By Caribbean News Now contributor
CASTRIES, St Lucia — In an event reminiscent of “The Mouse That Roared”, a 1955 Cold War satirical novel, a recent call by the leader of the Lucian People’s Movement (LPM), Therold Prudent, for medical parole of former Taiwanese president Chen Shui-Bian, has attracted media attention around the world.
The fact that Saint Lucia was poised to receive millions of additional dollars in aid from Taiwan was apparently least on the minds of journalists who traveled with current President Ma Ying-jeou on his visit to the island as part of 12-day tour of Taiwan’s diplomatic allies in the region.
After all, Taiwan has given millions of dollars in aid to many countries that are willing to champion its efforts to gain acceptance into world bodies such as the United Nations.
As the Boeing 747 China Airlines flight carrying Ma and his entourage touched down in Saint Lucia, it was a familiar scene that had been repeated from Haiti to Paraguay and would continue in St Vincent and the Grenadines and later St Kitts and Nevis.
However, for most of the foreign journalists covering Ma’s visit, some of whom are employed by Taiwan’s Central News Agency (CNA), the news that caught their attention was Prudent’s statement urging Saint Lucians to advocate for the release of ailing former president Chen and focusing on human rights abuses in Taiwan.
While some of Saint Lucia’s leading independent media houses carried the story and many in the region followed it on Caribbean News Now, readers from around the world, including Taiwan and the Asian region, responded with comments and over 340 Facebook likes in support of the LPM’s position on Taiwan’s human rights record.
By Saturday morning (6:00 am Taiwanese time), reports filed from Saint Lucia had already been published by the Taipei Times and other news portals throughout Taiwan and Asia.
The journalists covering Ma’s visit to Saint Lucia found the LPM’s perspective newsworthy enough to share with their readers back home.
Ironically, there was very little focus on the joint communiqué signed by the Saint Lucian government and President Ma.
“The lesson for us in Latin American and the Caribbean, and Saint Lucia is simple – ‘human rights matter’ in other parts of the world! As a region, we cannot continue to operate in a bubble with outstretched arms for foreign aid. We cannot continue to arm ourselves with the narrow mindedness of local politics with all of its self-righteousness. And, we cannot continue to ignore the personal sufferings of citizens locally and in distant lands, who daily pay the ultimate price for our chronic dependence of foreign aid,” the LPM said in a follow up statement.