People protest outside Parliament against multi-billion dollar project

CASTRIES, St. Lucia, Dec 20, CMC – A group of at least 50 people staged a protest outside the St. Lucia parliament on Tuesday demanding that the Allen Chastanet government scrap a multi-billion dollar project they say will severely affect residents in the south of the island.

The protestors  argue that the US$2.6 billion Desert Star Holdings Limited (DSH) project that includes the construction of a race course, a free trade zone, a shopping mall complex, marina and other facilities on 700 acres of land in Vieux Fort will destroy the environment in that area.

Bertrand Fevrier, who described himself as the spokesman for the protestors, told reporters that the action outside the Parliament building in the capital “was “just the beginning.

“We will be marching from now until the end of the year”, he said, as the protestors, clad in T-shirts with the slogan “Save our sandy beach” voiced their support for the action.

protest-1
Protesters outside the St. Lucia Parliament building (Jerry George Photo)

Fevrier, said that the residents of Vieux Fort and surrounding areas believe that the project would not be beneficial to them and one religious person, Father Kevin Murray, who was among the protestors, described the project as a travesty.

“This project is there to destruct, I will not use the word develop. It is there to destruct Sandy beach, to take away homes from poor people in Bruceville, to take away playing fields from people in the ghetto, and this is a travesty against your own people.”

He said the contract specifies that there will be no cattle rearing within a three miles radius of the hotel, and this therefore means that many people livelihoods will be affected.

“This is not political, this is about preservation. It is not about party, but about principle and about people here who live, work and breathe in the Vieux Fort area. Their rights and dignity have to be upheld.”

Legislators were greeted by shouts from the protestors who were insisting that the project is “not good for St. Lucia” and “we will not allow government to give away our land for $1 per acre.”

House Speaker Leonne Theodore-John also left Parliament Chambers to intervene in the noisy protest as supporters of the ruling United Workers Party (UWP) and the main opposition St. Lucia Labour Party (SLP) engaged in  verbal confrontations over the issue.

Police were called to restore calm in the area.

In August, the government issued a statement that sought to dispel rumours surrounding the project with the Hong Kong-based DSH.

protest-2
Father Kevin Murray

The government statement indicated that it had been alerted “to the many comments, queries, and concerns and expressed views that have been circulating in the media” since the July 29 announcement of the proposed US$2.6 billion integrated development project.

The Chastanet government said that it welcomes any questions and scrutiny that naturally follows from such a potentially transformative project, “which promises to significantly reduce unemployment levels, enhance the tourism, sporting and entertainment product, widen the opportunities for local businesses, and improve the attractiveness of St Lucia as an investment location of choice”.

The government said that the DHS project will result in a mixed-use real estate development enterprise involving, inter-alia, entertainment and sporting facilities, as a third category under the real estate provisions of the Citizenship by Investment Programme (CIP) legislation.

In its statement, the government said that the proposed DSH project is indeed a significant project, which is anticipated to advance the socio-economic status of the southern part of the island.

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A Moment with the Registrar of Lands

by STAFF WRITER 

CASTRIES, St. Lucia, Dec 20, CMC – A group of at least 50 people staged a protest outside the St. Lucia parliament on Tuesday demanding that the Allen Chastanet government scrap a multi-billion dollar project they say will severely affect residents in the south of the island.

The protestors  argue that the US$2.6 billion Desert Star Holdings Limited (DSH) project that includes the construction of a race course, a free trade zone, a shopping mall complex, marina and other facilities on 700 acres of land in Vieux Fort will destroy the environment in that area.

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Bertrand Fevrier, who described himself as the spokesman for the protestors, told reporters that the action outside the Parliament building in the capital “was “just the beginning.

“We will be marching from now until the end of the year”, he said, as the protestors, clad in T-shirts with the slogan “Save our sandy beach” voiced their support for the action.

protest-1
Protesters outside the St. Lucia Parliament building (Jerry George Photo)

Fevrier, said that the residents of Vieux Fort and surrounding areas believe that the project would not be beneficial to them and one religious person, Father Kevin Murray, who was among the protestors, described the project as a travesty.

“This project is there to destruct, I will not use the word develop. It is there to destruct Sandy beach, to take away homes from poor people in Bruceville, to take away playing fields from people in the ghetto, and this is a travesty against your own people.”

He said the contract specifies that there will be no cattle rearing within a three miles radius of the hotel, and this therefore means that many people livelihoods will be affected.

“This is not political, this is about preservation. It is not about party, but about principle and about people here who live, work and breathe in the Vieux Fort area. Their rights and dignity have to be upheld.”

Legislators were greeted by shouts from the protestors who were insisting that the project is “not good for St. Lucia” and “we will not allow government to give away our land for $1 per acre.”

House Speaker Leonne Theodore-John also left Parliament Chambers to intervene in the noisy protest as supporters of the ruling United Workers Party (UWP) and the main opposition St. Lucia Labour Party (SLP) engaged in  verbal confrontations over the issue.

Police were called to restore calm in the area.

In August, the government issued a statement that sought to dispel rumours surrounding the project with the Hong Kong-based DSH.

protest-2
Father Kevin Murray

The government statement indicated that it had been alerted “to the many comments, queries, and concerns and expressed views that have been circulating in the media” since the July 29 announcement of the proposed US$2.6 billion integrated development project.

The Chastanet government said that it welcomes any questions and scrutiny that naturally follows from such a potentially transformative project, “which promises to significantly reduce unemployment levels, enhance the tourism, sporting and entertainment product, widen the opportunities for local businesses, and improve the attractiveness of St Lucia as an investment location of choice”.

The government said that the DHS project will result in a mixed-use real estate development enterprise involving, inter-alia, entertainment and sporting facilities, as a third category under the real estate provisions of the Citizenship by Investment Programme (CIP) legislation.

In its statement, the government said that the proposed DSH project is indeed a significant project, which is anticipated to advance the socio-economic status of the southern part of the island.