The Viability of Anguilla
Economics has yet to establish with any degree of precision what constitutes viability, and how big a country has to be before it can be viable. There are two main ways in which the term can be used. First, a country may be called viable if it can balance its external payments without recourse to special borrowing. If we use this definition, the following countries would he considered not viable:- Britain, with over 9,000 times the population of Anguilla; and India, with over 44 thousand times Anguilla’s population, give or take 50 million. In this connection, it is ironic that Britain, which over the past 15 years has been unable to have both full employment and a balance in foreign payments, should be sitting in judgement over Anguilla’s viability.
Another definition of viability is that the country concerned should be able to finance the administration of its basic services without special external assistance. By this definition most of the Associated States of the Eastern Caribbean are not viable; presumably, that is why they have chosen Statehood instead of Independence. Let us look also at Jamaica, Trinidad and Guyana, the Independent giants of the Commonwealth Caribbean. Each of these countries published “Independence” Plans which relied heavily on foreign aid to finance Development expenditure – about one-third for Jamaica and Trinidad, and higher for Guyana. In effect, the countries were saying that they could not catch up with the huge backlog in the provision of social services for their people without foreign assistance.
It has certainly been established that there are costs of administration which become uneconomic for very small countries such as Anguilla. But this needs to be viewed in its particular context. The administration of colonial territories was devised in the metropolitan capitals, according to standards of efficiency and of remuneration set in the metropolitan countries which were much older and richer societies. They did not necessarily bear close relation to the resources of the colony. As nationalist governments and self-government arrived, the colonial people began to view the Government administration as the first structure from which the colonisers were to be dislodged. The societies began to view administrative jobs as means of economic advancement and security. The new middle class, determined to live as well as the former colonisers and as the examples of the United States, demanded commensurate salaries from civil service jobs. It is either that or migration, they say. Simple blackmail.
Anguilla’s administrative viability has to be seen partly in the light of whether there exist Anguillans who are willing to perform the tasks of administration, teaching and health services without plundering their society by demanding the salaries of their richer cousins in the rest of the Caribbean. Smallness, in this connection, may be an advantage as the work load may be sufficiently light in some jobs to permit part-time, voluntary service. Mr. Wallace Rey, who deals with Development and Economics for Anguilla, and who is with us tonight, is an example of such a person.
The Anguillans propose to finance their Government, Health and Educational Services by such means as donations from friendly foreigners and Anguillans abroad, the sale of honorary citizenship and passports, flags and stamps. This cannot be a long-term solution, unless the country is to lose what little independence it now has. On the other hand, what example has the rest of the Caribbean set? Every Caribbean country to gain Independence so far has greeted it as an opportunity to throw itself open to an invasion of foreign capital and foreign experts. Jamaica even offered a military base; and those who jibe at the idea of a “postage stamp” economy for Anguilla would do well to remember that Jamaica herself issued a stamp when one of our daughters won a rather ridiculous and explicitly commercialised beauty contest in London a few years ago.
If the Caribbean were to devise a serious plan for economic co-operation, for mutual assistance and include a place in this scheme of things for Anguilla, the chances of their maintaining both viability and dignity would be greater. To put it another way, the international gambling entrepreneurs may not yet have captured Anguilla, but if we stand idly by, they might.
Well Ladies and Gentlemen, I think you must be a little tired now of listening to the foreign experts, so I want to introduce the Anguillans into the discussion at this point. Welcome to Jamaica Mr. Rey and proceed Sir.
Now it is said all around that a few people got up with outside influence to create something in Anguilla for the secession, and I would like to point out to you that this is not so. And to bring this to you firmly, I would like to go back to 1958. In 1958 Mr. Kenneth Hazel was on the Legislative Council of St. Kitts/Nevis/ Anguilla, and because of the treatment meted out to Anguilla the Anguillans got together and asked Mr. Hazel to make a move to Britain for the secession of Anguilla from St. Kitts. This was, in fact the Nevis delegation that started it. They went to England and failed. Seeing that Nevis failed on this the Anguillans did not make a move because if they who were more fortunate in finance did not get a hearing and could not make a move to carry this through, we, the Anguillans felt we would not have been able to either. So we had to drop this.
