News Americas, CODRINGTON,
Barbuda, Fri. Sept. 6, 2019: In the wake of the unprecedented
devastation that Hurricane Dorian has caused the Bahamas and on the two-year
anniversary of Hurricane Irma’s catastrophic landfall in Barbuda, many on that
island long delays are playing with their lives and the future of their island.
A group calling itself ‘Barbuda
Silent No More,’ said in a statement that Barbudans are still awaiting proactive
action by decision makers in the regional judicial system to commit to hearing
four high profile court cases that remain unresolved.
So far, four legal actions have
been filed over the same amount of years, ‘challenging’ the Antigua and Barbuda
government’s changes to centuries old land tenure system that the group said introduced
unsustainable and speculative development to the island, without consulting
with the people of Barbuda.
The pending cases were filed
against the Government of Antigua and Barbuda from 2015 going through to 2018 include
Mackenzie Frank versus Attorney General, Barbuda Council and Paradise Founder, Robert
De Niro, in 2015; Trevor Walker MP, Mackenzie
Frank and 110 Petitioners versus Attorney General and Paradise Founder Robert
De Niro from 2016; Trevor Walker MP, Mackenzie Frank, Wayde
Burton and Barbuda Council versus Attorney General in 2018 and John Mussington and Jackie Frank versus
Development Control Authority (DCA), Antigua and Barbuda Airports Authority
(ABAA), The Attorney General of Antigua and Barbuda and the Barbuda Ministry of
Justice and Legal Affairs, also from 2018.
Two of the cases are pending in the
Eastern Caribbean Court of Appeal, and two still are pending at High Court
level on Barbuda’s ‘sister isle,’ Antigua.
“The extensive delay and lack of progress with
our recovery feels like a deliberate ploy by the government to punish Barbudans
for rejecting its version of ‘development’ plans, and to discourage return and
re-establishment of the community,” said John Mussington a Barbudan living in
Barbuda. “We as a people are dedicated to tackling these issues head on; we
will not give up.”
Irma impacted Barbuda on September 5, 2017, islanders of Barbuda have faced a
bitter battle between speculative development and traditional land tenure. More
recently concerns have been raised that the government of Antigua and Barbuda has
been brokering deals and allowing the lease of lands, under the new Barbuda
Land Act of 2018 by allowing land to be bought and sold converting leases into
An example of such a deal involves
the Coco Point Lodge lease. Coco Point Lodge is the first hotel in Barbuda, and
it was built in 1959. The lease was purportedly purchased by John Paul DeJoria,
a global entrepreneur and billionaire, with his partners John B. Turbidy and
Steve Adelson joined together through The Peace Love and Happiness Partnership
(PLH) as the leaseholders and financial sponsors of Barbuda Ocean Club. They,
in conjunction with the Discovery Land Company, an Arizona, USA based group,
are developing the Barbuda Ocean Club, a community advertised as a private
residential resort community. Through this deal and one previously brokered
with the collective by the Government of Antigua of Barbuda,
DeJoria-Turbidy-Adelson group was granted a whopping 834 acres of land,
including land that has been designated in 2005 as protected wetland sites
under the Ramsar Convention, an international treaty for the conservation and
sustainable use of wetlands.
There is continued collective concern among the island’s population about the impact of selling of leases for approximately 100 residences at Coco Point and a further 450 residences at Palmetto, whilst pristine protected coastline and mangroves are being destroyed daily as building work continues.
For more see facebook.com/barbudasilentnomore