“We cannot have development in Barbuda unless the land issue is settled and for that to happen Barbudans must have control of the lands on the island.”
Ordrick Samuel made the bold statement to this reporter yesterday as he, along with about 100 people, who had travelled from the sister isle over the previous two days, participated in protest action outside of Parliament against the the repeal of the Barbuda Land Act of 2007.
“I am here to show my dissent against Gaston Browne because of the proposed repeal and the obnoxious statements made by Gaston Browne pertaining to Barbudans.”
Samuel said that he participates on various interactive programmes, describing himself as the secessionist from Barbuda, 62 square miles.
He also said that he was also protesting in solidarity with the nurses, who were holding a protest at the same time outside of the Parliament Building on Queen Elizabeth Highway.
Samuel said that he served as a senator for Barbuda in 1989 and he firmly believes that the land in Barbuda and the affairs of the sister island should be managed by the Barbuda Council.
He rationalised that Barbuda’s land is vested in the Crown; consequently, “Barbuda is subjected to the inhabitants of Barbuda”.
According to him, should “they [the government] have total and complete control of the lands in Barbuda and as such, two-thirds of the island, the Barbuda people object to that.”
Samuel has been involved in the entertainment industry. He has recorded three albums and is in the process of recording another. He said that he has been hired to do gigs at the CoCo Point and K-Club resorts and he is aware of the important role touristic development can play in boosting employment of Barbudans and adding greatly to the economic development of the island.
However, he is adamant that such development must be properly managed and there should not be a repeat of “the concessionary leases that were given to DeNiro and Packer”.
He added: “To avoid that, Barbudans must be in control of the lands.”
Samuel was referring to the planned U.S. $250 million dollar Paradise Found resort project in Barbuda by movie star Robert DeNiro and Australian billionaire James Packer. Some Barbudans have expressed concern about long leases of 99 years and hundreds of acres of lands being leased for the project.
Currently, the matter is tied up in court as some Barbudans have decided to challenge the Paradise Found Act which they say circumvents the Barbuda Land Act just to allow the investors to proceed with the project without having to adhere to the Barbuda Land Act.