The views expressed herein are those of the writer and do not represent the opinions or editorial position of iWitness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to [email protected].
It is of utmost importance that the Canouan problem be understood in its fullest before judgement is passed on the actions happening on this little island some people call home. There is too much to write about all of them here, so we hope that the attention of the readership of this publication can hang in there while certain things are explained not in a single article, but in a few articles so that the public can understand this from a native standpoint.
The first issue — the first of many we wish to highlight — is the issue of beaches. First mentioned, not in terms of importance, but because it is the issue that started putting Canouan back in the spotlight once more. I am not sure if it is common knowledge, but let’s look at Barbados. This fight was had long before ours and the calypsonian Gabby penned his famous song
“Jah beach is Mine” based on this struggle. Needless to say, the results of this are there for everyone to see. http://nccbarbados.gov.bb/content/beach-access. This web address goes to a link that goes on to basically say that the government of Barbados actually encourages the public to have access to all beaches, as it IMPROVES tourism and not harms it. And it goes on to show that access is being provided by the said commission to basically all beaches in Barbados.
So, let’s look at this scenario: we are being told that we are hurting tourism. Is it the Government or we? Was it the people who created a lease agreement that basically prohibits themselves from beach access in various ways, including waiving the right to re-acquire lands for any purpose or the Government? Was it the people who instituted a no-anchor zone without providing any notice to the public or even to yacht charter companies that they would know that the areas where they used to anchor before are now restricted? Living in Canouan, we hear of stories of yachts being chased away by company security; that just last year, they would have anchored in a certain area, but without being informed or given any notice, the area is now a no-anchor zone. How can that be right? There are people who can benefit from these yachts. People sell water, ice, goods and services. It may not be a lot, but why chase away the few that we have? How can a government sit back and say that the protesters are the ones chasing away tourism and investment?
Investment is needed. There is no denying that, but does it need to come at the sacrifice of the rights and privileges of the very people who elected you to protect them? To be clear, no one is against the investment. We all see it as necessary and we welcome it. What we do not welcome is the fact that in order to get this investment, we must be treated as second-class refugees in our own country.
Slavery and oppression should not come with so-called development and the people must not be mistreated in order for it to happen. Buildings and spending money does not mean development. Social and mental development must not be sacrificed at the door of the dollar bill. Just some food for thought.
Canouan Island Development Council
The views expressed herein are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the opinions or editorial position of iWitness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to [email protected].