The People’s Action Movement staged a hugely successful 50th Anniversary Convention at the Party headquarters on a hot Sunday afternoon June 14th.
Hundreds packed the PAM Headquarters hall to celebrate the historic anniversary of the country’s second oldest political party.
The audience was treated to exciting , inspiring and educational and historic presentations by first Prime Minister Rt Hon. Dr . Sir Kennedy A Simmonds, US Councillman Ken Clifton and party leader and Deputy Prime MINISTER Hon. Shawn K. Richards.
In a very inspiring and educational presentation the PAM Leader Hon. Richards outlined the rich legacy of the People;s Action Movement which includes leading the country to the number 1 position in Latin America and the Caribbean in Economic growth.
Richards declared “Our legacy stretches across six (6) decades, from our first election campaign in 1966; the victimization meted out when civil liberties were suspended and our people, were arrested and incarcerated for months during the State of Emergency in 1967, only to have all trumped up charges dropped before the Courts.
We recall the firings of senior public servants, 22 of them, not to mention countless other junior civil servants following the 1971 General Election; the Christena Disaster; and after that, the Soldiers armed with machine guns on the inter-island ferry with Nevis; a one-square mile State of Emergency at West Farm and Dr. Simmonds arrest on his own land. Then the 1979 bi-election and no Parliament for most of the year to keep Dr. Simmonds, the duly elected member for Central Basseterre, out of Parliament.
But we also remember, what our country, our society has gone through since 1980. Just 30 years ago, under the leadership of Prime Minister the Honourable Dr. Kennedy Simmonds, the leader of the Peoples Action Movement, our great Party, the people of St. Kitts and Nevis threw off the final shackles of colonial bondage. We declared our independence and declared with one voice that our people were to be free from the colonial oppressors who had shackled and chained our people for countless generations. That historic moment, my brothers and sisters, that moment of independence, was a joyous daybreak at the end of a long and painful night in the hands of our masters in Whitehall, the seat of colonial Government in Britain.
During the 1980s and the first half of the 1990s, our Party, in coalition with the NRP in Nevis, oversaw a remarkable transformation of our country. In 1980, just over 30% of the population of St. Kitts had running water in their homes. In Nevis, it was significantly less. Just over 30% of our homes had electricity, in Nevis it was non-existent in most parts of the island. People used charcoal to cook. Kerosene oil stoves. Roughly 30% of the population used propane gas. And telephones … well, it was as though we were back in the dark ages. In ten short years, those figures translated into more than 80% in electricity, water and cooking facilities. People could now have toilets in their homes, something that was unheard of for the vast majority.
Socially, women’s rights, family rights were enshrined in new and far-reaching legislation. 12 week Maternity leave, taken for granted by so many women today. Status of children born out of wedlock now recognised. And economically, the foundation for a modern society was laid. Infra-structural development second to none was a hallmark of that Administration. A first rate telecommunications system with the creation of SKANTEL, a joint venture between Cable and Wireless and the PAM Government saw fibre optic cables laid throughout the country; cable television was introduced long before other CARICOM countries. A modern infrastructure, Port Zante cruise port, a Sustainable development that saw St. Kitts and Nevis No1 in economic growth in Latin America and the Caribbean!
People had jobs and money in their pocket!”
The dynamic Deputy Prime Minister stated “This was and is the legacy of the Peoples Action Movement. We celebrate it.”
The convention featured presentations by First Prime Minister Rt Hon Dr Sir Kennedy A Simmonds and guest speaker US Councillman Ken W Clifton. Prime Minister Dr. Hon Timothy Harris and Premier Vance Amory as well as His Excellency Ambassador Sam Condor were also present at the historic event.