By anguillian May 9, 2016 13:42



The recent lead poisoning of the drinking water supply of over one hundred thousand mostly African Americans in the city of Flint, Michigan, is a perfect example of what can happen when the local democratically elected government ceases to exist. This came about in part because the Republican Governor, Rick Snyder, in one of his austere moves to save money, disbanded the local government and replaced it with an unelected City Administrator who was tasked with the day to day running of the city.

In Anguilla, we have what is called a representative government, though you couldn’t tell, by their actions, in which we the people elect persons to represent us. One of the pitfalls of a representative government is that the persons whom we elect don’t always represent our best interests. Case in point. The recent passing of several pieces of legislation, the most contentious of which was the Banking Act which drew the ire of the people and, despite the protests of we the people, this government, led by Victor F. Banks and his cohorts, rammed through the bills in the most undemocratic manner they could find.

On April 22nd 2016 Anguilla’s fate was sealed when the two indigenous banks, the National Bank of Anguilla, and the Caribbean Commercial Bank were put into receiver-ship and in their place a new Government-found bank: the National Commercial Caribbean Bank of Anguilla. To add insult to injury, this government took a victory lap outside of Landsome and I hope that the irony is not lost here, for it was the place that the one of the first blows were struck for our freedom from St. Kitts – and it is ironic that this government would go there to tout their achievements, all pipe dreams, on the very compound where it all started.

In Anguilla, it seems that no one really cares one way or the other for, given the events of the last year, that is the only conclusion that one can draw. Four years ago our current Chief Minister wrote an article entitled: “Does Anyone Really Care?” He claimed not to know the significance of the Rock Band Chicago’s song, but he nevertheless used it to raise a litany of things wrong with the Hubert Hughes-led AUM government which, the previous year, was responsible for his retirement from government. Well, as they say, turnabout is fair play and now that the shoe is on the other foot I’m not so sure that it’s a good fit.

We’ve been at this now for far too long to not really have a handle on things. March 19th 2016 was exactly 47 years since we were illegally invaded by British paratroopers, and here we are waiting like a lamb on the slaughtering table for the new onslaught of parasites and carpetbaggers under the guise of the Caribbean Asset Management Company which, like vultures, will pick what flesh we have left on our bones. This is all with the blessing of our own government. How is that for a government of the people, by the people, and for the people eh? They say when you sleep with puppy, you get fleas. So as we patiently await the onslaught. The question that rears its ugly head again is: Does anyone really care?

Time, as they say, waits for no – one and I’m afraid that we, as a people, are quickly running out of it. When we entered this arena some forty odd years ago, we were like a young thoroughbred rearing to go. We were filled with energy. The yoke of Bradshaw was finally thrown off. we had good will, hope and, most of all, great prospects for the future. So what happened you ask? Somewhere along the way we transitioned from an “all ah we” to an “it’s all about me.” And therein lies the problem. We became self-centered, greedy and we adapted a crab in the barrel mentality.

As Anguillians, we have always had a rough go of it. That’s just the way it was and, frankly, nothing has changed. We have always been treated as second class citizens, but when we hear our leaders accepting that as a fait accompli – a done deal – we should all be extremely angry and upset at such an assertion. We have always been the butt of every – one’s jokes, some more cruel than others, but cruel nonetheless – and to hear our own leader say that to survive we may have to accept such, and while paying tribute the Father of the Nation Mr. Webster, was not only unconscionable but unacceptable as well.

We have been spindled and mutilated and in some cases beyond recognition. But I think that anything that has happened to us in the past will pale by comparison to what’s in store for us. Of course I’m referring to the loss of the indigenous banks. I’m referring to the fact that this government campaigned on a platform which would get Anguilla back on its feet and we’re still waiting. Where are the jobs, Victor? Don’t you think that if people had jobs we’d be worrying about the damn banks? There was nothing wrong with the banks that couldn’t be fixed. The question that needs to be asked is, why weren’t they fixed? So here we are once again struggling to keep our heads above water with no help in sight – and all because of the actions of a few.

