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Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Ambassador Camillo Gonsalves Saga - part 2: Clearing up ambiguities

 Caribbean News Now

It seems as if the letter which was written by me and was captured The Ambassador Gonsalves Saga: the long and short of it, appear to have been the only voice to express opposition to the ambassador’s actions and declared Ambassador Camillo Gonsalves to be at fault for causing his arrest and by extension acknowledged and deem the police officer’s actions against the ambassador to be Justified. As a result of that article, many questions were asked, some of the questions were asked not as a genuine search for answer, but to aid in casting a shadow of confusion on the real issue. Apparently, there are those who have saw it fit, to help the ambassador has monopolize on his newly found status of victim, by hosting a town hall meeting last evening: April 11th, 2012, to discuss the events as it relates to the Ambassador misfortune.

As report states the St. Vincent mission had a visit of USA ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice who was true to her post and reach out to my ambassador and  expressed her regrets, such a thing happened to Ambassador Gonsalves. Less anyone get the wrong impression, my stance or honest views on this matter, is nor a sign that I am jubilant over my ambassador’s experience, for I too am sorry, this young man had to experienced such misfortune; my sorrow does not blind me to the facts and cause me to indulge in dishonest rambling; my sorrow also does not negate the fact; the police officer acted in good faith and his actions was legal and reasonable whilst Ambassador Gonsalves actions was not.

If the New York City mayor and the Police Commissioner though that the officer action, under the circumstance, was not the actions that could be expected of any reasonable person, and the officer’s actions constituted an violation of the ambassador’s rights, he would have been issued with public apologies from these to officials and without a doubt; the Brooklyn Representative, Councilman Jumaane Williams, would have been the first man, working the streets, beating the main symbol on Camillo Gonsalves’ behalf against the NYPD.

Let me take some time, to answer a few of the question that was asked. I will do so in order to lend some semblance of clarity for those who are genuinely seeking to understand this seemingly hairy matter. We must view the questions and answer with the prospective: Hind sight is 20/20. We must also understand that the officer in this case did not have the benefit of hindsight, but acted in real time and responded as he saw the events unfold.

There is an issue as it relates to the jurisdiction of the building in relation to the New York City Police officer entering the same; this in it self is not an issue. Although the building in question is used to house international, diplomatic missions, the edifice is considered a public building. This is so for the simple fact, the building is used by many different entities and the public has conditional access to the building. Therefore, the police going into that building do not constitute a trespass as some are trying to suggest. We must also remember, the police action was done, to restore a security breach in the outer perimeter that advanced to the inside of the building. We must not forget the officer’s objective, in this case, was to ensure the welfare of the occupants of the building.

What Constitutes Trespass in Diplomatic circles

The event that occurred here and the nature and use of the building, places this situation in a completely different category. It is different when a sovereign nation takes possession of a compound or property: by lease, rent or purchase and go through the correct procedures to set up an embassy within that perimeter. Then the activities that is carried out within the confines of the boundary, is no business of the host government and cannot be questioned or investigated by the law enforcement of the host government. In a similar case, where an embassy shares a building with other entity, (commercial or other wise) it certainly do not make that building off limit to law enforcement, however only that portion of space which is occupied by the nation for the purpose of and is considered the embassy is off limit.

In such case, it is only upon the official request or a similar invitation, of the alien sovereign nation can the law enforcement of the host country encroachment onto the premises of that which was declared an embassy (which is considered foreign soil) means other than an official request or similar invitation, such actions will be consider a serious breach of the diplomatic protocol and amount up to trespass.

I am sorry to inform, the supporters of Ambassador Camillo Gonsaloves, the police officer’s actions to meet and take action against the unknown person, who he later found out to be Ambassador Gonsalves. Unfortunate for ambassador Camillo Gonsalves; the police acted in good faith and he had territorial and lawful Jurisdiction to act in the manner he did.

One person was of the opinion that Ambassador Camillo Gonsalves should not have been arrested and placed in hand cuff. Let me answer this question this way. If you were a police or a security officer and you were assigned to be on duty at a high security risk area, such as United Nation Mission. And your responsibilities were among other things, to ensure the security of the mission and those who dwell there. While there you see an unknown man, (according to the police officer he did not know who Ambassador Gonsalves was) removing the barriers that was put in place to direct and restrict pedestrian movement in and around the perimeter of that building, you shouted to that person who ignored your effort to stop him. What will you do?

1.       Will you go in pursuit of that unknown person and apprehend that person then make inquiries?

2.       Or will you leave him alone hoping that he or she was not a terrorist?

Before you give an honest answer I will like for you to consider the under mentioned events and possibilities which are:

1.       Don’t forget there are thousands of terrorist sleeper cells in and around the USA and in New York City.

2.       Don’t forget year before last December, a man parked a car bomb in Manhattan that could have killed thousand if poor electronic skills did not cause a flaw in the mechanism.

