06 June 2011

Anguilla Day Speech by Chief Minister Hubert Hughes


Your Excellency Governor Alistair Harrison and Mrs Harrison, Father of the Nation, Mr James Ronald Webster and Mrs Webster, Dignitaries, Fellow Anguillians, Friends, and visitors to our island --- GREETINGS on this Anguilla Day

Although a special day is set aside to recognize our revolutionary Leader Mr. James Ronald Webster, it is in order for us not only to recognize him today, but also to recognize all the other Heroes and Heroines who joined in that struggle 44 years ago.

Let us observe a minute of silence as we think of those who have since died and thank God for all who took part in that struggle to make Anguilla a better place for all of us to live in.


Commemorating the past is a good time for stock-taking.
44 years ago what were we fighting for?

1. Is it not for Freedom? ---

We wanted to be free to govern ourselves.
Free to be able to uphold and maintain our culture.
Free to plot our own destiny.
Free to seek a better way of life for our families and those yet unborn.

It was Rousseau the French philosopher who said: “Man is free but everywhere in chains.”

That is true, and we recognize that we cannot be an island to ourselves, we have to live in community with others, but we believe that we ought to have that CHOICE.

As an act of our freedom we chose not to be associated with St. Kitts but rather to be with our Mother Country.

As a Parent we believed that our Mother would promote and not impede our desire for self-determination. Together with the voice of United Nations General Secretary Ban ki Moon we reiterate the call for self determination on this our 44th Anniversary of the Revolution and we expect for Her Majesty’s Government to facilitate the process.

2. As we take stock, the SECOND thing we ought to recognise is that the success of the revolution 44 years ago was the fruit of our UNITY. Everybody at that time was fighting a perceived enemy for a better life.

Life in Anguilla today is different. We have been operating on a Party system of government, and the nature of a party system demands division. When however our difference is philosophical then it is possible that in the same family different members can back different parties and yet the family can function as a cohesive unit.

In Anguilla, unfortunately, the difference in the various parties is not philosophical and so I would like to urge Anguillians that whatever our political affiliation might be, we should first and foremost be Anguillians and be UNIFIED as Anguillians in the pursuit of our Freedom—the pursuit of achieving that dignity of self-determination.

Anguillians will have to think seriously about that future. It has become even more evident that in the formulation of legislation we are in so many ways appearing to be importing cultures that are foreign to Anguilla.

As a matter of fact I have seen, the use of the word “Crown” being interpreted not to mean the “Government of Anguilla”, but the “Queen”. So that by extension Anguillian lands which are owned by the Crown are in essence not belonging to you the native People of Anguilla, but are owned by a Power some 4000 miles away.

We will therefore have to decide what will be the destiny of this little island we call ‘the Rock’. Will we be a People known to the world as Anguillians, or, Belongers? Will we be a people with a Culture and Identity that distinguishes us as an entity in this place we call our World? Or will we let the erosion of all that we hold dear to US as a People continue --- leaving us being simply absorbed culturally, religiously and socially by a greater Administrative Power?

It will take all of US to make that Decision and I urge all Anguillians to be vigilant. The current throes of our sister territory Turks and Caicos Islands who are now faced with a Constitution being thrust upon them by our Mother and which they have so far rejected should be of grave concern to us.

Likewise, and quite recently the situation in the Cayman Islands where their Budget has been rejected three times by the Mother even as it was with us is a constant reminder that we are not yet in control of our own Destiny.

3. In the THIRD place permit me to say a word of thanks to our Civil Service.

Many have worked tirelessly around the clock to keep the wheels of government grinding.

A special word of congratulation is due to our Financial Unit who made us proud in providing our Budget. We ought to feel truly proud to know that our local technical team could produce a budget, though not acceptable to the technocrats in the Foreign Office, but upheld by the international experts.

That bespeaks volumes in our favour, in our quest and thrust for internal self-government.

4. FOURTHLY, the year that is past has not been without difficulties from without and within.

However this is not the time or the place to enumerate past difficulties. Suffice it to say that for some of us difficulties produce ENDURANCE and ENDURANCE is a good test of CHARACTER and CHARACTER is anchored in HOPE. Taking on these difficulties has strengthened our resolve.

I am committed, together with my other Ministers who share my vision of lifting Anguilla out of this serious financial crunch which we inherited and putting it on a surer footing than how we met it.

