Friday, 18 November 2011
We were very happy to hear the Chief Minister’s forceful declaration on the Cap Juluca matter during his interview with Radio Anguilla on Monday 14th November when he said that Mr. Hickox would put up “three million US dollars because he does not want the Hotel to close!” This is good news and should lift many spirits at a time when Anguilla really cannot take any more stressful reports. The Chief Minister also declared “I am confident that the Hotel can remain open!” Again this is very good news particularly for the workers at Cap Juluca and their families, for those businesses who provide services for the resort, and for Anguilla as a whole.
However, it was very disappointing to hear the Chief Minister’s response when he was asked whether he would accept the pledge of assistance and cooperation made by the Anguilla United Front party leader in his press statement last week. I would like to make it clear that our party met in an emergency session last Sunday because we were genuinely concerned about the dangerous effects of the ownership dispute at Cap Juluca especially at this time. And we decided that we should reach out and show solidarity with the Government in their efforts to bring some resolution to the matter. We did, however, as a responsible Opposition Party, express our concerns about the approach being adopted by the Chief Minister. The transcript of the Chief Minister’s interview with Radio Anguilla reads, in part, as follows:
Mr. Hughes: “Mr. Hickox has said that he would put 3 million US dollars because he does not want the hotel to close! And the Government of Anguilla has already committed itself to entering an MoU with Mr. Hickox; the GoA has also committed itself to the transfer of shares with Mr. Hickox. And I said that in a meeting of EXCO to Mr. Tacon and Mr. Tacon said ‘That’ s wonderful! That’s great! That process can go ahead. I am confident that the hotel can remain open!”
In reply to a question from one of the interviewers regarding whether or not he would accept any assistance from the Anguilla United Front as offered by the party leader in his press release, Mr. Hughes sharply replied:
“If the United Front was serious about Anguilla they would just hush their mouths and repent of their sins they have committed because it is due to them why we are in this mess. They are the ones who messed up Cap Juluca by signing a MoA with a man who obviously did not have the money to buy it and to do the work that was necessary and that is why Cap Juluca is in so much trouble because Aron did not have the money and according to our Alien Land Holding Licence nobody in Anguilla can get an Alien Land Holding Licence to buy property unless they can show where his funds are coming from.”
When the other interviewer asked the Chief Minister to confirm his refusal of assistance from the Anguilla United Front he was even more acerbic in his response:
Mr. Hughes: “There is no assistance they (AUF) can give me! They are only messing up things --- because they should really hide. There is no assistance they can give me! What assistance can they give me? I don’t want men to fight! And there is no technical assistance they can give me! I am more qualified than all of them put together!"
Even though I spoke on this issue last week the comments of the Chief Minister points to some very serious concerns that I feel duty bound to highlight. The Hon. Othlyn Vanterpool, the Elected Member for Island would have touched on some of these is his incisive response to the Chief Minister’s interview, which was broadcast last evening. But I see no harm in reiterating some of the strong points he made as well as presenting a few others. I will comment on four things the Chief Minister said as follows:
1. CM: “The Government has already committed itself to entering into an MoU with Mr. Hickox and has also committed itself to the transfer of the shares to Mr. Hickox.”
The issue at Cap Juluca is an ownership dispute in which both parties have rights that they may exercise in a court of law. As I said last week, the Chief Minister must be very careful making commitments, as he styles it, before the legal issues have been clarified. While I would hope that the Chief Minister has been properly advised, I remain cautious in the face of the protracted dispute that has plagued the property since October 14, 1988, when the original disagreement over payments under the Stock Purchase Agreement between the Friedland Group and the Hickox Group began. In fact vestiges of that dispute lie at the very core of the present travails of Cap Juluca. The history of the ownership dispute over past twenty-three years reads like a horror story and these two groups remain the main characters even in the recent purchase agreement by Mr. Adam Aron. Successive governments have always adopted a cautious approach while at the same time trying to ensure that the property remains open and that Anguilla is not exposed legally. I would therefore advise the Chief Minister that he should not step ahead of the process now taking place. I share his optimism that the Liquidator, based on his frank presentation to the Staff at Cap Juluca last week. is mindful of the importance of keeping the resort open. However, the historic realities compel us to proceed with much circumspection.
2. CM: “If the United Front was serious about Anguilla they would hush their mouths and repent of their sins they have committed because it is due to them that we are in this mess.”
The Chief Minister like other members of his party is adopting the “sanctimonious” approach that he can call “sinners to repentance”. But even further that the sins of the United Front caused the closure of Cap Juluca. I will treat that comment regarding repentance of “sins” with the disdain it deserves --- but I cannot overlook his statement that the Anguilla United Front should be silent because we created the mess at Cap Juluca.
