I am sure that our local cyclists have also been inspired by the way Mr. Stewart proved that by practice and a determination to excel, any handicap could be overcome. Much respect to the winner of the race for his effort but to every single participant as well --- you are all winners by virtue of your participation in an event, which is bringing cyclists from all over the region together. I am especially pleased that the name of my friend the late John Oliver Thomas is memorialized by this event --- he was a pioneer in the development of the sport in Anguilla and the sub-region. I am sure that he would have been proud to know how the passion, dedication and effort he instilled in the young cyclists whom he nurtured has been manifested in the staging of this prestigious regional competition. Like many other Anguillians I felt proud.
But my pride suffered a serious setback when on the very same day of the race I received a phone call from a friend of mine in St. Maarten, who is not a belonger of Anguilla, expressing concern as to whether my Chief Minister is of “sound mental capacity”. I was unable to get the gist of what he was saying since he was in competition with Exodus and Pantha Vibes International whose new releases were dominating the airspace at the Hope Center booth, where I was being refreshed, during the race. I therefore told him that I would call him back. Whereupon I quickly proceeded to a more quiet location to call him out of a genuine interest in ascertaining the details of my Chief Minister’s well-being. My friend then explained that the Chief Minister was invited by the Minister of Justice for St. Maarten to give an address on the occasion of International Justice Day and instead used the opportunity not only to attack the Governor and the British Government but he embarrassed his hosts --- the St. Maarten government as well.
My friend went into detail to relate the incident but I told him that while I had some confidence in his recollection I would prefer a copy of the audio recording if he were able to avail himself of such. Not to be deterred by my request my friend sent me an audio recording of the speech promptly the following day. You may be surprised to know that on this auspicious occasion your Chief Minister spoke for three minutes and twenty-one seconds flat. I have therefore decided that to ensure that the context of his comments is made clear I will quote the full text of his address as follows:
“Good Morning! For me this is a rare opportunity to be able to address the people of Anguilla, St. Martin and St Maarten. We are all one people. My cousin Denis Richardson was Lieutenant Governor of St Maarten and Albert Fleming’s mother was born in Anguilla. So we are one people! And over my years I have always wanted to be French or Dutch instead of being British. Not that I hate Britain. I admire a lot about Sir Winston Churchill he was the wartime leader and he was great! Harold MacMillan more modern did a lot for the liberation of Southern Africa --- the famous “Winds of Change” speech, in former Zimbabwe, Rhodesia. William Wilberforce fought for the emancipation of the slaves.
So there are a lot of great British people but unfortunately Britain has an undeclared war against the people of Anguilla. And justice does not exist in Anguilla. There is no democracy because we are governed by a British Governor’s dictator. Too much power in the hands of one man --- that cannot be a democracy.
The Governor interferes even with the justice system. He can order the Attorney General to take criminal cases out of the Court. And he manipulates every system in Anguilla. And therefore the only option for us is self-determination. It means therefore that Anguilla will have to do like all the other former British Dependent Territories in the region and seek total independence from Britain.
I want us to understand that we must maintain that European heritage. This is the heritage we knew and we were indoctrinated into as such. And we benefit from the European Union. The European Union is always clamouring for functional cooperation. I tried that but the British stalled it. I wanted functional cooperation especially with the French in terms of infrastructure, seaport and airport facilities, water and electricity. The British stalled it. The French was going to build an airport in Anguilla --- the British stalled it. Now we have to be struggling with Dutch St. Maarten and Juliana to get our tourists in.
So the British have undermined the livelihood of the people of Anguilla and I want the world to know that there is an undeclared war and we will fight until we are free. Thank you for the opportunity and good morning!”
My friend was concerned that the Chief Minister would decide to come to such an important ceremony where he was invited to speak on a specific topic and use it as a platform to continue his fight against the Governor. Furthermore, that he should even suggest in his remarks that his host the St. Maarten Government and Juliana Airport were in some way giving him a difficult time to provide access for tourists coming to Anguilla.
When I listened to the recording for the first time I realized that I am so immune to the effect of such tirades over the past fifty years, since Mr. Hughes ran for office in 1961 for Bradshaw’s Labour Party, that I did not react immediately. It was only when I placed the speech in the context of the ceremony and the venue, that it dawned on me that Mr. Hughes has no real sense of what is required of him when he represents Anguilla and Anguillians abroad. Anguillians would have expected the Chief Minister to make a speech equal to the significance of the event and the honour bestowed on Anguilla by virtue of being invited to participate.
Let me make a few points about the Chief Minister’s remarks some of which I find inappropriate for such an occasion; totally sensational; inaccurate and inconsistent. For example: