Former Mayor Lawrence Omeir
RAAS, Nov. 19-It was a
nice cool evening in the city of Bluefields when we past by the former Mayor of
Bluefields (Lawrence Omeir) little store in down town Bluefields and requested
an interview with him to obtain his views on the past election and what he had
done for the city during his years as mayor. Raindrops were falling very slowly
as the casino in front his store was rolling the dice. Reggae music of Owen
Gray, the artists to visit Bluefields January 1, 2002 was playing in the background.
The former mayor and former candidate for deputy seem a bit on the down side. We knew this from talks of the people on the street. The former mayor ran and lost his bid to represent the people of the RAAS in the national congress. He lost his bid to a total stranger from the Pacific and is still trying to comprehend how his people could make such a huge mistake. Following is our interview with the former mayor.
Pulse: Mr. Mayor, What was it like being the Mayor of Bluefields, tell us about your experience during your campaign for deputy for the Yatama party.
A. Greetings to all, itís nice to be interviewed by our own people. My experiences being mayor of this city was a good one, a challenge. There are a lot of things that need to be done for our community. Our work is not complete. We did not get the cooperation from our people but we continue to stride to do the best we can. We made a lot of friendship with foreign organizations, and embassies. We did not get support from our central government even though we were from the same party.
I feel proud for what I have accomplished. I believe I did more than any other Mayor has done for this city. I build streets and created a lot of programs. I was focusing more on the youths. As a young man, I had a lot of playing facilities and that is what I worked on mostly. We build a little stadium with help from the French embassy. This project cost over $41,000.00 US dollars. The Japanese also helped us. There are a lot of things we did on our own because the central government did not help us. So, I encourage all you young people to work hard.
Pulse: About a month ago we saw an ambulance that came in to Bluefields and was delivered to the fire department. We understand that the ambulance came because of your efforts. However, when the ambulance came you were already out of office. What can you tell us about this?
A. When I was Mayor, in 1999 I made a trip to Alabama and met with Mayor Whitman. He was campaigning for re-election and I went along with him. He promised to help me with anything that we needed in Bluefields. He said he would try to help us out. I saw the need for an ambulance in Bluefields. When I came back I wrote several letters to different people in the US including one that was addressed to him. He replied saying that yes, he had an ambulance for Bluefields.
When I left office in January, February, the ambulance arrived in Bluefields. I believed this was something for the Bluefields people, for the Mayorís office. We heard a lot of confusion that the current Mayor is responsible for getting it or the church is. I would like to clarify this. I suggested to Mayor Whitman that we needed an ambulance in Bluefields.
Giving the ambulance to the fire department was a good choice. It was the ideal place to give it to because they are always there for us. When you look at it closely, the hospital does have an ambulance but they only carry their own people and not the sick. So, giving the ambulance to the fire department was a good choice. I hope that Mayor Arana does not loose the contact I have established with Mayor Whitman because he said he would be willing to assist in different projects that Bluefields may have. The contact Iíve made abroad was for the benefit of Bluefields and we should keep them strong because it is the only way for us to help Bluefields since our central government does not help us.
Pulse: Concerning the past election, you were running on the Yatama ticket and you had the support of many in the community. There are talks that the Bluefields people were confused by people who campaigned against you, can you tell us why you believe the people made a mistake by voting for someone from the Pacific and not someone from the region to represent them in the National Assembly?
A. I felt good during the campaign; it was like one person running against two giants. I felt happy and good because I had a lot of support. We campaigned a lot. We did well. There are people in this community who are confusing our people and telling them lies and unfortunately our people believed it. Iíve always believed that Black people would vote for Black people but we discovered that is not so.
Mr. Rayfield Hodgson and Orel Chollette went on the Radio and told our people that whatever vote was going to me would go to the Sandinista party and you know that is a lie. Brother Ray, really I donít want to place the name brother in front because he is a hypocrite. He lied to our people and he lied to the church. I think we need to reflect and be careful. We have lost the battle but the war is not over yet. We should not give up. I feel a little down, my batteries are a little bit discharge but we will overcome what they did.
Our communities consist of six ethnic groups but the Liberal party took people from the pacific to run with the support of Rayfield Hodgson and Orel Chollette. We have to come together to overcome what they are trying to do to us. We have to sit down and analyze the past elections and see what we are going to do about it because we are loosing grounds. They are not taking us into consideration. We cannot allow them to do as they pleased. We need to come together. This is Bluefields, our grandparents founded this place and we need to rescue it for our children and grandchildren.
Pulse: As for the people who voted for the candidates of the Caribbean coast, in this case for you. What kind of hopes can you give to them?
