Antigua and Barbuda: The Republic

17

By Dorbrene E. O’Marde

This island – Antigua – has been colonised by Britain since 1632; Barbuda since 1678.

That is without doubt a long time, centuries. And since then, our Head of State, the person with ultimate responsibility for the goodwill of its peoples has been the monarch of Britain.

 

The present reigning monarch is Queen Elizabeth II whose royal style and title here is ‘Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, Queen of Antigua and Barbuda and of Her other Realms and Territories, Head of the Commonwealth’.

 

Respect! This reign has been so long that there are many interesting things that have not been carefully noted. This reign has been so long and mind-numbing that persons in this country, some who now see themselves as political saviours, still cling to colonial doctrines and structures.

 

Our Head of State is also the Head of State of the United Kingdom, described as a ‘parliamentary democracy under a constitutional monarchy’. In this bastion of democracy, one that launches military might in protection of democracy, its Head of State is not elected. He or she maintains reign through the virtue of blood, blood dating back to William the Conqueror of 1066, I guess. This I find strange.

 

The English or is it the British people – all sixty-seven million of them – in a supposed democracy, do not have a say in who their Head of State is. Unlike them, we – one hundred thousand of us – do. But we have to surmount the challenges with which the colonialist intentionally bound us called ‘entrenched clauses’ in our Constitution. Our Head of State has not been here, on this island, since nineteen sixty-six – fifty-six years ago.

 

Our Head of State has not seen the remnants of colonial rule; she has not seen the magnificent efforts our leaders and people have made to clean the mess her British left here. That I find strange, especially in a country where people call for new elections if they do not see their parliamentary representative for a month!

 

But then, these parliamentary representatives that we must see very regularly, swear allegiance to this absent Head of State (and her successors), not to us. This too I find strange and perhaps on second thought, I understand their absentee tendencies. I must interpret the prolonged absence of our Head of State as either She is too busy or uncaring. Out of respect I opt for the former, since it is common knowledge that She assigns and delegates her responsibility to a Governor General.

 

We may be lucky that the present holder of that office is of us, knowledgeable and caring about us. But what I do find strange is that we employ him, her representative, at a cost of approximately two million dollars annually. Shouldn’t that be her expense? Strange! The consideration of expense leads to other thoughts…like, I wonder when last has our Head of State used or even touched money (notes, coins) – you know, like paid a bill, bought something, waited for change. And so, I am sure you will join me in finding it strange that someone who has no relationship to money (notes, coins) sits royally, bejewelled on our money.

 

I have been careful to qualify what I mean by money because as far as money-money is concerned, our Head of State is personally worth around six hundred million US dollars and rules over the assets of the Crown Estate estimated at twenty-eight billion US dollars. The source of this wealth is a topic for another article and perhaps will explain why there is no need to touch money – or postage stamps for that matter?

 

The historical moment for the realisation of our full sovereignty is upon us. Generations before ours fought for the abolition of British enslavement, others for the attainment of adult suffrage and the rejection of colonial rule, others for independence. It has been a long struggle. This is a call for its acceleration. It is our turn to complete the achievement of full political emancipation. The issue of republicanism must now be placed on our agenda and that of most of our CARICOM countries. Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, Dominica and recently Barbados have attained that status.

 

The existing colonies in the region should give serious consideration to the Dominica model – republicanism was negotiated as part of its independence attainment. The transformation of the three other countries represents a conscious rejection of the colonial order. Jamaica’s feeble crawl towards such is noted. The recent comments coming from St. Lucia are heartening. This issue is not necessarily new in Antigua and Barbuda although I am yet to find written documentation.

 

At least one knowledgeable source has indicated that discussion of republicanism took place in the Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party around the 2014 election. We are aware that the opposition United Progressive Party succumbed to the intellectual indecency of the short-sighted in its midst and led the call for the rejection of the Caribbean Court of Justice. An election is around the corner and the anti-colonial conscious voters of this country will base their ballot decisions on the unequivocal manifesto stands on the CCJ and now republicanism taken by the two main parties and the Democratic National Alliance.

 

I make this call to the leadership of our political parties because – and I repeat myself here – I think that in the absence of active civic conscientization, popular decisions on matters such as republicanism will not be made independent of the positions of the major political parties. There is a telling African proverb which simply says ‘all things must end’. It is time to ‘stop loitering on colonial property’

POINTE XPRESS

CLICK HERE TO JOIN OUR WHATSAPP GROUP

17 COMMENTS

  1. A well thought out, concise, and we’ll written piece. Excellent!

    Look at how Barbados 🇧🇧 is already flourishing financially, since cutting their COLONIAL ties with the UK. Outstanding!

    The Republic of Antigua & Barbuda 🇦🇬 has a nice ring to it … VIVA REPUBLIC!!!