I have HOPE for a better Anguilla---I have HOPE, as is our motto for our 44th Anniversary that we as a People will Strengthen Our Core By Doing More.

My Administration is committed to work for a better Anguilla---and notwithstanding the current adversity, I ask that we stand as one People, linking hands now, as we did in 1967, sharing the same vision to a better future as we did in 1967 and more importantly learning from the mismanagement of the past so that Anguilla will never find itself being plunged into the financial chasm that the People of this Country endured and are still enduring.

I hope and pray that all of us on this 44th Anniversary of our Freedom will commit ourselves to going forward in our thrust for a better Anguilla as we determine the future of our Constitutional status.

May God bless us all and may He continue to Bless Anguilla.

Anguilla and Sint Maarten to Deepen Cooperation


Anguilla-Sint Maarten Discussed Partnership Matters Including Ease Of Travel

The Anguillian

Improving access to Anguilla through St. Maarten, with Juliana International Airport as the hub, with a section to facilitate Anguilla-bound travellers and other immigration issues, was among some of the matters discussed here between Government and tourism officials from both territories.

A ten-member St. Maarten delegation visited Anguilla (in May) . The delegates included Deputy Prime Minister, Theodore Heyliger; Minister of Justice, Roland Duncan; incoming Director of Juliana Airportand former Director of Tourism, Regina La Bega; Tourism Policy Adviser, Angelique Romou; and Marketing Director, Edward Dest. They held discussions at a Functional Cooperation Meeting at Blue Ridge Resort & Conference Centre with Chief Minister and Minister of Tourism, Herbert Hughes; Adviser Jerome Roberts; Minister of Home Affairs, Walcott Richardson; Minister of Communications, Evan Gumbs; Adviser Sam Webster; Permanent Secretaries, Dr. Aidan Harrigan and Foster Rogers; Chairman of the Anguilla Tourist Board, Eustace Guishard; President of the Anguilla Hotel and Tourism Association, Sherille Hughes; Chairman of the Port Authority, Kenn Banks and others.

“This is the most important meeting that I have been able to attend and partially host since I got involved in Anguilla’s political life," Chief Minister Hughes stated, referring to the conference between the two territories. “I think if we can work together…in this part of the Caribbean, we will be very strong and compliment each other,” he said in his welcome remarks.

St. Maarten’s Deputy Prime Minister, Mr. Heyliger, looked forward to increased joint cooperation and cited tourism, the amount of trade between the territories and the unity of the people as important factors. The Minister told the Anguilla Government officials about a new master plan for Juliana which took into account some of the challenges facing tourists and other travellers to and from Anguilla.

“We want to simplify the process of making sure that guests coming to Anguilla have a more seamless effort in getting there through St. Maarten,” he said. “That is one of the matters we would like to discuss [in terms] of what you would like to see happen at Juliana as one of our main partners using it as a hub airport. We want to know about some of the things and bottlenecks you encounter, and areas where we can foster a better relationship at the airport with the Government and people of Anguilla. It is our intention, in our plans, for the consultant and the management of Juliana to sit with you in terms of the design of Juliana and how we will change that design to make sure that it accommodates the Government and people of Anguilla.”

Replying, Chief Minister Hughes said it was “mutually benefiting for Juliana Airport to be the hub for both islands and that we should forget Puerto Rico.” He continued: “St. Maarten is really qualified to serve this special region in the Southeastern Caribbean: St. Barths, Saba, Statia, French and Dutch St. Martin/St. Maarten and Anguillla. It is beneficial for Juliana in the sense that the airport would be better utilised by combining all the visitors in this sub-region transiting through Juliana.

“It is therefore a win-win for us that we both continue to promote Anguilla’s tourism product which is destined to be extremely large even though it is at the upper end of the market. Viceroy is now on stream and Flag Luxury is going to be a much bigger entity when it re-starts and finishes. We want to make sure that when we promote our tourism product, we would be promoting Juliana in the process… Airlines would know that there is lucrative business seeing that they would not only have a number of rooms in St. Maarten but also in Anguilla and the neighbouring islands.”

