As was expected, Barbudans are not responding well to news from the Gaston Browne Cabinet that a decision has been taken to further amend the Barbuda Land (Amendment) Act (2018), to allow Antiguans to purchase lands on Barbuda.
According to the April 19 Cabinet Notes, the Executive reportedly was “persuaded by … the Ministry of Legal Affairs that the provision limiting the purchase of land in Barbuda to a category of citizens called ‘Barbudans’ is unconstitutional.”
As a result of this legal opinion, the Cabinet has agreed that part of the 2018 law will be repealed. The portion addressing the sale of land in Antigua and Barbuda will then make reference to “citizens of Antigua and Barbuda,” the Executive has announced.
However, the Barbudans who hold their land sacred are signaling that they are ready for the fight.
In a statement released on Monday night, April 24, the Barbuda Peoples’ Movement is reminding the authorities that “the Lands of Barbuda are owned in common by the People of Barbuda.” It adds categorically that “Barbuda’s lands are not for sale.”
Taking note of the Cabinet Notes, the BPM is also reminding the Browne Administration and the Nation that the Barbuda Local Government Act (1976) establishes the Barbuda Council. This body is charged with administering “the system of local Government for the Island….”
Further, the Barbuda Council is a corporate body vested with the power “to purchase, acquire, hold, mortgage and dispose of land and other property.”
And, in a clear warning, the BPM reminds the Central Government that “the Barbuda Local Government Act is entrenched in the Constitution of Antigua and Barbuda and can only be changed in the manner prescribed there.”
In particular, “only the people of Barbuda and its Council can make changes” to the legislation.
Accordingly, the Council – which the BPM controls – “on behalf of the people of Barbuda will continue to manage the island under its communal land system… .
“No amount of Cabinet statements, plans to amend, repeal or ignore laws will succeed in coercing the people of Barbuda,” the statement continues, and the BPM rejects Central Government’s attempts “to impose non-sustainable and environmentally destructive development policies on Barbuda.”
Barbudans will continue to act in a manner that safeguards their grandchildren’s future, the Party declares.