I liken our situation to that of the American Indian in that he was slowly and deliberately squeezed off of his land, and on to the reservation, without the ability to support and feed his family. The parallels are striking. When we suffered drought, disease and famine and the death of countless numbers of our people, the British were quick to provide us with a means of transport to the jungles of Demerara where a fate worse than death awaited us – that of indentured servitude. Needless to say, we opted for the rock.
What will it be this time? Where will we go once the Caribbean Asset Management Company liquidates our properties? What will our buffalo be? Where will our reservation be? Will it be the United Kingdom? Will they still be a part of the EU, and will they abandon us? Will we be able to use our EU passports? Will we be treated in the same manner that the Osbourne and Victor led – AUF government allowed the Indians to be treated on our soil, behind barbed wire fences? Will we be treated in the same manner as the Syrian refugees running from the war torn Middle East? Folks, this is a “Pandora’s Box that, once opened, will unleash so much uncertainty that it’s anyone’s guess what will happen.

In that we’re a protectorate of Great Britain should at the outset, mean something. How-ever, a second glance will reveal that we are being treated in such a way that’s not conducive to our well being. The British have never really done very much for us and one might even come to the conclusion that they really don’t give a damn. This can be borne out in statements made by them, statements such as: “It might as well be under water as above it.” And: “Tis only fit for goats.” And one might even conclude that the only reason why they’re showing any interest in us now is because of two words ; contingent liability.

From a perusal of our Governor’s press conferences, one gets the sense that they weren’t so much so for our benefit, but that of the British Government, Mr. Duddridge, the Minister for the Overseas Territories, and the Foreign Commonwealth Office – as a means to an end – in the event they get hauled before the United Nations and the International Court of Justice for the less than humane way in which they have treated Anguilla over the last 300 years. They are being very strategic in their approach to us right now. No one will openly admit it but, off the record, they will freely admit that Anguilla has long been neglected. Remember what Sparrow said of the British? He said: “Britain won a war on small talk alone.” They are very good at what they do and we should not, for one moment, accept at face value anything they tell us, for it is clear that they’ve stood by and allowed successive governments destroy Anguilla.

How you ask? Let’s count the ways. Where do I begin? Let’s start with the Financial Services. What about the transhipment? Truth be told, we’ve been lousy negotiators while the Brits probably invented the art of negotiation. Remember what Sparrow said. We have been left to figure things out on our own, which would lead one to surmise that we‘ve been set up to fail all along. We have every reason to be angry and upset, not just at the Brits, but our own government as well. We have to remind them both, as we did in similar circumstances some 58 years ago: “That a people cannot live without hope for long without erupting socially.”

We seem to go from the frying pan directly into the fire. Victor has taken his victory lap, as if to say: there I’ve done it, now live with it the same way as the powerful Athenian generals explained to the helpless Melians why rights were only important between equals and, as a consequence, “they were about to do as they pleased with them.” And it was because “the strong actually do what they can and the weak suffer what they must,” (Varoufakis).

So here we are like the Melians, a helpless people who, in an attempt to save our country, are trying to reason with an uncaring government and its protectors. But know this; the Athenians later found themselves at the mercy of the Spartans and, as we know, history has a way of repeating itself. The chest thumping and the bravado will be shortlived, for this government hasn’t a clue. They have no plans for taking us forward and had they concentrated on getting the economy going again, the banks would be the least of our worries. History is rife with examples of people being taken advantage of, but as the saying goes, today for me, tomorrow for you.

We will not let our properties disappear, no matter whose fault it is that they are in arrears. We see what is happening here and it will be a cold day and you know where before we let it happen. We simply can’t let a group of seven countries, who basically have nothing, decide what’s to happen to us. We are Anguillian with a big A and we fought to maintain that right. We may have lost our banks on paper, but this fight is just beginning. The court appointed Conservator and the Chief Minister both seem to be at a loss for words as to how this banking situation will be resolved. It appears that this government and, by extension, the British Government will be tied up in litigation for the Central Bank has crossed the line, one in which they shouldn’t have, that of the Offshore Bank, thus putting a lot of depositors accounts in jeopardy.

Where and how soon all of this ends is anyone’s guess. But you can count on that it will not be a pretty picture. So let’s continue to fight, the good fight and remember from whence we came and where we need to go. So till next time, may God bless all of us and may He continue to bless Anguilla.

By anguillian May 9, 2016 13:42


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