St Vincent PM: 'Attack could have killed me'

St Vincent and the Grenadines PM Dr Ralph Gonsalves at hospital after being hit with an object outside the parliament during a protest on Thursday. -
St Vincent and the Grenadines PM Dr Ralph Gonsalves at hospital after being hit with an object outside the parliament during a protest on Thursday. -

St Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves said he believed the person who threw an object at him had the intent to kill him or cause him serious bodily harm.

He suffered a concussion and said he has to have tests in a few weeks to see if any bleeding has emerged on his brain.

He made the statement after he was discharged from the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Barbados, where he was flown on Thursday.

He had earlier been hit in the head by an object thrown at him by a protester outside Parliament against the Public Health Amendment Bill. The bill would make covid19 vaccination mandatory for certain public-sector workers.

Gonsalves thanked the hundreds of people who sent text messages expressing solidarity with him and condemning the senseless act of violence.

“Make no mistake about it, the person who threw the projectile at me that hit me in my head, at the top of the head, it could easily have come, as the doctors tell me, lower down to the temple, and where there could have been immediately far more serious damage.

"I take the assault upon me not just as an injury or an act of battery, but when you throw a stone or some other projectile at someone with the intention to hit them in their head...given the delicate nature of one’s head, you have in mind the intention to kill, you have the intention to cause serious bodily harm, because the object which you are throwing doesn’t have a laser designed to miss me.

"The intention was to hit me, and they did, and to cause me serious damage or even loss of life.”

Gonsalves said he arrived in Barbados through arrangements made by Prime Minister Mia Mottley and his wife Eloise, on the advice of doctors to have an experienced neurologist, neurosurgeon Dr Gill, examine him.

“They discharged me this morning and he has concluded from his examinations, assessments, enquiries, tests, that there are no neurological deficits.

But the doctor told Gonsalves he has to be monitored over the next four to six weeks then have another series of tests and examinations "to see if any bleeding emerges in the brain as a result of the concussion. I will follow his advice to the letter,” he added.

He said Vincentian consultant Dr Ossey had accompanied him to Barbados and was apprised of all the relevant medical information about his condition.

Gonsalves said he viewed as sacred the voters and votes who put him in Parliament from North Central Windward.

“Those voters have me there overwhelmingly in every election since 1994, and inclusive of the last one in 2020. The parliamentarian and the representative must have the right of access to his Parliament unhindered, and the right of egress, unhindered.

"By all means, exercise your constitutional and lawful right to protest, but that doesn’t give you a right to stop a parliamentarian from entering Parliament or to do violence towards him. That is absolutely very clear. I will have more to say about this at a later date.”

Gonsalves thanked the members of his security detail and other individual police officers who sought to protect him when he was assaulted.

Caricom Secretary-General Irwin LaRocque condemned the violent attack in strong terms, saying in a release that the “reprehensible act is an affront to our democratic principles and practices. The conduct of peaceful protest is a fundamental civil and political right that represents a healthy element of our democracy. Its degeneration into violence and physical assault must be denounced unreservedly.

“Caricom looks forward to the perpetrator of this aggressive act being brought to justice. The community calls for peace and calm in St Vincent and the Grenadines. The community wishes the Prime Minister a speedy recovery from his injuries.”

In a statement, UWI vice-chancellor Sir Hilary Beckles expressed dismay and disappointment.

“The event that featured the hurling of a missile intended to injure Dr Gonsalves constituted an act of hooliganism against his personhood and of vandalism against the collective nationhood. The university community condemns the dastardly action and joins with the resilient and heroic people of SVG. They have risen time and time again to validate the leadership of the ‘comrade’ who has provided for decades a model of progressive post-colonial democratic politics.

Beckles said it was cowardly for any individual, interest group, or opposition force, to resort to "stone- throwing" in the midst of a complex national discourse in which saving lives and rebuilding the economy are on the table.

“Neither the nation, nor its leader should be subject to this ‘madness’ in the aftermath of what has happened in Haiti, and the daily covid19 devastation of African people in the aftermath of George Floyd.

“Caribbean people are located at the centre of contemporary conversations about emerging new world order, and such actions place a stain upon the excellent reputation of the ‘Vincy’ community. It’s a mark, however, made by a small minority, that will be erased by the unrelenting efforts of the majority.

He said "Citizen Gonsalves" knew these things better than most, "and no doubt will return to the centre of the conversation, clearer and stronger than ever.”


"St Vincent PM: ‘Attack could have killed me’"

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