I am not the type to comment on commentaries. I actually find it to be quite a bore normally. However, I found an interesting commentary out of the Caribbean that I thought was worth sharing and adding some follow up.
The commentary was written by Lloyd Noel, a former Attorney General of Grenada. It was published in the Caribbean Net News, a fine news reporting outlet in my opinion.
Mr. Noel wisely points out a political environment in the islands. He relates to anger by its citizens toward investors who come to the islands to develop on the lands.
Mr. Noel believes that the citizens of the islands, “must feel they are part of a system before they will subscribe to its moral values.”
No doubt islanders in the Caribbean have a strong sense of culture and commitment to their heritage and land. There are a number of citizens of the Caribbean who feel left out, abandoned by their government and violated by business holders who they believe reap better benefits.
Indeed, many islanders who fight the system, which system might be contrary to their culture, are labeled trouble makers, Mr. Noel points out. Mr. Noel states that these islanders are also accused of their own, “selfish political agendas who are only bent on disrupting the status quo.”
Mr. Noel is speaking to a matter out of Grenada, wherein “nationals and patriots”, as he calls them, question the “activities at the Lagoon Basin yachting development in St George’s.”
There is a similar matter occurring in Turks and Caicos, also in the Caribbean. The parallels are almost identical. A resort developer, Dr. Cem Kinay, is facing criticism by local citizens in the same fashion.
In the case out of Grenada, the locals resent the developers for having an exemption from paying taxes on the profits on the developed property. Meanwhile, in Grenada, Mr. Noel sympathizes that the citizens live in “their little houses and plots of land they also have to pay property tax, and when they are late in paying, also additional interest and fines on top.”
Certainly, it is understandable that the people of Grenada might have lesser living conditions then say the businesses that establish there. Establishing land for their own use from the government is likely frustrating for local citizens.
In Turks and Caicos, a similar incident has been brewing for months. The aforementioned resort developer, Dr. Cem Kinay, has been targeted by nationals and activists in Turks and Caicos seemingly for the same reason: resentment of land acquisitions.
In Grenada, it was not apparently clear what acts, if any, the “patriots” have committed in order to be called troublemakers. However, in Turks and Caicos, a group of anonymous activists use a website called TCI Journal to vent anger and seemingly malign developers, disguising it as news. Many of their articles and opinions reveal resentment toward developers. The man who runs the site, Shaun Malcolm, is published in a UK Crown Report making a formal complaint about Crown Land usage reserved for Belongers only (islanders of Turks and Caicos).
You may have recently heard of this matter heating up when the developer, Cem Kinay, sued for defamation resulting in Google being served a subpoena to hand over the ip addresses of TCI Journal. Certainly, now Wikileaks is involved as TCI Journal published a court ordered suppressed report in violation of the court order, on the Wikileaks site.
It certainly appears that the rift between the developers and the locals are heated.
On the one hand, it seems reasonable for citizens to be vigilant about their government, and standing up for one’s rights is a basic form and expression of speech. It is a right afforded to everyone. If these nationals feel disenfranchised by their government with respect to land, they should go ahead and protest and take all actions available to you legally.
There are only a couple of issues that I have with creating a news media outlet for activism, as in the case of TCI Journal. I am certain that TCI Journal does not speak for all islanders. In fact, many of the islanders I spoke with are grateful for the investors and developers for creating jobs and they wish to see the developers succeed to that end.
My second issue with this is that developers and investors have no control over the local’s situation. Many times, these are businessmen from abroad that made the choice to commence a development on the islands, not at the expense of locals. It seems that the islanders have misplaced or misguided anger.
You should always complain up the ladder to someone who can help you. Targeting investors and developers will not change or enhance your position. Maybe then, the group of activist islanders will no longer be called trouble-makers and they will be able to be heard and called true activists.