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Residents of the Caribbean Island of Barbuda are claiming that developers are trying to turn their paradise into a playground for the ultra-rich, causing the locals to be “ethnically cleansed.”
In a recent London court hearing, around two dozen Barbudans challenged a ruling that prevented them from challenging the destruction of their island.
This could be a significant test case for locals across the Caribbean who are being denied access to their own beaches, including in Jamaica.
The hearing focused on the construction of a private airport for the super-rich, which the Barbudans claim is being built unfairly.
A local marine biologist, John Mussington, was even visited by the police after questioning the destruction of 300 acres of previously untouched forest on the island.
Lawyers representing the people of Barbuda, an island in the Caribbean, reported experiencing intimidation from private security and police on a fact-finding visit earlier this year.
The issue at hand is the construction of an airport and luxury properties on the island without proper public consultation or environmental impact assessments.
Many locals fear they will be forced off the island as building work continues. During a hearing, a resident of the island was denied the legal right to challenge the airport construction because he did not have “sufficient interest” in the development.
This raised the question of who has the right to challenge such developments, with many arguing that those living on the island should have a say in what happens to their land.
The issue has attracted the attention of celebrities, with model Cindy Crawford and former boxer Mike Tyson both having an interest in the island.
There are also rumors that a multi-millionaire is building a property for Prince Harry and Meghan, although this has not been confirmed.
The case is currently awaiting a decision from the Privy Council, which is expected in early 2024. Many Barbudans feel they are being unfairly treated and pushed off their land, and are hoping for a fair outcome from the legal system