BVI News

Gov’t accused of pushing independence agenda through conflict

By Esther Durand, BVI News Staff

Former Virgin Islands Party candidate Rajah Smith has accused the government of wrongfully pushing for the territory’s independence by showing signs of discord towards the United Kingdom (UK).

Smith said the conflict with Britain hinges on what he describes as ‘baseless allegations’ of racism and slavery.

The BVI has been at loggerheads with Britain over their ongoing public registers issue.

“I don’t support independence nor a path to self-determination. Rather, I call for strengthening our ties with the UK. A strong UK is a strong Virgin Islands … [and] the UK poses no real risk to our territory and neither to its people,” Smith said.

He further said, despite seemingly pushing the independence agenda, no elected official has told residents how they will be better off as an independent territory.

“Neither have they (elected officials) addressed areas of concern such as national security, citizenship, currency [nor] how does independence advance the lives of our people.”

UK’s inquiry a good idea

In the meantime, Smith said he welcomed the UK-sanctioned ‘inquiry’, which is in relation to the future of Britain’s constitutional relationship with Overseas Territories such as the BVI.

He said persons with interests in the BVI should participate in the inquiry, which he said is going to shape the territory’s economy.

The UK said the inquiry is to attempt to find a balance between ‘respecting the principle of self-governance’ and ‘ensuring the security and stability’ of British Overseas Territories.

Build a UK military base in BVI

Smith, in the meantime, stated there are certain areas that he would like improved locally while, at the same time, strengthening the existing BVI-UK bond.

He suggested that noncombatant training base be created in the BVI for Her Majesty’s Royal Armed Forces.

While he gave no reasons for his proposition, Smith said the military base could be built on one of the many uninhabited islands or on Tortola in a remote location with an army of at least 500.

He also believes the post of Governor and Deputy Governor should be elected by the people while the UK could set up an embassy or consulate and continue to remain head of state with their appointed Crown representative.

“While this might seem farfetched, we can settle for the role of Deputy Governor, to be an elected position,” he added.

Smith said further the territory should focus on farming and trade relations as a way to bolster the economy

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62 Comments

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  1. Devon says:

    Are these people smoking something ?
    A UK military base in the BVI on an Island… It would be refreshing to hear some sensible ideas from someone here.. waiting to hear what pie in the sky ideas are going to be talked about with the new candidates for the upcoming elections.

    Like 15
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    • Castro says:

      Look at the number of unsolved murders, the double murder west end involving the lil girl, the Spanish man east end and my good friend jerry just the other day. If I read correctly Mr.Smith said noncombat. The police could use all help they can get. We need justice for families and if it takes a military I’m open to the idea.

      Like 19
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      • Ivan says:

        Putting a military base here won’t stop the killings or help the police. It is a well known fact that dangerous criminals move easily between the VIs. None of those killings were random. And people who know not talking.

        Like 9
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      • Wendy says:

        We need a change inthe demographics of the VI. A demographic made up of those not prone to violence and those who attract criminals. This crime thing in the VI can be traced to specific groups and sources. Crime is a newby to the Vi. It is insane to deliberately create a new BVI where those from crime cultured countries are now the majority of the population and outnumber VIslanders who are historically known to be nonviolent and then complain about crine. A pathetic demented unfunny joke on the VI and its people then talking crap bout we are one.
        .

        Like 2
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    • Onething says:

      Your mind is small there are millitary bases in the caribbean martinique, aruba and the usvi has them. But living in a bubble you wont know this. There are benefits for locals.

  2. BVIYoungman says:

    This is exactly my point I’ve been showing a friend recently.

    They(govt officials) have not shown/explain how the H*** we would be better of as an independent country, how will our people progress, what will change for the better due to independence?!

    They just talking bout oooo independence independence, especially that Mr Pickering

    Like 27
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  3. To me says:

    To me the whole NDP is too irresponsible with how they speak and tackle this issue especially Myron and Mark.

    Like 15
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  4. duck1951 says:

    A military base really ? for what purpose ? Who benefits ? I agree with a previous commentator about seeking other ways to generate income . We live in lala land if we do not believe that the UK is trying to shed these islands . What are they gaining ? I am not saying strive for independence but we must think out of the box . What do you think Brexit is about ? We must come together and figure out all possible means to develop and expand the economy . All ideas are worthy of a hearing .

    Like 7
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    • Kinte says:

      As long as those ideas do not involve asking oor seeking independence.
      Those various ministers are angry at Great Britain because her request interferes with their pockets while what they are trying to defend in no way shape or form does it benefit the overall B.V.I. only them, their family and friends.

