BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS, AUGUST 29TH 2013 (CUOPM) – Rookie People’s Action Movement (PAM) deputy political leader, Mr. Jonel Powell is being criticised for labelling as “trivia” and a “smokescreen” widespread public reaction condemning the recent attack on the Government and People of Cuba and Cuban-trained nationals by former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. the Hon. Timothy Harris.
“Why would Jonel Powell think that this just a smoke screen regarding the reaction of the people to Dr. Harris’s comment on our students being trained in Cuba and the references to former President Fidel Castro and current President Raoul Castro,” said Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Dr. Denzil L. Douglas, in response to the continued outrage being expressed on several radio talk shows including Tuesday’s “Ask the Prime Minister.”
Mr. Powell, a lawyer, is the nephew of PAM Founder and former St. Kitts and Nevis Ambassador to the United Nations, the United States and the Organisation of American States (OAS), His Excellency Dr. William “Billy” Herbert.
“Jonel Powell was born with a ‘golden spoon’ in his mouth. Maybe not one, but maybe two. But let me make it clear I am not in any way taking issue with anyone who is born with a golden spoon in his/her mouth, but I take issue with Jonel Powell for thinking that what Harris said was ‘trivia and a smoke screen’ because he don’t really understand what it means for poor people to wait, worry and lament for the opportunity to go off to a university to study,” said Prime Minister Douglas.
Dr. Douglas’ St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Government has accepted the scholarships from the Government of Cuba and has approved the training of scores of Kittitians and Nevisians in several disciplines including pharmacology, dentistry, medicine, economics, accounting, radiology, psychology and engineering.
“I don’t think he will ever appreciate that because you see his background is different and again I am not going to in any way take issue to people who have a particular background. But his background is different and so it is easy of course for him and his family to find hundreds of thousands of dollars to send them off to university. But what about those poor people who don’t have those privileges? What about those poor people who were not born with any spoon at all in their mouth, much less a ‘golden spoon’?
That’s why I take issue with Jonel Powell for the statement that he made last week in trying to dis-away the statement and references made by Dr. Harris,” Prime Minister Douglas said in response to the caller.
Dr. Douglas said Mr. Powell needs to understand that if Cuba was not there, scores of young people, who today are serving the interests of the people of St. Kitts and Nevis, would not have had the opportunity.
“Cuba opened up the door for the children of poor people and the children of rich people, the children who come from a PAM background and those who come from a Labour background or those who come from no political background at all and that is why Dr. Harris is being condemned, not only here in St. Kitts and Nevis but throughout the progressive World, throughout the entire Caribbean Region because leaders are asking me if this is the same person who was a Foreign Minister and who was a Minister of Education here in St. Kitts and Nevis,” said Prime Minister Douglas.
The St. Kitts and Nevis leader again blasted former minister Harris “for denigrating and treating with disdain and disrespect, Fidel Castro and what he stood for and now his brother, Raul Castro, treating with disrespect and making all kind of negative and ridiculous insinuations about Fidel Castro and how the people of Cuba live.”
“I take strong offence and I am disappointed in Mr. Jonel Powell, to join with Dr. Timothy Harris, who is being condemned the world over, especially here in St. Kitts and Nevis, in siding with Dr. Timothy Harris and saying that peoples reaction is “trivia and a smoke screen,” said Dr. Douglas.
“Our people are serious with what they are saying and with the comments that they are making. They see the opportunity of their children being deprived of a tertiary level education in Cuba, if Jonel’s (PAM) party and Timothy Harris’ (PLP) ever get into power here in St. Kitts and Nevis. That’s why people don’t treat it as ‘trivia and a smoke screen’,” said Prime Minister Douglas.