Then later on in 1954 another delegate to the Legislative Council in St. Kitts made this move. What I want to point out to you is that if Anguilla had been treated with even the slightest little bit of justice, I do not feel that Anguillans would have been stirred to make any move for secession. But it was so fierce, it was so fierce . . . to tell you how fierce it was, and to tell you how fierce it is, I will give you certain little instances which cause us to feel this way about having seceded from St. Kitts.
We own some lands in Anguilla which the people of Anguilla wanted for house building plots. These bits of land were surveyed by the Anguillans, put to the Chief Minister who was then Mr. Southwell. Mr. Southwell said that these lands would be sold to the Anguillans for the sum of $100. We asked him at what time would these lands be sold. He said within six months’ time. So the people of Anguilla made application to Mr. Southwell in St. Kitts and there were twelve lots. No answer came back from the twelve. Probably twenty-four people may have made application for the twelve lots, but what we do know is that not a soul has paid us the respect of receiving an answer from him.
So the Anguillans began to feel…. Well . . . here we are in Anguilla and we have to wait on those Government officers in St. Kitts 70 miles away for an answer, whether it be three, five or ten years before we could do anything to solve any problem in our island. Well, we the people of Anguilla could not do much because our hands were tied financially, and our people did not know the ropes politically. We agreed that we know nothing about politics so we had to take the snub and take what Mr. Southwell would have to tell us whenever he came to Anguilla in his meetings. At that time, I was an officer in the Public Works and sometimes when Mr. Southwell came to Anguilla, I would make suggestion to him that the people of Anguilla wanted places to build their homes.
The people of Anguilla, in Curacao, Aruba, America and different parts of the world wanted to come back home and they would like somewhere to build their homes, and the lands are held by Government. Please have some of these places plotted out and have them up for sale so that the people of Anguilla could buy land to put their houses on. He said to me, “Mr. Rey, this is our land. Please wait until we give it to you” Now I could not say anything to contradict the Government Officer. Sometime after Mr. Southwell came to the Park and he got up on the platform and he began to tell the people of Anguilla that he had made a suggestion to the Anguillan to have those bits of land at such and such a place plotted out and they would be sold to the Anguillans for such and such a price for them to build their homes.
The people clapped and were glad to hear that Mr. Southwell was about to sell these lands to the Anguillans to build their homes. When Mr. Southwell came back down he said to me, “Mr. Rey I put that over you, and you dare not say anything about that! If you say anything about that you surely will lose your job tomorrow.” I kept that in mind and I began to teach the people quietly what was happening. Well, this continued to grow in the people of Anguilla and so when we had the Federation of all the West Indies, we the people of Anguilla prayed hard that the Federation would break up. We knew that Anguilla had nothing to gain from a Federation of the West Indies because these islands were not going to come on to see what was happening in Anguilla. Mr. Bradshaw went over to be Finance Minister and so he left his deputy, Mr. Southwell, to carry on his enslavement of the Anguillans and the Nevisians. Well at that time, Mr. Walwyn was then defending Nevis, and he at that time would have put a knife to the throat of Mr. Southwell for the ill-treatment to the Nevisians, but the Anguillans could only stay back and accept what they were allowed to say in the Council. When the Anguillan delegate got up in the Council sometimes he would be told that since he was the only Representative he may as well sit down because he would not be heard if he got up to speak. So, if he tried, sometimes while he would be speaking they would be making noise. So it was useless for him to speak, so he would sit down. Sometimes we wondered whether it was any use sending him to any Council Meeting.
Well, this went on with the Anguillans until we heard that the Federation was broken up and so we kept a dance. Now I must here say that it would appear that in every sense of the word Jamaica has always come to the Anguillans’ assistance, because when we heard that Mr. Bustamante had called for a Referendum as to whether Jamaica should go in the Federation or pull out, we all went down on our knees in prayer that that Referendum would come on Bustamante’s side. And so, it did. So when we heard it we all clapped and we had a dance over the breaking up of the Federation, for Anguilla had nothing to gain.