The Chief Minister pointed out that there were people in Anguilla from various Caribbean countries with resident and belonger stamps in their passports as well as having work permits. He said intra-regional travel would facilitate business in St. Maarten and requested that in the new visa requirements such persons should be permitted to travel to and from that Dutch territory. “In the meantime, we would like easy travel for our tourists because that is where we are getting the bulk of our problems…When people pay big money in Anguilla for accommodation they don’t want to be restricted in getting to their destination,”Mr. Hughes added.

Anguilla’s Tourist Board Chairman, Mr. Guishard, said in part:

“One of our primary concerns is facilitating our guests coming into Anguilla through St. Maarten and also exiting St. Maarten. Presently, we have a situation where our guests arrive in St. Maarten and clear immigration, and if they are going to Marigot to the ferry it is simple and straightforward. But if they are travelling from the Dutch side to Anguilla, they have to go all the way over to Simpson Bay. This is a real challenge and we are getting many complaints.”

He reported that an owner of a 10million-dollar villa in Anguilla recently told him: “I will not bring my family back to Anguilla again. If I can sell this villa I would do so because I spent five hours with eight of my family members trying to get from St. Maarten to Anguilla. It is quicker to get from New York to Anguilla than from St. Maarten to Anguilla. I am not prepared to go through that anymore.”

Mr. Guishard noted that prior to this the St. Maarten Minister of Justice, Ronald Duncan, had assured members of an Anguillian delegation that if they could find a dedicated area in St. Maarten to process travellers to Anguilla, he would arrange to have immigration personnel there to facilitate them. “I think we are nearing an agreement on that area which would really help us simplify that matter for our visitors and residents travelling forward and backward,” he went on.

“Another thing which would help us would be to have the ferryboats running late at night, like 10 and 11 o’clock, to coordinate their service with the last flight into St. Maarten. I can also assure you that there would be a lot more traffic with many visitors and residents in Anguilla travelling to St. Maarten for late shopping and early dinners, thus taking advantage of that opportunity.

“We also need to find a way of facilitating in-transit passengers by air. At the moment, our two operators – Trans-Anguilla and Air Anguilla Services – seem to be having some problems. It would be good if you could look at this aspect and see how you could make it easier for our travellers by air coming into St. Maarten and transferring to one of these airlines. This would also assist us tremendously.

“Yet another thing is that we would really like to have an Anguilla Information Desk where passengers come out to the public area from immigration. There are so many travellers coming to Anguilla who enter that area without knowing where to go on their way to our island. We would also be grateful if we could have a special immigration line for arriving passengers for Anguilla as this would be very helpful.”

Mr. Guishard spoke about how the Anguilla Tourist Board had spent large sums of money with airlines, and on road shows, to attract visitors to the island. He emphasised that after all of that the island was still facing an access problem, and that the St. Maarten gateway was the answer.

Dr. Harrigan observed that while a lot of tourists from the North American market used to transit to Anguilla from Puerto Rico, the situation was rapidly changing with St. Maarten now emerging as the primary gateway to Anguilla. He stressed that Anguilla and St. Maarten had been “one economic space for generations” and whatever could be done to facilitate that, would be a fitting opportunity in that general context.

St. Maarten’s Minister for Justice, Mr. Duncan, said he had discussed the island’s difficulties with the Council of Ministers there and had “found good support in Government.” He noted, however, that there was “a little side track as a certain union feels that we may take bread out of their people’s month, but that was not really relevant…”

Mr. Duncan continued: “On the matter of the pre-clearance or the immigration at the airport, we support that. As a matter of fact, I mentioned to the previous delegation that we had a treaty with France that calls for joint controls at the airport. Following that treaty, we could easily do the same thing where an Anguillian Immigration Officer could have a booth on the airport and clear people from St. Maarten to Anguilla. We would have to technically establish a protocol or a treaty for the legal ramifications…

“We have an immigration office at the entrance of the bridge, and we are prepared to put Immigration Officers at the other locations that Anguilla has chosen and so this is something we are working on. I don’t think the night ferry operation is a problem because it is just a matter of scheduling the workers to be there. The airport is open until 10 o’clock at night so if we go to 12, I can’t see any qualm where that is concerned. That also needs the details but that will be no problem whatsoever.

“On the visas: about three weeks ago I sent to the Ministry of Home Affairs a written proposal on the matter to clarify. We recognise that Anguilla has encountered a problem on that. We do have a problem with overcrowding [from two particular countries]. However, in our proposal to Anguilla, what we are saying is if a person is a legal resident of Anguilla, we will treat him as if he has a visa etc. so he can visit and pass through. What we need from the Government of Anguilla is certification of the validity of his documents because in St. Maarten there is quite an industry in falsifying documents.

