03 August 2011

Turks & Caicos Islands Progressive National Party Leader discusses road to elected government


Open Letter from PNP Leader Clayton Greene to Governor Gordon Wetherell

His Excellency
Gordon Wetherell
Grand Turk

Turks and Caicos Islands

Your Excellency,

You would have hopefully received our letter to Minister Bellingham following on from his most recent visit to the Turks and Caicos and copied to you. As we have not received an acknowledgement we write today in this open fashion because of the singular importance that we place on the milestones that must be completed so that fair and free elections can be held in the Turks and Caicos Islands and the people of these Islands can be returned to representative government which is their right.

Minister Bellingham has indicated that he continues to be confident that those elections will be held in 2012! In the passing of the new Constitution, a major milestone has been met. While we continue to condemn the systematic and unnecessary transfer of power from the true representatives of the people to the Governor that characterizes the new constitution, we are happy that the Interim Administration may now concentrate its efforts on achieving the remaining milestones.

We understand from the recent pronouncements of the Chief Financial Officer that the projected deficit for 2012-2013 is now $9M and that she is well on her way to achieving a balanced budget in 2013-2014. We believe it to now be settled that the balancing of the budget is not a precondition to elections, but merely that the Country must be on a path to a balanced budget.

The Social and economic cost of achieving this milestone is already being felt with Public Sector job cuts, to which we will return, coupled with a shrinking private sector capacity and an Interim Administration that seems intent on pursuing a program of unconscionable raising of fees and taxes without the commensurate attention being paid to the creation of jobs and opportunities that would allow us to have money in our pockets in order to pay the fees and taxes! The scant regard that has been paid to the people of Middle Caicos who lost their employment in the Works Program is but just one example of the human suffering that is caused when a Government judges its actions by its impact on the bottom line without regard to the social and human cost.

So that there might be no unnecessary delay in the return to representative Government, we ask that you turn your attention quickly to the appointment of the members of the Boundaries Commission so that the work of the Commission can begin in earnest. With the Constitution now settled, there is no reason why the Electoral Boundaries Commission might not be appointed. We are still convinced that a greater say in the makeup of the Commission should be had by the peoples’ representatives and we fully expect that your successor will accept without question the nominees of the political parties for appointment to the Commission.

We understand that some time ago and before the new Constitution was settled, instructions were given to the Supervisor of Elections to suspend the continuous updating of the roll of electors. This action is not only scandalous; it is illegal, because the Elections Ordinance had not been repealed. There is no reason why the Supervisor of Elections may not continue to take applications for registration from persons qualified to vote. We need however to know when it is that we can expect to have for consultation, a Bill that would govern elections and the representation of the people generally. There was, before the House of Assembly prior to its suspension, such a Bill, and this should form the starting point for the new legislation. That Bill contains provisions dealing with election expenses and the registration of political parties and so therefore, it is a natural place to start. There is no reason why the work of the Boundaries Commission and the preparation of the legislation may not be conducted simultaneously.

There is no magic in what is required to be done by way of legislation, and we do not see why the legislative framework could not be in place within a 12 month period, and we therefore make the declaration that elections must be held by July 2012! Nothing focuses the mind of man more than having to work to a schedule or a date certain! The Interim Administration has not been prepared to fix a date certain for elections and so we have done it for them.

Of equal concern is the fact that this Interim Administration seems hell bent on rolling back the efforts of the last Government to prepare the people of the Turks and Caicos Islands for the world of work and worth through education. We note in this connection that the practice of granting scholarships to the valedictorians of the 4 public High Schools in this country has been abandoned. This is completely and utterly discouraging and runs counter to the principle of merit based reward that must be the foundation of our developing Country.

On the further issue of scholarship and training, we note that a number of students are returning home and are not being able to find jobs! While we appreciate that this country cannot be built by Turks and Caicos Islanders alone, we are duty bound to ensure that every Turks and Caicos Islander finds meaningful work at home. A careful look at the availability of jobs must be done by the Labour Department to ensure that qualifications are not inflated and that there is a natural match between those available jobs and the requirement to perform them. It cannot be right that work permit holders are continually on jobs and Turks and Caicos Islanders are walking the streets!

