Schizophrenic Antigua and Barbuda

Schizophrenic Antigua and Barbuda“Schizophrenia” is defined in the literature as: “any of a group of severe mental disorders that have in common symptoms such as hallucinations, delusions, blunted emotions, disorganized thinking, and withdrawal from reality.

Five main forms of the illness are recognized, prominent among them being the paranoid type. This mental disease is characterized by delusions of persecution or grandeur combined with unrealistic, illogical thinking and frequent auditory hallucinations.

Viewers of the current affairs program “Media Roundtable”  aired on ABS Radio & Television on Sunday evening may be forgiven for turning to a medical dictionary in a bid to understand the irrational impulses that have brought us, here in our delusional twin-island paradise, to our present paradoxical condition.

The paradoxical situation under reference concerns the irrational stance that Antigua & Barbuda is forced to adopt – and to maintain for an extended period – as this country seeks to adapt to a brave new world: the new era of Freedom of Movement for citizens of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States. On Sunday evening’s presentation of Media Roundtable, Chief Immigration Officer Lieutenant-Colonel Ivor Walker explained in simple detail the primary reason why this country’s immigration legislation is being deliberately bent out of shape.

Simply put this country’s immigration laws, tightly drafted and restrictive in intent, are so rigid as to present a real obstacle to Antigua & Barbuda complying fully with the terms of the Revised Treaty of Basseterre. The process of revising all the relevant bits of legislation and bringing them into harmony with one another – never mind into tune with the treaty – is so complex that it requires heroic action from the government: as a result legislation on the books has had to be “administratively suspended” in service to the greater good.

The legislation that currently governs the movement of non-nationals into and out of our twin-island paradise was designed to defend these islands against a perceived threat of invasion by hordes of immigrants, intent on despoiling the land like a plague of locusts. At least this was the mythology established over decades, as the delusion that Antigua & Barbuda is “bigger than them” grew and acquired a life of its own.

With the exception of a few speed bumps (some of them quite sharp) like the economic shock triggered by the 1973 OPEC Oil Embargo and various “market corrections” that cropped up along the way, the post-war decades have by and large been years of plenty when an expanding world economy lifted many boats – this country’s included. Nicely positioned on the crest of an expanding travel industry, Antigua & Barbuda rode the tourism wave to become a shining city on a hill, a compelling beacon that attracted immigrants from all corners of the western world.

Parallel to this process another trend was developing, one that drew its energy from the needs of politicians who had the power to determine how the laws on the books were administered. As the sixties wore on, the native-born population tended more and more to withhold its support from the government of the day. In 1968 an internecine conflict blew up that culminated in a change of government that lasted from 1971-76. Upon its return to power the returning government, having had time to take a long hard look at the demographics of the country, consciously decided to seek new supporters elsewhere.

Thus began the great population exchange that has converted Antigua & Barbuda into the schizophrenic little place it is today. As more and more marginalized, disappointed, disillusioned, rejected and heartbroken natives fled these shores to seek opportunities in northern climes, so the government of the day opened the national door to new voters from any port of convenience, mainly the British Commonwealth.

This “open door” policy drew its rationale from well-founded complaints by the business sector. Antigua & Barbuda needed a larger consuming population in order to support vigorous and profitable commercial activity. The political rationale, not being able to stand the light of day, happily piggy-backed itself onto a handy vehicle – and the stupendous growth of the immigrant population began. The alliance between political and commercial needs fostered the creation of an importing, consuming society, which in its turn required a constant importation of warm consuming bodies – serendipity for politicians in dire need of new voter support.

Not at all surprisingly, the reality of a national government needing significant levels of support from “non-national” voters to offset the mounting disdain of the native populace fostered hostility toward people of Commonwealth extraction in particular, although major immigrant inflows came from outside the Commonwealth as well. This “anti-foreigner” feeling grew more pronounced when, prior to the 2004 general elections, former Prime Minister Lester Bird revealed just how highly he valued the votes of non-nationals. Interestingly, the government that replaced the Lester Bird administration continued the open door policy, apparently hoping to capture that valuable “swing” vote away from their political rivals.

Antagonism toward non-national voters became downright virulent after the current ruling party narrowly avoided defeat at the polls in 2009. For reasons yet to be determined the present government decided that Commonwealth citizens had deserted their party in droves. This perception launched a reaction that drove the administration in the direction of further restrictions on immigration, citizenship and voter eligibility – at precisely that moment in the development of the OECS nation when freedom of movement in the sub-region began to top the OECS agenda.

And so schizophrenic Antigua & Barbuda must now confront the reality that all efforts to stem the movement of non-nationals – at least those from the OECS region – into this country are futile. No longer “bigger than them”, this delusional little country, so prone to disorganized thinking, has entered the era of the CARICOM Single Market & Economy apparently unaware that the real world environment has changed. The clinical fallout from the resulting radical adjustment in thinking is that the administration is now caught in a compromising position: forced to suspend legislation as it hurries to play catch-up with actual reality.

Hopefully, in the spirit of water going uphill, a schizoid nation can deal successfully with reality – in the process achieving something approximating to sanity.

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6 Comments In This Article   


Only He Who Knows IT Feels IT!

#6 Hercules » 2013-05-07 12:38

The People Get The Government They Elect! Utter Claptrap From Another Delusional Media Journalist - "a schizophrenic Antiguan & Barbudan".No research done on the Migration Patterns of Antiguans & Barbudans. Just pure hype.
The Freedom of Movement for citizens of the OECS - no facts offered.
The three dominant immigrant nationalities - Jamaica, Guyana & The DR not in any ranked order. Where is the Data & Imformation?
Why have Native Antiguans & Barbudans left in droves? Why have Diasporans not been welcomed back?
The truly "schizophren ic Antiguan & Barbudan" would have done well to spend more time in Nelson's Dockyard, English Harbour & Falmouth Harbour during the Antigua Regatta and Antigua Sailing Week.
The Nature Of Things would have provided more facts, Data and Information.
The People Get not only the Government They Elect but also the Journalists.


@ Barbudan Abroad?

#5 Jackie Spence » 2013-05-07 10:42

Can you imagine you "abroad" like so many thousands of Antiguans and Barbudans and talking about "born here" Antiguans and Barbudans? ;-) ;-) ;-)

Go figure! You guys are truly out to lunch - pardon the pun!

Jackie Spence

Too bad the curent trend cannot be stopped

#4 Barbudan Abroad » 2013-05-06 17:43

They want to put the Genie back in the bottle? Well that is now impossible. Don't believe me? Just go to any gathering in the twin island state and 50-60% of the attendees are people from elsewhere, not native born Antiguans. In fact, that term " native" born has more relevance in New York than Antigua.
I predict, in one more generation, Antigua will not have much of a native born population (by your definition in your article). What that portends for the future of the twin island state, no one can really predict, but I will predict now that politics will be wholly transformed when this transpires.

Barbudan Abroad

Not Convinced

#3 Ramgoat » 2013-05-06 12:55

I am not convinced that our laws are as regid as Lt. Col Walker has stated. He has not supported his assertion with any evidence from the law. Since Dr. Cort lost the election in 2009 and he was made Minister in charge of Immigration, he has declared war against non-national because he blames then for his lost. The fact that temporary residence has been suspended and in sum cases restricted is evidence of the retaliatory stance by the Minister and his stooge


Zenophobic is the word not schizophrenic

#2 DR DREDD » 2013-05-06 12:08

And that only applies to people with dark skins. Antiguans have no problem with Caucasians, Arabs and Chinese. As long as they are not black, they are ok.
People just have to look at what has happened with Social Security and Medical Benefits to understand that we need more population.


Too Much Diversity go kill us

#1 Barn Ya » 2013-05-06 09:27

Dear Mr Samson, it might have been OK then to allow non-nationals in droves into Antigua and Barbuda. However, the reality is that it is no longer OK. We have our own problems. Also our island is very small and cannot support all the diversity these non-nationals bring, with their bad attitude of I am bigger than you, so I am better. Be reasonable, Mr Samson, do you want us to sink under their heavy weight and then they just go back home after and leave us with nothing.

Barn Ya

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Mr. Colin Sampson

 Mr. Colin Sampson is a Journalist and the host of "The Colin Sampson Show" on Caribantigua TV 



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