Their names will long live in infamy – those neophyte pirates in St John’s who executed the seizure and sale of a vessel on the high seas a la Blackbeard and Captain Kidd. The thing is that, whereas earlier this year they were being applauded for their brass-face and gall, their brash and bold gambit to seize a vessel belonging to a Russian, and selling it, much like a desperate drug addict, for half of its US$120 million value, they are now being laughed at in many capitals around the world for their idiocy and amateurishness. They have become the butt of jokes, they are considered a disgrace to the profession of buccaneering during the golden age of piracy.
Consider, if you will, when Calico Jack, Anne Bonny, Mary Read, Charles Vane, John Lafitte, and Henry Morgan seized a vessel back in the day, the looted it, taking anything of value. And yes, they made the sailors on that captured vessel walk the plank. They keel-hauled the swabs. However, in an ironic twist, our pirates are paying the sailors on the captured vessel, rather than the other way around. The sailors on the captured vessel, the Alfa Nero, are forcing our government to walk the financial plank to the tune of US$28,000 per week, even as the good citizens of this country – the civil servants, the pensioners, the contractors, the Carnival workers, the creditors are hard-pressed to get their monies on time.
This is piracy turned on its head, and pirates everywhere are hanging their heads in shame. And those who have already gone home to Davy Jones’ locker are turning in their watery graves. Even the modern-day Somali pirates, not known for their buccaneering brilliance, who operated off the Somali Sea, the Gulf of Arabia, and the Gulf of Aden between 2000 and 2017, are flabbergasted at the ineptitude of our pirates. They are sneering at how we managed to turn ‘the resources’ and ‘the windfall’ into a millstone about our necks, a drain on our Old-Mother-Hubbard treasury.
Of course, there is a thinking that this pathetic administration should get down on its knees on the bridge of the Alfa Nero, and ‘beg pardon’ from the persons from whom they ill-advisedly seized the vessel. There ought to be a negotiated settlement, with our faux pirates seeking to have the owner of the vessel, Yulia Guryeva Motlokhov, reimburse the government for the enormous amounts of money that it has spent so far, then the vessel ought to be returned. We are not sure if the good lady would agree to those conditions. What we do know is that she has vowed, through her local lawyer, Attorney David Dorsett, that she will fight to the last doubloon, to get her vessel returned to her. She is insisting that we lower the Jolly Roger (the skull and cross-bones) . . . uh . . .the Antigua and Barbuda flag, and hoist the flag under which it once sailed. It is safe to say that unless our pirates undo their seizure and return to the status quo ante, the saga of the Alfa Nero will drag on for many moons hence. Talk about getting much more than we bargained for. This bold seizure and sale was supposed to be much like taking candy from a toddler, sadly for long-suffering Antiguans and Barbudans, it has proven to be anything but.
Interestingly, in his widely-read piece, THE CARIBBEAN ISLAND THAT WANTS TO CLAIM A RUSSIAN SUPERYACHT, Mark Hollingsworth wrote in the UK SPECTATOR, “’For sanctioned Russians – supporters and enemies of Putin – the threat of their assets being confiscated and sold-off without being able to challenge the case in a court is akin to the Stalin show trials of the 1930s. IT IS THEFT! Plain and simple,” international lawyer, Bob Amsterdam, told me’.” Hmmmm! Hollingsworth, who appears to be hardly impressed by the spurious claims and actions of our government, concludes his hard-hitting piece by saying, “ . . . This argument for confiscation collapses spectacularly. In fact, the $60 million-plus proceeds from the sale of this superyacht will not be used to help the Ukrainian people or pay for weapons or post war reconstruction. The money will instead be transferred to the bank account of the Antiguan government. Piracy has returned to the Caribbean.” Sigh!
Unfortunately, our pirates are giving the profession a bad name. The owner of the Alfa Nero has turned the tables on us. And the crew is playing CALL OF DUTY (according to Bloomberg News), lounging around the pool, possibly with some female entertainment, and possibly a stripper pole, sipping expensive champagne and eating Russian Beluga caviar. At our expense.
With apologies to William Shakespeare, we’re talking about a ‘MIDSUMMER NIGHTMARE’S SEA COMEDY OF ERRORS.’
We invite you to visit www.antiguaobserver.com and give us your feedback on our opinions.