PETER ABRAHAMS-Recent Visitor to Anguilla:
Mr. Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen: I found when I reached Anguilla that for all practical purposes the Island of Anguilla was a colony, a colony of another Island 70 miles away, and as in colonies, the interests of the people of the particular colony called Anguilla were subordinate to the interests of St. Kitts. Now the problem is that St. Kitts itself is a poor under-developed Island and the Government of St. Kitts is not doing what it should do for its own people, so there isn’t time to pay attention or to think of another Island 70 miles away with 6,000 odd people and even poorer. This is the first reality. And the representation of
Anguilla in relation to St. Kitts is one M.P. as against seven M.Ps. for the Government of St. Kitts, and the one M.P. for Anguilla is in the Opposition Party. This guarantees effectively that the interests of Anguilla could not genuinely be represented in the St. Kitts Parliament. Mr. Bradshaw regarded the colony Island of Anguilla as hostile and in opposition to him, and he has therefore no vested interests in doing anything for them. These are the facts.
When the West Indian governments attempted to work out a resolution to the crisis, they proposed, that since the heart of the matter in the conflict between Anguilla and St. Kitts is that the Anguillans want their own local government system, legislation to enforce the proposals in the Constitution for the State to get a local government system going in St. Kitts should be put into effect immediately, and that this should be entrenched in the Constitution, because Anguillans do not trust Mr. Bradshaw’s good faith. When these people recommended that this thing be entrenched, and this was the only possibility of a resolution – a guarantee that the Anguillans will always run their own internal affairs, Mr. Bradshaw said “No, I cannot agree to the entrenchment of a clause saying that the Anguillans must have local government”. And it was on this simple fact, rather than on personalities or anything else that the Anguillans decided to repudiate the people who had signed the Barbados agreement.
That is Point No. 1.
Point No. 2. I had a meeting in Anguilla, a public meeting similar to this on the eve of my departure, and it was made plain to me that what is happening there now has the support of all the people – possibly three or four or twelve don’t agree – but it has the support of all the people, so that this is not a thing of gamblers, or hucksters, of would-be operators.
Point No. 3. How do the Anguillans live? The Anguillans have certainly done for the best part of 300 years without much assistance from anybody. Now they mine salt, a massive amount of salt from the sea. They fish the sea, and are possibly among the world’s best lobster fishermen and they earn an average of $1,000 BWI a week, exporting their lobsters to Puerto Rico.
Point No. 4. They export small stock to the neighbouring Islands around them.
Point No 5. They are the sea carriers of the Eastern Caribbean. So that this is not a bunch of bums.
Now the other thing which impressed me was that the men who are the de facto government of Anguilla were not a bunch of young radicals, shall we call them, ologists and things like that. They didn’t have ideologies. They weren’t interested in isms, they were rather conservative. I think they were in the main over fifty, in the main successful businessmen. Ronald Webster is a very wealthy man. I tried to find out whether he had any ideologies. He had none. Most of the others, Peter Adams is a successful contractor too. Jerry Gumbs operates his own business in the stiff jungle of the United States and gets away with it. So that these are not characters on the make, and the question is, “What is driving them?” The suggestion is that this is to repudiate the worst kind of colonialism possible, which is when you become a kind of colony of a colony, and are badly oppressed. That is all for now.
Mr. Chairman, Ladies and Centremen. The Anguillan crisis came to the notice of the Jamaican people between May and June of this year. On the basis of the facts, two principles in rather violent collision were seen to emerge. One was in terms of our own political understanding, and our own political environment. One was the principle of legality – whether the rule of law should apply equally to Anguillans as to the people in St. Kitts and Nevis; and there is no doubt that within the terms of our own understanding we have always supported the rule of law.
But that principle of the rule of law violently collided with another fundamental principle – the principle of the right to revolt. The right of people who wish to sever their association, the right of people who feel two centuries ago to sever the connection with people whom they had been associated with for centuries before; and on the basis of our own evaluation, of the objective facts of the situation, our government and our people decided that the right of revolt had to take supremacy over the right of legality – the principle of legality, the rule of law.
