- ‘We do not believe that the government’s approach is in the best interest of the Vincentian diaspora in the USA.’ — Eustace
KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent – Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace said Tuesday that Ambassador to the United Nations Camillo Gonsalves should not have stepped between the barricades in front of his embassy building in New York and should have shown his identification when asked by the cop who later arrested and handcuffed him last Wednesday.
He also said at a press conference that the New York Police Department officer acted disproportionally and inappropriately when he grabbed the envoy — the oldest son of Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves — by the neck and shoulder.
Eustace, in outlining the position of his New Democratic Party (NDP), said that the opposition does not support the resolution of the situation by legal means but would not compromise the integrity of the inviolability of the nation’s diplomatic agents and missions overseas.
His statement, he said, would probably be his last on the development, which has been widely discussed by Vincentians at home an in the diaspora because he did not want to contribute to the incident’s “distraction of the public from other affairs which are more important to the lives and wellbeing of the people of our country”.
Prime Minister Gonsalves last Wednesday called Eustace and briefed him on the development and Eustace said he has read the report Ambassador Gonsalves submitted to the government, in addition to other media reports and communiqués from other CARICOM ambassadors on the development.
“In ideal circumstances, we will get more reports because this is an unfolding matter. More, I imagine, will be brought to light in due course,” he said.
Ambassador Gonsalves said in his report that on returning to his office after lunch, he stepped between the barricades as he has done for the past five years and the cop followed him into the lobby where he was arrested.
Eustace said that the NDP adhere to “the letter and the spirit of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic and Consular Relations,” adding that his party holds host nations of this country’s diplomatic missions and envoys “to the same vigorous adherence to the Convention”.
“We expect, however, a high level of pragmatism, understanding and cooperation on the part of our representatives, consistent with our position and aspiration as a small, developing country whose people are our greatest resource. Likewise, we expect full reciprocity on the part of our host nations,” he further said.
Eustace noted the Prime Minister’s announcement that his government was preparing a battery of lawyers to travel to the United States in relation to the incident.
“On behalf of the New Democratic Party, I wish to state categorically that we will not support the government in any legal action in this regard. It is our considered opinion in carrying forward this matter that the government should meet with the U.S. authorities with a view to amicable settlement in our best interest. We do not believe that the government’s approach is in the best interest of the Vincentian diaspora in the USA,” Eustace said.
He further said the government is facing financial constraints and can only meet such legal bills at expense of expenditure in other areas where it is more needed.