Stop Antigua Land Grab - Demand Legislation to Protect Public Lands>
- Opinion Pieces
- Monday, 09 June 2014 08:05
- Kwame Nkosi Romeo
We live in a world where power is very unbalanced. Power imbalances are at the root of most social problems. Correcting power imbalances will go a long way towards solving many problems at once.
We'd be wise to attend to this no matter what issues we work on. - Democracy: A Social Power Analysis -Dr. John S. Atlee, with Tom Atlee
This article establishes the link of land give-away from the dynastic tradition of British Royal Monarchy to Leader Emeritus of the Antigua Labour Party (ALP) Lester Bird. Lester Bird failed to grasp the socio-economic impact of history relating to technological and economic changes, alternately supporting the empowerment of the few. This basic realism of Birdocracy is based on ego-maniac politicians effective monopoly of politics, land and commercial activity.
Historical records of land dispossession expressly predicates that the British economy benefited from slavery,colonialism and capital accumulation. The vicious cycle of slavery moved Antigua slave population from 570 slaves in 1673 to 33,432 in 1834. Slave owners, Governors, and their heirs were trustees of a system of exploitation, torture and violence. British slave-trader Robert Pearne had considerable holding of several hundred acres in Nonesuch Bay, St. Philips, Antigua. In the same manner, this feudal landlordism progressed to Colonel Edward Powell, Governor of Antigua, owner of Golden Grove and the Road Plantations in St. John's Parish, Antigua. By the terms of Powell's Will the aforementioned estate was left to his nephew Edward Powell. Likewise, John Roe bequeathing his plantation Shortshope 284 acres in St. Mary's Parish to his son John Roe, as a consequence, this culture and tradition of empowering their heirs continued ad infinitum. For example the Will of slave owner Robert Pearne declared monies arising from the sale of "Negro Slaves" to be invested "...in real or Government Securities in Great Britain, upon the like Uses and Trusts." By the end of the eighteenth century, the sugar plantations of the West Indies (like Sir Thomas’s plantation in Antigua) were pumping four million pounds into Britain as compared with only one million pounds from Britain’s interests in the rest of the world (Austen and Antigua Slavery in Her Time) (The history of the island of Antigua, one of the Leeward Caribbees in the West Indies, from the first settlement in 1635 to the present time (1894) )
Definitely, the African Holocaust , slave labor, the sale of slaves as commodities, and the resources of Caribbean countries built Europe and the wealthy descendants of slave-owners, including Jane Austen, author of Mansfield Park, benefited from the corruption of blood! ProfessorGregson Davis, eminent Antiguan scholar working hypothesis Jane Austen's Mansfield Park: the Antigua Connection, explores the constancy of the link between the Austen slave-trading family and Antigua. The ancestral connection was through her father George Austen: trustee of an estate in Antigua ( owned by the Nibbs family). George Austen slave trading activity in Antigua, financially contributed to the estate of George Austen, passing along family wealth to future generations. Conclusive proof gives credence that British industrialization, benefited from enslavement of Africans in the Americas was again emphasized in Dr. Eric Williams, 1944 epic 'Capitalism and Slavery' “The commercial capitalism of the 18th century developed the wealth of Europe by means of slavery and monopoly. But in so doing it helped to create the industrial capitalism of the 19th century, which turned round and destroyed the power of commercial capitalism, slavery, and all its works. Without a grasp of these economic changes the history of the period is meaningless"
Hegemonic Preservation - Fiery Resistance
