22 July, 2007


Concerned Citizens March.

On Friday 20 July an almost unprecedented incident took place. Anguillians have been dormant for years. No one dares to take part in any demonstration. Jobs are at stake. Fear of victimization is rampant. But, Friday was different. There was a public march. It was called by the Concerned Citizens Movement.

There were two issues at stake. They were both included in one petition. The petition was taken by a crowd of demonstrators from The Valley to the Governor’s residence at Government House at Old Ta. I estimate some 200 person participated. The petition concerned two separate issues. A pity really. I would have marched in support of one, but not the other.

One issue was that of suspicion of corruption at the highest levels of government. Why have our Ministers permitted the US company, Viceroy, to take over so many different areas of land?

The inviolable rule has been that no developer has been permitted to control more than one project. That rule has lasted for decades. All governments obeyed it. No one developer would be permitted to control our government and our economy.

But, we have just woken up to the realization that Viceroy controls three different areas of the island. And, they are negotiating for more. The people were determined to express their displeasure and to say to our government, No more. The petition went further and demanded an enquiry into the relationship that has built up between these developers and our government ministers.

That was one issue that I would have signed with pleasure. With conviction. With earnestness. That is an issue that every Anguillian should feel deeply ashamed towards our government about. If that had been the only issue, I would have been there in the marching crowd.

The second issue was to do with the Constitution. It was a demand for a referendum to approve any new Constitution. I happen to have a deep-seated and irreversible aversion to referendums. They are poisonous plants. They are not, and never have been, anywhere in the world, at any time in history, a way of finding out the people’s attitude to an issue. They have always been used by the people as an indicator as to how they feel about the government. A referendum always ends up being a popularity vote on the government. It is never an expression of opinion on the issue contained in the referendum. That is the only reason I was not in the march.

I am firmly convinced that other methods must be used to educate the people and find out their feelings about the issues involved in the Constitution. A referendum urged by a popular government will always return a yes vote. A referendum urged by an unpopular government will always return a no vote.

If the present government of Anguilla put the issue of whether or not God exists to the vote today, and urged people to vote yes, the result would be that most people would vote that God does not exist. Even though that is the opposite of what they truly believe.

The protest march ended peacefully. The police did a good job of controlling traffic and facilitating the demonstration. It was proof that the system that requires demonstrators to get police permission for a march can work well. Congratulations to all concerned. Even though I do not approve of the main purpose of the petition: the referendum.


  1. I support a referendum on the options for self determination. Once that is done an entire Constitution can be drafted. I do no believe you need a referendum to amend the Constitution. Neither do I suport a commission of enquiry. Each request should have been separate petitions. Will the people of Anguilla be asked to pay for this cost too? Regardless of whether our Constitution is amended, the United Front government era will be over. How long must we continue with 1930s & 1940s politicians? Time for 21st century thinkers to take over.

  2. Vernal Bryan reported a few minutes ago:
    Jul 22, 07 - 3:17 PM
    CAN: Major Rally to CMs Steps

    CAN breaking news.
    CAN has learned that the Concerned Citizens movement of Anguilla are presently planning a major rally to the CMs Office Steps.
    The Concerned Citizens, sources say, believe that the governor now knows how serious they are but the CM still hasn't gotten the message.
    The CM, seemingly, has gone into instant "hibernation" waiting for "things to die down".
    Perhaps this administration sources say will finally get the following message:
    1. Resign and call fresh elections
    2. Stop the viceroy project immediately. Viceroy GOT TO GO!
    3. Reign in Temonos and Flags and protect the present cove road and the cove; fulfill your lying promises and declare the cove a national park and keep the cove wild and rural for Anguillians to enjoy.
    4. Be truthful with the Anguillian people and have an anti-corruption commission to investigate allegations.

    March organizers are expecting at least 1000 demonstrators for this rally as pressure mushrooms.

    This is Channel Atlantic Breaking News

    -----announcement ends-----

    The Kor Group, dba Viceroy, has spent a lot of money in Anguilla. They own the land. They have re-sold about 2/3 of the units. They have certain rights under our constitution and laws. Taking their land and sending them into exile would certainly be a novel and innovative approach to dispute resolution, but would open us to liabilities far beyond our government's ability to pay. The contingent liability would fall upon HMG. They won't like that.

    Neither would any other foreign investor. They would sell out and leave.

    The road to the Cove Bay Pier belongs to the heirs of Jeremiah Gumbs. They allow us to use it, but it is theirs. The north-south road to the Cove is a public road. It is not endangered; allegations to the contrary are opposition rubbish. It requires no more "protection" than any other public road.

    A large part of the Cove Bay beachfront is included in the Cap Juluca lease. Friedland wants to sell the hotel, including the lease rights. A lease is an enforceable contract and we can't just take back part of the leased property without compensating Friedland for its value. Who is going to compensate him? Bryan? The Concerned Citizens? In negotiating the terms of the alien land holding license for the sale of Cap Juluca, perhaps the Cove Bay part of the property can be gotten back. Did the CM actually PROMISE to do this? I hope he wasn't that foolish.

    One of these allegedly-concerned citizens was on the radio the other night and said that no one should be allowed to build in front of Sheridan Smith's villas. "No one should be allowed to block the view of an Anguillian," he said. (Was it Haydn? I'm not sure.) This means that any Anguillian who builds anywhere where there's a "view" (whatever that means) automatically confiscates the value of all lands in front of him. It can be used for growing goats or potatoes, nothing more.

    These are the women lawyers who want to run our island? Are these their positions on these issues?

  3. Management is a career. Leadership is a calling.

  4. This government may be distorting the modifications to the constitution to suit their selfish interests. For example, I suspect the 4 dishonorable men don't want to increase the number of ministers because it would dilute their power. We really want a constitution with lots of "checks and balances" but a set of dishonorable men would not want such things. So changing our constitution when a very unpopular government is in charge might be giving us a bad constitution.

  5. I am so proud of the people of Anguilla... bless every single person who had the courage to march

  6. The people of Anguilla clearly do not trust their government and the government have worked hard to earn this distrust. It is a fine spectacle of them in a hole and still furiously digging.
    However if they were all to go now there is nothing to replace them with.
    We must change but we must do it slowly and carefully. We can only continue to show our government that they must do what the electorate wants. It is to be hoped that they will get the message and that subsequent governments will too.

  7. Often people with a better education distrust the people and the vote of the people. But if you take democracy and citizenship seriously why being afraid of the people.
    Coming from Switzerland I know of the advantages and disadvantages of referendums. But I would never give up that right to vote. I think it is good corrective for a government that has lost touch with the concerns of their people.

  8. A correspondent has pointed out to me that it is possible for someone to read my main post and to conclude that I am saying I am satisfied that the government was paid off by a hotel engaged in very disreputable practices. I would like to state by way of clarification that my intention was to comment on the public controversy. I hasten to withdraw any suggestion on my part that members of government were guilty of such conduct.


  9. Well, at least the Chief Minister is being transparent about his proposal to give outgoing ministers their official cars. The plan may (or more likely may not) be a good one and may be open to gross abuse, but at least the Chief Minister is prepared to open it to public scrutiny - something he is tragically not prepared to do on all the far more important issues currently troubling people.

    He should be equally transparent about revealing to the Anguillian public all other benefits he and his ministerial colleagues receive, whether officially or unofficially, instead of threating court action against anyone who reaches adverse conclusions about ministers' integrity, as he did in the House of Assembly the other day. What conclusions do they expect people to draw from the fact that they refuse to answer perfectly legitimate questions about government decisions that affect the very future of Anguilla, and have reneged on their previous undertakings to practise openness and transparency in government?


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