Barbudans one step away from ownership of lands

ST. JOHN’S, St. Antigua, Jan. 6, CMC – After a full day of parliamentary debates and discussion history was created when the Barbuda Land Amendment Bill was passed  this week.

In a statement the government on Friday said the bill, passed Tuesday night, now grants Barbudans “actual, individual ownership of the lands in Barbuda which were previously held as communal land’”.

Barbuda (file photo)
Barbuda (file photo)

“The bill will specifically grant born-Barbudans (Barbudans born on the island) or whose parents were born on Barbuda the opportunity to gain ownership of lands there.”

It said the parliamentary sitting was the first order of the New Year, “and witnessed members of the sitting government detailing the need for this bill to be passed.

“Prime Minister Gaston Browne said his government seeks to develop Barbuda the right way.”

In his presentation, Browne said he wanted Barbudans to “gain a source of capital as they seek to empower themselves and families after the disastrous Hurricane Irma,” according to the statement.

In September 2017, Hurricane Irma ravaged Barbuda, forcing hundreds to be evacuated to Antigua, as almost 90 percent of homes were destroyed, the statement said.

In his New Year’s address, Browne said this move “will unlock the economic potential of the land that had laid fallow for centuries and will provide the citizens of Barbuda with significant economic opportunities, which hitherto, they were denied.”

Both Browne and former Prime Minister Sir Lester Bird “admonished political opponents for their mischievous tactics by arousing fear in Barbudans,” the statement said.

Sir Lester opened the parliamentary debate by reiterating the need for development in Barbuda.

“I am a development guru,” said the former Prime Minister, impressing on parliamentary representatives and onlookers to “sway from those who may seek to misguide.”

Bird then sought to delve into the controversial Barbudan land ownership matter, establishing his stance that Antigua and Barbuda is one unitary state.

“We need to defuse the notion that Barbuda belongs to Barbuda,” he said. “Barbuda belongs to Antigua and Barbuda. We are one country.

“What is Tobago without Trinidad, Carriacou without Grenada, the Grenadines without St. Vincent?” asked Sir Lester. “This is ridiculous now. We are one country.

“We are a unitary state; we cannot have separate rights,” he added.

Attorney General Steadroy Cutie Benjamin placed the issue at hand in a legal and historical framework.

The Attorney General, according to the statement, briefly described the historical definition of communal ownership, stating that there is no evidence in history or on the books which would indicate lands in Barbuda to be communally-owned.

Benjamin said history suggests that the lands were originally leased to the Codringtons and that Barbudans were tenants on the land.

“Barbuda lands have always been crown lands,” he said. “When the Codringtons returned the lease, they were compensated for the chattel, and the lands returned as crown lands. They never held the title for the lands in Barbuda.

“We have to do what is right,” he added. “We cannot allow this type of division, discriminatory division; we are a unitary state.”

The bill now goes to the Upper House (Senate) for debate, the statement said.

Last week, a Guyanese-born author of several books on African and African Diaspora history said the people of Barbuda were not only struggling to recover from the devastation that was brought to the island by Hurricane Irma, but they were also fighting to retain the collective ownership of their land.

“This is a system that has been in place since the abolition of slavery on the island and is currently being threatened by the government of Antigua and Barbuda,” said Dwayne Wong , a contributor for the Huffington Post. “Prime Minister Gaston Browne has argued that, in order to rebuild Barbuda and to improve the island’s economy, it is necessary to change this law.

“The people of Barbuda are concerned that they will lose the control of their land, so that Barbuda can be developed into an island for mass tourism, much as Antigua has been,” added Wong (Omowale), writing last Friday under the caption, “Barbuda and the Land Issue in the Caribbean.”

“As I have pointed out previously, some Antiguans have complained that tourism has become such a dominant feature on the island that the island belongs to the tourists more so than the people who lived there,” he added. “The people of Barbuda fear the same thing will happen to their island as well.”

Wong  said Barbuda’s struggle to retain collective control of the island is “a struggle that has been waged throughout the Caribbean islands, “where the forces of colonialism and neo-colonialism have sought to establish foreign ownership over those lands.”

“I mention all of this to show that the struggle of the people of Barbuda to retain the ownership of their land is a struggle that has been waged and is being waged on other Caribbean islands as well, where foreign powers continue to control the economies and the land of those islands to the exclusion of the locals,” he said.

“Barbuda is unique in that its system of collective land ownership ensures that no one on the island is excluded from owning property or land,” he added.  “If history is a good indicator of what may happen to Barbuda, if this system is overturned, then the people of Barbuda have every right to voice their concerns over what they see as a ‘land grab’ taking place on their island.”

