UPP stands with Barbuda to alert SIDS4 delegates to environmental threats to sister-island and Administration’s hypocrisy in Antigua

In a press statement issued today, May 29, the United Progressive Party (UPP)
declares that it stands proudly with the Barbudan brothers and sisters who
staged a picket at the Coolidge-Powells junction of the Sir George Walter
Highway – the route taken to the SIDS4 Conference by heads of state, heads of
government, and other delegates.

The Barbudans – along with the UPP members and other conscious residents
– were protesting “the wanton destruction of the environment and … the
Browne Administration’s assault on Barbuda’s land tenure system.”

The action was taken under the theme “Stop the destruction of Barbuda. Stop
selling us back into slavery.” Some of the placards read: Pickpocket
Government; Stop Polluting Fish Breeding Grounds – Environmental Destruction
Veiled as Development; Same Information Delayed Solution; and Our
Government is the Enemy of the Environment.

The UPP said it “also condemn the exclusion of the Barbuda Council from the
SIDS4 Conference.”

From all reports, the Barbuda Council was not invited to participate in the
conference, whose agenda is meant to address a number of existential
challenges facing small-island developing states.

Therefore, the UPP sees the Council’s exclusion as “the greatest contradiction
in the execution of this event.”

This is because Barbudans are survivors of the massively destructive
Hurricane Irma, which, in 2017, decimated their island. The fact that anything
remained standing, at all, was credited to the island’s ring of mangrove

Since then, the press statement notes, “Barbudans have had to fight the Gaston
Browne Administration’s efforts to impose on this ecologically fragile island a
brand of ‘development’ that further threatens their livelihood and ways of

Added to that, the release says, “the Administration has attempted to fool and
induce Barbudans into giving up their land sovereignty – strictly for the
financial gain of foreign investors.”

In defiance of this plan, however, this morning the picketers shouted
vehemently, “Barbuda: People, lands, and culture are not for sale!”
Given the challenges the sister-islanders are facing, “the UPP agrees that
environmental protection must extend beyond the flora and fauna to the
protection of Barbudans’ right to have and hold the keys to their future.
“If the devastation of our sister-island is allowed to continue under the guise
of foreign direct investment, the hosting of this Conference will have been in
vain,” the UPP states.

UPP Political Leader Jamale Pringle notes that Antigua, too, is facing certain
threats through the actions of the Browne Administration. He points out that
one of the aims of SIDS is to achieve zero hunger; however, the Cabinet
approved the destruction of the Dunbars Agricultural Station last December
and razed its experimental farmlands – reportedly for a housing project.

The action is set to continue on Thursday, May 30, at the same location, as the
picketers are determined to bring international attention to the plight of
Barbudans and Antiguans and the hypocrisy of the Browne Administration.