Barbuda is a tiny island just north of Antigua. It’s got a lovely Frigate bird community (check out Paloma’s interviews here and here and pictures here) and only has a few thousand residents. Although it is technically part of Antigua and Barbuda (the English decided to manage the two islands as one although historically they were not connected), it has separate laws, the most interesting of which is about land ownership. Unless you were born in Barbuda, you can’t own land. And even then, you don’t actually own it, the islanders own all the land as a group, but a native Barbudan’s can have the right to use it. No one else can..
When our guide pictured here
took us to Codrington,the Capital of Barbuda (also the only town in Barbuda), there was a bunch of construction going on (pictured above). I asked him what it was. He said it was a fisheries plant, freezing facility and new marina paid for by the Japanese.
“Why would the Japanese want to buy Barbuda a new marina facility?” I asked.
“Oh, because they want to buy our vote on the UN council” he casually replied. [WHAT!!] “They want to kill the whales, and our government has agreed to vote with them when the issue comes to a vote in the UN. The Japanese are doing this throughout out the Caribbean” he continued. “Although we are small countries, we still get one equal vote in the UN and for a couple of million dollars we are prepared to vote with the Japanese as the whales don’t really effect our economy much.”
“What do Barbudan’s think of this?”
“Our polititians are very excited about the new plant and marina, but the rest of us have mixed feelings about it. Anyway, it has happened and is happening. It’s the way it is.”
Geopolitical bribery: I read about these things in The Economist Magazine, but it seems somehow much more brazen when you experience it first hand.
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