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 by STAFF WRITER

ST. JOHN’S, St. Antigua, Jan. 6, CMC – After a full day of parliamentary debates and discussion history was created when the Barbuda Land Amendment Bill was passed  this week.

In a statement the government on Friday said the bill, passed Tuesday night, now grants Barbudans “actual, individual ownership of the lands in Barbuda which were previously held as communal land’”.

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Barbuda (file photo)
Barbuda (file photo)

“The bill will specifically grant born-Barbudans (Barbudans born on the island) or whose parents were born on Barbuda the opportunity to gain ownership of lands there.”

It said the parliamentary sitting was the first order of the New Year, “and witnessed members of the sitting government detailing the need for this bill to be passed.

“Prime Minister Gaston Browne said his government seeks to develop Barbuda the right way.”

In his presentation, Browne said he wanted Barbudans to “gain a source of capital as they seek to empower themselves and families after the disastrous Hurricane Irma,” according to the statement.

In September 2017, Hurricane Irma ravaged Barbuda, forcing hundreds to be evacuated to Antigua, as almost 90 percent of homes were destroyed, the statement said.

In his New Year’s address, Browne said this move “will unlock the economic potential of the land that had laid fallow for centuries and will provide the citizens of Barbuda with significant economic opportunities, which hitherto, they were denied.”

Both Browne and former Prime Minister Sir Lester Bird “admonished political opponents for their mischievous tactics by arousing fear in Barbudans,” the statement said.

Sir Lester opened the parliamentary debate by reiterating the need for development in Barbuda.

“I am a development guru,” said the former Prime Minister, impressing on parliamentary representatives and onlookers to “sway from those who may seek to misguide.”

Bird then sought to delve into the controversial Barbudan land ownership matter, establishing his stance that Antigua and Barbuda is one unitary state.

“We need to defuse the notion that Barbuda belongs to Barbuda,” he said. “Barbuda belongs to Antigua and Barbuda. We are one country.

“What is Tobago without Trinidad, Carriacou without Grenada, the Grenadines without St. Vincent?” asked Sir Lester. “This is ridiculous now. We are one country.

“We are a unitary state; we cannot have separate rights,” he added.

Attorney General Steadroy Cutie Benjamin placed the issue at hand in a legal and historical framework.

The Attorney General, according to the statement, briefly described the historical definition of communal ownership, stating that there is no evidence in history or on the books which would indicate lands in Barbuda to be communally-owned.

Benjamin said history suggests that the lands were originally leased to the Codringtons and that Barbudans were tenants on the land.

“Barbuda lands have always been crown lands,” he said. “When the Codringtons returned the lease, they were compensated for the chattel, and the lands returned as crown lands. They never held the title for the lands in Barbuda.

“We have to do what is right,” he added. “We cannot allow this type of division, discriminatory division; we are a unitary state.”

The bill now goes to the Upper House (Senate) for debate, the statement said.

Last week, a Guyanese-born author of several books on African and African Diaspora history said the people of Barbuda were not only struggling to recover from the devastation that was brought to the island by Hurricane Irma, but they were also fighting to retain the collective ownership of their land.

“This is a system that has been in place since the abolition of slavery on the island and is currently being threatened by the government of Antigua and Barbuda,” said Dwayne Wong , a contributor for the Huffington Post. “Prime Minister Gaston Browne has argued that, in order to rebuild Barbuda and to improve the island’s economy, it is necessary to change this law.

“The people of Barbuda are concerned that they will lose the control of their land, so that Barbuda can be developed into an island for mass tourism, much as Antigua has been,” added Wong (Omowale), writing last Friday under the caption, “Barbuda and the Land Issue in the Caribbean.”

“As I have pointed out previously, some Antiguans have complained that tourism has become such a dominant feature on the island that the island belongs to the tourists more so than the people who lived there,” he added. “The people of Barbuda fear the same thing will happen to their island as well.”

Wong  said Barbuda’s struggle to retain collective control of the island is “a struggle that has been waged throughout the Caribbean islands, “where the forces of colonialism and neo-colonialism have sought to establish foreign ownership over those lands.”

“I mention all of this to show that the struggle of the people of Barbuda to retain the ownership of their land is a struggle that has been waged and is being waged on other Caribbean islands as well, where foreign powers continue to control the economies and the land of those islands to the exclusion of the locals,” he said.

“Barbuda is unique in that its system of collective land ownership ensures that no one on the island is excluded from owning property or land,” he added.  “If history is a good indicator of what may happen to Barbuda, if this system is overturned, then the people of Barbuda have every right to voice their concerns over what they see as a ‘land grab’ taking place on their island.”