Islands apart: Why does Barbuda want to split from Antigua?


One of the world’s favorite holiday destinations, the twin-island country of Antigua and Barbuda may no longer be one nation if Barbudans have their way in an upcoming parliamentary resolution on Thursday, September 17.

Prime Minister Gaston Browne has already described the calls by the Barbuda Council, the local administration in the other half of the country, as “treasonous threats” that will fail. Browne remains sure that although the clamor for separation has been ongoing since the 1980s, the country “shall remain a sovereign unitary democratic state.”

Browne will aim to keep together what he has headed since 2014. But the members of the Barbuda Council have him down as one of the reasons they feel unwelcomed in this union.

The prime minister was accused of calling Barbudans “squatters” as well as threatening to repeal the right of the Barbuda Council to exist. Apart from the alleged general lack of respect for Barbudans, Browne and his government are also the targets of insinuated activities of corruption with regards to how funds for Hurricane Irma has been managed since 2017.

The Barbuda Council argued in its statement on August 31 that Barbudans tend to feel the pinch of Browne’s inefficiencies way more than its bigger twin isle. While the country is just about 100,000 people, Barbuda is one-third of the landmass of the union.

Although it would seem Irma was the trigger for current separation rhetoric, the repeal of the Barbuda Land Act of 2007 left an unforgettably sour taste in the mouths of Barbudans.

The act was passed to guarantee that land was communally owned by Barbudans and that their consent was a prerequisite for purchase and development. However, in 2016, Browne and the Labor Party changed the law, allowing for privatization without communal consent.

How realistic is a separation?

The country’s Minister of Information, Melford Nicholas, believes the topic of separation is a “debate that must be had”. But Nicholas is also of the view that “[F]or Antigua to consider at this stage the giveaway of a third of its resources and to let it walk away, [is] incomprehensible.”

The chances of the Barbuda Council in the legislature are also rather slim as an overwhelming Labor Party majority is unlikely to grant Barbudan autonomy. The party holds 15 of the 17 representatives in the lower chamber of parliament.

Even a few leading members of the opposition United Progressive Party (UPP) are adamant that it is not in Barbuda’s ultimate interest to go alone.

But the critics among the ruling class who live mostly in Antigua, only serve to embolden the dissent in Barbuda. And even if the Barbuda Council fails in its bid on Thursday, one cannot say that will be the end of the debate.

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  1. I support Barbuda.

    Barbuda and Antigua are two different islands with separate traditions and customs for Antigua to impose its traditions and customs on Barbuda must be wrong on any account.

    Barbuda’s aim is not to become an economic power house, their aim is simply sustainable development what is wrong with that?

    They have no interest in selling land what is wrong with that? Selling land makes you worst off than you started.

    Who owns the land owns the wealth. Why do you think the Chinese are buying up St John’s. 200 years leases are a height of ignorance do you see any 200 year old man any where.

  2. To live a quality life depending on customs one may require food clothing and shelter that’s all.

    If you provide these things for yourself what need do you have for foreign investors?

    Why create a life style that will bring about your demise?

    Consider the paradox of a man who owns a bicycle vs a man who owns a car.

  3. Barbuda does NOT want to split from Antigua. Trevor Walker wants to play politics, but not once did he do JACK SQUAT to help Barbuda during 2004 – 2014.

  4. All I can say is that if the author of the article does not know why Barbuda would want to split from Antigua and Barbuda then the author must be living on Mars.

  5. This is not about Trevor Walker, it’s about US, the people of Barbuda.what did Arthur NIbbs did for his 3 years? I’m not a supporter of BPM or ABLP , just a law abiding citizen. The people of Barbuda and the councils should have a right to say what we think is best for us, we live there, we Know the struggles. I can surly think for myself and I think we better off going our separate ways, it may not be easy , but in the long run the people of Barbuda will benefit.

  6. There seems to be a silent majority of Barbudans that is afraid to speak up in fear of victimization. Now it is true that in a small society victimization is personal and rampant, but I plead to these Barbudans who usually do not vote for the BPM and are aligned with the ABLP to stop being cowards and stand up for what they believe in. You cannot leave the battle for the PM alone to be fought. Have some courage and stand up against the BPM bullies. Barbuda is yours as much as it is theirs. And you have everything to lose and nothing to gain by remaining silent. The BPM can and will never get a 2/3 majority for any cessation. They never even got that in any election. Let your voice be heard and I would encourage you all to come to Antigua on Thursday and watch the debate in Parliament. Be present and let it be felt. So Trevor and the BPM what democracy means. And it is fought in our halls of Parliament.

  7. Why so much stress about it? All of you know that never gonna happens.. even if Barbuda is independent tomorrow.. They will need to hire a lot of qualify staff to settle the government and all dependences.. basically to make the country work.. because with the population that they have and the lvl of education and preparation that people have over there.. is lot of area that can’t be covered and you need to hire people overseas.. then start a long program to train the new generation… That is a hard hats process and the infrastructure over there isn’t enough to handle this change in short time…. That only gonna make the situation worse for barbudan.. because the people in charge will start getting loans to handle the needs of the country and we know what happened with those politicians without control and money in the government account..

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