chairmanship of CARICOM, we decided to vacation there.
I learned of yesterday’s events after they occurred.
I could not remain away from home and on vacation when political trouble-makers and known criminals are trying to subvert, undermine and destroy our country and the interests of our people, by misleading innocent people.
Yesterday’s incident, in which protestors deliberately violated the laws of the land, applicable to all citizens, and defied the instructions of law enforcement, who were seeking to protect the welfare of the population, was politically organised.
Ironically, politicians, who have inoculated themselves against the ravages of COVID-19, continue to prey upon the erroneous belief by some unsuspecting persons, that the anti-COVID vaccine is harmful to them, despite all the evidence to the contrary.
These politicians, who have made themselves safe, encouraged persons to not only risk their health and their lives, but to break the laws of our country with impunity, to create anarchy and instability.
They were quick to appear on the UPP-aligned radio stations and on social media, condemning the Police and inciting disorder and lawlessness.
Undoubtedly, their primary objectives were to light fires of confrontation and to promote disturbances.
They would see Antigua and Barbuda burn to ashes, just to grab the power they abused for 10 awful years; to enrich themselves, ruin the economy, harm the livelihoods of thousands of families, and pauperise our people.
Let there be no doubt, that the political organisers of yesterday events wanted no peaceful protest; it was a pre-meditated response to undermine the laws and health protocols, to create conflict, chaos and confusion.
Our country is just emerging from almost a year and half of severe economic decline, caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
That pandemic ravaged our tourism dependent economy, yet the Government steered the nation through it with great skill and success.
We kept all public servants employed and paid.
Though frequently late, we satisfied pension payments; and we reformed and modernised our health system, to contain the coronavirus, saving thousands of lives.
We also expanded our country’s socio-economic infrastructure and brought our nation to the point where we can open up the economy, providing more employment and improved prospects for the future.
These achievements are regarded as serious blows to the already disgraced and decrepit opposition politicians, who have offered no vision, no leadership prospects and no opportunities to the people of our country.
So, they and their criminal political activists, have taken advantage of persons, who fear the anti-COVID vaccines, by manipulating them into unnecessary confrontations and conflicts.
Lawlessness is what the UPP knows; disruption and disturbance are their traditional methods of operation.
They used these illegal violent tactics in 1968, in 1979 and again in 2003 to destabilize our country.
And we saw these reprehensible dinosauric tactics employed yesterday, including the involvement of criminal elements, who are well known to the Police.
Their main focus is to retard the economic recovery of the nation and to create instability and insecurity from which they think they could gain political advantage.
They are now disingenuously claiming that what happened yesterday was an assault on democracy, and on the right to peaceful protestations.
This claim is untruthful.
In making that claim, they are again attempting to mislead and deceive the people of our country and others abroad.
My Government does not fear, or discourage peaceful and constructive protests within the confines of the law.
We welcome peaceful protestations, as we see them as potential opportunities to continue to realign our policies, in resolving differences and satisfying the requirements of our people.
Indeed, the persons, who were protesting against vaccines, were used to protest needlessly.
We have made it abundantly clear that no one – absolutely no one in our country – will be vaccinated if they do not wish to be.
We uphold that right and respect it.
With regard to the Rastafarian community, we also recognise that their religious belief rejects vaccinations.
I have said in various fora, we are not challenging those in the Rastafarian community who follow their faith.
They are free not to take vaccinations.
There is absolutely no compulsion that anyone should be vaccinated against COVID-19.
However, as a government, we have an obligation to protect the wider community.
It would be a highly irresponsible – if not, a reckless and careless government – that does not seek to protect the population of the country from infection by a deadly virus.
All that we require, is that front-line workers and public servants, who do not wish to be vaccinated, take a free test every two weeks.
This is to control the spread of the disease, in the event they contract the virus and to provide responsive medical interventions to avert possible hospitalization and death.
What, therefore, was yesterday’s protest about?
