Books about Anguilla


Thursday, 15 December 2011


On Tuesday December 13, 2011, democracy was at its best in Anguilla as the Governor received a protest march comprising, for the most part, supporters of the Anguilla United Movement Government. I was surprised that the march was not cancelled out of respect for the passing of Mr. Kirkley Carty one of the Chief Minister’s strongest supporters in the epicenter of his constituency, Blowing Point. Let me take this opportunity to extend my sympathy and condolences to the family of Mr. Carty on his untimely death.

It is my understanding that the turnout at the protest march was very disappointing given the seriousness accorded the issues by the several speakers on the platform at the parking lot of the Webster Park less than twenty-four hours prior to the event. Based on the presentations, which I only heard on Radio, the key issues seemed to be: a) objection to the proposed transfer of Permanent Secretaries because it would impede their ability to address the budget effectively, and; b) the claim that the Governor is deliberately stymieing development on Anguilla and should leave. In my humble opinion none of these cases have been made with any convincing facts. Indeed much of the arguments put forward by the Chief Minister and his supporters are severely flawed and many based on false premises. However, I respect the rights of those persons who feel strongly about these issues because the Chief Minister and his colleagues have been peddling these conspiracy theories from the moment they came to Office. And I can empathize with the passion displayed by the protesters, many of whom, genuinely believe in the positions they are defending. 

It has been twenty-one months since the Chief Minister has taken over the reins of Government and he still seems to be unaware of the role he must play in leading a country in challenging times. He seems caught in “a time warp” as he speaks about a struggle for self-determination --- when in fact every document and statement from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office suggests that, if he is dissatisfied with our political status, all that is required is for his Government to hold a referendum and if he is successful then he can proudly lead the country into independence. As his favorite “ whipping boy”, David Carty pointed out: “We can almost get our independence by email!” It is incredible that a Government in power has organized at least four protests within less than two years of ascending to Office. While the Opposition that it constantly blames for dividing the country has not led a single demonstration over that period. 

It is apparent that the Chief Minister does not possess the ability to operate within our system of government. In this regard he must be considered a failure. Based on his own words, the only Governor that he has given any credit during his entire period in politics is the late Governor Alan Hoole --- and I would wager odds that were it not for Mr. Hoole’s untimely death he would likewise have been “painted with the same brush” as his other colleagues. Again based on his own words the only major developer over the entire period of our involvement in Tourism who he has given any real credit is Mr. Lee Rizzuto --- but in recent times he also has been attacked by the Chief Minister for “having tea” with the Governor. 

One can reasonably conclude that it cannot be everyone else’s fault if there is an absence of civil relationships between the Chief Minister and important partners in the public and the private sector who have a critical role to play in our national development. It is an unwise strategy to be fighting on several fronts. Nevertheless, it is a strategy that the Chief Minister continues to embrace almost wholeheartedly as proof of his concern for the welfare of Anguillians. Throughout his entire political career this approach has not brought any positive outcomes for the people of Anguilla. On the contrary, there has been no time that Mr. Hughes has been a part of Government that Anguilla has not experienced turmoil and uncertainty. And if you listen to every single one of his speeches it has always been someone else’s fault. Here are a few such claims that he has made on various occasions and in several letters, speeches and interviews: 
  • He claims that in 1977 he was used by the UK Deputy Head Administrator to moved a motion of “no confidence” to remove the Hon. James Ronald Webster from Office. Comment: “Do you really believe that Mr. Hughes was used? Or is it more plausible that he was intimately involved in the removal of Mr. Webster?He has always claimed that he cannot be used! Is he rewriting history again?” 
  • He claims that he teamed up with the Hon. James Ronald Webster in 1980 and formed the Government but in 1981 “when it became clear that Mr. Webster and the then Governor Henry Godden were united he resigned from Government within eleven months of the term”. Comment: “Mr. Hughes did not resign because of the CM’s relationship with the Governor he resigned because of infighting among the Ministers!” 
  • He claims that he teamed up with Sir Emile R. Gumbs in 1984 and was appointed the portfolios of Finance and Lands and he was dismissed within eleven months because “he refused to be bribed by an alien developer who was accepted by Government to invest in a Hotel/gambling casino project.” Comment: “Who held a gun to the Chief Minister’s head to accept a “gold rolex watch? ” 
  • He claims that in 1999 Governor Malcolm Harris “contrived to take his Minister of Finance (Victor F. Banks) out of my (his) Government and arranged for him to link with Mr. David Carty …… which resulted in the removal of my (his) two month old government in 1999-2000.” Comment: “As I recall “I stood alone” in South Valley with no support or arrangements from any Governor!” 
  • He claims in 1999 “ there was a vicious plot by the FCO to remove me (him) from Office with the alibi that I (he) had no quorum for a House meeting to get a budget passed.” Comment: “Mr. Hughes demitted office as a result of a High Court ruling! There was no alibi --- it was the Court’s ruling that he had no quorum!” 
  • He claims that in 2000 when “I (he) was finally forced to demit Office I (he) had already converted a deficit financial situation which the ex-Minister of Finance had bequeathed to me (him) into a healthy surplus.” Comment: “Mr. Hughes could not have met a deficit --- he benefitted from the large surpluses from the transshipment revenues which was one of my revenue initiatives!” 
Based on my comments and perhaps your own recollection I am certain that readers will realize that the Chief Minister continues to build up these conspiracies theories by a series of lies and half-truths. Sadly it appears from the manner in which he presents them --- that he believes them himself. Again sadly there are a number of his supporters and advisors who promulgate these false statements apparently without seeking to ascertain the facts. 