We suggest that, beginning with the hotels, the Labour Department engages upon an exercise that will determine with respect to each employer and each category of employee, the ratio of Turks and Caicos Islanders to Expatriate employees and that the Labour Department will further require each employer to identify the steps that it is taking to prefer Turks and Caicos Islanders in its employment policy. The Progressive National Party is determined to keep the feet of this Administration to the fire so that there is not a further and possibly irreversible economic disenfranchisement of the Turks and Caicos Islander.

Our concerns in relation to employment or the lack thereof is compounded by the recent spate of dismissals from the Public Service. We have complained that the process of right sizing the Public Service seems to lack a broad policy direction. We repeat our advice to the Interim Administration to ensure that the Civil Service Association is fully engaged in the right sizing exercise beginning with the formulation of the policy and moving through all phases of its implementation. It is not right that a person finds out that his particular job is being made redundant days before he is required to pack his bags and clear out his desk.

We write to you knowing that you will be leaving soon but hoping that you will convey to your successor, the absolute need to hear the cries of the people and try as best he can to ease their pain and soothe their hurt. We trust that he will be respectful of the people of these islands and true to the ideals of democracy to which we all subscribe.

Yours faithfully,
Clayton Greene

The White House Report on Puerto Rico: The Perspective from the Independence Party

Rubén Berríos Martínez
Presidente Partido Independentista Puertorriqueño

La Casa Blanca habló con claridad: “promételes unos chavitos más y verás cómo se calman”.

Es lo que hicieron el siglo pasado cuando ante la amenaza entonces de la independencia, incrementaron la dependencia en fondos federales y disfrazaron la colonia con el nombre de ELA. Ahora ante una potencial petición de estadidad repiten la cínica estrategia de “por chavos baila el mono” y confirman su objetivo inalterable, perpetuar el territorio.

Postulan como opción válida un ELA que ellos mismos afirman es un estatus territorial, alternativa que nadie en Puerto Rico defiende oficialmente. ¡Triste espectáculo que la autorice un presidente afroamericano que pontifica sobre la libre determinación y los derechos humanos! Bajo esa teoría los esclavos debieron tener como opción válida la esclavitud.

Con un rancio paternalismo colonizador proponen recomendaciones que pueden implantarse bajo la condición territorial, y que van desde educarnos para combatir el dengue hasta enseñarnos a hacer combustible con bagazo de caña. Prometen “esfuerzos” para mayores aportaciones a sabiendas que eso es prácticamente imposible bajo la situación económica prevaleciente en EU.

Proponen como “preferencia marginal” un mecanismo plebiscitario para mediante una primera ronda excluir la independencia –un derecho inalienable- y la libre asociación, seguido de una segunda en la esperanza de que hasta los independentistas terminen votando por la colonia.

Si faltaba prueba sobre el propósito del Informe ahí está la reacción entusiasta del PPD.

Pero hoy, contrario al 1952, el territorio está en quiebra económica y social. No existe un PPD omnipotente, el colonialismo está proscrito y la represión violenta y descarnada que sufrieron los defensores de la independencia no es una opción real contra los estadistas.

A mediados del siglo pasado, los estadistas, numéricamente reducidos, cooperaron con el PPD para reconstituir el régimen colonial. Hacerlo hoy cuando controlan el gobierno los desenmascararía como colonialistas estadolibristas movidos por el supremo ideal del presupuesto. La decisión es suya.

Ante el informe se impone una respuesta digna y contundente. Quien sirve a dos amos con uno queda mal. ¿De cuándo acá tienen los puertorriqueños que obedecer sumisamente lo que se pretende imponer de Casa Blanca?

