By the time Easter rolls around, a delegation of Caribbean Community prime ministers should be in Anguilla on a mission to show support to the government and its people who say they fear that “mother country” Britain, is preparing to retake full control of the colony and impose direct rule from London, in much the same way it has done in the Turks and Caicos islands.
As an associate member of the 15-nation trade bloc, Anguilla does not have full voting rights in Caricom but Chief Minister Hubert Hughes used the opportunity at last week’s two-day summit in Suriname to sound alarm bells about what he termed as ominous signs from London that it wants full control of daily life on the island of less than 17,000 people.
He said Britain has already made it clear that it has no plans to grant greater executive autonomy like self-governance to the island, much less full independence as some islanders seem to want, because “they believe we have an abundance of oil, gas and fish life. They have deemed Anguilla now to be a valuable British asset that should not be let go, and that is the problem,” he told Caribbean Life in Paramaribo.
His lobbying of the meeting has resulted in leaders agreeing to send a fact-finding delegation in early April to sound out the situation for themselves. Hughes said Britain recently banned his cabinet and legislature from naming high-ranking officials like permanent secretaries and heads of department” as it gradually takes control of our daily affairs.”
He argued that Anguilla’s geographic position allows it to be the only island with enough marine space to have a 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEC), because ”there is nothing else north of us until Bermuda. So other than Guyana, we have the largest fishing grounds available to any island in Caricom and that is another reason the Brits want to take full control.”
Roosevelt Skerritt, the prime minister of Dominica says that the leaders are serious on the issue, having seen London retake full control of daily life in the Turks (and Caicos Islands), “so a delegation of heads of government will go to Anguilla in the first week of April, because our fear is that we will have another TCI in Anguilla.
“We want to send a clear message to the governor that we are serious.”