BPM pledges to continue fight against ‘disaster capitalism’ as Barbuda Council elections loom

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Former school principal John Mussington is a first-time candidate for the Barbuda Council
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The fight against “disaster capitalism” will continue, say members of the Barbuda People’s Movement (BPM) hoping to retain control of the sister isle’s governing body at next week’s election.

The party has nominated four candidates for the four seats up for grabs on the 11-member Barbuda Council. The Labour Party has similarly nominated four candidates, while two independents will also run in the March 29 poll.

The BPM’s Sharima Deazle-Myers and Devon Warner are seeking re-election while John Mussington and Fitzroy Warner are first-time candidates for the party. The ABLP candidates are Mackeisha Desouza, Bentham Lewis, Orlando Morris and Zaria Nedd, while the two independents are Ordrick Samuel and Jurmaine Joyce.

The Council is comprised of nine directly elected and two ex-officio members, namely Barbuda’s MP and Senator.

A BPM statement released after nomination day on Friday said the party planned to “continue to represent the vision and best interests of the people of Barbuda here and in the diaspora”.

It also pledged to “safeguard the existence” of the Barbuda Council which came into being in 1976.

Mussington, former principal of the Sir McChesney George Secondary School, told Observer yesterday that many Barbudans remain fiercely opposed to the creation of luxurious large-scale developments.

“The people of Barbuda continue their struggle against an imposed anti-development policy that is focused on the creation of a luxury real-estate market. Such a market, inspired by disaster capitalism, is designed to generate and extract billions of US dollars into the accounts of a few individuals, most of whom are stationed outside of Antigua and Barbuda,” Mussington said.

“The luxury real-estate market is also designed to support the creation of exclusive residential communities in a ‘private island’ setting.

“The success of this imposed policy requires the deracination of the Barbudan people, their culture and their land/resource management policies.

“Only the Barbuda Council stands in the way of this scheme. At this critical point the Barbuda Council requires the service of strong Barbudan women and men who have the capacity to lead and implement the people’s vision and sustainable development policies that have been pursued for decades.

“I am one of four such Barbudans who have answered the call,” Mussington added.

The passage of Hurricane Irma in 2017 reignited a decades-old dispute over the ownership of land in Barbuda. The Privy Council ruled last year in the favour of central government which has long maintained that land is not owned in common by Barbudans as many of the isle’s residents claim.

The BPM’s statement issued over the weekend rejected what it alleged were attempts by Prime Minister Gaston Browne to sow seeds of division between the two islands “by claiming to be enabling Antiguans and holders of Antigua and Barbuda passports to purchase land in Barbuda”.

“The fact is, this is merely an attempt to justify and cover up the sale of subleases on property totalling well over US$300 million,” the party charged.

“The average price for these lots is US$4.5 million. Hundreds more are expected to be sold, raking in billions of US dollars for the principals of the scheme and creating an ultra-exclusive … luxury real-estate market.

“Which ordinary Antiguan can afford a US$4.5 million lot? Even if she/he could, they would likely not meet the requirement to gain entry into the exclusive community,” the statement added.

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