Para resolver el problema del estatus, lo he dicho mil veces, tenemos que crearle una crisis política a los Estados Unidos, como en Vieques. Para ello hay que forzar a los EU a responder a nuestra voluntad descolonizadora. Es necesario que nuestro pueblo exprese de forma contundente y abrumadora en una votación SI o NO la exigencia de que nuestro futuro estatus tiene que ser no territorial ni colonial.

No se puede permitir el pretendido absurdo del Informe de equiparar las alternativas reconocidas por el derecho internacional con una alternativa colonial. Existen múltiples mecanismos procesales para dar al traste con ese intento. Incluso algunos se incluyen en el propio informe. ¿O es que también hay que someterse a las “preferencias marginales” de Casa Blanca?

Los independentistas tenemos que estimular y promover la definición final. Todos los días se hace más evidente que la estadidad no tiene futuro por ser contraria a los intereses de EU. Más aún, el que convierte en motivo primario de su acción política el miedo a la definición final y a la estadidad, termina apoyando el territorio colonial y propiciando que la dependencia y el estadoísmo sigan creciendo. En todo caso es mejor dar la batalla hoy que mañana. Quien teme a la derrota no merece la victoria.

Desde el 1898 los EU son responsables de que padezcamos un régimen territorial. No se puede permitir que sigan esquivando su responsabilidad descolonizadora. De lo contrario nos seguirán tratando como si fuéramos un campo de refugiados, o en palabras de Matienzo Cintrón como a “weleles y pendangas de países no contiguos que no hablan inglés”.

Basta de genuflexiones. Hay que darse a respetar.


UN seeks to sweep away last traces of imperial age


By ANITA SNOW - Associated Press
(with OTR comments)

One was Napoleon's last place of exile. Another became home to survivors of the mutiny-stricken Bounty. They are St. Helena and the Pitcairn Islands, flecks of real estate set in vast oceans, each occupying a special place in history.

These and 14 other territories - some would call them colonies - are listed by the U.N. as relics of a vanished age when Europeans ruled large chunks of the globe. The U.N. guided many colonies to independence, and what's left of the former empires are territories, defined by the U.N. Special Committee on Decolonization as "non-self-governing," entitled in many cases to elect local officials but all under the ultimate authority of a distant capital.

The committee is one of the few forums in which colonialism's last remaining subjects can make themselves heard. Its latest annual meeting, in June, featured voices as disparate as lawmakers from Gibraltar and the Falkland Islands, a headman from a cluster of New Zealand-ruled islets, and a spokesman for a Saharan territory that has been fighting for independence for 35 years.

Some may see the U.N. committee as an anachronism, little noticed by anyone other than those who attend its meetings: two dozen ambassadors of countries with a direct interest in the decolonization process, and representatives of the territories in question.

But Ahmed Boukhari of the Polisario Front, which seeks the independence of Moroccan-controlled Western Sahara, says its existence is vital.

"Not only do we need the committee, we need to enhance it," he told The Associated Press. "For the people of the territories, it's an essential element in their struggle for self-determination."

A century ago, before the term "Third World" came into use, colonialism was the norm. The British Empire was the world's largest, covering about a quarter of Earth's land area. Next was France.

But almost everywhere, liberation movements were springing up, and after World War II, decolonization surged ahead under the newly founded United Nations. More than 80 colonies comprising about 750 million people became self-governing.

But the last traces are proving hard to erase.

The U.N. General Assembly had declared 1990-2000 to be the "International Decade for the Eradication of Colonization (sic)," and indeed, that was the decade that saw the return of British-ruled Hong Kong and Portuguese Macau to China. (Both had been removed from U.N. jurisdiction long before the U.N. International Decade - OTR)

With the job still unfinished, 2000-2010 became the Second International Decade for the Eradication of Colonization (sic), its highlight being East Timor's independence from Indonesia. Now the world is into its third such decade.

It may get to delist New Caledonia, France's "special collectivity" in the southwest Pacific, following an independence referendum for the population of 250,000 expected in 2014. At this year's meeting, it heard from Victor Tutugoro of New Caledonia's Kanak and Socialist National Liberation Front about the anthem, currency and motto the islands have chosen.