Why would anyone protest against so-called mandatory vaccinations that do not exist?
Why protest against a vaccination that you are not required to take?
Clearly, the question must be asked: whose purpose is being served by this unnecessary and ill advised protest?
The answer could be easily discerned from the articulations of UPP leaders, who attended the illegal gathering to urge the protestor on.
They also made a public call to lock down the country, evidently to plunge our people into further hardships.
The facts of the matter, concerning yesterday’s events, are as follows:
An application was made by known UPP supporters, to hold a march to protest against vaccination and continuance of the health protocols including the wearing of masks.
But it is well known, that under the COVID-19 protocols that have existed for over a year, as a result of the pandemic; no unauthorized gatherings larger than 25 persons are permitted, and, even then, only with social distancing and the wearing of masks.
This was not a political recommendation of the Cabinet; it was a legal requirement, of the health authorities, who have been fighting a courageous battle to contain the spread of the coronavirus, to save lives and livelihoods.
It is well known that large gatherings can be super-spreaders of the virus, therefore they are legally prohibited.
Consequently, the Police were obliged to deny the application for such a large gathering and a march, for the protection of the wider society.
Notwithstanding the denial, the organizers defied the Police and not only gathered, but attempted to march without permission and without masks and physical distancing, in deliberate violation of the regulations.
To the credit of the Police, its officers exercised great patience and restraint.
They repeatedly urged the persons in the gathering to disperse, pointing out that were violating the laws and COVID regulations.
It was only after the politically aligned ringleaders of the crowd began to agitate; disregarding the Police urgings, refusing to disperse and inciting the gathering to march without legal permission; that the Police was forced to use tear gas to disperse them.
It should be noted, that the Police had to protect themselves from projectiles and put out fires, that were started by these violent protestors in violation of our laws.
The Police made a judgment call on their own volition, as they are obliged to do as law enforcement officers.
I should emphasize, that whereas we stand firmly in solidarity with the police; no government minister gave any order to use tear gas, and I was certainly not aware of it until after the incident occurred.
However, no reasonable person could expect the Police, faced with aggressive persons, openly violating the laws and putting the community at risk, not to exercise the judgment for which they are trained in certain perilous situations.
The fact that the Police had to resort to using tear gas to disperse the illegal gathering was unfortunate.
But this action was due to the aggression of protestors, open violation of the laws; the defiance of Police warnings, as well as, the threat posed to the wider community.
And, again I ask, for what purpose?
Why protest against a vaccination you are not required to take?
My fellow citizens, innocent persons were used and abused by unscrupulous politicians, aided by criminal elements, who believe that they can benefit from disturbance, disruption and destruction.
That is their modus operandi; to destabilize our country for partisan gain.
They claim that democracy is at risk.
Our Democracy would certainly be put at risk, if the police fails to uphold law and order within our society.
They have a duty so to do.
There is no legal violation, or any infringement of a right not to be vaccinated; for that right is upheld for all.
Nor is there any violation that would necessitate curbing any peaceful and lawful protests; because the right to such protests is respected.
Those rights have been upheld at the weekly pickets at the office of the Prime Minister, where the police routinely provided protection for the peaceful demonstrators.
What is clearly evident is that democracy is now at risk, because desperate political figures have joined with known criminal elements, to violate the rule of law and promote lawlessness, in the hope of ruining our country for their own jaundiced political purposes.
Political violence and savage behavior have no place in our democracy.
Therefore, we should continue to collectively resist the aggression of those who seek to undermine the rule of law and to create chaos and confusion in our society.
My dear country men and country women, we must remain eternally vigilant against the violent excesses of the partisan few, who continue to operate in the dark and shadows to destroy our country.
We, the well thinking people of our country, cannot allow opposition politicians and their criminal followers to succeed; so that they could ravage and pauperise us again, with their gross incompetence and unmatched corruption; in which they squandered hundreds of millions of dollars of our scarce resources.
Let there be a pellucid understanding: vaccinations are not compulsory, nor mandatory in Antigua and Barbuda.