It is in this context, that we must examine what happened on Tuesday, December 13, 2011. A number of persons who responded to the two main reasons given for the protest march should ask themselves a number of questions: 

The Issue of P.S Transfers 
  1. Have any of the Permanent Secretaries who have been transferred made any loud protests about being moved? Given the fact that they are all amply qualified to make their own cases. 
  2. Do Permanent Secretaries work alone or do they work with a team of qualified technicians in every department? 
  3. Is this the first time that Permanent Secretaries have been transferred to other departments that are not necessarily within their specific area of formal training? 
  4. Are not all Permanent Secretaries responsible for managing budgets of several millions of dollars in their Ministries? 
  5. What should be the main competency of Permanent Secretaries specific technical expertise or managerial skills? 
  6. Can one Permanent Secretary be so indispensable that the country would grind to a halt if he or she is not placed in a specific Ministry? 
Let me make it clear! My questions do not suggest that there is no reason for the Chief Minister and his colleagues to question the transfers. However, the Deputy Governor who is responsible for making these decisions must do so based on what he believes is in the best interest of the overall public service. The Chief Minister must recognize that this is not the first time that elected Ministers have opposed such moves --- but those views have always been presented in an atmosphere of mutual respect. 

The Issue of the Governor’s Removal 
  • Will the immediate removal of the Governor solve the challenges we face in this global crisis? 
  • Who will be the Governor’s replacement? Will the Chief Minister and his colleagues make that choice from an informed position? 
  • Who are we petitioning to remove the Governor? Is it not the same Minister responsible for the FCO who the Chief Minister has been maligning in various forms of correspondence to Her Majesty’s Government? 
  • Do approximately seventy people and six hundred and two signatures constitute a clear indication of support for the Governor’s dismissal? 
  • Does the Chief Minister have all of his Ministers on board with this protest? If not how does he intend to get Members of Opposition and the wider community to support him? 
  • What is the next plan if the British Government decides to retain the Governor? How will the Chief Minister be able to fix things? Surrender and resign? 
It must be realized that in all of this the Chief Minister has done nothing to endear himself to the Opposition or the main players in the private sector. As I said earlier he is fighting on every front. He continues to suggest that the Opposition, by expressing itself on occasion, is dividing the country. Yet his supporters believe that they have the right to use very Radio Station every week to put forward their views. It is apparent that no one is entitled to an opinion, which is contrary to the Chief Minister and his supporters. And even as we speak Anguillians are being maligned for not participating in Tuesday’s protest march. 

The Governor is not perfect! The British Government has its agenda! Our people are anxious to find positive solutions to the challenges they are facing! But Anguillians on both sides of the aisle have a right to freedom of expression! “What is good for the goose is good for the gander!” 

By: Mr. Victor F. Bank
Victor Banks is a former Finance, Economics, Commerce and Tourism Minister on Anguilla. He is presently the leader of the Oposition Anguilla United Front Party, writer and author of a weekly political article for theAnguillian News Paper, lyricist, and a self-employed entrepreneur.

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“Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity” – MLK.