25 May, 2007

Colonialism 5

Anguilla’s Future. Anguilla is a small West Indian territory of 36 square miles, and a population of just 12,000 souls. It is governed by a locally elected cabinet of ministers chosen from the majority party sitting in the House of Assembly. Cabinet meetings are chaired by an official of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office who is titled “Governor” and who represents the head of the Executive, the Queen. Besides holding extraordinary powers to enact a Bill that has not been passed by the House of Assembly, the FCO holds ultimate power to legislate for Anguilla by way of an Order in Council. As such, Anguilla is a full colony of the United Kingdom.

According to the 1945 United Nations Charter and the 1960 Declaration on Decolonization, a full measure of self-government can be achieved by a Non-Self-Governing Territory, such as Anguilla is, through one of three procedures. These are (1) free association with another State; or (2) integration with the United Kingdom, or (3) independence. In my view, integration with Britain is out of the question. We in Anguilla have no ambition to be a County of the UK situated as we are some 4,000 miles away from Whitehall. Besides, we are neither Europeans nor Africans. We are a part of a new West Indian civilization that is in the process of coming into being. Nor do we in Anguilla have any ambition to have the power to declare war on another country, or to mount embassies in distant countries. Independence as a sovereign country is not in any of our minds. As one of the smallest micro-states, we would be even more at the margin than many of our bigger independent cousins already are. Nor have I detected any desire for Anguilla to become a state in free association with the United Kingdom or anyone else. Even if we did, the FCO has ruled such a development out of the question. I, for one, am prepared to take them at face value on this.

There is a fourth possibility not recognised by the UN Declaration on Independence. It is the one that I consider most likely and realistic. One day, Anguilla will take her place as an integral part of the independent and sovereign nation known as the West Indies. That is our destiny. It is the only realistic ambition that we in Anguilla can hold close to our breast. It is the most likely way that we will one day achieve full self-determination. The West Indies is a country that is coming into existence. It does not yet have a flag or a national anthem. One day soon, within the next 20 years, Anguilla will be a town in that country. My only regret is that I am not likely to be around to celebrate it.

In the meantime, our objective must be to obtain from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office representatives with whom we must negotiate in the coming weeks and months the maximum by way of constitutional modernization. This is necessary to prepare our people for the burdens of full self-determination. Let us hope that our leaders, and the representatives who will discuss our constitutional advancement with FCO officials later this year, will have both the aptitude and the fortitude to carry us forward towards this vision of the future.


  1. I'm afraid this sounds like The Haydn Hughes Plan, where we just throw open our doors and allow anyone with a passport, regardless of criminal history, from Jamaica, Haiti, Guyana and elsewhere, to move to Anguilla and look for work or victims. How would we keep them from overwhelming our housing, schools, health services, roads, jobs and culture? We managed to get non-reciprocal rights with the EU. We're not going to get that from Caricom.

  2. I am afraid that little do you know that our doors were thrown wide open many years ago. sadly so not to our caribbean comrades, but to the whole of the EU.

    Be reminded that Conventions are not necessary law, and Parliament can not create any new Prerogative. Therefore, such tactful agreements initiated by the British may not stand up in the court of law.

    Your visionless good intentioned non-reciprocal agreement is a mockery to Constitutional Law and the rights to "Citizenship"

  3. Your recent pieces on Colonialism were great. Should be mandatory reading for officials and leaders. Often wonder if locals fully comprehend the depth of their present situation?

  4. Don, I have one question. I enjoyed your piece on the options available to Anguilla. But, I am wondering if you are ready to put it in action and let the people of Anguilla decide what option they really want. If you accept my request, I will email you on how we can set it up. I am making the request to you because I feel you are one of the few who people will take it serious.

  5. Hello Anonymous. I have a problem with the United Nations Committee of 24. I know that it is now headed by the much respected Margaret Ferrari-Hughes. I know her personally. I know her to be a person of impeccable integrity. However, I can never erase from my mind the memory of the representatives from Libya and Zimbabwe and the other dictatorships who originally made up the Committee, and who presumed to lecture the imperial powers of the USA, Britain, and the Netherlands, on how objectionable colonialism was. I was terrified that anyone of them would ever have anything to do with us. My skin still shivers every time I consider the Committee and what its members stood for.

    Now that we have long passed over the worst of classical colonialism, and are now into its dying throes, I look forward to many more years of enjoyable “partnership” with Britain. I realize that it is an unequal partnership, as most partnerships must be where there is a major investor and a minor one. I look forward even more to the day when we will bring colonialism to an end, and we join with our cousins in the West Indies in joining our nation-in-being. The one thing I am not in the slightest interested in doing is debating the three options suggested by the United Nations Committee of 24. How do you suggest, given my emotional baggage set out frankly above, that we carry your ideas forward?

  6. I agree with you, Don. The UN has said there are three options they would find acceptable. Various self-serving opposition candidates insist that what this means is that we can choose which of the three we want and Britain has to give it to us. Britain has made it perfectly clear, not only here but to all the Overseas Territories, that Free Association is not on offer. Debating this issue is a waste of time, althouth some people like to do it because they like attention.

  7. No debates. While I enjoy debates, this issue cannot be decided by debates. The people can decide.

    The only way to decide this matter once and for all is to let the people of Anguilla choose. Frankly, I am also afraid of what the majority of people may choose. But an issue of such importance must be decided by the majority of the people and then we move forward from there. The question is, are we ready for the people's choice? Perhaps, that's why the elected leaders have played dodge ball with this issue. It is up to all advocates on various sides of this issue to educate the public on the best option for Anguilla. Clearly, our actions may be multi pronged:

    We can do nothing and carry on with the status quo
    We can do nothing and be integrated into the European Union
    We can pursue the road of independence
    We can pursue free association
    We can even advocate for treatys with individual countries in the West Indies

    But whatever we do, if we want to settle the issue of self determination once and for all, then we need a referendum. Therefore, government must set a date for a referendum on self determination. However, I will understand if this matter should go no further. For if we are not ready to accept the outcome then as someone once said:

    "Some questions are better left uanswered" ~ Unknown .


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