It's desperation time, Gaston Browne unleashes the streetwalkers, urchins!

By Anthony daCosta

Monday, March 19, 2018

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ST JOHN'S, Antigua -- With two days to go to the general election, soon-to-be ex-prime minister, Gaston Browne has unleashed all his political streetwalkers and urchins to attack everyone he regards as his enemy, including his favourite campaign whipping boy, Sandals.

Despite his best efforts, Antiguans have not bought into his cock and bull story about taxes being withheld by the resort which has made the biggest contribution of any local or foreign investor to the growth and development of the island for the past 27 years.

Browne has come to the painful realisation that Antiguans have seen through his subterfuge – that having very little of substance to show for his four years in office, he has made out Sandals and its chairman, Mr Gordon 'Butch' Stewart as the villain for purposes of his election campaign.

Browne has assembled and engaged an unsavoury crew of political has-beens, talent-less individuals who have to sing for their supper and a handful of desperate, hungry misfits hoping he can win so that they can continue to plunder Antigua's coffers, the only thing they are good at.

Thankfully, Antiguans in the main are not fooled by their cacophony of lies and mindless inventions. They know that Browne is on a vendetta against Sandals and Stewart because he does not respond to anything that smacks of a shakedown.

The vendetta started when Browne wanted a big donation for his political party headquarters building and for his pending election campaign, promising even a British knighthood and Stewart told him a stinging 'no'.

Egged on by a few hotel competitors who are backers of his party, Browne unilaterally cancelled a legal tax concession agreement signed by a previous government, in exchange for which Sandals had built an additional 180 rooms at a cost well over US$100 million, bringing hundreds of jobs to Antiguans.

In the process Browne has made an enemy of someone who is known worldwide for his conciliatory demeanour, his great love for Antiguans and who has worked well with all governments previously to bring untold benefits to the country over a quarter century.

More importantly, Browne, has done huge damage to the reputation of Antigua among investors and offended the staff of Sandals resorts who are among the highest-paid employees on the island. He has used the parliament and the powers of the prime minister in a sustained campaign of intimidation, hooliganism and bad-mouthing of their beloved employer.

It will take a long time for Antigua to recover from the damage Browne and his cohorts have inflicted. In my own travels across the Caribbean, I have been amazed by the numbers of people who say they are shocked by what Browne is doing, by the way he has abused the laws of his country to have his way and moreso his disdain for someone who has built Antigua.

My response to them is that they should not cry for Antigua. Antiguans are not a simple people. They know the charlatans and quacks who profess to be saviours but are hapless souls who seek only to line their pockets and fatten their friends,

On Wednesday Antiguans will have an opportunity to decide whether Browne and his motley crew fit such description and are worthy of their votes. I have no doubt what they will do with those hooligans and impostors.

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