A. I am really thankful to the people of the communities. They donít know me, they heard of me over the radio yet they voted for me and that was great. I will pay a visit to them in December and personally thank them. The Bluefields people who did not vote for me are not traitors they were just confused and itís shameful. We cannot blame them, they made a mistake and I hope they will see it later on. I do commend the people of the communities. I will thank them personally in December.
Pulse: You mentioned Orel and Rayfield making dirty campaign against you without any reason. What do you think then is the reason for Orel to make dirty campaign against you, we understand that he was born in Nicaragua but lost his nationality and is now a US citizen.
A. Itís hard to tell what his reasons are. He comes to Bluefields very often, he has a lot of influence over people, the little dollars he brings around buys people and thatís what he did. He influenced a lot of people and they believed what he said. (that our vote was going to the Sandinista) and that was wrong. Come on! We are in Bluefields, the Atlantic coast belongs to the coast people. I donít know how they bought out Orel. He is a young guy, I believe maybe around 33 years old and he is making a mess of everything and confusing people. I think someone has to have a real talk with Rayfield and Orel.
Orel is a US citizens and has no right to come here and get involved in politics. Thereís even rumors that at one time he was going to run for deputy but I donít know what kind of game they played on him. He is probably trying to get even and he did it on one of his own countrymen. I donít think that is right. I would like for Mr. Orel to reflect and clear things up. He is not hurting Lawrence Omeir. He is hurting the community of Bluefields, the region of Bluefields. Brother Ray is doing the same. He is fooling the people, they believe in him. The trust they have in him, he should used it positively. Letís give our people some happiness. They have suffered and need a lot and by fooling them we are not going anywhere. So letís try and clear things up with Ray and Orel and get our people back on track.
Pulse: When you were mayor of Bluefields did you left a water project in place?
A. Yes, I left a project for sewer and drinking water. The Canadian government gave us five million dollars to do the study for the project. The Spanish and Japanese government is also helping out with this. The total cost for the project is about twenty nine million dollars and that money is on the way. The water will come from Escomfra Creek. They will run pipelines and create a dam. The project started about two to three years ago and they said it would take five to six years to be completed. We hope no one try to take credit for this project. The Canadian government came to us with the project and we accepted it. The Canadians has an office here in Bluefields if anyone is interested in seeing the progress of the project. We have another project to build a new garbage site. This project is being finance by the Japanese government. I believe within one to two years these projects should be completed and hopefully they will make our home a better place for our people and for tourism.
Pulse: There is a group of people from Bluefields living in the U.S. who are joining hands to help the coast with anything possible. In this case we have the SLC group who are trying to bring down Owen Gray for January 1, 2002 to celebrate the New Year. What can you tell these people, should they continue with this program and what can you do help them out?
A. I believe we have to support any type of progress or tourism coming to the Caribbean coast. We have to come to together, as Bob Marley said ďtogether as one.Ē I believe we have to support the entertainers like Owen Gray who are coming here to Bluefields. We have to open the way for them. We need to appreciate them. I will help with whatever I can. I have contacts here in Bluefields and will help. So, donít hesitate to ask me for help, sometime we make mistakes by not communicating but if we come together we will succeed. A lot of people are talking about Owen Gray and if he comes here it will be a successful entertainment and we will make much of it.
Pulse: Did you attended the first Bring Back The Culture Festival that was put on by SLC with Yvonne Curtis and Ray Mondo, did you see the performance and what is your opinion about it?
A. To be frank, I was surprised and happy to see something that has never been seen in Bluefields. I felt so proud to know that we can do something like that. We are not supposed to stay back. We can do our own thing. Letís not listen to people who are saying we canít do this and that. It was a number one performance and I hope it continue being an every year event. We are now looking toward new people coming in every year to entertain us. We listen to these artists year in and year out and whenever they come around to perform it will be great. People were crying during the event. It was well organized, letís keep it up. Continue to bring the artists and letís talk to them. You will never fail. Letís get sponsors to help us out with this. Itís great to have these international artists here in our city and we will support them.
Pulse: Christmas is near, and the people in the North have suffered greatly with the flooding caused by bad weather, how can the Caribbean community help?
A. The North has suffered greatly and we should help them out. They are our people and I have not seen any campaign to help them out. No leader from this area has initiated anything to help the people out. We should try to help raise money to buy food and clothes for those people. To the people of New York, Washington and Miami especially relatives, we need to get help to those people. They need food, medicine, money and clothes. Letís try to help them out. Remember, today for me tomorrow for you. If we can help them out it will be a blessing for us and for them who will receive it. The need is great so letís help before it is too late.
Pulse: Mr. Mayor it was a pleasure talking to you. Thank you for your time.
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