Barbudans still against the land adjudication process

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By Kenicia Francis

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Many Barbudans are still against the land adjudication process being conducted by the central government.

      Barbuda got a letter from Martin Camacho, the Solicitor General, about the Registered Land (Amendment) Act, stating that the Act includes Barbuda and that Minister of Legal Affairs Steadroy Benjamin has declared the whole island as an adjudication area. 

This means they’ll have a land adjudication process like Antigua.

A land adjudication process is a legal procedure that determines the ownership and boundaries of land. 

It usually involves surveying, mapping, and resolving disputes over land rights. It helps to establish clear titles and prevent land disputes. 

The letter further stated that the adjudication process in Barbuda is likely to commence on or about May 15, of this year.

      However, Chairman of the Barbuda Council Devon Waner had this to say, “There has been no engagement between the Barbuda Council and the central government with regards to the adjudication process. The only thing that we got at the level of the Council was a letter that said the process was going to start and who were going to be the people behind the implementation of the project. That cannot be right. That’s gross disrespect.”

“I think the government has disrespected the Barbuda Council and the people of Barbuda tremendously. I don’t know why they think that they can just do whatever they want to do without speaking to the Council and the people of Barbuda. Not only Barbuda, but within the state of Antigua.” he continued.

          “Yes, you’re elected to do certain things, but by right, you should consult with the population of Antigua and Barbuda, whether it be a matter of the population of Barbuda or in Antigua. And it’s only fair to the people that the information be given so that people can make informed decisions.” he stated.

      He further explained that “this is something that we have practiced as Barbudans for over 300 years, communal ownership. We are going to be a united people when it comes to selling the lands of Barbuda. Because we’re not in support of that. Because when lands are sold, it benefits nobody other than the person who purchases them.”

      “We utilize it as a community. Where you get a plot to build your home, you get a plot to do business, you get a plot to do your agriculture and all that. Why would you want to walk away or give that away? Barbudans build their homes without going to the bank. It might take us ten years when somebody who goes to the bank might do it in three or four. But when that Barbudan finishes his or her home, he or she owes nobody a dime. Isn’t that a good way to live? So why am I supposed to sit back and allow a bully from across the water to change all that?” he continued.

      Warner also told Observer, “There are going to be those people out there who are saying Barbudans are anti-development. That is total foolishness. It’s not that we’re anti-development, it’s that we know what type of development we want. We know what type of development will work for Barbuda. We know what type of development will work for the Barbuda people.”

“We’re not saying that Antigua should not benefit from whatever development takes place in Barbuda. We’re not saying that. It would be ridiculous for us to make a statement like that. But our vision for Barbuda is different from that of the government. The type of development that is taking place in Barbuda, Barbudans never wanted that. We always thought that whatever development would come to Barbuda would be the boutique-style hotels, things that would conform to the culture of Barbuda. What is happening is totally east and west of whatever our vision was.” he continued.

A fisherman employed at the Fisheries Department, who only identified himself as Hollyhood said, “What Gaston or the government is saying is that Barbuda and Antigua, as one State should be under the government’s control because it’s crown land. The land was leased to Mr Codrington. You can’t take my house that me rent you, and live in it for 30 years because me gone America. This is Gaston’s perspective on this.”

“But then you don’t just come bulldoze the house with the people inside and whatever they had in it. You ‘soft-soap’ the people, and get everybody organized. You have to work towards ‘soft soaping’ the people. You don’t come with your army and your police force to come and shoot-up the people out of their homes because they’re [according to you] occupying your space. That’s illegal and then it’s going to become a human rights issue. So, what Gaston needs to do is to come and sit down with all the representatives of Barbuda. It’s not just Trevor alone, we have other representatives as well.”

When asked if the disdain towards the start of the adjudication process would affect the jovial Caribana atmosphere, Chair of Tourism and Culture for the Barbuda Council, Nadia Harris George answered, “Not really, because Caribana is something that the majority of us look forward to. It’s a time where we come together, where we can sit down, communicate, have that level of communication. So, I don’t think it creates any issues in terms of whether or not people will participate, or the spirit will be dampened because of the politics. It’s just a few days, and I know after that everybody will go back to normal, in terms of how they think or what they think about the political situation.

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