This topical issue of slavery, based on torture and genocide was further corroborated By Robin Blackburn ' Enslavement and Industrialisation': "Profits from these activities helped to endow All Souls College, Oxford, with a splendid library, to build a score of banks, including Barclays, and to finance the experiments of James Watt, inventor of the first really efficient steam engine" Moreover, the detailed analysis presents sufficient evidence that the sordid slave trade was inextricably linked to Britain and European consumerism development in the 17th century. Antigua honored historian and political activist Tim Hector, added to the global dialogue by asserting slavery dehumanize and establish the perpetuation of subjection, suppression, and decimal degrees of progress: "Achievement was virtually impossible in 19th century Antigua and Barbuda. The first third of the century saw our people bound hand and foot to the plantation, in chattel slavery, the dehumanizing project. The other two thirds of the century saw us trapped in the dehumanizing project, making decimal degrees of progress" In addition Dr. Susan Lowe study of Antigua economic situation was no different: "As the economic situation deteriorated after the 1840's the white population made a concerted effort to preserve it's hegemony, and barriers that had seemed to be falling began to re-erected." (Tim Hector Outlet-Fan the Flame: Two or maybe Three Antiguan and Barbuda Giants of the 20th Century -Friday, February 11, 2000) (Small Islands, Large Questions- Society, Culture and Resistance in the Post- Emancipation Caribbean page 39)
Given the dynastic tradition of preceding centuries, King Charles 11 of England gave Antigua & Barbuda land to Dr. Daniel Mackinnons, and numerous British slave-owners. The genealogy account documents the first British settler in the McKinnons area as Dr. Daniel Mackinnons (Mckinnons ) of Dickenson Bay, Antigua. The area now called McKinnons was named after him. According to Mackinnons Clan Memoirs, Daniel's correct name by birth was Donald, due to a mix-up he was subsequently called Daniel. Additionally, several estates were granted to Dr. Mackinnon by Charles 11 King of England, amongst the estates were Dropes, Golden Grove, Dickenson's Bay, and Mackinnons. Despite these general colonial land theft by Royal decrees, Leader Emeritus Lester Bird followed the legacy of King Charles 11, King of England, leaving a bitter legacy of land control, and business monopoly in the hands of foreign buccaneers. Syndicate lands purchased by Sir V.C. Bird in the third quarter of the 20th Century, were swiftly sold or leased by Lester Bird in the fourth quarter of the 20th Century . Again these lands are now controlled by the age-old minority, in partnership with Lester Bird to fleece Antigua & Barbuda. This was Antigua-style democracy under PM Lester Bird, therefore, absence of action against the guilt of these crime, willingly enables more sell-off! . Time to start a campaign similar to Stop Africa Land Grab. The Stop Antigua Land Grab, must radically demand changes to Antigua archaic land laws, to reflect the permanent protection of public lands ! (Mackinnons Clan Memoirs) (Stop Africa Land Grab)
Residual traits of British Colonial land grab simply empowered Leader Emeritus Lester Bird illegal Crown Lands deals. Leader Emeritus of Antigua Labour Party (ALP) Lester Bird was the "absolute monarchy" misusing that autonomy for more than 28 years, granting 99 year leases, arbitrarily giving away more than 16,000 acres of Crown Land, including Corbison Pointe, Dickenson Bay, Antigua. After being elected in 2004, the UPP government failed to carry out a forensic land audit, constitute a passage for repatriation, enact land protection legislations, and reform government procurement policy. Transactions involving Syndicate Lands purchased in 1967 for US$2,081,995 million are now gone, so that massive land reclamation struggle seems to have been pointless. Compliantly, Antigua & Barbuda constituents remain slaves to a system of sell-off, disempowerment, and lack of participatory democracy. Repeatedly, voters will await the outcome of Antigua June 12, 2014 general election, then abdicate and hand over infinite power to politicians. The remaining 5-years of governance is monopolized by the political party elected, essentially enslaving us with dogmatism, and absolute power. After that, the people carry weighty shackles of hyper-partisan history until the next general election. The empty soul of Leader Emeritus Lester Bird, was the attitude of King Charles 11, franchising policies, only preserving the hegemony of the few. Bird's political ideology of greed, fear and hatred exploits peoples fear of democracy.