3.       Don’t forget the underpants bomber.

4.        Don’t forget the 911 bombing of the World Trade Center. 

5.       And don’t forget the fact at approximately 10:35 am, on today’s date: Thursday 12 April, 2012, NYPD evacuated number two (#2) World Finical Center, (a building in the finical district in Manhattan) because a suspicious package was sent to the building, although it turned out the package did not post a real threat.  

6.       The person may have a weapon

7.       It takes only a twitch of a finger or dialing redial in a digital or cell phone to activate a bomb and kill everyone with the building including you.

Now put yourself in that officer’s place; what would you have done? I sure would have erred on the side of caution, as the NYPD did on July 12th 2012, when they evacuated thousand of people from number two ( #2) World Financial center; which is the wise thing to do.

One person is concerned that according to Gonsalves’ account of the incident, the manner in which the police officer addressed Ambassador Gonsalves was responsible for motivating the younger Gonsalves, to intentionally ignore the police officer’s effort to stop him. My first answer to this is: two wrongs do not make a right and a soft answer turn away wrath.

We must remember that the ambassador is not a gangster and he was not hired to be a gangster, The Ambassador is not from Bottom Town the place where I was born or the slum (Paul’s Lot), two areas within St. Vincent which is noted for public bad behavior and people who are  defiant of and to authority. We must not forget that Ambassador Camillo Gonsalves was hired to be an ambassador. One who is endowed with the responsibility to behave and interact on his country’s behalf with diplomacy?

Diplomacy means: to negotiate between nations, skillful in the handling of a situation.  

·         Did Ambassador Camillo Gonsalves act with diplomacy?

·         Aren’t Ambassadors and other officials who are appointed or hired to serve in the St. Vincent and the Grenadines diplomatic missions trained in the art of diplomacy?

There are rumors hinting the St. Vincent and the Grenadines mission, is considering taking legal actions against the NYPD and the officer in question. It will be good for them to pursue legal actions, and it will be even more interesting to read the finding of the judge. I think a legal judgment; will declaring the Ambassador’s actions to be wrong and clear the police officer of any wrong doing. Unfortunately this is exactly what we needed to set the record straight. What the government and people of St. Vincent need, is another international embarrassment.

Here are three questions, for which we must search for answers; questions as it relates to this incident and they are:

§  Could this incident been avoided?

§  Did the person who is trained in art of and is expected to practice of diplomacy in his professional and private life (Ambassador Gonsalves) acted with the level of diplomacy that could have brought a speedy resolution to this mater before it escalated into the Jersey shore style dramatic saga that it turned out to be?

§  Should we blame the police officer for being firm and taking action that was a display of courage and vigilance?

Mr. Editor I rest my case.

The Ambassador Camillo Gonsalves Saga: The Long and Short of it

Anyone with any sense of or at lease some knowledge of foreign affairs, will know, Israel is one of the most hated nation in the middle eastern world, (some will differ with me and say, in the entire world) and this country share boarders, with countries that hates then (Israel) severely. Even worst than that; Israel  is in a part of the world that see every nations, say for about two exceptions, hold strong feelings of anger, resentment and hate for and against them. As a result, citizen and residence of Israel, have to live each day in fear of terrorist threats; unfortunately, for their diplomatic envoy and embassies world wide, they to have to function in their capacity on foreign soil, with the same level of fear as people on their home front.

When one is offered and accepts an ambassadorial posting of a country, or holds any diplomatic posting of any kind; one is expected at all time to, associate with people of good repute and act and speak as your posting demands. You are no longer representing yourself, your opinions, ideals, aspirations, and dream must take a back seat to those of your country, if they in any way conflicts with those of your mission or that which your post have entrusted upon you. One is expected to behave like a states man, carry oneself with specific decorum and behave with a level of diplomacy that can bring credit and respect to your country.

We have seen how activities in the private life of Koby Bryant and Tiger woods, cause them to lose their lucrative endorsement, for being poor ambassadors of the brand they represented. How much more important are the responsibilities, the role, and the sacrifice one is asked to make when one has such high calling, which involves representing a nation and all its people.

We all know, the St. Vincent and the Grenadines diplomatic mission, to the United Nations (UN), occupies the same building that houses the Israeli mission to the UN. And the NYPD has its hands full with keeping all of the missions that is housed in that building safe. The question that must be answered is this: was ambassador Gonsalves found in Violation of breaching the security of the building?  The ambassador made it clear that his point of entry was a point that he uses on a regular basis without any complication, he also point out the Israeli ambassador, also use that rout to get to and from his office. Not once, did I ever hear Ambassador Camillo Gonsalves declare that he was entering the building through the official point of entry. Is this a case of: I am accustomed doing the wrong thing and no one had ever corrected me before, so no one has the right to correct me now?

