Politicians dividing Antiguans and Barbudans – Bird III

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Politicians are being seen as the drivers behind the negative sentiments aimed at Barbudans, four months after Hurricane Irma wrecked their homes and left many in shelters and other lodgings on the sister isle of Antigua.
The issue of the public attitudes of Antiguans towards Barbudans was a topic on the Big Issues on OBSERVER radio with the panelists being Arvel Grant, political commentator, and Vere Bird III, chairman of the Antigua and Barbuda True Labour Party.
Grant believes the pockets of animosity showing up in public spaces, such as on the radio and on social media are not a reflection of the wider society.
“I believe that most Antiguans still feel a sense of empathy and understanding as to what is happening to people from Barbuda. Barbuda is part of the unitary state, it’s Antigua and Barbuda. Even if some people wish to drive the Barbudans back to Barbuda, they have a legal right to be here,” he stated.
According to Grant, he wants no part in perpetuating the idea that there is widespread disillusionment with Barbudans being on the mainland.
He posited that the focus should be on what it will take to facilitate the “humane return” of those Barbudans who would like to return to their island and to put them in a situation to weather what may come.
Grant also had some advice for Barbudans.
“The only issue that Barbudans need to be very cognisant of, is that they don’t have a legal right to be subsidised by the taxpayers indefinitely, but if they wish to remain in Antigua forever … it’s their right.
 “I would hope and assume that many of them would want to go back to Barbuda because it is really a very special place, it’s a beautiful place and if they allow themselves to stay away from it others will be happy to go there because it is valuable real estate.”
(More in today’s Daily Observer)

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