"If we can get two or three more on that path in the next decade, we can show that the process of decolonization can be achieved," said Saint Lucia's ambassador, Donatus Keith St. Aimee, a committee member and former chairman.

Also at the meeting was Faipule Foua Toloa, titular head of New Zealand's Tokelau islands, whose address included a prayer for guidance in his ancestors' language. The 1,400 Tokelau people fall into the no-thanks category, having voted in a 2006 referendum against breaking with the mother country.

To get off the list, a territory can win independence, be fully integrated into the colonial power as are France's Caribbean islands of Martinique and Guadeloupe, or become a sovereign state "freely associated" with a country, like the Marshall Islands and the U.S. (Other free association models also exist - OTR)

The U.S., with three territories on the list, and Britain, with 10, don't attend the annual meeting, saying the process is outdated. (It is argued that the U.S. cannot justify its contemporary colonial holdings to the world community and therefore does not participate in the U.N. review process - OTR)

The two most contentious possessions are British: Gibraltar, claimed by Spain; and the Falkland Islands, which Argentina invaded in 1982, only to be driven out by a British force that sailed 8,000 miles to recover the territory. London maintains that if the 3,000 Falklanders and 30,000 Gibraltarians want to remain part of Britain, their wishes must be respected.

Argentine President Cristina Fernandez, whose country calls the islands Las Malvinas, has denounced Britain as a "crude colonial power." But Roger Edwards, a Falklands legislator, asked the decolonization committee at this year's review to remove the islands from its list and ignore Argentina's demands.

"We do not feel that we are a downtrodden colony of an old Imperial Britain," he said. (Colonialism does not have to be 'downtrodden' to be unjustified - OTR).

Gibraltarians, perched on their rock at the tip of the Iberian Peninsula, rejected Spanish sovereignty in two referendums - one when Spain was a dictatorship, the other after it became a democracy.

Britain also claims Bermuda and the Caribbean islands of Anguilla, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, Montserrat and Turks and Caicos.

And then there are the lonely islands of St. Helena, pop. 7,600, halfway between Brazil and Africa, where the Emperor Napoleon died six years after his defeat in the Battle of Waterloo, and the Pitcairn Islands in the South Pacific, populated by about four dozen people mostly descended from mutineers on the Bounty and their Tahitian companions.

The U.S. territories still listed are the U.S. Virgin Islands in the Caribbean and Guam and American Samoa in the Pacific (as well as 'un-listed' Northern Mariana Islands and Puerto Rico - OTR). 

The annual meeting ends with a resolution bundling together most of the territories on its list with a simple acknowledgment that their case has been heard. (Rather than 'a resolution,' the meeting adopts a series of resolutions which call for specific actions to be taken by the administering powers and the U.N. system to foster self-determination and decolonisation. The resolutions are then sent to the General Assembly for adoption - OTR).

That does not satisfy St. Aimee, the ambassador whose island of St. Lucia is a former British possession that used to be on the list. He says too many disparate territories are being lumped together and not getting the attention they deserve.

On the Falklands dispute, the committee goes slightly further, urging Britain and Argentina to negotiate a solution.

And then there's a hardy perennial - Puerto Rico, which has not been on the list since it became a U.S. commonwealth in 1953, and has voted three times to keep that status. There are calls, backed by President Barack Obama, for another vote on the matter by next year.

Annually for the past 12 years Cuba has introduced a resolution asking the U.S. for a process "that would allow Puerto Ricans to fully exercise their inalienable right to self-determination and independence." And this year, as happens every year, the resolution was adopted, with Cuba's ambassador, Pedro Nunez-Mosquera, vowing his country would uphold Puerto Rico's rights, "remaining at its side until the final victory."  (The Special Committee on Decolonisation resolution also calls for the question of Puerto Rico to be taken up by the U.N. General Assembly - OTR).