Antigua Cabinet’s statement on boat disaster

Surviving passengers/ Photo contributed

The Cabinet invited the Commissioner of Police, the Chief of Defence Staff of the ABDF, the Director of the ONDCP (Organization of National Drug Control Policy and Money Laundering), the Chief Immigration Officer and support staff, and the Superintendent of His Majesty’s Prison for a briefing on the subject of the unlawful and tragic attempt to smuggle a group of West Africans out of the state and into another Caribbean country.

It was agreed by all that since the West Africans entered the country on their own volition as tourists, were processed by Immigration Authorities upon landing, and were not seeking to evade law enforcement, then they were not “trafficked migrants”, as some have wrongfully claimed.

In fact, over the three-month period of the migrants’ stay, attempts were made to integrate these hapless West Africans into the Antigua and Barbuda social fabric.

The invitation to the UNHCR and the IOM by the Government are clear signals of the willingness on the administration’s part to seek an amicable settlement of the issue.

Furthermore, for more than five years, the CARICOM had agreed to attempt the establishment of an air bridge between Africa and the Caribbean.

An agreement with Air Peace was close to completion except for the AOC (Air Operator’s Certificate) which was not issued, compelling Air Peace to fly first to Jamaica last year, rather than to Antigua.

The Cabinet agreed that when the migrants undertook to depart Antigua secretly, and boarded a vessel after making a payment allegedly to someone connected to the vessel, they were participants in migrant smuggling, transforming themselves from economic migrants.

Several of the West African migrants reported that there was expressed hostility towards them by angry people who signaled that they wished them to leave their country.

This hostility, the Cabinet agreed, was not the custom in Antigua whose immigrant population is significant in size.

During the period of campaigning, leading up to the January 2023 general elections, the migrants learned that they had been wrongly accused of being impostor voters, and other objectionable accusations had been hurled at them.

The officials invited to Cabinet provided additional information regarding the vessel and its sinking.

The vessel is registered in Guadeloupe; it was captained to Antigua by a sailor who is now assisting the Police in the investigation.

Another person captained the vessel from Antigua until it sank; that person is now held by the Royal Police Force of the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis.

The French Coast Guard, out of Guadeloupe, have remained in the area of the ocean where the vessel sank.

The likelihood that passengers went under in the capsized vessel would mean that bodies would float up to the surface after 48 hours.

Sixteen persons are presumed dead since they are missing.

Attempts are being made to identify the cadavers taken to St. Kitts, by way of photos to other members of the group of migrants.

The investigation continues.

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  1. The noose around the necks of this ALP administration tightens, and they continue to lie, never wanting to admit they messed up big time, and put their own welfare before country.
    This started off as one big lie, and they continue to spin the lies to cover more lies. And as they continue to lie to cover the corruption and mistakes, Antigua and Barbuda sinks into a most inauspicious position.
    All kinds of immigration and security laws were breached, yet they try to brand this as being legitimate. And that, folks, is the biggest problem.
    There are too many people in key positions who continue to abdicate the role and function of their positions to do the bidding of politicians. History here is replete with those who followed this and today are behind bars, while the ones who are responsible walk free.
    You can’t wiggle out of this one Gaston Browne. Add this one to ALL the failed projects you have announced. BTW. I hear someone is asking the court to lock up Yida, or something to that effect. The Yida that was going to pump 200 million dollars into our economy annually. Joanne Messial, when she was lucid, made the proverbial statement about you, Gaston Browne:”You are a joke.”

  2. Point of correction. An AOC is issued to an airline by it’s governing authority.
    In the case of Air Peace and the somewhat questionable Antigua Airways the governing authority will be the NCAA (Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority). Please stop misleading your readership into believing that it is the ECCAA’s role to issue an AOC to these Nigerian entities.

  3. You expect me to believe that….
    Really! That is the best category to define these AFRICANAS as “ECONOMIC MIGRANTS.”
    Thought they were fleeing from persecution from a warn torn country of Cameroon. Just because they were in the ENGLISH speaking MINORITY.

    This government is on a Slippery SLOPE……MURDA!

