The 1967 revolutionary spirit of self-determination, which Anguilla exhibited then, after almost a century and a half of protests against its annexation with St. Kitts-Nevis, has been used as an analogy whereby the British Overseas Territories can collectively move to the next level in terms of self-governance and economic and financial development.
The analogy was advanced by the Premier of the Turks & Caicos Islands, Dr. Rufus Ewing. He was at the time delivering the Anguilla Day Walter G. Hodge Memorial Lecture, entitled “The Next Level: Stepping onto the World’s Stage”, at La Vue Conference Centre on June 2, 2016.
Dr. Ewing, a highly-qualified Physician and Surgeon, turned politician, praised the late Walter Hodge as an outstanding Anguillian who, “through his tireless industry, diligence and faithfulness, sought in setting the foundation for the modern Anguilla”. Following the 1967 Anguilla Revolution Walter Hodge served as Chairman of the 15-member Peacekeeping Committee in charge of the day to day administration of Anguilla and later as Treasurer and Comptroller of Customs. In 1943 he was the youngest Anguillian to win an island-wide election as the local representative in the St. Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla Legislative Council where he served three years.
Premier Ewing said the Anguilla Revolution was the result of years of preparation, study, action, determination, and resolve which brought matters to a head on May 30, 1967, followed by the declaration of Anguilla as a Republic in 1969. “In fact, Anguilla has set an historic stage for us all, since [it] is the only English-speaking nation in the Caribbean Basin to have fought for, and declared, a Republic by the sheer force of national will,” he emphasised.
The TCI Premier used the opportunity to offer this suggestion regarding the Overseas Territories: “I think we must look at where we are now, and begin in earnest to plot a course – again following Anguilla’s historical example – moving to the next level and stepping onto the world’s stage as a collective group of territories with the sound knowledge that though diverse, indeed far more unites us. This thread of commonality must be intricately woven into a banner that becomes the symbol of a meaningful coalition.”
He saw the territories, which he referred to as “city states”, facing such unusual problems and issues as:
• Finding ways and means to bring democracy from under a system of external management.
• Managing economic models with limited economies of scale.
• Continuing to fight everyday for fair exchanges and becoming advocates for the ‘rule of law’ in international law.
• Continuing to deal with environmental issues, and seasons of storms that can bring our countries low; and
• Continuing to fight against the directives of supranational powers that threaten our economies or way of life.
Noting that the territories not only survived, but managed to thrive despite their challenges, Dr. Ewing declared: “We are experts – our governments, businesses and our people – on drawing prosperity from these challenges and adverse conditions.”
He continued: “Anguilla herself has developed a refined tourism industry where trade-papers are saying that you have turned the crisis around, and another round of success is on the horizon. When taken together, with its leading participation in the Society for Trust and Estate Planners (STEP), in the financial services, the sustenance of the Anguilla brand is assured. Not only that. You have a successful Community College, a growing interest from movie companies and, whatever they say, the success of Zharnel Hughes in global sports is bringing Anguillian talents to the notice of the world.
He further said: “When we think of Overseas Territories in particular, between Cayman, Bermuda, BVI, Anguilla and TCI, we have some of the best economies in the region. Between ourselves – if we include Jersey – we manage nearly two trillion dollars and are the best regulated financial systems in the world.”
Premier Ewing stressed: “Our greatest strength and chances of success in achieving a greater degree of autonomy or self-determination lies with our ability to educate our people on the value of, and the responsibility, that come with such autonomy; on our ability to create success on the local and international stage; on our ability to demonstrate best practices in good governance and the rule of law; on our ability to foster meaningful relationships with the private sector, local, regional and international partners; and on our ability to become competitive on the world stage to create value and be recognised by the world as a force to reckon with.”
As part of his lecture, which attracted much applause at times, the TCI Head of Government made a number of calls from which Anguilla and the other Overseas Territories can benefit. These calls included the following:
• A call for a series of meetings, involving the territories and the UK Government, not to complain about governing arrangements, but instead to think through the possibilities of moving our self-governance to a new level. He envisioned that the culmination could be a new Overseas Territories Governing Charter aimed at creating a single standard in their relationship with the UK Government. He explained that this would not prevent the ultimate autonomous governance of full independence, but moving into that direction with a sense of being at the forefront of every decision.
• A call for the territories, moving to the next level, to be economically competitive by ensuring that they are economically resilient although their economic resilience is often challenged by external factors.
• A call for the territories, as they step onto the world stage to seek to have greater autonomy; to be the captains of their ship and masters of their own destiny; and to foster meaningful relationships and partnerships and the formation of formidable unions, where necessary, in the interest of remaining relevant and competitive, with added value and the bargaining power of unity.
• A call for the territories to have a seat at many of the discussion tables, including CARICOM, and to champion their cause there. He said the CARICOM Secretariat would be invited to the territories’ next Pre-Joint Ministerial Council Meeting in the TCI in July to chart a way forward as to how CARICOM and independent member states could be greater advocates for the Overseas Territories at the United Nations, and at other supranational organisations where the OTs do not have a seat or a voice.
• A call for the territories to meet to discuss how they could cultivate their interdependencies to their advantage in terms of food security, the environment; being more innovative; implementing new technologies and co-financing projects.
• A call for the territories, with their unique challenges, to meet to discuss various financial matters affecting them in relation to the G20 countries and the International Community. He noted that if the territories are to step onto the world stage, in a manner befitting nations, they must develop their own solutions to the financial challenges that confront them.
It concluding his lecture the Premier of the TCI said: “My friends, I have laid out a robust agenda and I have done so with the example of Anguilla in mind. Anguilla Day marks not merely an historical event of political upheaval. It marks the date of a people’s demand for their own autonomy and self-determination, seeking to rise or fall on their own talents…If we are to deal with these challenges in a manner proper to our hopes and dreams, then the spirit and actions of Walter G. Hodge cannot be far from our motives or our methods.”
The lecture was sponsored by the Anguilla Security Board and the Anguilla Community College. Among other things, the Director of Social Security, Mr. Timothy Hodge, gave a biography of his father, the late Mr. Walter Hodge; and Professor Delroy Louden, President of the Community College, spoke at length with respect to the importance and benefits of social security.