by Jon Mandle on July 13, 2006

I’m back from a trip to the West Indies, including several days on Canouan – the home island of my brother. It’s one of the Grenadines – part of the country of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, which became independent in 1979. It’s still tiny – around 3 square miles and somewhere around 1500 people – but things have changed a lot since Adonal was growing up. There’s now central electricity, for example, and a few more paved roads. There’s also a fence around the runway, so airplanes don’t have to circle around to wait for the cows to be driven out of the way.

But the really big change was the development of the northern half (actually a little more than half, I think) of the island. What was previously an uninhabited forest is now an ultra-luxury resort, complete with championship golf course, casino, and villas developed by Donald Trump. (Here’s a link with a nice picture – and notice the url.) Essentially the only previous building on the area was a church to which Adonal remembers making the journey a couple times each year when he was a kid. On our last night, we went to dinner at the resort. The food was outstanding and the setting unbelievably beautiful – the buildings and design were lovely and surprisingly tasteful. I was also surprised that by American standards, it was not outrageously expensive. Still, it is far beyond the means of essentially all residents of the island. Quite the interesting dilemma. On the one hand, turn over half of the island to obscenely wealthy foreigners who will only admit you past the gate if you are employed there. On the other hand, essentially everyone on the island who is able to work now has a job. Most of the people I talked to about it were not outwardly hostile, but neither did they view it as their salvation, either – just part of life. In any event, we’ll never know what they would have chosen since the decision was made by politicians in St. Vincent.



Steve 07.13.06 at 5:37 pm

“the decision was made by politicians in St. Vincent.”

Are the Grenadines a democracy?



Jon Mandle 07.13.06 at 6:06 pm

St. Vincent and the Grenadines is a democracy, but the people who live on Canouan are a tiny minority of the overall population. (I believe that the Grenadines – the smaller islands – are collectively represented in the Parliament.) So it would be somewhat like Congress deciding to sell off Central Park to Trump for development. But don’t misunderstand – I find it interesting not because it was obviously a bad or corrupt decision but because it’s not clear what the majority in Canouan would have chosen.


Christopher Ball 07.13.06 at 7:52 pm

Given that the cheapest room at the Raffles resort is $450 per night, what was the dinner tab?


y81 07.13.06 at 8:44 pm

Interesting. This type of situation doesn’t have to involve foreigners. Late 19th-century histories of Long Island (New York) often reflect the considerable local ambivalence over the development of the Gold Coast (basically, the north shore of Nassau County, for those not familiar with the area). The old Yankee farm families were displaced by the new (mostly Yankee) wealthy industrialists, and their emotions were mixed, at least.


jr 07.14.06 at 5:05 am

Sounds like an interesting place to visit


dearieme 07.14.06 at 11:55 am

Do you really think that populations should be asked if they want a bunch of foreigners admitted to their country?


Tom T. 07.14.06 at 6:47 pm

I went to hear St. Vincent & the Grenadines play at Constitution Hall back in the late ’60s. They were in their psychedelic phase back then, and Vince was obviously drunk, but they rocked! So they have their own island now?

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