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St. Vincent PM lecture disrupted by protestors

St. Vincent PM lecture disrupted by protestors
23 Feb

Lecturer in Political Science at the Cave Hill campus of the University of the West Indies (UWI), Dr Kristina Hinds, was among a group of protesters that disrupted a lecture on natural disasters being given by visiting St. Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves on Thursday night.

Chanting “Justice for Women” the protestors, armed with placards, said they also wanted to pledge “solidarity with our sisters around the region”.

The action comes amid rising public pressure on Gonsalves over his handling of the Yugge Farrell, a former model, who claims she was involved in an extra-marital affair with his son, Camillo, the Finance Minister.

The former model is due back in court in December after she had been charged with using abusive language to Camillo Gonsalves’s wife on January 4.

The former model, had been sent to the Mental Health Centre for the three weeks for evaluation, after she first appeared before Magistrate Bertie Pompey, on January 5.

Pompey’s decision to grant the prosecution’s request in the absence of any supporting argument has led to widespread debate about the functioning of the judiciary in St Vincent and the Grenadines.

Since her hospitalisation, Farrell has made a number of allegations, including that she had been in a relationship with the 44-year-old minister that ended in 2016.

Hinds, public relations officer of the National Organization for Women (NOW) Marsha Hinds and Luci Hammans, a member of the Life in Leggings Movement demanded justice for women during the 10- minute protest that ended when security officials intervened and escorted members of the group out of the lecture theatre at the campus.

“Women lives matter to not just Black lives,” they shouted as Gonsalves said he was prepared to meet with them to discuss the issues they raised.

“I wonder if my dear sisters at some appropriate time …I am prepared to have a discussion with you with all of those issues you have raised. I think they are important issues,” Gonsalves said.

While one member of the audience sought to remind the protestors that they had come here to hear Gonsalves, one of the protestors replied “we will not be silenced,” repeating earlier phrases “justice for women and for all”.

”It is the only way women are going to be heard in Barbados, St. Vincent and any part of the world,” they said.

Gonsalves said his invitation ‘to my dear sisters stands…I will be very pleased to discuss all the issues you have raised at any time you consider to be reasonable in all the circumstances,” he said, adding “we are (now) having a discussion on natural disasters” as the audience broke out into spontaneous applause.

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