And so, we had a conference, and at that conference our Prime Minister, Mr. Shearer, who was being pressed by the British Minister who had the political responsibility for Anguilla, put a very simple question to Lord Shepherd. Mr. Shearer asked. He said; “How is it that you are asking us to give you a West Indian moral carte blanche to use force against our own kith and kin down in Anguilla, when you never thought but refused an African moral carte blanche to use force against your own kith and kin in Rhodesia?’ And so, when there was no answer to the question, the conference collapsed, and there the matter has remained up to now. But in practical terms we are not concerned to keep looking back over our shoulders to throw words at Bradshaw, to throw words at Adams to say who was right and who was wrong. The fact is there has been, there is a de facto Anguillan revolt and in an interview last week with my colleague Peter Abrahams, an Anguillan leader was asked, What is the future of your country as you s it? And the answer was that –
We intend to be a republic perhaps under the trusteeship of the United Nations.
But suppose that fails?
Well, we would like to be a republic under the trusteeship of Jamaica.
Now that means that we become involved morally, and we can become involved within the power political structure in the Anguillan crisis, and we have two of our Anguillan comrades who have come up here to take part in our teach-in, and so I say to them, “Have no fear as to the moral support that Jamaica and the Government of Jamaica is giving you. We are behind you to the end. As far as we the people are concerned, we are behind you to the end. As far as our Government is concerned, the Government apparently is behind you.” (APPLAUSE).
A Government has, and our Government no less, has certain political responsibilities and is limited by those responsibilities. So, I say to our Anguillan comrades, “Do not fasten too much upon the injustices that you suffered under Mr. Bradshaw under the Central Government of St. Kitts. We take those for granted. But the important thing is, tell us, tell us here gathered, the public of Jamaica, tell us in broad detail how we can assist you, and afterwards you can tell our Government in greater and more specific detail how our Government can assist you.”
Mr. Chairman, I submit that this particular crisis reveals two things very clearly. First: the Constitution of the state of St. Kitts, Anguilla and Nevis in a sense guarantees, and constitutionally guarantees, the right of these states to declare UDI, because these states have a clause which enables them to join any of the units within the Caribbean that they so desire with the collaboration of the British Government.
It so happens that one of the component units of this Constitution, Anguilla, at this time has decided not to join – this right to declare in a sense itself independent. And therefore constitutionally, it raises the basic question as to whether the right of Anguilla is indeed a constitutional right. Let us look at the constitution of Anguilla itself. The Constitution of St. Kitts/ Anguilla and Nevis, places in the hands of the Governor the right, if they wish, to negotiate all foreign relations. I submit, Mr. Chairman, that when Anguilla decides to join the United Nations as an independent state, it creates a special problem for the Governor because in this particular instance, the Governor has to view Anguilla’s action as being in that sense treasonable in that it proceeds to negotiate with a foreign agency, the United Nations, the right to that membership. Therefore, the Governor, if he wished, could uphold the point of the British Government to intervene in that the act that Anguilla was engaging in external relations, which was the right of the Government. Now this constitutional point has never been raised so far publicly. He did not exercise this right. Why didn’t he? He did not exercise this right because he proceeded in that sense the Governor, and by this instance I refer to him as the representative of Colonial Regulation 105, i.e. Her Majesty’s representative, and the member in a sense as an individual instructed to carry out Colonial Regulation 105, these individuals were violating the constitution by engaging in external relations which were the rights of the Governor himself. Instead, the British Government very nobly and indeed very magnanimously said that the solution was to involve the Caribbean States. This was a noble and very important gesture, because it gave the Caribbean Commonwealth States an opportunity to exercise their wisdom. But I submit, Mr. Chairman, that fortunately this device to involve the Caribbean states was somewhat a peculiar thing. Fortunately, the bargaining skill of the Prime Minister was able to smell a trap in that by informing the Caribbean Commonwealth State, in essence, the Commonwealth Caribbean States were being asked to carry out the foreign policy obligations of the British Government in the name of the Caribbean States. This was indeed a very, very careful and after all we must concede to our British friends the capacity of diplomacy, and if I may say so, Mr. Chairman, this enormous skill that is acquired over centuries of dealing with the Negro.
