|From: "ANGUILLA INDEPENDENCE MOVEMENT - A.I.M."
Subject: Aim for Separation from Britain
Date: Thu, 10 May 2001
After months of careful groundwork, including discussions, research, and coordination, we have decided it is time to introduce the Anguilla Independence Movement (A.I.M.). A.I.M. was created out of concern for the past and present position and future development of Anguilla, both in regards to sustainable economic and social development. After careful analysis we have agreed that it is our time to make a stand to encourage the pursuit of independence from Britain as outlined as our option in the 1999 white paper – Partnership for Progress & Prosperity.
The founders and members of A.I.M are of the opinion that Anguilla has become stagnant in most areas and this halt is due to the single sided attitudes and closed-minded views of our politicians who have been forced to follow instructions rather than set their own standards.
We believe that political disagreement should not influence a country such as Great Britain to deny the support that is needed for the development of an Overseas Territory. We will outline the many problems we have faced on our own, always keeping our heads afloat, and detail how an independent Anguilla would guarantee positive growth and development in every socio-economic aspect.
As young people we believe that it is our responsibility, as the new generation of leaders, to look to and chart our own future and the future of our children. Such a daunting task cannot be left to the politicians of present who have decided to mortgage out future through irresponsible, lavish spending and borrowing.
We have observed that countries worldwide have taken great strides to develop better social conditions, higher standards of living, and new technological advances in all areas, including health care, education, finance and Infrastructure. They have changed the face of their societies and linked nation-to-nation allowing the idea of a true ‘global village’ to exist. Why then do we find most of our own people struggling for progression? Years after the revolution we thought that, as a colony of Britain, we would surely be equipped to participate in these changes and advances and would be encouraged to prepare for the independence that was once the motivation for separation from St. Kitts – Nevis.
Instead, we find that today, Anguilla has the highest infant mortality rate, second highest unemployment rate and the lowest average GDP of all the Caribbean British overseas territories with exception of Turks & Caicos, yet there have been no proposed plans to tackle and correct these problems. What we, as a movement, propose to do is outline these problems we face as a small population, and develop strategic plans to combat the issues and set in place long-term and sustainable solutions that will positively impact our everyday living conditions. We will chart a course for future sustainability in industries that are introduced and established on Anguilla. As a shift toward technology-based industries is evident, we will provide adequate training in our schools so that Anguillian youth are made ready to deliver the necessary skills whenever needed.
The motivation to move Anguilla into independence is fuelled, in part by the lack of support provided by our ‘mother’ country and lack of innovation by our present politicians who are shackled by the British colonial policies but refuse to motivate the country to greater prosperity and autonomy that they know independence will provide. We used the analogy that if someone lives in a house and has to pay the mortgage, buys the food, clothes, and other necessities to run that house, support the all the other needs of the entire household and yet, still has no voice in that house, he/she should leave that house and build their own. Britain does not support Anguilla’s basic necessities. The hospital, clinics, schools, piers, airport, recreational centres and other areas of the basic infrastructure are in desperate need of repair and upgrading. The roads are being expanded and upgraded but at a price. It must be highlighted that the people of Anguilla are paying for those roads and not the Government of the United Kingdom. Further to this, the people of Anguilla will foot the bill of EC$135’000. to maintain the lighthouse on Sombrero Island and, almost EC$48’000. this year to maintain the Chief Minister’s private residence.
With the recent change in Government, many felt that the new administration would succeed where the previous Governments failed in establishing a solid and fluid relationship with the British Government. The former Chief Ministers’ public position Regarding ‘British dependence’ was assumed to be the most recent difficulty in obtaining the support sought, but it is now quite evident that this was and is not the dilemma. The White Paper, Partnership for Progress clearly stated that after receiving the monies promised in agreements set out in Strategic Country Policy Plan that Anguilla will be graduating from all UK capital assistance, which means that we will no longer receive any monetary assistance.
Another hurricane season will soon be here once again and the question must be posed, “what will we get from Britain this time around?” After the devastation meted out by Hurricane Lenny, which caused widespread flooding and the damage to the economy caused by Hurricane Luis. On each occasion we were again placed in a position where the local people had to rebuild almost from scratch with financial support equalling less than US$150,000.00 or, with our current population of 11915, the equivalent of US$12.59, echoing the lack of support (Hurricane Luis 1995).