  4. I am one of the Africans who came in through the chattered and we were not trafficked by a single person rather many wicked travel agents. If you ask my fellow Africans who told them about Antigua or helped them get here, you shall then understand that no 5 Africans have the same agent. Some agents collected money from us to get us to south America and some said America. We came in about 900 persons and only 600 are left because some true agents kept to their words and got some of us flights to leave Antigua at the early days . But some agents abandoned some Africans after collecting advanced funds to get them to south America. Yes Antigua airways was launched in West Africa which was announced and had to be used officially as a newly launched airline for those who always dreamt of visiting the carribean. But some travel agents saw it as a transit route to get us to south America. Gaston Browne isn’t the problem and neither did he bring us here . As a matter of fact the faults are the travel agents who collected money from us . Being a newly launched airline there wasn’t many checks done which led to all of this. I came into Antigua on the 28th of December which was one of the last flights to arrive and I recalled we had issues with the plane boarding. Seems it was already noticed in Antigua that we were not rich and maybe someone tried to stop the plane from coming . So we had to provide funds of atleast a thousand dollars before coming. Alot of Africans going into measures of using fake passports or using boats to leave is firstly because of the fear of deportation. And also from the beginning we never felt welcomed . We are also humans and if not of our political situations , some Africans who came in with the chattered flights were doing good in Africa than most antiguans and are very literate.

    • @An African in Antigua..,let’s just say, a lot of folks got #SCAMMED!
      In the court of law, Ignorance of the law is no excuse.
      It seems, due diligence was very lacking, in this whole saga. This means, the #blame for this farse and fiasco MUST be thoroughly investigated, regardless of what ever trials and tribulations you and the other Africans are facing, due to the #risks which you took.

      Again, due diligence is paramount in these types, of “risk taking,” especially in this New World Order aka #SCAMNERS PARADISE!

      Dem get #SCAMMED to rass!
      By sum #SCAMPS, no doubt,
      From our #SCAMPISH Culture!
      Both in Antigua and Africa!
      This is according to the rattling bones
      Of #Mami_Wata & #Papa_Elegba
      They’d like to say! WELCOMED!
      To Antigua, Barbuda & REDONDA!

      Jumbee Picknee aka Ras Smood
      De ‘ole Dutty Peg_Foot Bastard

      Vere C. Edwards

      • Ras smood.* Ignorance isn’t an excuse law wise . We didn’t enter Antigua illegally did we ? Desperate times requires Desperate measures. I don’t think you’ve ever been in a situation any of us have been in. Everyone is wise when it’s not their story. Have a nice day.

        • @African in Antigua, yes, you all entered Antigua illegally, albeit supported by ALP and the crooked Nigerian that’s an employee at the Ministry of Argiculture.

          None of you had a valid visa to enter the shores of Antigua, which is perquisites before getting to Antigua, none of you had an address for where you were going to stay in Antigua.

          The plane carrying you and others arrived in the dead of the night which was outside of normal hours.

          Antiguans do not have problems with genuine visitors to our shores, but we take strong objections to being lied to, additionally, many of you arrived in Antigua during our election campaign wearing red t-shirts with images stating “the next level”.

          You all intentionally or unintentionally provoked the responses that you all are experiencing. You have verbalise some extremely offensive remarks against Antiguans who have thus far have made efforts to tolerate you all.

          You would be advised to direct your frustration and irritation towards the ALP because you all coming to Antigua was supported by the ALP administration. Imagine, most Antiguans went to sleep the Sunday night and the Monday morning we woke to a plane full of Africans.

          It took several weeks before we were told that you’re here as in transit tourists, but many of you were seeing running around waving red flags and wearing red attire with ALP slogans.

          The actions displayed by many of you does not suggest that you are in Antigua as people fleeing unrest in your country, and came to our shores being provocative.

          It is incomprehensible that a traveller would leave his/her country without a confirmed return ticket. You et al handed over Naira to airline ticket seller without collecting a receipt.

          It appears to me that you all might have scammed: firstly by Marvellous Mike and the executives of Antigua Airways Marvellous Mike and the executives, including Gaston Browne agreed to hire a charter plane that could fly all of you to Antigua.

          Evidently, someone who is computer save promoted the venture based on the nation of a better life in South/North America, many others like you jumped at the scam, which was coordinated between Nigeria and Antigua.

          It is perceived that you all part with $6000USD, one trip with 200 passengers compute to $1,200.000USD. Evidently, someone got rich from all yours others misery and it was not the people with the exception of Gaston Browne and by all account he too got duped.

        • @An African in Antigua…right about now, there’s a saying from my youth, it says,
          …“there are more, questions than answers, …pictures in my mind, that you won’t know
          …but, the more I find out, the less I know!

          Kum een King Bowl Face, jus mek him kno,
          “…wen U no kno! U jus, no kno!

