The main Opposition United Progressive Party is throwing its support behind the Barbuda Peoples Movement as the latest land controversy between the Council and Central government escalates.
The Gaston Browne-led administration remains adamant that it will revolutionize access to the lands on Barbuda, despite claims by the Barbuda Council that the land on the Sister Isle is communal.
On Thursday, the government warned that the Barbuda Council is not permitted to grant leases or other kinds of permissions to occupy land on Barbuda and any such move is illegal
The UPP said in a statement on Saturday that the government’s actions are unfortunate, siding with the Barbuda Council on the matter.
“We condemn the attempts of Prime Minister Gaston Browne and his Administration to deracinate Barbudans, at worst, and marginalize them geographically and politically, at best, under the guise of “development” and “foreign direct investment,” the statement said.
The UPP said it also continues to support the tenets enshrined in the Barbuda Land Act, 2007, and “we condemn the current attempts to have that legislation expunged. Such an action would be unconscionable, disrespectful, and utterly contemptuous of the Barbudan people and should be seen as such by all right-thinking Antiguans”
“We do not accept that Barbudans’ communal ownership and Antiguans not being allowed to purchase their land as discrimination and we utterly reject every attempt to erase the identity of Barbudans and have them subsumed into the collective” the statement continued.
The UPP said other indigenous peoples of the Caribbean and the world by extension continue to enjoy “special arrangements of ownership of their ancestral lands and have a say in how they are used. Why should the Barbudans be treated with less consideration simply to satisfy the objectives of a bankrupt and greedy Administration?”
It is for this reason that the UPP wants residents, “all persons and organizations – nationally, regionally and internationally – to support and rally around the people of the sister island at this critical time. History will judge those who fail to respond to this moral crisis”.