    • I agree with most things you post but with Mia in charge Barbados has just become another arm of the World Economic Forum, the people tying to us COVID and “Climate change” for more control. Not sure we want to go down that road.

      • Yes, I agree with you on the link with the WEF, not at all perfect, but an independent Antigua is very appealing …

    • I am happy you found the article well written because unfortunately, I did not. First, the writer failed at the truth, when he said the last visit by the head of state was done in 1966. I am not that old and I have seen the Queen more than once in Antigua.

      Second, the writer failed to provide the pros and cons of making such a decision and hence the article would appear as just a personal opinion rather than a well written document that would allow persons to make an informed decision. From the article, it would appear as though their are absolutely no benefit of staying under the present system and all the benefits from switching. If that is what you call good journalism, I am sorry that I cannot agree.

      We don’t just need to follow Barbados, many countries did before and are failing. Antigua has become the home of many persons from Dominica, Guyana, Dominican Republic and Haiti who went ahead and became republics. On the other hand, we also have an example like Canada, much bigger than the caribbean who still choose to remain as an Independent country under the same head of state.

      • Much respect @ JBF, it’s all about opinions 👏, I enjoy constructive criticism, instead of the swearing 🤬 and name calling that destroys a good debate on these ANR threads … again RESPECT 🤜🤛

      • You are correct. QEII visited Antigua between 1984-86, I stood in front of the post office with my school waving a flag as she drove up High Street.
        Sadly O’Marde is typical of the mis leadership in Antigua where emotions inform decision making as opposed to data and facts.
        ‘Stop loitering on colonial property’ is not a valid reason for becoming a republic, it is more of a line in a calypso song. The writer does not give pros and cons for this change because there is none. Just like the CCJ it is a function of ‘false pride’ and bragging rights. The British territories like Cayman and BVI are doing better than us and they are not even independent.

        I agree however that the crown should pay for the GG office expenses.

      • I erred in the date of the Queen’s last visit. I lived elsewhere at the time, did not recall it and a google search did not reveal it
        I am disappointed that you see it as being untruthful. I think there is a difference between a factual error and an intention to deceive.

        • Yes there is definitely a difference. You made a facutal error Mr. OMarde.

          The same cannot be said about the declaration that “the engines are NEW”. What you expect to see blood, wine? Our nation is still paying for the “NEW” Wadadli Power Plant even though it went offline shortly after it was installed. Lovell/Spencer used our monies to buy a pig-in-a-bag and then tried unsuccessfully to pass the pig off as a lion.

          Dem engines were NOT new!

  2. “At least one knowledgeable source has indicated that discussion of republicanism took place in the Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party around the 2014 election. We are aware that the opposition UPP SUCCUMBED to the intellectual indecency of the short-sighted in its midst and led the call for the rejection of the Caribbean Court of Justice.”

    • You don’t even know the history of the party you support blindly. Lester Bird led the charge for republicanism in the 90s after Independence.

      Fidel Castro reportedly talked him of out it telling him that if the Queen doesnt interfere with government then
      then she provides to foreign investors and others a level of confidence in the constitutional arrangements of Antigua and Barbuda, an advantage that republics in the region do not have.
      The same reason Trinidad tried to accede to the CCJ criminal appellate court and remain with the Privy Council for civil cases – to instill confidence in it’s judiciary to foreign investors.

      UPPs political leader supported the CCJ and even met with the ‘politicians in robes’ behind closed doors.

  3. This is a well written article, but it omitted the financial downside of having the Queen as the head of State or the benefits of cutting ties. There need to be a financial comparison for people to understand that the government of Antigua deposits a percentage of the GDP in the Bank of London. These funds are then loan back to the island at a high interest rate. Managing and maintaining their GDP was Barbados main purpose for becoming a Republic. The financial losses or benefits to the country are important to be included in this article.

  4. It is amazing that the supporters for becoming a republic never mention how they think Antigua and Barbuda will support itself when the UK people (and the USA, for that matter) decide to go elsewhere to spend their money. No one of repute is going to want to visit and/or invest in a pin head sized island with no resources and riddled with even more corruption who comes over as anti the white Queen. The most financially successful and stable islands islands in the Caribbean are the Cayman Islands, British Virgin Islands, Anguilla, Montserrat and Turks and Caicos Islands. It is very apparent that Dominica (which appears to be bordering on dictatorship with out of control corruption), Trinidad and Guyana do not exactly qualify under the “successful republic list”. Time will tell if Barbados can keep up the confidence level they previously held with the UK and North America. Becoming a republic is exactly what the Chinese are pushing for so that they can assume complete control with their very apparent eyesore military base and control center under the guise of being an embassy.

  5. This guy needs to do some more research. His report on the number of visists of the Queen over the years are flawed. Very unprofessional and not reliable! His errors would indicate this article is not really trustworthy. I expected more from him.

Comments are closed.