No one has corrected these past indiscretions, consequences of serious public resistance may yet come. Concealed behind high walls are enclaves that now control beach accesses. Today coastal lands are under the control of privateers who show no respect for Antigua & Barbuda resources. Giorgio Armani, the famous Italian designer and homeowner knows the value of co-existence and shared responsibility "..ensure that all developers respect your islands' resources" Armani's cooperative vision is entrenched in the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization since 1996: "...to contribute to the development of an integrated approach to the prevention and resolution of conflicts over resources and values in coastal regions and small islands." Without this integrated approach and public consultation, the sell off, and denial of public access will become the fiery fuse of social discontent. Theoretically transforming todays paradise in tomorrows inferno. This argument is a volatile cocktail mix of fuming discontent and fiery resistance. Whatever the outcome, people will really be angry when they know all is lost.....more than the loss of a beach. Present land deals are not debated, no participatory democracy exist, also, government procurement is still not fair. Presently, Crown Lands laws enables Cabinet "..... to make regulation with respect to the terms and conditions which Crown Lands may be rented, leased, occupied, sold or otherwise dealt with..." [Crown Lands Cap. 120 Page 2 No.4]
No Participatory Democracy
Against this interpretive background, Corbkinnons Ltd and the role of political self-interest were interwoven with Devcon and Norman Wexelman. Firstly, the agreement between St. John's Development Corporation and Italian investors to construct 1,842 rooms was summarily reduced to 28 units representing 1.52%. The development created an environmental disaster within the environs of McKinnon's. Secondly, transferring the 350 acres of Crown Land to private undertaking. Thirdly, the invisible hand of authoritative power used Wexelman as a nominee trustee and business associate of Corbkinnons Ltd. Political observers suggest Wexelman was a nominee shareholder, basically used by ALP politicians to minimize and hide politicians interest in Corbkinnons Ltd, and other so-called secret Government projects . What is a nominee shareholder? Tax Havens Guide defines nominee shareholder: "A nominee shareholder is a person or entity listed as the holder of the securities of an offshore corporation rather than its actual owner, which allows them to remain anonymous." Manifestly, Devcon International Corporation is responsible to share all information regarding both government entities, Corbkinnons and Newport (Antigua) Ltd. Keep in mind, St. John's Development Corporation ( Ratification ) secured the promissory notes against two State assets: Corbkinnons and Newport Holding. These government assets secured government debt to AMP ( St. John's Development Ratification page 3). Neither Devcon nor Norman Wexelman were asked to produce the Corbkinnons Ltd minutes, be more transparent and accountable to the tax payers of Antigua & Barbuda? Not only is this an area of concern, but public procurement, no one should be begging any Minister of Government, everything should transparent, following the Government of Virginia eProcurement Portal.
Overall, the Corbkinnons project lacked transparency, there was no performance characteristics or benefits to the nations. No security agreement exists, reaping the benefits were Devcon key stakeholders. Antigua experience with Devcon International Corporation is instructive, more business cited example: "The Company is a 43 percent shareholder in a Tortolan corporation formed to construct condominium housing units in Antigua. The Company has advanced $200,000 in capital contributions to the Tortolan corporation." Around the same time, it is an acknowledge fact that Hog John Bay Development, a company owned by PM Bird, engaged in the same kind of economic activity. PM Lester Bird and Devcon forged a unified partnership and became a leading force in cooperative development, for example the construction of Pillar Rock and Marina Bay Condos. One of these business-government collusion came before the East Caribbean Court of Appeal: Claim No. ANUHCV2004/0307 Proprietors Condominium Plan v Arthur Reynolds revealed some confidential information. Mr. Reynolds was forced to disclose that he used to be a member, director and shareholder of Hog John Bay Company which was the company that developed the entire Condominium Property of Pillar Rock. Lester Bird was conspicuously absent from the preceding. The economic benefit and ownership of Pillar Rock are related to PM Bird and his cronies, ownership of multiple hotels and condos in the coastal areas of Antigua & Barbuda. This connects with the World Bank Analysis: Yeptons Marina and Condos, Hyatt Halcyon, Dry Hill Hotel, Dulcina Hotel were all government undertakings between 1979 to 1983. [World Band Report No. 2432-CRB Current Economic Position and Prospects of Antigua April 16, 1979 page 60, 61]
The history of these claims publicize businesses and land holding interest of Lester Bird in a Court Claim No.ANUHCV2006/0326 Clarabell Investment Company Ltd - Paul Sudolski vs. Antigua Island Company -Rupert Sterling : about issues relating to trespass to land . Sterling used the threatening language of Lester Bird's autocratic power, against the claimant continued existence. PM Lester Bird, principal associate of Antigua Isle never debate this, Sterling was left to oppose the claim. The claimant Paul Sudolski won!
