In spite of the clear evidence of the damage done to Barbuda by derelict hotels on long leases, the government that wants to remove the Land Act altogether will now try another approach and 'amend' it, increasing the terms of the leases they are handing out to their friends to 99 years instead of 50. In addition the threshold for 'small' investment will be changed from $5.4m to £40m to facilitate the land give-away by dispensing with the need to have the consultative village meetings on these projects and further removing the democratic right of local people to decide for themselves in an open and honest process, what is done with their land.
Gaston Browne told the country on ZDK radio that he will repeal the Barbuda Land Act if the BPM stand in the way of Paradise Found and other similar projects that are being given the go ahead by the Antiguan government on hundreds of acres of Barbuda land. In response to this Trevor Walker of BPM told the country that in that case Barbuda would be ready to seek separation from Antigua. The myth that is continually perpetrated that Barbuda is too small to go it alone will no doubt resurface; in spite of the fact that by using the Land Act we could easily provide excellent terms for De Niro and other conscientous, sustainable and approved projects that would generate a permanent income for Barbuda way beyond the imaginations of the current Barbuda Council leaders. Which is exactly what Gaston is after! So again we go backwards - facing more years of the divide, rule and share the spoils approach to Barbuda that the ALP were well known for in the past and are expert at, but with the added interest of increased attempts to stamp on anything that appears to be dissent.
BPM have filed a class action in the court to challenge the unconstitutional Paradise Found Act (which was passed in one day to give immediate access to the lands of Barbuda to Robert De Niro and billionaire James Packer for their 'Paradise Found' project) The action contests that the government has compulsorily acquired and taken possession of the land to facilitate this and other projects. They will be seeking 'compensation to the people of Barbuda for the property, vindicatory damages and discretionary interest'. This is financed by fund raising locally and supported by donations of time, expertise and commitment mostly from local people. If you would like to assist in any way - get in touch.
What does this have to do with the (currently permanently closed) Lighthouse Hotel?! I think a picture of one of our cargo boats is more appropriate Observer - just gives it a bit of perspective...
The Prime Minister's lack of interest in the self-determination of Barbudan people to control their own land, and their sustainable development of it continues: 'We have to be careful in the duplication of the overall management infrastructure. It’s a unitary state and I find (that) within the Barbuda Land Act they’re trying to carve out a different space for Barbuda, as if Barbuda is independent of Antigua. As far as I am concerned, there should be one uniform national legislation to govern development right through the country. I don’t see why Barbuda needs to have any special committee, or any special law to govern development...' he is quoted in the Observer as saying.
Meanwhile the Gravesnor (now Virdee) development continues without any clarification for the Barbudan people, the current status of the De Niro project is unknown except to the priviliged few who are party to it (and we know what that means) and both huge developments continue to threaten acres of natural salt ponds and willdlife habitat and bring about legal action. This would be wholly unnecessary if Government Ministers, Council representatives and their 'investors' followed the terms of the Act.
The hotel built of imported teak that cut down acres of mangrove so that their guests could canoe through the pristine natural environment comes into the news again.
The Prime Minister and others have sent condolences to the family of Profit Burton - a long time Council member and member of the ABLP who died suddenly last week.