“BUT SERIOUSLY FOLKS…” by Tyrone Hodge
“How sharper than a serpent’s tooth it is to have a thankless child” William Shakespeare).
Friday the 27th of May, just a few days before Anguilla Day, the people had cause to march to the Chief Minister and the Minister of Finance’s Office in protest over his government’s handling of the self-inflicted banking crisis. After his less than stellar handling of the previous protest march, the one in which he basically insulted the people of Anguilla, one would hope that this time, it would go differently, that the Chief would be more understanding and respectful. That was wishful thinking on our part for he basically insulted them again.
While he was not as vitriolic as he was during the first march, he did grace us with his presence for a few minutes. However, the rest of his government failed to show up. They probably thought it was unnecessary to at least make an appearance before the people who elected them.
One is hard pressed to truly understand what is going on in the minds of these people, and it is obvious that this government has effectively burnt the bridge that it crossed, for it is no way in this or the next creation that any of these people will ever again hold an elective office in Anguilla, so their thinking might be, let’s make the best of it while it lasts and that is the scary part. It is frightening to think that this government has four more years to go and given, what they’ve done in the first year alone, the thought of having them around for another four ought to scare the life out of every last one of us.
We hired these people and they serve at our pleasure. They work for us and, if we don’t like the job that they are doing, we have the right to fire them – but given the system of government that we have in place it is almost impossible to throw them out. Great Britain, our protector, gave us a ministerial government without the necessary components to effectively govern. Our constitution lacks the checks and balances to guard against the abuses that we now find ourselves subjected to.
So what are our options? We can launch a complete shutdown of the government in which nothing happens. We can use non-violent civil disobedience, the type that was effectively used by Gandhi against the British in India. We could launch a vote of no confidence, which is exactly what the leader of the opposition tried to do in the House on Tuesday and, as usual, the CM found a way of at least postponing the inevitable. It was only a matter of time before this came about. That being said, anyone who knows how things are done in the House knows that what the government did was a way to circumvent the process. It will be interesting to see who will actually stand up for country and not the party. It was said that we need a Cromwell. Who will our Cromwell be? Mr. Richardson will it be you? Will it be Niel? Will it be Mr. Connor? Seriously folks, the time has come to put country above party. Who will step up? Will it be the Harrigan cousins – Terry and Paul? Will you both make Uncle Kenneth and Uncle Atlin proud? Do you want to be associated with – “when my country needed me I did nothing?”
It is time to give serious thought to what’s going on. The way things have been going, one would think that this government got their jobs by divine intervention. I’d like to remind them that that wasn’t the case. They begged and pleaded for our votes. They came on the radio and made the case. Granted, they may have been tossed a few slow pitches at which to swing, but they nevertheless showed up and utilized the opportunity to the fullest. Those that didn’t show up, lost.
It is amazing and unbelievable to see the arrogance with which this government is operating. It’s as though Anguilla is their own exclusive country club. The systems that we have in place are ignored. No one communicates with the people. We may wake up one day and find that Anguilla has been transferred to this government and we have to vacate the premises. I’m being facetious right now but, based on what is happening, we are on track to be booted off of our own land.
That this government can behave in such a reckless manner, with total disregard for the people that they can just toss us aside as headless bodies, is downright wrong. The Anguilla of 67 would never have tolerated that sort of thing from a Chief Minister. The Anguilla of today knows not from whence it came. If it did, we wouldn’t be having any of this nonsense that we are now seeing.
It was amazing to see those responsible for the predicament that we are in, those who collected their large gratuities, the very same ones who called us beggars, collect their exorbitant pensions, come back to celebrate Anguilla Day. I find that to be the height of hypocrisy, that they would even bother to show their greedy faces in Anguilla ever again. It was also sad to see the same ones who now benefit from the AUF being in power, parading themselves like some groupies on the grounds of St. Mary’s Anglican Church, like some zealot in such a way that lacked class.
They say that pride goeth before a fall and, believe me, this fall is coming. For when you behave in a manner that is contrary to human decency, nothing good can become of you. And one is at a loss for words when one sees what has happened to Anguilla. We have allowed ourselves to be bullied by a government who, by all accounts, has demonstrated a total disregard for we the people. To see the shameful way in which the people were treated was totally unacceptable. To see an elderly woman going around with tears in her eyes, at the last rally, speaking to anyone who would listen to her, asking them to direct her to someone who can get her money from the offshore bank. It was heart wrenching.
If you are the Minister of Finance and you are so damned arrogant, and you have the balls to say to the people, you gave me the papers now go home, what do you say to that old lady? Mr. Chief Minister, how could you allegedly take the money of over 4000 Anguillians and basically dispose of it? I really can’t use the word I want to use – how can you do that? You had several options to fix the banks. As the Minister of Finance, and the Chairman of the Monetary Council, you had the power to rectify the situation. You had options most of which you could have opted for. Other countries borrowed money to refinance their banks and had the banks pay back the money. Why didn’t you use the other options that wouldn’t have killed off our banking sector? Why did you not try to get the economy going so that people could actually get a job and the banks would be the least of our problems? Why didn’t you do any of these things? Why have you done something that will cost us for the rest of our lives? But, seriously folks, what are we to do?
As regards our land, does anyone honestly believe that Anguillians are going to stand around and let the Central Bank sell off their properties? There will be hell to pay. We need to come together as one and put a halt to this stripping of Anguilla’s assets.
They keep telling us that if we don’t like what’s going on we have options: hold our government accountable, or go independent. To do that right now with the people we have in power would be like going from the frying pan into the fire. We don’t have a constitution in place with the necessary components to even consider independence. When the time is right we’ll become independent, but not with this bunch of ne-er-do-wells that we find ourselves presently subjugated to. When we’ve educated our young people, and when we’ve put in place an infrastructure, and when we can survive without looking to anyone for help, then we will proudly become independent. In a sense, we are independent, but with the group taking us on our maiden voyage, I don’t think so. They have had many opportunities, but it was all about self and not about country.
We have to figure out how to save our beloved rock. Let’s hope that someone has the temerity to stand up and cast a no vote to what has been going on. Let us stand behind the opposition in her quest to hold this government accountable for the damage that has been done to us. So till next time, may God help us and may he continue to bless Anguilla.