Editorial: Apartheid Alert: Will Barbuda become the new Soweto?

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If, of late, you have been feeling like a second- or third-class citizen in Antigua and Barbuda, then your feeling has now been legitimized by no less an authority than the ‘Top Dawg,’ himself, who has expressed the view that non-belongers should be kept out of Barbuda.

This is not for the benefit of Barbudans, mark you, since I am not even certain they “belong” anymore.  After all, having had the audacity to throw off their “refugee” status on Antigua and return, en masse, to where their navel strings are buried, they were relegated by Prime Minister Gaston Browne to “residents” and “inhabitants” of what we once knew to be our sister isle.

Neither does the exclusion of non-belongers – which people like me would describe as the “new apartheid” –  have anything to do with those who were born, or simply live, on the mainland. 

Rather, it is for the protection, peace and security of those millionaires and billionaires who, reportedly, are spending money, hand over fist, to buy up the pristine lands – as Robert DeNiro would describe them – huffed by the Browne administration from the people whose gene pool he now does not want to dilute.

Follow me, if you will, back down the yellow marl road.  It was not that long ago that a man wanted for serious crime in Jamaica was picked up by law-enforcement authorities in St. Lucia, where he had gone, from this country where he lived and worked, on vacation.

It was not long ago, either, that after an Antigua and Barbuda amnesty exercise that spanned a number of years, Canada said “Au Revoir” to the privilege of visa-free access enjoyed, for decades, by the citizens of this State.

It was even more recently that a brand-new citizen, whose plastic wrapper had not yet been removed, was discovered to be a fugitive from justice in his homeland, accused of the biggest rip-off in India’s history.  (This came after a Chinese woman had been persuaded by a CIP agent that her misdeeds were not so “mis” as to prevent her from applying for – and receiving – citizenship.)

And it seems like only yesterday that a certain economic envoy – Surprise, Surprise! – the good friend of the prime minister – was supposedly stripped of his diplomatic status (and citizenship like Barbudans??) allegedly for being quite a bad boy.

Obviously, my fellow citizens and residents on Antigua, we do not merit the protection, peace and security the prime minister seeks for those who can purchase all three on Barbuda.  We are officially on our own – the borders thrown wide open, or at the discretion of a Turkish company – left to defend ourselves from the malefactors of the human race.

I confess to being puzzled, however, by Prime Minister Browne’s reluctance to have Barbudans “mixing up” with Antiguans and non-nationals. 

“ … We should control the traffic into Barbuda from the standpoint that Barbuda has been a very peaceful country. It is probably the country within the western hemisphere that has the lowest levels of crime and violence,” Browne is reported to have said.   Yet, these are the very same people on whom he threatened to sic the police only recently, targeting MP Trevor Walker, in particular. 

It can’t be, either, that he does not want “inter-breeding” with Antiguans and others who make their homes here.  After all, as a good steward, he would want to improve the human stock, so that his successors in the dynasty he is creating have no cause to call Barbudans “deracinated imbeciles.”

So, why, exactly, does PM Browne not want us mingling freely and frequently with Barbudans?  Is it that he fears the new militancy, the gathering storm, demonstrated by a vocal and growing patriotism, “infecting” the residents of Codrington, and threatening the complacency of those residing on the other side of the “new Soweto?”

Actually, I believe that in his Machiavellian mind, Browne is hoping to create an “Us vs. Them” situation between Barbudans and Antiguans.  He hopes that by saturating Barbuda with the super rich and all the associated “privileges” of serving them, Barbudans will become so territorial that they will do everything to keep out the presence, passions, and patriotism of Antiguans who preach independence and self-determination.

Tyrants, whether domestic or national, always seek to isolate those they intend to victimize.   And if the prime minister has to go to Parliament to make it illegal for Antiguans and those who live here to go across to what is, in law, simply another constituency or community of this State, we know he will try to do it. 

But, just as appalling, is what amounts to his attempt at social engineering by controlling access to Barbuda.  Are Barbudans and Antiguans to be denied their constitutional and human rights of “association” just because Gaston Browne wants to create an alternate world for persons inclined to give generously to charitable causes?

Almost all wars, ultimately, are fought over territory, whether the locale is Old Road, The Point, or Dickenson Bay.  And I fear that this issue of control of the land, on Antigua and Barbuda, by the Brownes and whom they hand-pick, is going to be the undoing of us all. 

People: Just so – simple so – in five short years, we have been re-colonized already (just ask St. Lucia).  It is only because, this time, the pirates, have come wearing black skin and the natives have not yet recognized them… . 

Believe me, new-age slavery – the gold and diamond shackles of greed – is on the way.   

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