I am particularly concerned about this view because every statement from the Chief Minister and his supporters regarding, our party press releases, our public meetings, our columns in the Anguillian etc., would suggest that we should be denied the right to freedom of expression. It is amusing when one recalls the constant pounding of the Anguilla United Front Government by supporters of the AUM on the various talk shows around Anguilla before the election. There was not a murmur. Indeed, there was not even a response from the United Front Government to these statements. We were justly proud to know that all the Radio Stations were made possible and licenced by our Government in keeping with our stated commitment to freedom of expression.
On the other hand this Government that boasts about being a “voice for the voiceless” and “champions for freedom” seems to believe that any expressions that differ from the party line or from what the Chief Minister has to say is “dividing the country”. And I have heard many talk show hosts and co-hosts, whose very existence is based on these entrenched rights of the individual in the Anguilla Constitution --- shamelessly declaring that the Opposition should stop talking and writing on issues of national importance. Ironically, these same hosts assist the Government in promulgating its campaign of lies and blame, even by virtue of their editorial policy.
When last did you hear a voiced press release from any member of the Anguilla United Front on “Upbeat Radio”? Apparently, “Neews! Neews! Means AUM News! As the pioneer of “non- Government” news programming Upbeat has indeed fallen short of “balanced journalism”. It is a concept that it would be well advised to embrace taking example from the Management of Klass F.M. The point I am making is that this idea of the United Front “hushing its mouth” is an entrenched view that is even a part of the established media houses. Indeed, an indictment on Anguilla as a democracy!
3. CM: “They are the ones who messed up Cap Juluca by signing an MoA with a man who obviously did not have the money to buy it and do the work that was necessary and that is why Cap Juluca is in so much trouble today because Aron did not have the money!”
There are three questions to be raised in first part of this statement. i) Is it not the Chief Minister who boasted that he would revamp all the MoA’s agreed by the past Government and replace them with new MoU’s negotiated by his Government? ii) Did not the Hon. Haydn Hughes and the Hon. Jerome Roberts boast on how they were able to negotiate a solid MoU in three days, which corrected all the errors of the past Government? iii) Did not the Hon. Hubert Hughes Chief Minister boast at the signing that both his Government and Mr. Aron were happy? The answer to all these questions will reveal that the Chief Minister is lying when he says the AUF MoA messed up Cap Juluca because he signed one subsequently, which is the official agreement and with which he and his entire Government declared that they were extremely happy in the House of Assembly and the public media. The AUF MoA was cancelled for over a year! And by the way when did the Chief Minister come to the conclusion that Mr. Aron did not have any money before or after he signed the new MoU?
On the question of the reason for Cap Juluca’s failure being, as the CM claims, that Mr. Aron did not have the funds --- I would ask the Chief Minister the following questions: a) What caused the closure of Malliouhana Hotel? b) Why did Tenemos fail? c) What caused the failure of the Kor Group at Viceroy? d) Did Mr. Roydon, Mr. Sillerman and the Kor Group not have any money? My point is that there are always extenuating circumstances in the failure of a business and a Chief Minister should refrain from speaking disparagingly and loosely about developers in the absence of proper analysis. We would hope that the Developers for the several additional MoU’s that he has signed for new projects, have an abundance of personal funds, which he declares is the prerequisite for being granted an Alien Land Holding Licence.
4. CM: “And there is no technical assistance they (AUF) can give me! I am more qualified than all of them put together!”
We appear to be dealing with a raving maniac! It is clear that our gesture of solidarity on the particular issue of Cap Juluca was not to provide technical assistance to the Chief Minister but rather simply to let him know that we were on his side. We were not offering him soldiers for another one of his imaginary battles either! And the issue of qualification has never been touted by us or suggested in any way as a reason for offering our assistance. We have no intention of questioning the Chief Minister’s formal or informal training and qualifications. He on the other hand seems to believe that he is more qualified than all of the members of the AUF put together.
However, it is a fact that in terms of formal qualification the Chief Minister has claimed to have “read at Oxford University”. The accepted meaning of that term is that he is a graduate of Oxford University. On one occasion my curiosity was aroused and I raised the matter with one of his closest cousins who was inseparable from him while in England. I said to his cousin that I thought it was wonderful to hear that Mr. Hughes went to Oxford University. I was startled when his cousin replied: “Oxford University? Oxford University? Boy the only way Hubert pass Oxford University is in a bus!”
But far be it from me to doubt the Chief Minister’s claim to excursions in formal education --- even if he also made the scenic trip to Oxford by Bus!
By: Victor F. Banks
Posted by Realist Spikenice at 08:35