Now, Mr. Chairman, having done so, it creates for the Commonwealth Caribbean a very special problem, because if it had not been for the perception of the Jamaican position in terms of seeing the peculiarities created by this intervention, we would have got ourselves in the Caribbean in a terrible mess whereby the Caribbean countries would be involved in killing one another, in policing one another for the foreign policy of another nation outside the Caribbean.
Now, Mr. Chairman, having established that point I want to turn to one simple little last point. Everybody has asked, including that very important journal the “New York Times”, about the viability of a state. I ask, Mr. Chairman, what state in the 20th century is viable? A state that is viable they tell me, is one that can control its economic destiny. I submit, Mr. Chairman, there are very few nations in the world that can control their economic destinies given the international economy in which we arc operating. Even Great Britain, that magnificent and important power today finds itself in hoc to the American Dollar. I submit further, Mr. Chairman, the other criterion for political viability is the capacity of a nation to defend her shores. I submit again Great Britain as an example. We know well that Britain cannot control, or if you wish, defend her destiny. The mighty British Navy can hardly be called to even put herself against the little Anguilla. Now, Mr. Chairman, having proved that political and economic viability is the colossal myth that has been perpetuated even into our Caribbean shores: even our Cuban friends have suggested that they are independent. Any cursory look at the Cuban economy, at the Cuban military is enough to prove their dependence on the Soviet Union to protect their sovereignty. Therefore Mr. Chairman, I submit that we must re-look at the whole question of sovereignty in the 20th century. We have been completely deluded by the theoretical conceptions of sovereignty. What Anguilla is saying, Mr. Chairman, is that the capacity of a people to control their own destiny not economically, not because of the mass’s claptrap of economic independence nor politically because of the claptrap of liberal democracy, but because the psychological will of a people to say we are viable because morally we are viable. We are viable because we believe psychologically in a capacity to govern our own destiny. And it is this that is most important. I take the so-called cynical treatment of the mini-states by the so-called partial states. The cynical treatment in terms of say these little states like Jamaica, Trinidad and all these little states cannot survive because they are not economically viable, was a considerable in that sense, if you wish, a considerable stumbling block that these nations had to face in order to maintain their independence. Mr. Chairman, I therefore submit that the viability of Anguilla is in the minds of the people of Anguilla. The people of Anguilla have decided that they are a psychologically viable community, and I submit that we as autonomous individuals just coming out of colonialism must respect that psychological viability, that capacity to say that you are a man because you are a man.
GEORGE BECKFORD (Chairman):
Thank you Archie Singham. I don’t know why Singham went over to Cuba to discuss the question of economic and political viability, why he ran away from Jamaica. It seems to me we have to have a Teach-In next week to discuss the viability of Jamaica in economic and political terms.
Mr. Chairman, in the brief time that is allowed me I wish to consider three points. First of all, the relevance of Anguilla to the West Indian area. Secondly, the basis of the British concern with the problem, and thirdly, the policies of the Caribbean Commonwealth with specific reference to Jamaica. Allow me to deal with the first point, Mr. Chairman: the relevance of Anguilla to the rest of the Caribbean area. Allow me further to quote an extract from the Daily Gleaner which I have photostated. It reads as follows:
“6,000 people without any proper medical and dental practitioners, trained nurses or· hospitals, no education above the elementary stage, utterly neglected by their parent country and kept in somewhat primitive life is that kaleidoscopic picture of Jamaica’s chief dependency, the Cayman Islands, whose people are now crying out for a new deal.”