The Offshore Finance Industry that gave the people of Bermuda, Cayman Islands and Tortola some of the highest standards of living in the world has been virtually closed by the new finance and company laws that have been passed by the present Government in their attempts to cooperate with the OECD, and assented by the Governor just last year. While the rest of the Caribbean and the world, when it is an option, is trying so desperately to open and maintain this industry. The Government of Anguilla should have taken all necessary steps to ensure that it would be a sustainable market and Expanded into a substantial contributor to the islands’ economy. The first step to ensure this would be for the Governor to relinquish this portfolio to the Minister of Finance.
The Ministry of Social services released an article regarding the state of the Pincess Alexandria hospital and health care services on Anguilla. The lack of adequate equipment, re-certification of staff, pharmaceutical products and basic and essential needs have all accounted for the poor standards of healthcare on Anguilla. How long should we tolerate such negligence? How long should we fear getting sick or the cost of treatment overseas?
Anguillian students desiring graduate education are being denied their right to formal training due to Government budget problems while expensive vehicles are being bought, numerous special assistants hired and a tax structure implemented that takes from the poor to subsidize the rich.
“Everything that is right begs for separation from Britain, we are now saying, ‘tis time to part’. Great Britain and Anguilla are located a great distance apart. We are culturally different and our needs are different. That itself, is strong and natural proof that God never expected her to rule over us”. That was a quote used by Thomas Paine in 1776 during America’s fight for independence from a bullish Britain and it is quite appropriate for us in Anguilla today. We have evaluated the influence, the support and the development assistance that is received from the British Government. We have tried to understand why we had such a strong constitution that gave the elected Government the power to run Anguilla’s affairs in the late 1970’s, and why we were advised by them to proceed towards independence in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s is opposed to now, when they want us to remain a territory and very little power is vested in our elected representatives with almost all of the constitutional powers now in the hands of the Governor. Why today, we still don’t have a local Attorney General and a local Deputy Governor. After careful review, we ask ‘Should that influence and limited support allow Britain to continue to ‘own us’ and, do they provide an equal return for what they take and suppress?’
The Attorney General’s office has not provided a clear administrative policy and the new Governor has not been vocal regarding his proposed contributions for development and advancement of the island. What we do know is that we have given away more than we have received in the context of the Strategic Country Policy Plan. All that is being discussed are laws that clearly violate the written Constitutional rights of every Anguillian, unjustified taxes, lavish spending, a lack of transparency, accountability and good Governance. A baroness that arrogantly told us that we have to take the ‘burdens with the benefits’, the imposing of laws by Britain that were publicly rejected by Anguilla. The Constitution is to be finalized by February of 2002 and yet there is only one lawyer on this committee, with the chairman being Mr.David Carty, who does not hail from a legal background. This Is not the way our political leaders should be spending their energy. Our proposal focuses on what contribution can be made by Anguilla, to benefit all Anguillians in this developing ‘global village’.
The establishment of high-end tourism on Anguilla gives our people a place to work, an industry to be proud of, and a tax revenue that provides essential support on this thirty-six square mile island. We have devised a plan that the Government should implement to collect all the taxes from those expatriates who rent their so-called holiday homes and cheat Anguilla out of the very important accommodation tax.
Currently we have Cap Juluca, Cuisinart, Sonesta and Malliouhana as the hotels that provide the largest revenue and job creation while the smaller hotels and guesthouses provide an option to tourists seeking seclusion at a lower price. We must therefore continue to support both of these groups of hotels but encourage further development in our vital tourism industry. The potential of a Cruise ship industry will be explored and catered to by the Eastern End of the island thus creating investment opportunities for the people there.
The land space on Anguilla is abundant for development and investment in stable industries that natural disasters do not affect. These industries include, health-care related industries, research industries, technology-based industries etc. A shift away from the ‘normal’ industry creation, such as Tourism, will be encouraged by the Anguilla Independence Movement, and a challenge will be placed on creating a ‘new wave’ of Caribbean and international industry development. As this shift is marketed, developed and maintained, it will bring Anguilla into an international loop of countries advancing in these areas creating leverage for foreign policy and trade and higher standards of living for the people of Anguilla while paving a solid road for Anguilla to become the smallest self-supporting independent country in the world.