While the private island of Baliceaux is now being advertised for sale, Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves has made it clear that “there are sensitive historical issues which would have to be addressed” in the sale of the island, which forms part of St Vincent and the Grenadines.
The Prime Minister made this point in response to a question about the sale of the island, during his regular Wednesday morning programme on NBC radio this week.
While the island, which is privately owned, is now being advertised for sale at US$30 million,if the buyer is not a Vincentian national, that person will have to be granted an Alien Land Holding Licence to purchase the property.
The Prime Minister pointed out on Wednesday that such a licence will not be granted to just someone with the money to purchase the island.
“You’re not going to have somebody who is involved in high class criminal activity globally, or money laundering, or terrorist, or somebody like that, being able to buy it.”
At present, the island is still in its natural state; there is no development or infrastructure.
“If you are going to have development taking place there, what type of development its going to be?
“There are all sorts of questions which would have to be asked and answered.”
Dr Gonsalves also indicated on Wednesday, that so far, no potential buyer for Baliceaux has approached the government of St Vincent and the Grenadines.
He added that “there are big issues” which will follow the sale of the island.
Issues such as obtaining an Alien Land Holding License, which would depend on who the purchaser is, or purchasers are.
The Prime Minister insisted that there are “lots of questions of a planning and developmental nature, which will have to be answered,” in relation to the sale of Baliceaux based on the “historical sensitivity” of the island.
At present, there are no inhabitants on the 320 acre island, which forms part of the Grenadines.
Some 5,000 Garifuna were banished to Baliceaux in 1797 following the death of Carib Chief Joseph Chatoyer; most of them died on the island and the survivors were exiled.
Exiled Garifuna descendants make pilgrimages to the island when they travel to St Vincent for the annual National Heroes and Heritage Month activities in March.
A visiting delegation of Garifuna in the Disapora will be making the annual pilgrimage to Balliceaux this Sunday.
In 2019, they made a call to have the island be made a sacred, heritage site.