Mr. Chairman, that extract is from the Daily Gleaner, June 25, 1950. The point I am making here is that Anguilla is not confined to the 35 square miles which constitute the incipient republic, but Anguilla is everywhere in the West Indies. The absence of meaningful local government, inefficient administration is not a problem peculiar to Anguilla. We have in Jamaica today 300,000 persons in the Corporate area of Kingston and St. Andrew who don’t have their local Government Council. We have throughout the Jamaican state inefficient Local Government Councils crying out for reform. Anguilla has not got social services, we are told. They have no paved roads. In Jamaica today the latest figures I have refer to 1965, something like one out of every seven miles of road is paved.
(Remarks from audience) “Mind Dem Search You House Tomorrow”
Mr. Chairman I think in response to that, that inefficient administration applies also to our Security Services. The problem of political victimization, Mr. Chairman, is not a problem confined to Anguilla. In British Guiana, or up until recently, a number of the People’s Progressive Party leadership were in detention. The Burnham Government, the People’s
National Congress had a state of emergency enforced and used it as the basis to deny legitimate rights to the opposition of Dr. Cheddi Jagan. We move south. In Trinidad, we have a situation where Dr. Williams is virtually a constitutional dictator, a situation where, Mr. Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen, the detention of C. L. R. James in 1964 is perhaps less justified than Bradhaw’s detention of Dr. Herbert in 1967. And this is why Anguilla is a situation in the West Indies a threat to constitutional stability.
The difference between Anguilla and the rest of the West Indies is not in the social situation under which Anguillans find themselves, but in their response to this situation. And this is where, and I come to my second point; the assessment of Lord Shepherd and the British Government is correct. The force of the Anguillan example in response to an oppressive social situation does in fact constitute a threat to the stability of the area.
Now, let us deal with the British Government and Lord Shepherd. Independence status, call it what you will, has been conceded within the Caribbean as elsewhere with strings attached, like economic aid. The main string to independence status can be summed up in one word; STABILITY. Stability internally in that the so-called independent states must give a tacit undertaking not to reform the social order in a way which would interfere with the international companies who have succeeded the colonial power in owning these areas. This is the first condition. This is the internal condition, Mr. Chairman. The external condition is that these countries do not make with the United Nations which tend to upset the ideological complexion of the Western Hemisphere. My point here is simply that the colonial power has withdrawn purely on the basis of stability being maintained in the area and if the stability is threatened then the colonial power in league or without the assistance of the United States is willing to intervene. Hence British Guiana in 1953. Hence Cuba in 1962. Hence the Dominican Republic in 1964. And in Anguilla today, the Marines have not yet landed for three simple reasons.
First of all, the Metropolitan powers which have to respond to the economic interest group of the international companies which exert pressure on them is not yet fully convinced that the Anguillan cancer is sufficiently large to infect the whole area and upset the stability required by the companies who invest in the Caribbean.
Secondly, Bradshaw is an unpalatable ally to anyone.
Thirdly, I submit the international…the North Atlantic former imperial power has not intervened because Jamaica has created a gap in the camouflage of Caribbean consensus on intervention, which leads me to my fourth and final point.
Why has Jamaica adopted this position? Where should she go from here?
In Guyana, Burnham’s Government is in power because of a constitution officially engineered by the British Government. Furthermore, the recent constitutional history of Guyana is one of consistent violent opposition to constitutional instrument. Clearly the national interests of Guyana cannot lie in appearing to sanction or corroborate the violent overthrow of constitution.
Similarly Trinidad. Dr. William. faces increasing disillusionment among his population and an increasing divisiveness between the Indian and Negro section in Trinidad. Clearly also Dr. Williams cannot sanction constitutional overthrow.
Jamaica, however, has stood up for the principle, albeit belatedly, that we ought not to intervene in the face of local resistance to fight because I think we have assumed the Anguillan crisis to be remote. And this is where Mr. Chairman, I come back full circle to my first point. The Anguillan situation is not remote. It lies within the West Indian territories and in the further discussion, I see my time running out, I will have certain policy suggestions as to how Jamaica s course of action should proceed from here. Thank you.