The right not to be vaccinated is fully respected.
Front line workers and public servants, who do not wish to be vaccinated, merely have to test every two weeks at no cost, in the interest of their own health, their families, their co-workers and the public with whom they deal.
Nothing can be more reasonable and responsible than that.
As a caring and responsible government, we are doing all we can, to protect lives and livelihoods and to fully recover our battered economy in the shortest possible time.
So, I call on all our people not to be duped, deceived, or fooled by these failed politicians, trying to use the fears of the innocent for their own political gain.
We have an economy to recover, a country to rebuild and a people to continue to protect and empower.
Let us set ourselves to that constructive, productive and beneficial task and not to be distracted by these losers, loafers and charlatans, who are seeking confrontation to destabilize our beautiful twin island state.
Let’s stay focused exclusively on rebuilding our country and advancing its people.
Let’s go forward together as one nation, one people, with a common destiny.
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So why are the solid waist staff not being paid we have bills back, have no idea how we make it through a day but call us to work every week just to say on a friday that we are not getting paid this is unfair to a family who depends on their weeks wages.
What he min want Police Fu do, kill people.
Nah put words inna di boss mouth.
Keep chatting Laaaayyybbaaaaa
Please provide evidence that UPP was behind this peaceful picket? Or is it now that we all can say whatever we like? Wait we actually can’t because it would be libel and defamation of character ( not that you called any names which is a smart move on your part). Once again some rules and laws apply to some but not others. If you had any decency left you would resign now. Democracy is not denying the population a peaceful protest, democracy is not tear gassing your people (many of the ALP supporters), democracy is not unleashing rubber bullets, and least of all democracy is not tear gassing the children. Some children that have been affected were in their houses. If you are prepared to attack our children that tells us everything we need to know about you, your government and your police force. I thing the correct word for this is DICTATORSHIP. I sincerely hope that international press picks this story and every tourist chooses to cancel their vacation to Antigua.I want to believe there is a special place in hell for people like you.
for people trying to make a living you subliminally forcing poor people to take a vaccine which is an experimental vaccine. A man of your intelligence know that a one year test cannot determine the adverse effects of what’s going to happen in 5 to 10 years from now. the vaccinated people you let enter the country without no quarantine are the same set spreading the virus cause the economy have to be reopened…. all the time numbers where down now vaccinated people come the numbers go up . guess we really need a rocket scientist to analyze this situation
So the Top Dawg calling his Labour Party supporters criminals like Megatron and Sagayfu……Wow how things has change.
That aspect alone in his national address underscores how ridiculous and untruthful the whole address was.
@ CHARLESWORTH TABOR
You jump on every wagon as long as it is against Labour Party . Tabor I wonder how you represent ANYONE in court. You do not follow the facts. You are a JUMP ON BOARD LAWYER. What a shame. Your nose always follow KNIGHT ( You know what !!!! ).
Yes ERIC ( THE RED ) keep wriggling like a sperm
@ KNIGHT IN SHINING ARMOUR
KNIGHT ..I do not expect anything better from You. You are MAN / WOMAN without Substace.
Let us go forward with one hope,one common destiny. Getting rid of you and those lazy sluggish do absolutely nothing Members of your Cabinet. Call the Elections NOW.There are too many GHOSTS WORKERS IN YOUR CABINET. Collecting monthly pay checks for doing absolutely nothing is tantamount to fraud.
Thank you, PM. People want to protest to contravene the Public Health Regulations. One of the organizers said on Observer that they would come out of the march maskless. Seriously? What solution these people have to dealing with the pandemic? The government already removed the cost for COVID testing for front line workers and aryu still want bawl bout protest???!!! Aryu nah hab nutten ah gwaan inna aryu life wha mek aryu can go waste aryu time. It’s unfortunate that political parties would use this lawlessness for political mileage. Me nah vote for dem lawless nearga. Ah LABOUR ME SAY!!!