          Therefore, An African in Antigua, I can feel your vibe, I n I #ANCIENTS have being shouting, “I n I, am #An_African_in_Antigua!” They’re part of the spirit of Ras Tafar I, of course known as Rastafari Internationally now, but as I contrast your short memory’s, of this Island, to that, of the Rastafari, I will tell you, without any hesitation, you wouldn’t want to be shouting An African in Antigua, and be as free, and as welcomed as you and the others from, wherever Cameroon, Nigeria, et al.

          As to whether or not you entered Antigua legally, I, haven’t the slightest clue, as to whether you did or not. I would hope, that you did. It’s, “the law,” and even me, as a Garret, haffu do dat! Seen!

          Now, checking out the present vibe to, let’s say the #Fan_Fare on Our Quasi Independent Day, 1st Nov, November 1st 2022, with a sticker plastered on the sides, of a chartered jet, with scare water pouring over it, the rattling bones of #Mami_Wata and #Papa_Elegba, was saying this is a bunch of phuckery!
          You can go to ANR, archives, and read Ras Smood aka Jumbee_Picknee, De ‘ole Dutty Peg_Foot Bastard…Vere C. Edwards, said regarding Antigua Airways and, its grand roll out, with the Bumbling Crooks, Charlatans, Pied Pipers, poliTRICKtans(Anansi Children), those whom we trust with our affairs, as a People.

          The loss of life, under any circumstances is not easy, especially for the bereaved. I do empathise, with compassion and sympathy from this perspective, but until we get to the ROOT, of the process, as it was hatched in Africa or Antigua, the Chickens Are Coming Home To Roost, and you know, I quite sure you comprehend the essence of the ❌ROADS and the rippling effect, as the Process keeps playing out.

          I am trutly, living and loving a Glorious Time, in HUEmans, State’s Of Being!

          Leaving you with some Jimmy Cliff..
          …said, it’s hard road to travel
          …and, a rough tough way to go
          …but, my mind’s made up!

          Check it out…

          Jumbee_Picknee aka Ras Smood
          De ‘ole Dutty Peg_Foot Bastard

          Vere C. Edwards

    • African in Antigua…we Antiguans are humans also..and we deserve the respect of a government we voted for and from foreigners who come to our shores. If the reason you Africans gave why you left your country then certainly you can understand when a citizen is treated less than deserved he / she will take some action to preserve him/ herself.

      You said much and quite frankly you sound much like an Antiguan. If you are indeed an African you need to know that Antiguans are very tolerant of all immigrants. While we empathize with what happened to you we cannot and will not do it at the expense of our freedom and rights in our land. Let the prime minister defend himself he is quite capable.

      • Truth—- honestly I understand for a small island nothing goes unnoticed . If you are willing to talk I can meet with you. Africans in Antigua pose no treat or harm to the system. Over the years people around the world have migrated through South and Central America to the US but in no way did migration affect other countries . It’s rather unfortunate we have become stuck in an island. Migrating through Antigua was my plan . Not staying in Antigua I had every legal document to leave from here to Suriname and later seek for asylum in Brazil then continue my movement to the US . This is a situation which would not die down in a minute we came in 940 of us African and a great amount has left . With time we shall all leave and you antiguans can enjoy your lovely nation.

  5. Freetownson— you alone are responsible for what you believe. Economic immigrants having thousands of dollars to pay for flights. Where did you hear that?

    • From The Honorable Member of St. John’s City West. A he say so. Dat a wha he a call ar u now. “Economic Migrants.” God gave you two ears, two eyes and one mouth for a reason. You must listen, read, comprehend before you chat.

  6. LOL. @African in Antigua, I wonder. I am willing to bet that no African wrote this. ALP, this is really a desperate move. What a joke. Gaston Browne is not the problem. Hell yes he is the problem. Antigua needs to resign this idiot to the dustbin of history, forever. Nice Try.

    • Watching~~~ how much are you willing to bet. And where are you placing the bet . Don’t let hate blind your heart.

        • Now tell me . I write English because I am educated and by the way Africa is a continent not a country so there you go “jackass”.

        • @now tell me You are really a laughing stock , what a bunch of ignorance, literacy rate is about 70% in Africa, and as high as 95% in some countries. Does Africa lack scholars or have poets,writers? This is some real bs.

  7. @Now Tell Me…One of my friends is an engineer from Cameroon who has well-off parents. Her dad was an airline executive. They speak English. Some speak French.

    Africans have banks, nice houses, roads, bridges etc. I imagine their currencies have been devalued a lot recently. Europe may also be less attractive for migrants because of the war.

    The US will need workers for various types of jobs. It would be good for the diplomats to try to get visa programs set up so that people can come with papers. If they try the illegal route, they will waste money and may ruin their lives.

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