New senator dispels Barbudans right to land

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Newly minted senator Daryll Matthew refuted any notion that Barbudans were entitled to lands on the island under any indigenous consideration, dismissing it as “a farce and a fallacy.”
His comment came during his maiden debate on the Barbuda Land (Amendment) Bill before the Senate on Tuesday.
“Indigenous people are people defined in international and national legislation as having a set of specific rights based on their historical ties to a particular territory and their cultural and historical distinctiveness from other populations that are often politically dominant,” Matthew stated.
According to the government senator, while Barbudans live in a different geographic space and have done so for a while they did not qualify.
“I am absolutely certain that the Barbudan people are not intrinsically different from we are. They are not a case like the Caribs, for example, in Dominica, that some persons tend to try and make reference to and the Carib reservations in Dominica, or the Native American Indians or the Aborigines.
“Those persons are indigenous. Our Barbudan brothers and sisters are just like we are here in Antigua. They are the descendants of the same slaves, from the same coast on Africa, came over on the same ship, who just happen to have been living in a different part of our nation,” Matthew said.
Land has traditionally been held in common ownership on Barbuda but, Matthew, a land surveyor by profession, said it was not a system that worked on the island.
He pointed to the lack of economic activity and the fact that the majority of the residents were employed by the Barbuda Council which was by extension an arm of government.
(More in today’s Daily Observer)

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