What a Joker! Words of a desperate Prime Minister. An article filled with repeated lies hoping to do damage control. Too late!
Calling on the opposition to put forward ideas that you would implement. You too cog.
When you want to talk about hoodlums and gangsters let’s start with the famous gun toting manager at National housing and his band of renegades or enforcers. Who is the founder of National housing? Who is the minister in charge of National housing?
How could you profess that you care about poor people?
Thank God Gaston Browne wasn’t in the country during this protest because if he was people would have died. He doesn’t have the patience and restraint like the police.
Those are serious allegations you making there against members of the UPP. Before you talk on national television. Your advisers should prepared you with the evidence to present to the people that UPP operatives were the organizers or antagonist of the protest this past Sunday.
There is no way on god’s blue planet that you did not know that lethal force would be deployed. Yes, rubber bullets are lethal projectiles.
Exhibit l. Disperse or tear gas will be used.
Exhibit ll. Police officers in full riot gear.
This unnecessary, premeditate, heavy handed action shows that there is no sensible person sitting at the head of the table.
You want the country to move forward. Resign! Get out of the way of progress for Antigua and Barbuda. Not for yourself, family and the selected few. Who fill the campaign coffers.
Wadadli! Dip you finger in the ink and VOTE THEM OUT!
😂😂 I love Honorable Gaston Browne!
When are you going to get it? This has nothing to do with politics. It is about the people’s right to choose. The almights gave everyone free will, therefore, who are the leaders of the world to deny?
The word anti-vax is also being thrown around alot lately. Most people are not anti-vax as we have been taking vaccines since we were babies. People are opposed to rushing the covid-19 vaccine into there bodies not knowing if there are any long-term side effects. Most people just want to wait and not be forced as these vaccines are still in the trial stages.
All praise to anyone who wants to be a part of the trial but do not force it on those who are not ready.
Mr. Browne were you in Antigua at the protest to see what happened? You are talking your usual gibberish as usual. Funny you could go to St. Lucia to lie on the beach when Antigua has beach restrictions. I guess st. Lucia doesn’t have any covid. And by the way, what is your wife taking a vacation from? I thought she was a ghost worker.
Tear gas is a chemical weapon used by law enforcement to control riots and disperse crowds — from the United States to Hong Kong, to Venezuela, Haiti, Mexico, Columbia, Honduras.
(Most Eastern Caribbean Islands have not used tear gas to control their citizens).
Despite its frequent use by law enforcement, various international treaties have BANNED the use of tear gas in wartime.
Most of the time, tear gas is really used to SUPPRESS protest and that’s really one of the fundamental problems with it.
Source: ACLU. American Civil Liberties Union.
Was tear-gas what the AG /acting PM alluded to on Saturday ?
We the people, irrespective of our political leanings, or of none, have not forgotten the current
Cabinet Members red ‘styled’ uniforms & berets. Maybe the visual message was not fully understood at the time.
The police displayed a message asking that persons disperse or be gassed. These lawless people continued to revel with minors amidst. I’m not saying the gas was necessary, but the people were warned. I believe the Antiguan people tried a thing. Every country in the world has recognized that in order to resume some degree of normalcy we must achieve herd immunity as a world! Why are we always willing to oppose ABLP? I hope the police light up town with some real bullets next time and kill them all and done.
YOU, “Mr.” Prime Minister is the one making this a political thing when it’s NOT!!. This is a HUMAN RIGHTS issue, so please stop trying to make it political. As usual, you think that we are all stupid and lack the intelligence to think for ourselves and hence we need your political opposition to tell us what to do. Just like there are many reports in favour of a vaccine for a virus with a death rate of 0.15% (lets remember that bird flu in 1997 or ebola in 1976 had a death rate of 52.8% and 40.4% respectively), there are also many reports AGAINST it. If we look not so far back, the death rate of SARS (2002) was 9.6% but no EXPERIMENTAL MEDICATION was forced on us, because none of these vaccines, NONE, have passed reasonable trials yet and will not until end of 2023, regardless of how much you want to treat us as idiots, we are NOT. The only reason we are still on a state of emergency is because you are a DICTATOR, is that simple…..but all dictatorships come to an end sooner or later. I don’t support violence and abuse and let’s remember that those are not only physical…..what you are doing on the people that you WORK FOR is violence, you are not a leader, you are a tyrant. Very sorry that you had to “cut your vacation short” to deal with what WE pay you for. Stop saying that it is not mandatory, it becomes MANDATORY if I can not continue to live in society.
