Editorial: Silence gives consent

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We certainly wish to salute Eli Fuller for his admirable refusal to hold his peace about the environmental terrorism that has been unleashed at Crabb’s Peninsula. In a call on OBSERVER AM earlier this past week, he was literally in tears as he spoke of the perfidy up there – the willful and wanton destruction of the mangroves. His voice quivered and broke on VOICE OF THE PEOPLE as well. We certainly salute his effort, and we will do all that we can to join the struggle to save Crabb’s. We cannot be silent in the face of this great evil! Because that’s what it is – an unadulterated evil from the pit of hell!

First they took the Buttonwoods. Those are the mangroves that are located further inland from the sea. They are named for the button-like appearance of the flowers that they bear. At the base of the leaves, these plants have salt glands that allow them to thrive in the salty conditions in which they are found. They can be seen in many of the salt ponds at the back of many of our beaches. When they took the Buttonwoods, environmentalists were outraged, but the developers were able to silence/soften the dissent.

Then they came for the White Mangroves with their thick leathery leaves and pores through which they excrete salt. Again, many environmentally-conscious Antiguans and Barbudans raised their eyebrows and voiced concerns, but they muted those concerns in deference to the assurances from officialdom that the environment would not be sacrificed on the altar of development. Apparently, officialdom was lying through its teeth! But what is new!

When the environmental terrorists known as YIDA came for the Black Mangroves, those with the long visible roots (those elongated roots enable them to obtain oxygen), and the Red Mangroves (possessed of long stilt-like roots), the caring citizens of Antigua and Barbuda could take it no more, and they took to traditional and social media to broadcast the dastardly pictures of the rape at Crabb’s. Those pictures of dump trucks and back hoes heaping landfill on the roots of the mangroves, thereby cutting of their oxygen and killing them, spoke a thousand words. It is environmental rape and murder most foul, and it cannot be hid. And it ought not to be tolerated!

 We need to mobilise and spread the damning photos and videos on the callous destruction of this most critical part of our ecosystem. These mangroves provide a habitat for many species (Eli cited the barracuda as one of our local fish returning to the mangroves to lay eggs and breed). Indeed, these mangroves have been described as “The hatching area, the hatcheries, the nursery for the largest mangrove system in the North-Eastern Caribbean islands. This supports the fisheries for the entire North-Eastern Caribbean; an indiscriminate destruction is taking place by the YIDA development, and where is the DCA? WHERE IS THE DCA? That is the question?” [Social media environmental activist]

By the way, the mangroves also help stabilise our coastlines, holding the shore together with their strong roots, roots that also act as a filter, preventing plastic bottles and other debris from entering the sea. Quite significantly, they store a great deal of carbon, thereby helping to keep down global warming. Even a small rise in the amount of carbon in the atmosphere can contribute to a rise in greenhouse gas temperatures.

But where is the DCA, as was previously asked by an unnamed social media videographer who bravely went out by boat to videotape the desecration of Mother Nature at Crabb’s? Silent. And where was officialdom? They offered up some claptrap about permission being given to kill the mangroves then replant them. What? The mangroves take 10 to 15 years to mature! What happens to the abundance of marine life that will be deprived of that habitat in the meantime? Where is the minister in charge of fisheries, he who should be concerned about the destruction of these hatcheries and the harm that will do to our fishing industry? He’s silent! No surprise.

Well . . . actually, to be fair, they have been spouting much rhetoric, but it is akin to hot air. They are merely paying lip service to the worldwide effort to protect the environment. Our leaders go to the United Nations and talk a great deal about Global Warming and its harmful effects on small nations such as ours. The ministry of Health, Wellness and the Environment talks a good talk and implements measures banning single-use plastics and the sort on the one hand, while ignoring red plastic streamers and bunting and other plastic election paraphernalia still adorning our lampposts and trees around Antigua. And yes, they are silent on the violation of the environment at Crabb’s!

So when Eli Fuller, John Watts, Nico Psihoyos and Scott Potter (Team Antigua) rowed 3000 miles across the Atlantic in 2017/2018 in aid of our marine ecosystem, was this what they had in mind? We think not! And can the Environmental Awareness Group (EAG) be pleased with this restoring of the environment on one hand (Redonda, for

example), and the destroying on the other? Of course, not!

Where is the consistency and dedication from officialdom? Silence! Seems they can’t say much. After all, they have blood on their hands from Crabb’s to Codrington. Remember, they are the ones who gave consent to the rape of the environment in Barbuda to construct an international airport.

Thankfully, the Barbudans are SILENT NO MORE, and neither will we be!

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