The Inequality of Opportunity - the Crisis of Democracy
"....... there are two problems here. One is the local ability to distinguish between unscrupulous and often sinister "modern buccaneers" who are merely out to exploit or "rip off" the country in the crudest possible way rather than to contribute to its genuine development. "
Economist and former President of the Caribbean Development Bank, William G Demas anticipated these events more than three decades ago, emphasizing these social and economic conditions, and calling on the Government of Antigua to empower small local entrepreneurs. Demas expressed that moral and practical idea in his classic report: 'The Viability of the-Caribbean Development Bank' ".....it is necessary to stimulate the local private sector in various ways. One way is to develop government policies and procedures favorable to the development and exercise of entrepreneurship". This clear expression was not given much thought, ALP politicians never heeded the advice to empower local people, public money and land concentration remained in the hands of politicians. ( 'The Viability of the-Caribbean Development Bank - May 13 & 14, 1981 )
Next, in 1981 ALP Minister of Finance John St. Luces' Budget Speech underscored the pending dilemma of youth unemployment, an economy sinking into hopelessness, confronting challenges of widespread youth unemployment and poverty. MP St. Luce viewed unemployment among the most pressing issues urgently in need of policy modification to alleviate the imminent crisis "...and most of all create meaningful employment opportunities for our young people who are leaving school at the rate of 1,200 per year" Six years later, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) predicted "......a fiscal crisis is looming from 1987 on due to the very large increase in external debt (an additional US$110.0 million) that has been committed to since mld-1985. All of this new debt is on commercial terms, and has been contracted to finance four projects; the Deep Bay Hotel, a water desalination and power plant, airport runway resurfacing and a telephone exchange expansion."
Continuing, the overall balance of payment deficit rose from 42% in 1987 to 82% of GDP in 1988. In addition inflation accelerated from 42 in 1987 to 72 in 1988, also public sector saving declined from 52% in 1987 to 32% in 1988: "During 1986-89,the Central Government's current balance moved from a surplus of 2.5% of GDP to a deficit of almost 2.8%." IMF identified one of the problem - excessive public sector employment as high as 30% of the work force. So, the public sector employment was restrained, growth significantly reduced, youth unemployment sky-rocketed. According to Antigua and Barbuda 1991 census, 1,784 youth were unemployed, subsequently a report by the UNDP 'Analysis of the Investment Process in Health and the Environment in Antigua and Barbuda 1996' estimated 50% of the rural population of Antigua and Barbuda living in absolute poverty. Another significant explanation of this proof comes from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) IV consultation. IMF critical overview of Antigua & Barbuda economy, eventually exposed ALPs failed policy: "Fiscal deficit rose to 9.4% of GDP in 1999 from 5% in 1998. And in 2000 the Central Government's overall deficit is estimated to rise to 12% of the GDP" plus, in 2000 youth unemployed was 19.90%. Meanwhile, the offshore banking sector suffered a drastic reduction from 52 in 1998 to 25 in 2001, and Antigua and Barbuda economy was totally devastated by 2003! (JPRS-LAM-84-056 04 May, 1984 (PDF) 180126 ) - (view pages 7 to 23) Part 1 of St. Luce's Presentation of 1984 Budget - excerpt Nation Voice, 31 March 1984 .
The grim reality of Antigua & Barbuda debt was terrifying, and the acceleration of these debt added to the nations demise. Realizing the governments inability to service it's debt obligation, the Directors of the IMF urged the government: "To become current on it's obligation to social security system, to avoid incurring arrears again, and to put the system on an actuarially sound basis" Also, IMF Directors viewed the Antigua & Barbuda database as antiquated for purposes of surveillance and encouraged the authorities: "To improve the coverage, quality, and timing of economic statistics"
The legacy of intergenerational losses under Leader Emeritus Lester Bird, was the cumulative effect of inequality of opportunity, resulting in the crisis of democracy . No one should be looking for government handouts, time for us to recognize our own, before reaching out to others. Seek ownership and control of businesses and small enterprise. Don't wait on government, own your destiny, its the only way forward. Demand government be politically responsible, publicly accountable, socially transparent and powerfully progressive. Time to own the white sands of a trillion dollar industry to the seascape of global enterprises. In collaboration with China it's time to communicate a joint business venture: own our own container shipping fleets, cruise ship. Time to own our production for food security.....Time to fight if we believe in our sovereign right to survive and thrive for true independence. Time to demand participatory democracy, time to own the land. Vote your conscience!