Then we heard about THE LITTLE EIGHT. And so, we wondered what was this again. This is poverty upon poverty. What’s going to happen here? Whither will Anguilla go from here? And by and by we heard Barbados was pulling out. We heard Grenada was pulling out. Then we heard that Antigua started to grumble because she said that she would have no right to go in with St. Kitts, Nevis and Anguilla. I am sorry that I have to drop these bits but I will be coming back to you with the substance. So I have to drop that and go on to where the Police went out of Anguilla. So we dropped that and we come up to statehood.
Mr. Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen, those in the radio audience, greetings from the people of Anguilla. We are very grateful to the people of Jamaica and the Government of Jamaica for the wonderful stand you have taken in this Caribbean crisis. Perhaps I should say this world crisis.
Some people believe because Anguilla has been called the “mini state” in the days of miniskirts that what is going on in Anguilla is just confined to the people of Anguilla. This is not true. We, the people of Anguilla, are scattered all over the Caribbean. There are some even in Jamaica, not just Mr. Rey and I. We happen to have prominent Anguillans perhaps right in this audience, and all the other Caribbean islands.
So when force is used to suppress the human rights and self-determination of people in Anguilla, it will not be confined to Anguilla. Anguilla has many people and the Dutch and French islands in the Caribbean have over 2,500 Anguillans and the American Virgin Islands, and you can see what will happen if people go to Anguilla uninvited to try to kill the women and children and the adolescents who are in Anguilla. Because we in Anguilla, we have no factories, but our people go out to the neighbouring islands where the factories are built and they work, and they send money and food back to the people of Anguilla.
Now I have listened to many of the gentlemen here tonight talking about viability. I want to tell you that the people of Anguilla have been independent for over 300 years. Independence is nothing new to the people of Anguilla. Every Anguillan has to supply himself with water, with food, with a road to his house, with his own means of transportation, with his own lighting system. Can’t you see that we are independent? The people of Anguilla took over a government without one penny in the Treasury. Still the government is running, the teachers are being paid, the Civil Servants are being paid, the roads are being looked after and much better than they were done before. When we left Anguilla two days ago, there were women cooking alongside the men who were working, feeding them. We are building a place for a radio station in Anguilla. This could not be done if we were under colonialism. I say here and now, colonialism, as far as Anguilla is concerned is dead. We will not go back.
Anguilla intends to go forward and more than that to lead the other Caribbean islands, no matter because Anguilla is a small island, only 35 square miles, with 600 people, I mean 6,000. We have a lot to offer. We mightn’t have a lot in the form of economics and technical and political savvy, but Anguillans have courage and they intend to stand up against whatever type of pressure that is brought to bear on them to see that those people who have dared to do right, those people who have dared to carry out the same teachings of their masters – England for Freedom! England for Justice- May we enjoy the great blessings of peace! This is what we intend to do. We intend to keep Anguilla peaceful, to enjoy the freedom which is ours today.
I happened to attend the Barbados conference and the truth is that I am ashamed of what happened at Barbados. But I am proud of what happened here in Jamaica, and we as West Indians corrected or tried to correct the ills that were brought upon the people of the West Indies by the Barbados conference. Imagine coming before a table and being given a document for the first time and saying to sign it! Who has the right to do this to a people because they are black? You sign this document. We didn’t have the opportunity to read it, and even if we had the opportunity to read it, this was not the way to present it. The people of Anguilla on the 11th of July went to the polls in a most democratic fashion ever known to man and they expressed their will, through the secret ballot, for self-determination; and no matter what is done throughout the world, this must be respected.
At the beginning of the Barbados conference a letter was read, a statement was read to Lord Shepherd and the other members of the Caribbean Commonwealth and Mr. Bradshaw and Mr. Walwyn who represented St. Kitts/Nevis because there really is no St. Kitts/Nevis/ Anguilla, and this statement said that nothing signed to by the delegates here could be binding on the people of Anguilla. If there was a report prepared then the people, some of them would sign it and take it back to Anguilla and the people of Anguilla would have to think about this and they would have to decide and ratify this agreement. Because after the people decide it, 1,813 to 5 that they did not want to be part of the state St. Kitts/Nevis, how could those people go and say that it was something else. This doesn’t sound right and this is not right. However, we are just saying that this agreement which it was said had been reached and that the radio and television carried was not in the true sense something of which we as West Indians could be proud of. At that moment, I asked many of the men there from the Caribbean to visit Anguilla, take the document, try to explain it to the people, try to understand their problems and see what they could do to help and see if they could sell this. I tried to tell them that the Lord represented there was not the shepherd of the people of Anguilla, and the people of Anguilla were not his sheep.
