Camillo Gonsalves confronts birther issues in St. Vincent

Camillo and Ralph Gonsalves

Camillo Gonsalves, the eldest son of St. Vincent and the Grenadines' (SVG) Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, has written an “Open Letter” responding to claims he is not a national of St. Vincent and hence not eligible to serve as a parliamentarian.

Camillo, the eldest son of Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, was born in Philadelphia in 1972.

Until late last year  Gonsalves, a lawyer, was based in New York City, USA, serving as St. Vincent's ambassador to the United Nations. He was an American citizen, holding duel citizenship, and perhaps even trio citizenships US/Vincentian/Jamaican.

Camillo is currently minister of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade, and Commerce and Information Technology, and is evidently being groomed as a successor to his father Dr. Ralph Gonsalves.

In his open letter, Camillo Gonsalves notes that based on the constitution of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, he automatically became a Vincentian at the moment of his birth. And although "his birth in the United States does not disqualify him from holding his senatorial post, he had quietly renounced his American citizenship ahead of his appointment as a legislator on September 16, 2013."

The younger Gonsalves said he made the decision to relinquish US citizenship as a mark of his personal and unambiguous commitment to public service in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. And that, his decision was not compelled by law but by his conscience and  private determination regarding the best way for him to serve the Government and people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines

Gonsalves was responding to spirited comments on social media and on political talk shows in SVG questioning his eligibility to serve as a parliamentarian.

One observer, Peter Binose, pointedly referred to an incident,  in New York, where Camillo Gonsalves when returning to his UN diplomatic office and took a short cut and was accosted by police because of security concerns stemming from the fact the building also houses the Israeli delegation. Camillo allegedly failed to identify himself immediately as the SVG Ambassador or to cite his diplomatic immunity, and was held and later let go by the police.

His father Vincentian prime minister Ralph Gonsalves threatened to sue the the New York City police, and to "make a protest to the US government for the treatment of a Vincentian National, the Ambassador to the United Nations on behalf of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines."

Peter Binose wryly  notes that nothing came of the incident because, "You see if a foreign diplomat does something wrong, something illegal and the US send them home, if they are a U.S. national, or legal permanent resident, or foreign national “permanently resident in” the United States, how do they send them home? they are already home."

Read more here and here.