Barbuda People’s Movement (BPM)
The BPM has a long history of representing Barbudans in the struggle for self-determination as an independent Caribbean people who have a unique history and a communal way of life. An improvement came about in their relationship with the Antigua government in 2004 as a result of the defeat of the Antigua Labour Party (ALP) government led by Lester Bird, with an alliance between the United Progressive Party (UPP) government and the Barbuda People’s Movement. This eradicated at least a quarter of a century of mistrust, confrontation and confusion, but since Hurricane Irma, this has been escalated by Gaston Browne, the current Antigua Prime Minister. The BPM consider that the ruthless exploitation of Barbuda’s natural resources are at risk from an ALP government – through past sand mining and the present allocation of huge areas of land to investors who do not have the island’s best interests at heart. The BPM believe that Barbudans are being relegated to a second class status in the national consciousness, and the Prime Ministers’ recent unacceptable comments about Barbudans – in the context of 90% of all homes having been destroyed on Barbuda in Hurricane Irma, with the whole community evacuated – sadly confirms this.
As a result of the UPP partnership the people of Barbuda embraced the passage into law of the Barbuda Land Act 2007 – which Gaston Browne has since repealed. The Act recognized communal ownership of all lands on the island, and Barbudans’ sole right to determine how their land is to be used, developed, and tenured in the future. In recognition of his wish to enter into a partnership with Barbuda, the UPP Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer gave the BPM representative at the time – Trevor Walker, the Cabinet position of Minister for Works and Transport. This recognition brought many benefits to Barbuda, including some major improvements in the previously neglected infrastructural aspects of the island’s economy: a new and expanded roads network, a greatly improved electrical supply that did not fail, the construction of a reverse osmosis water supply system, greater educational opportunities for young Barbudans overseas, and radical improvements in the health and social welfare provisions of the Barbuda Council. Chinese government aid to Antigua and Barbuda provided a new community centre and Japanese government aid built a Fisheries building situated in the Lagoon – the most accessible place for local small boat fishers. A Pensions Act introduced into the legislative structure of both islands has vastly improved the level of security for all workers when they reach retirement age.
Since its founding in 1978 the Barbuda People’s Movement has fought to bring a bright tomorrow for all Barbudans, fund-raising locally through food fairs and small donations from local people and visitors. Trevor Walker was defeated by Arthur Nibbs of the ABLP (Antigua (Barbuda) Labour Party) in the 2014 general election and the issuing of land to ‘investors’ began again in earnest under Nibb’s leadership, with the De Niro proposal for land to include an unwanted casino as part of a ‘Barbuda Master Plan’.
The BPM has since returned Trevor Walker as MP and have won most of the seats on the Barbuda Council, both as a result of and in spite of Hurricane Irma. They have vowed to continue to campaign and to take legal action where necessary for self-determination, equality and justice in this twin island nation as Barbudans step into the future. Read the main aims of their previous manifesto here (PDF version 110KB)