SEARCHLIGHT would like to place on record our firm opposition to the retrograde plans of the British government to turn back the clock and reimpose direct colonial rule in the British Virgin Islands (BVI). It is a position articulated lucidly in official statements by the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) and the wider regional integration movement, CARICOM, both published in today’s edition on page 14.
The Premier of the BVI is still in custody in the USA facing drug smuggling and money laundering charges. His arrest in Miami was seized as a golden opportunity by the British government, the colonial power in the BVI, to release the findings of a British-initiated Commission of Inquiry into corruption in that country and to announce that it is considering implementing one of the Commission’s recommendations, ominously, the reintroduction of direct British rule in the BVI.
While the BVI is still formally a British colony, it is internally self-governing with elected representatives headed by a Premier as Head of government.
Unfortunately, that Premier has not resigned and in spite of a clear letter to the governor-general from a majority of the elected representatives, indicating withdrawal of support for the Premier and requesting the appointment of another elected representative in his stead, the Governor General has bluntly refused, claiming that he has no power to do so.
This opens the door for the colonial government to resurrect the colonial dictates of the past under “direct rule”. That form of governance is one which our forebears long and successfully battled leading to national independence by most of the OECS countries. While it is true that the independence process is not yet complete, the principle of the right of a people to elect their own representatives and govern themselves has been firmly established.
The fact of the matter is not just that Britain is wrong in choosing to do what Barbados National Hero – Errol Barrow described 60 years ago in the case of Grenada as “an indictment against a whole nation,” it is unacceptable for one nation to assume control of the people of another nation, whether in the 16th century or today. Colonialism is wrong in principle and even more so, in practice.
Worse, in the second decade of the 21st century, the British “solution” smacks of not only self-righteousness, but also an open display of the superiority/inferiority complex that characterised colonialism and all the ills which went with it. The “reasoning” is that we, the people of the Caribbean, cannot be trusted to govern ourselves. That, after all, is the essence, the supposed justification for colonial rule.
The irony is that corruption is being used as an excuse to roll back the clock. The BVI as a British colony is no stranger to international headlines about money laundering and other financial scandals. Those largely have their origin in what is described as “the financial capital of the world”- London.
Yet corruption, a phenomenon with which Britain is well acquainted, is being used as a cover for what nefarious intentions we may never know. It is plainly unacceptable, to the people of the BVI and the Caribbean as a whole. We stand unequivocally with them.