04 September, 2008


Can We Ever Believe Our Government? On 31 July, the Flag/Temenos project began to shut down. It had until then been Anguilla’s highly acclaimed new flagship golf-course project. Perhaps they had run out of money. Perhaps they had some other problem. We were never told. They just notified their contractor, Ashtrom, that the project was closing while they reorganized their finances.

We have touched on Ashtrom on this blog before. They had been permitted to bring in hundreds of Chinese workers to do their construction. Anguilla is a West Indian island of some 12,000 people, men, women and children. We are a mainly Afro-Caribbean, relatively homogenous, society. Hundreds of imported Chinese contract workers made a significant impact on the demographics of the island. Popular discontent with this situation has been brewing for some time.

We were assured that we need not worry. The Chinese were safely locked away on the project. They were not allowed to venture out to compete with the local working population.

Now that Flag had apparently run out of money, the Anguillian workers on the project were laid off first. The Chinese workers continued working.

While we waited and worried, Government came charging over the hill with flags flying. They wrote a letter to Ashtrom. The last paragraphs were the critical ones. They read:

So, the Chinese workers were to cease work immediately.

The question was, what would happen to them now that Ashtrom no longer had any work for them? The Government letter also made that clear. The Chinese must be repatriated until the Anguillian workers were back on the job.

Relief flowed through our arteries like re-oxygenated blood. Government was at last doing the right thing. But, that sentiment was not to last.

By 12 August, more Anguillian workers were being laid off. At least, we knew that Government had told Astrom that the Chinese workers must go unless the project resumed within two weeks.

That was some six weeks ago.

What has happened since?

Most of the Anguillian workers are still laid off. The remainder are expected to go soon.

The Chinese workers are still residing in Anguilla. Many of them are to be seen walking the streets seeking work wherever they can find it. This solicitation, despite published announcements by Government that it is contrary to their work permits and must cease.

There has been no explanation for the apparent change of mind. Has government rescinded its demand that the Chinese go? Has Bob Sillerman, said to be the principal investor at Flag/Temenos, persuaded Government to change its policy? No explanation has been forthcoming.

Now, Government has announced that they are utilizing forty (40) of the Chinese in completing the Football Field project at the Webster’s Park in The Valley. The announcement in last week's Anguillian Newspaper is that this is supposed to be a generous gesture by Ashtrom to benefit the community.

The bottom line is that the Anguillians at Flag/Temenos are unemployed, and the Chinese are still here.

Is the Government right in adopting a cynical approach to crises? Is it true that everyone in Anguilla forgets promises made within a week?

Is there no one holding Government to the promises they made?

Is no one protesting at the hypocrisy and contempt shown for the people by those in power.

Hey, I have some repairs to do. Can I take ten (10) of them?


  1. Interesting. More than a year ago I was aware of the Chinese working for locals in addition to their work at Temenos. Willing to work and cheap labor.

    Doesn't it present a problem on Anguilla to have all the foreigners on island that are not working?

  2. The Chinese had problems with Ashtrom in Turks and Caicos too in November 2007

  3. The Chinese workers for Ashtrom in Turks and Caicos went on strike. What a mess. I guess Ashtrom learned its lesson, and knows now how to keep them happy.

  4. So, what's this about the government wanting to make sure Anguillians have jobs. Why aren't they hiring the "unemployed Anguillians" to finish off the Football field? Or is it that the labour is much cheaper (free?) for the government. This is exactly why Ashtrom let the Anguillians go before the chinese.

  5. The chief minister must be reading your blog. I read what you wrote early this morning. Then, I heard on the news tonight that he called one of his very infrequent press conferences by midday. He announced that the owner of Flag had told him the project had been budgeted at US$180 million, but it had already cost over US$500 million. They hope to renegotiate an additional US$200 million by the end of September. That is what they say it will take to finish the project. Meanwhile, “some” of the Chinese want to go home. What about the original order that they must “all” go home?

  6. How much of this cost overrun has been caused by unproductive Anguillian workers?

    Are these the same workers who now demand that they be re-hired? The same ones who caused the problem in the first place?

    What's important here -- that workers are Anguillians or that they actually do the work?

  7. A busload of politicians were driving down a road in West End when, all of a sudden, the bus ran off the road and crashed into a tree in an old farmer's field.

    The farmer, after seeing what had happened, went over to investigate.

    He then proceeded to fire up his backhoe and dig a hole to bury the politicians.

    A few days later the police passed by (they don't get out to West End very often), saw the crashed bus, and asked the farmer where all the politicians had gone.

    The farmer said he had buried them.

    The officer asked the old farmer, 'Were they all dead?'

    The farmer replied, 'Well, some of them said they weren't, but you know how them bastards lie.'

  8. The developers have also not been truthful with all the buyers of Temenos property. The best thing that can happen would be for the owners to find a forum to discuss the problems with each other. I spoke to the company today, so if anyone is willing to get on the phone to see if we can organize a response, please post an email address or phone number and I'll contact you.

  9. Does anyone know the status of this temenos project? have unpaid workers filed liens against the property?


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