A Repeated Pattern
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REGIONAL attention continues to focus heavily on the ongoing situation in the British Virgin Islands (BVI), where Premier Andrew Fahie was arrested on April 28 and later pressed with drug-related charges following a sting operation by the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), with Britain also moving quickly to dissolve the elected self-government, suspend the Constitution and rule the BVI directly from London for two years.
Immediately after Fahie’s dramatic arrest in Miami, the colony’s British Governor suddenly released the long-delayed findings of a Commission of Inquiry (CoI) into allegations of corruption against Fahie’s administration.
The premier resigned and has been replaced while awaiting the outcome of his legal troubles, but the islanders — and both government and opposition parliamentarians — have united in opposition to the UK’s clear intent to adopt the recommendations for direct rule.
Virgin Islanders have been protesting daily, with support of all Caribbean governments — through the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), as well as the University of the West Indies (The UWI), all of which released separate statements in the past week condemning the UK and urging it to keep its ‘Hands off the BVI’.
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister, Dr Ralph Gonsalves, CARICOM’s longest-serving leader, also criticised the British move.
Dr Gonsalves quoted then Premier of Barbados Errol Barrow’s condemnation of the British suspension of the Grenada Constitution in like manner in 1962, when the Eric Gairy Administration was accused by London of corruption and Barrow said in the Barbados Parliament: “You cannot draw-up an indictment against a whole nation!”
Gonsalves, a historian and former Lecturer in Government at The UWI, pointed to the similar earlier 1953 suspension of the Guyana Constitution by the British, because the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) — with Dr Cheddi Jagan as General Secretary and Forbes Burnham as Chairman — had won elections and the party’s anti-colonial stance threatened Britain’s plans for its then colony, British Guiana.
The very same process was again repeated in 1967 on the tiny island of Anguilla, after the islanders voted in two referenda for self-governance within the colonial realm, in protest against the neglect of the elected administration in Saint Kitts that governed the colonial Federation of St. Kitts, Nevis and Anguilla.
After the islanders revolted under the leadership of Ronald Webster, the British dispatched two warships and over 350 Special Air Services (SAS) paratroopers to the tiny 39.3 square-mile island of less than 3,000 people “to restore order”.
The same pattern was yet again repeated in 2009 in the Turks and Caicos Islands – another British colony in Caribbean waters — when London suspended the Constitution and imposed two years with direct rule from London, dissolving the government led by Premier Michael Misick, also alleging widespread corruption by his administration.
It is partly for this brazen ease with which Britain punishes entire populations in any of its overseas colonies (by taking away their democratic rights to elect their own internal self-governments) that all CARICOM and OECS governments have so strongly condemned London’s moves to restore direct colonial rule over the BVI.
Such brazen repeated exhibitions of outright colonial domination over the past almost seven decades are among the reasons two British Royal Family delegations found out on their recent tours of six Caribbean nations that seven more CARICOM member-states intend to become Republics at the soonest, to shed the last direct colonial yokes around their necks.
Times and climates change, but by the evidence, not Britain’s attitude to its colonies in what London still obviously regards as its British West Indian territories.

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