“As a matter of fact, we have also been publishing something that is not very much known. People with a US Multiple Visa can pass through and have no problem,” Mr. Duncan reported. He also disclosed that there was a 48-hour transit immigration window where persons could be allowed to stay in St. Maartenduring that period, but there were no hotel accommodation facilities at the airport, a matter that was still being worked out.

He further disclosed that since the visa requirements hehad been issuing visa waivers to persons for emergency and other related cases.

The Functional Cooperation Meeting between the Governments of Anguilla and St. Maarten also covered cooperative marketing efforts; and airlines services in the region and further afield being provided by Jet Blue to Puerto Rico, Copa and Col Airlines and West Jet to South America and Canada respectively.

US Virgin Islands Governor Mourns the passing of former Lieutenant Governor Derek M. Hodge


Governor de Jongh Offers Condolences on Death of Former
Lieutenant Governor and Senate President Derek M.

The Virgin Islands has lost a true native son, a man of integrity
and enthusiasm, a brilliant attorney and politician
Governor John P. de Jongh, Jr. today offered heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of former Virgin Islands Lieutenant Governor Derek Michael Hodge who died after a prolonged illness. “Lt. Governor Hodge was one of the most respected men in the territory. His wise counsel, sharp wit, friendship and political savvy will be missed and mourned by a great number of Virgin Islanders, myself included,” de Jongh said today. The governor credited Derek Hodge with playing a pivotal role in the development of the Virgin Islands during an impressive career. De Jongh characterized the life-long Democrat as a risk taker. “He challenged his Democratic Party in 1994 to run for Governor and even though he lost, he maintained a passion and commitment to public service. On his first attempt, he was elected to the Legislature in 1984 and even though he was a freshman senator, he was selected by his colleagues as Senate President,” de Jongh said today. 
In 1987, Hodge was inaugurated as the territory’s Lieutenant Governor, a position he held for eight years in the administration of then Governor Alexander A. Farrelly. “As the Commissioner of Insurance, Chairman of the Banking Board and overseer of the Office of the Recorder of Deeds, Tax Assessor’s Office, and Corporations Division, he modernized these functions and proactively worked for efficiency, accountability and accessibility. Lt. Governor Hodge was actively involved in securing federal funds for the territory through joint efforts with former Delegate to Congress Ron de Lugo. His work helped the territory receive over $20 million in appropriations for St. Croix’s Henry E. Rohlsen Airport, as well as for health care facilities, prison renovations and hazard mitigation projects. He helped re-establish the Government of the Virgin Islands’ bond rating in the municipal bond market, which led to the issuance of $230 million in bonds for the Capital Improvement Program,” de Jongh recalled, noting that he had both the honor and pleasure of working with Derek Hodge while serving as Commissioner of Finance in the Farrelly / Hodge administration.
Upon leaving public office, Lt. Governor Hodge resumed his law practice. He received his Juris Doctorate degree in 1971 from Georgetown University Law Center. During his long and distinguished career, he was a member of the St. Croix firm of Hodge, Sheen & Finch, in partnership with his brother Winston; was a partner with his cousin Kathleen in the St. Thomas firm of Mackay & Hodge; and practiced law on his own.
“Lt. Governor Hodge maintained an active interest in the territory and its development throughout his life. He was part of an illustrious family that served the Virgin Islands for generations in public and private initiatives on St. Croix and St. Thomas. With his family ties and network of friends and colleagues, he was in touch with all aspects of life in the Virgin Islands. It was his passion to see the territory continue to modernize and expand for the good of all residents, and he spent much of his life pursuing these goals,” de Jongh said today. 
“Cecile and I offer our profound sympathies to Derek’s wife, Monique Sibilly-Hodge; his children Marisol Cohen and Jonathan Hodge and their families; his cousins and their families; other members of the Hodge circle; and his numerous friends, associates and colleagues.” The Virgin Islands has lost a true native son, a man of integrity and enthusiasm, a brilliant attorney and politician. “I hope that the territory’s outpouring of love and respect for Derek M. Hodge will help ease the loss of this husband, father, grandfather and friend,” de Jongh added.