Anyhow, the men had been to a conference for a week. They were tired and many of them had pressing problems back at home and this was something they had to wind up and had to get over with. Here is a little mouse, as we were called right there in the conference room. “A lion has roared and a mouse called up”, this was the expression made, I will not say by whom, which the people of Anguilla will not forget, and we were just ordered to sign this document or else. This was the statement, the British Government will not countenance the actions of the people of Anguilla. What actions? The people went to the polls and this was the action. Have you heard of any hangings in Anguilla? Any major crimes – rape, dope, all these things that you hear all over the world. But you search the history books and find out the people of Anguilla who they are. Try to find them out, and see whether we need to be policed. This is the last thing the people of Anguilla need. Even the police who were there from St. Kitts, who were sent to shoot and kill Anguillans, and contrary to all you have heard, three nights before the police were sent out of Anguilla, there were constant shootings in Anguilla. The people of Anguilla had enough. We have had enough of this and asked the policemen to leave and they did. There was no such thing as 250 armed Anguillans causing the policemen to flee, and how can policemen flee over 70 miles of water.
At 9 o’clock in the morning when the policemen left, a cousin of mine, Mr. Emile Gumbs who is now a member of the Council told me he walked up to the police station empty-handed, and there were policemen there busy packing their luggage. They had a machine-gun there with the muzzle looking out. At ten o’clock they were at the airport getting ready, getting on the planes, getting out their weapons right there. And nobody from Anguilla had a gun. This is the true story, Anguillans are the most peaceful and law-abiding people anywhere.
Now, I am here to ask you as an Anguillan to get together with us to see that this place is not destroyed. Contrary to the good Shepherd no gambling interests will be allowed in Anguilla, no prostitution, no dope. Anguilla can be a model to democracy that can lead the world back to sanity. It is a small place and we can preserve it now in its natural state.
Ladies and Gentlemen I go back to where I had left off. I think I left off telling you about Mr. Southwell giving orders as to how to deal with the lands in Anguilla.
I say to Mr. Southwell, “Mr. Southwell we have some fine beaches in Anguilla, much superior to those in Antigua, since the tourists like to come to Antigua, I believe they would patronise Anguilla. So why don’t you take some of the money that you have in St. Kitts now throwing around, building more government buildings.” At that time Government had just built a fabulous building they called the Police Station. This is a building taking up a block about fully 2 acres of land, two floors and then it was turned into three floors, for a police station and an administration building. Yet they felt that this was not good enough they would turn that building over to the Police Force and then they would build another building called Administration Building because that building could not take a swimming pool, so they would have to put up a building where they could have a fish pond and such delicate things in there to look around to see the gold fishes swimming in it and that each office must have a bath and so on. I told Mr. Southwell I feel if you spend some of this money in Anguilla to put up a small hotel this hotel in turn will bring you in some money to put up your administration building in St. Kitts and Anguillans will get something to go on with living and to keep some of our people from going out. He said to me “I do not believe anybody would waste time to come to Anguilla” . . . He said “Never mind how fine the beaches may be I do not believe anybody would waste time to come to Anguilla.” To support his argument he went to the then Warden who was a Montserratian, and his name was Mr. Malone. He said, “Mr. Malone, do you believe anybody would come to Anguilla?” Mr. Malone said, “No. I don’t believe anybody would ever think about coming to Anguilla – talk about tourism. Nobody would want to come here.” So I said, “Well of course I do realize that nobody would want to come to Anguilla because nobody would want to be driven on these dusty roads.”
Now, Ladies and Gentlemen, the roads of Anguilla which I am speaking about if you were at a place like the airport and you had cars travelling two, three miles away you could easily see where each car would be at any given time, because there would be a cloud of dust in the air. Now you know that no tourist and no visitors would welcome this, because your lovely hair-do as you have here tonight, if you had to travel on the roads of Anguilla, you would be only too glad to get to come home to have a bath to get the dirt out.