As a matter of fact, the Ambassador, or anyone who use that building for official or business purpose should not, on a regular basis, be using any other rout to enter or exit that edifice, other than via, those that was officially earmarked for the purpose. Exception could be made in the cases of great urgency and even then, the appropriate declarations and permissions should be made and granted before doing so.

From dwelling and holding a diplomatic post in the United Nation’s headquarters in New York City, Young Gonsalves, have to know how sensitive, the issue of security as it relates to terrorism is in this city. He should be aware, how overly sensitive the USA government more so New York City is about the protection of members of the Jewish community and anything that has to do with Israel. When ambassador Gonsalves breached the security of that building, by removing the security barriers that was put in place, to direct pedestrian traffic, when he failed to acknowledge and refused to comply with the on duty police officer instructions; he was putting the entire building and all of the foreign mission who conducts business there (including himself) in danger. That is a chance the on duty officer could not take, should not take and did not take.

Ambassador Gonsalves must realize he is not in St. Vincent and the Grenadines where security is not a real concern and anything goes, where his father holds the title deed to the piece of real-estate that is St. Vincent and the Grenadines; a place where he will be awarded certain courtesy base on facial recognition.

On the matter of diplomatic immunity:

 It is true, most diplomats are immune from arrest and prosecution by the law enforcement agencies of the host country; It is also true, the official posting of Camillo Gonsalves as Ambassador so awards him that privilege. It will be important to note, this does not mean that people who are protected by such immunities cannot be arrested and prosecuted. In order to do so however, the host nation has to follow specific diplomatic protocol and receive permission from the offending diplomat’s government to proceed with such actions. It is important to note; when a diplomat’s actions is so severe, that the host Government request permission to prosecute one of their immune diplomats, refusal may very well result in expulsion of the offending diplomat from the host nation and strain diplomatic relations between both countries.

On Camillo Gonsalves’ arrest:

When Camillo Gonsalves was stopped, his liberty was taken away and he was placed in hand cuffs, he was not Ambassador Camillo Gonsalves, permanent representative of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, to the United Nation. To the officer he was just an unknown man, possible a terrorist, who had breach the security which he was responsible for. When The suspect (ambassador Camillo Gonsalves)was positively identified and he was verified as one having lawful rights to enter and exit that building to conduct business on his country’s behalf and the level of his posting afforded him certain privileges, one of which was immunity from arrest he was immediately released. Ambassador Gonsalves’ immunity privileges do not make his action right and the police officer’s action wrong. It does not matter how embarrassing this event was; Ambassador Camillo Gonsalves must come to the conclusion; his actions, was wrong and constitutes a serious criminal offence under the anti terror legislation. Many of men were arrested, charged, tried and was convicted for lesser offence that that which Ambassador Gonsalves inadvertently committed. This young man must also accept the fact, the police officer acted within the scope of his authority base on the information he was exposed to and that make his actions right, legal and lawful.

It is no doubt that there is an issue of racial prejudice exist within the ranks of the dominantly white NYPD, however, it was unfortunate that Ambassador Gonsalves, in his interviews, try to play the race card, by identifying the race of the officer as being white. Even if the officer’s actions was racially motivated, because Ambassador Gonsalves used a regularly use but un-official rout to enter the building and because he did not follow the protocol where identifying oneself is concerned when entering a high security risk area, he will have to suck salt on the issue of race, on this one. We are no stranger to the world of arrested, so lets count our loses and move on with life.

I know of and I have had some several negative experiences dealing with members of the New York City Police Department; I have undisputed documentation of several of the running that can bring disrepute to this institution. However, when it comes to the “official” word of the NYPD, (not a single or a few officers) I will take the NYPD’s words over camillo Gonsalves’ words any day. I do not know Camillo personally, but the acorn does not fall to far from the tree. It is sad that I have judge this young man’s actions base on the public behavior of the father; but when you understand family dynamics as it relates to the influences, transmission and the adoption of parental behavior as I do, you will understand my position.

It is important to note, the outer perimeter and the inside of this building is littered with high tech surveillance cameras which is controlled by a state of the arts security operational system. So there is no hiding the truth. There is no doubt that the administration would have review the footage of the incident before replying to the claims of an international representative before making a media release.

My Disappointment:                  

It was my disappointment, with the level of bias that filled the commentary that was written by Sir. Renold Saunders (which was published on the Caribbean News Now) that led me to write on this matter. It was unfortunate that this writer refused to properly research this story before he write and submit his commentary for publication. Although he made it clear that he wrote the piece base on Ambassador Gonsalves’ prospective, it would have lend some credibility to his writing and his character if he took some time to use google in an effort to get the New York Police Department side of the story. This only tells me that Mr. Saunders is not a writer any thinking man (and worst if you are not a thinking man) should pay any attention to or take serious.

Allan Palme