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The Grenadines island of Balliceaux.
The Grenadines island of Balliceaux.
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The government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines has missed the March 14 date by which it had hoped to acquire Balliceaux, the tiny Grenadine island to which thousands of indigenous Vincentians were taken in the 18th century, following the death of their leader, Joseph Chatoyer.

 Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves had announced in January that the government was moving to purchase the island from its private owner, or acquire it if a deal could not be reached.

He had said that the government was hoping to close the transaction by March 14, National Heroes Day.

“Unfortunately, the discussions and the requisites in relation to those discussions, taking a little longer than I would have wished,’ the prime minister said.

He said he had given instructions for the Attorney General to double-check the title, which had been done before.

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“But if you want — if you’re doing a transaction, you check the title upon, again, entering the transaction, because anything could have happened from the last time you checked to now,” he said.

“Somebody might have taken a mortgage, somebody — something. So, we have to be clear. So that work has been done.

“And I think in the schedule of the Office of the Chief Surveyor and the other government valuers, they didn’t get to Balliceaux as quickly as they had anticipated.”

He said that every year, coming up March 14 – National Heroes Day – numbers are floated about the value of Balliceaux.

“… and it irritates a number of people; I’m not saying it irritates me. I have an understanding as to what happens in these things,” Gonsalves said.

“They will tell somebody — somebody who is acting on their behalf, from some agency, or the agency may well without anybody acting on their behalf, without getting instructions, proclaim that Balliceaux –you see the numbers. One time is 6 million, then is eight million, then is 12 million then in 15 is 20 is 30. Like people just picking numbers out of the sky. These are US Dollars they talking about, you know,” the prime minister said.

He said he did not want to say anything public “about those kinds of things but you can’t pluck numbers out of the sky … and the way it’s being done.

“But the commitment is absolutely there for us to have Balliceaux as a memorial for our ancestors who died there, those who suffered there. And it is something I feel very strongly about. It’s a noise in my blood, is an echo in my bone.”

The prime minister said he and his government “are determined to have this put right”.

He said he understood that the owners of the island, who have had it for over a hundred years, are willing to sell it.

“What you going do with it? You have it for 100 years or more in your family. At least, that is what I’ve been advised,” he said, hinting at the failure of the owners of the island in their attempts to sell it.

Gonsalves has said that his government will not give an alien land-holding licence to a foreigner to buy the island and any purchase must include setting out a part of the island for a suitable memorial.

4 replies on “Balliceaux acquisition delayed”

  1. It seems to me that too little is known about the purported owners of Balliceaux and their claims to the island. How did they acquire the island and from whom?

    Even if the purported owners claim is verified, this is a perfect example of how eminent domain should be exercised to place the island under SVG national/historical ownership. The citizens of SVG must stand up to insure that no one, including the political power brokers are enriched from the sale of this historic island. In fact, this should not be left up to the PM’s sole discretion. The Garifuna of SVG, Belize, Honduras, New York and other places must be contacted and empowered to participate in the movement to acquire and develop this historic island.

    Vinci Vin

  2. C. ben-David says:

    To hell with acquiring a God forsaken useless place like Balliceaux the government has no money to develop even into a shrine.

    Why not do the right thing instead and offer honourary citizenship to the descendants of those indigenous people wickedly exiled from SVG following the end of the Second Carib War?

  3. My dad once told me that the Mitchell’s family said they have a fee simple in Balliceau and Battowia It appears that this may be land grabbing. From whom did they acquire it? Did the acquirer had good title?

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