Now I have to tell you that this is true, and there are lots of people here who will tell you that this is true. Well we go on to when our delegate went to England for the so called framing of the Constitution. When our delegate, Mr. Peter Adams was about to go to England with the delegates from St. Kitts, Mr. Adams wanted to go to England as a delegation for the Opposition Party. Mr. Adams was told that if he was going to England as a member of the Opposition Party, he would not be taken; he would not be going on the plane with the St. Kitts Government, neither would they pay his passage on the ship and probably if he had insisted in doing so, his passport would have been taken away so that he would not have travelled. So for Mr. Adams to get to England to find out what was going on there, Mr. Adams had to consent to go as a member from Anguilla, and not as a member of the Opposition Party. So you can understand that from there, the Central Government was denied the setting out of an Opposition Party to his Government.
When Mr. Adams went to England, whatever was framed up to form a Constitution, when Mr. Adams came back he did not bring a copy with him. He had nothing that he could show the Anguillans – well this is what we have to work by or this is what we have to accept. We then decided we do not know how we would go around this. We call on our lawyer, Dr. Herbert, whom we asked to form this party. Now, I could tell you much about how the party was formed, but I do not think this concerns you this evening. If you want to ask me something about it later you may do so, but we call on Dr. Herbert to give us an idea of what we should do to get some good government for Anguilla in the event Statehood has to come about with a Constitution which will go into effect and the Anguillans have seen nothing of. Dr. Herbert said he would try to wrangle from the Central Government some copy of the Constitution. He tried for months and it was all in vain.
Coming nearer to the time for statehood, the Central Government threw out a paper telling the Anguillans that the Constitution did call for the setting up of a local government before statehood came into being, but the time was too short and there would not be enough time to have an election so as to elect these officers, so what he would do, he would nominate a council for Anguilla. This the Anguillans rejected, and though the Anguillans rejected it, he still decided he would force it upon them. For him to be able to force this upon the Anguillans, he then decided to nominate such people whom he believed would gladly accept this as an honour. So despite the Anguillans saying nobody in Anguilla must accept this nomination he was about to bring in Anguillans who would show the Anguillans that they would accept it. But the Anguillans showed them that they would never have a chance even to get in the House to frame it moreover to discuss anything pertaining to the laws or the setting up of any form of workable council in Anguilla. So this was dropped. Then the Government decided they would tell the Anguillans what they would give them to control as a local Council to see if they would accept it and accept nomination.
When these points came to the Anguillans, the Anguillans did not agree with them because it was as good as having somebody who you would call an Advisory Board. What I mean by an Advisory Board, this would be a Board set up in Anguilla which would be advised by the Premier. This Board would put to the people what the Premier wants them to hear, so it would have been only an Advisory Board and not a Council. As you may have heard read here just now, that the type of Local Council that would be given to these people could never be workable and so we all on our leader (the gentleman who was the leader of the Opposition Party, Dr. Herbert) to make a suggestion to the Government and this suggestion was the Nine Point Plan. When this Nine Point Plan went to the Chief Minister or the Premier, the Premier answered back to the Anguillans that there were no proposals before his Government. Now you will understand what he meant by that to say there were no proposals before his Government.
Mr. Rey has a lot to say and I think it would be better to come out through questions later on in the proceedings. It is difficult for a man who is involved so much in a situation like this to be able to restrain himself, so I think the best way to get the thing out of him would be to throw it open to the floor now, and there may be questions relating to other matters that the audience would like to get out of you, Sir. At this point I ask Mr. Rey to rest because we are going to need him considerably more later on in the evening.
Now we get down to a real Teach-In, which in fact is a kind of forum where we want the collective wisdom of the audience to be addressed to the problem at hand. The problem confronting us is the Anguillan crisis. We have some background information on it from the people of Anguilla. Essentially what I think we should be trying to do this evening is to get some consensus as to what Jamaica could or should do and to begin to inform public discussion so that her government can, perhaps, take some action which will bear the consensus of the people.