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The United Progressive Party (UPP) has expressed its strong disapproval of Prime Minister Gaston Browne’s ongoing attempts to undermine the reputation of Sir Vivian Richards, Antigua and Barbuda’s only living National Hero.
The UPP has criticized Browne’s tactics as being manipulative and politically motivated, and has accused him of attempting to exert undue influence over Sir Vivian’s political preferences.
According to the UPP, the prime minister seems to be personally offended by Sir Vivian’s political beliefs, and has gone to great lengths to publicly denigrate him.
The UPP has also accused Browne of attempting to extract a sense of obligation from Sir Vivian, by insisting that he has done him “favours” that he does not deserve.
The UPP has pointed out that Sir Vivian was knighted during the tenure of Prime Minister Lester Bird, and was designated a National Hero on the recommendation of Prime Minister Dr. Baldwin Spencer.
The UPP has noted that neither of these former heads of government ever sought to manipulate Sir Vivian’s political beliefs or to extract a sense of obligation from him.
The UPP has also criticized the prime minister’s recent accusations that Sir Vivian has disrespected Sir V.C. Bird.
The UPP has argued that the annual ceremonies held at the V.C. Bird Bust on December 9 are highly partisan in nature, and that Sir Vivian’s decision not to attend cannot be interpreted as a sign of disrespect.
The UPP has further noted that it has always honored all of Antigua and Barbuda’s heroes, including Sir Vere, without any political references.
The UPP has highlighted that Sir Vivian has not attended these ceremonies either, and has asked how his even-handedness can be construed as disrespect for one party.
The UPP has criticized the way in which all the other Heroes were jettisoned in 2014 in the Labour Party’s haste to reclaim December 9 for Sir Vere alone.
This left the companion Heroes, including Sir Vivian, out in the cold for several years, until they were finally parked on October 26, a date that is still unrecognized and uncelebrated by the majority of citizens and residents, including members of the Labour Party.
The UPP has strongly condemned the ongoing campaign by Prime Minister Browne and his supporters to smear Sir Vivian’s reputation and rob him of the respect he has earned.
The UPP has praised Sir Vivian’s strength of character and deep-rooted principles of race pride and human dignity, and has called on the prime minister to end his campaign against him.
The UPP has argued that the prime minister’s actions are deeply offensive to Sir Vivian’s fellow patriots, and that they make a mockery of the honors that Antigua and Barbuda has bestowed upon him.
The UPP has emphasized that the country owes Sir Vivian a debt of gratitude, and that it is proud to honor it.