And the lies and bullshit just keeps spewing from the mouth of dictator traitor tyrant liar HT thief Gaston Browne.
You trampled on our constitutional rights and now you will pay for that. We are done with your piece of shit ass.
When your babies get teargassed, you will know how that feels.
Even hell is too good of a place for you.
THE PEOPLE KNOWS THE PM, CUTIE, AND RODNEY, AND WADE ARE LYING. WE KNOW.
THEY HAVE LIED TO US MANY TIMES BEFORE, AND GOT AWAY WITH IT, BUT WE DID NOT HAVE ALL THE INFORMATION SO THE LIE IS BELIEVED.
THIS TIME THE PEOPLE HAVE ALL THE INFORMATION SO THE LIE WILL NOT FLY THIS TIME.
THE LIE WILL NOT FLY THIS TIME. WE KNOW
For some reason they decided not to post my comment….mmmmm…..I wonder why.
To your comment about “next time kill dem all and done” I really wang to believe you said this only out of anger but not from your heart, I know you know that there is a God and you never know when your time is near or how it might happen so I say choose your wors carefully.
I for one is not a political person. I have agreed and disagreed with some of the things the PM has done in this country. One is not always right and as a sensible individual with decent common sense and fairness would know this. The elders of this country and the young ppl who is lacking in knowledge use every as politics and always play the “Blame Game” this party did this, that party did that. It is sad, when one cannot speak or stand for his/her rights without being condemned. They claim the covid is a crisis but How does the PPM finds the time to take vacations and on social media bashing ppl worse than a drag Queen. Vaccinated or Vaccinated not, it is still ones choice. Dieing of starvation is worse than catching covid, so threatening the a person only way of surviving by sending them home without pay or even taking that 50 for a weekly test out of their minimum wage, using the children as experiment as because they to have to be vaccinated is ludacris. We were vaccinated since we were babies but not with a vaccine that was made within a year time. I personally think it is the PM who is making this Covid Pandemic a political charade. It is not about politics it is about one’s right to choose.
I am not a vaccinated nor an anti-vax as they would call it. I’m what God made me to be I’m a Spiritual bein living in a human realm.
To your comment about “next time kill dem all and done” I really wang to believe you said this only out of anger but not from your heart, I know you know that there is a God and you never know when your time is near or how it might happen so I say choose your words carefully.
I for one is not a political person. I have agreed and disagreed with some of the things the PM has done in this country. One is not always right and as a sensible individual with decent common sense and fairness would know this. The elders of this country and the young ppl who is lacking in knowledge use everything as politics and always play the “Blame Game” this party did this, that party did that. It is sad, when one cannot speak or stand for his/her rights without being condemned. They claim the covid is a crisis but How does the PPM finds the time to take vacations and on social media bashing ppl worse than a drag Queen. Vaccinated or Vaccinated not, it is still ones choice. Dieing of starvation is worse than catching covid, so threatening the a person only way of surviving by sending them home without pay or even taking that 50 for a weekly test out of their minimum wage, using the children as experiment because they to have to be vaccinated is ludacris. We were vaccinated since we were babies but not with a vaccine that was made within a year time. I personally think it is the PM who is making this Covid Pandemic a political charade. It is not about politics it is about one’s right to choose.
I am not a vaccinated nor an anti-vax as they would call it. I’m what God made me to be I’m a Spiritual bein living in a human realm.
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