      Like 16
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    • Onething says:

      Small minded. There are millitary bases in the usvi, aruba, martinuque it can benefit the locals why not enlist in the army. Bvi people join the u.s army for what??

  5. Retired says:

    It appears that R. Smith has commenced his re-election campaign. Which party wants him for the next election?

  6. Really? says:

    Mr.Smith is going to rewrite history now.”Baseless
    allegations of racism and slavery”,really Smith baseless,just a figment of our collective imaginations eh.We have been programmed by years of colonialism not to rethink our relationship with the mother country or criticize those who dare to dream of a relationship of equals.

    Like 5
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    • Kinte says:

      What does the request for the names of the beneficiaries of the off shore accounts that are held in the B.V.I. have to do with slavery and racisim.

      The use of slavery and racism is jist being used to rile up people whoch only benefits the corrupt officials and their minions it has NO TANGIBLE BENEFIT WHAT SO EVER TO THE WHOLE OF THE B.V.I.

      Like 11
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      • @Kinte says:

        “What does the request for the names of the beneficiaries of the off shore accounts that are held in the B.V.I. have to do with slavery and racisim.” People like you just don’t understand…
        This has more to do with control of a people more than you think! WE HAVE AN AGREEMENT WITH THE U.K. CALLED THE CONSTITUTION THAT ALLOWS US TO BE A SELF GOVERNING BODY THAT THEY (U.K.) ARE TOTALLY IGNORING AND TRYING TO MAKE US DO SOMETHING THAT IS MORE OF A BENEFIT TO THEM, NOT US!!! THEY MADE A DECISION WITHOUT DOING ANY TYPE OF SURVEY OR INQUIRY TO SEE HOW IT WOULD AFFECT THE PEOPLE OF THE OVERSEAS TERRITORIES BEFORE MAKING THEIR DECISION!!! IT IS CONSIDERED A RACIST ACT BECAUSE THE CITIZENS OF THESE OVERSEAS TERRITORIES ARE PREDOMINATELY BLACK WHICH IS DIFFERENT TO THEM AND THE DEPENDENT TERRITORIES THAT THEY DID NOT IMPOSE THE SAME SANCTIONS ON… The elected officials of the Virgin Islands would not benefit directly by opposing the decision! PLEASE OPEN YOUR EYES!

        Like 7
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        • not racism says:

          agree with your point that UK decided unjustly but it has nothing to do with racism its more to do with economics, this is NOT a black/white issue, in my opinion.

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          • Rubber Duck says:

            It was not the British Government that did that. It was an opposition MP called Margaret Hodge ( née Oppenheimer in Egypt) who used a Parliamentary amendment to sneak it through. If the image of the BVI in the U.K. was not so bad it would not have happened.

          • Cudjo says:

            Economics in this world is most definitely a black vs white issue…all over the globe. Assuming you are over the age of 5 years,is it not vivid to your eyes and ears?

          • Joe says:

            Open your eyes.

          • Rubber Duck says:

            Cudjo. The economy of the whole of Africa is not as big as the economy of France. The economy of the BVI is not as big as the economy of a single small market town in the UK.

            Economy is black versus white issue? Get a grip.

      • Kunta says:

        Maybe they afraid they names will show up on them list

  7. E. Leonard says:

    The VI is currently a non-self governing OT of the UK that shares governance with the UK; local government is responsible for internal affairs and finance; UK, defence and internal security, external affairs, civil service, and courts. Further, though some citizens may be advocating for independence, the VI IMO at this juncture is not ready for independence; however, self determination is a right that should be discussed among citizens with the path forward resolved through a referendum. The path forward should be determined by a significant majority of citizens.

    Moreover, in the near term, the VI should start discussion with the UK for more automony, more internal self governance. It should seize the current proposed inquiry on UK-VI relationship to start the process. The UK-VI relationship inquiry must be a multilateral process, not unilateral.

    Additionally, economic independence is needed for successful political independence. Consequently, an aggressive effort must be launched to deepen, strengthen, improve, sustain and diversify the BVI economy to pursue economic independence. Developing economic independence will be heavy lift, for the VI does not have the resources to establish either a primary or secondary economy (manufacturing); it has a tertiary (service) economy. On another issue, should the UK establish a 500 person noncombatant unit to be station in the BVI?

    The UK is responsible for external affairs and defense. What is the thinking for stationing a 500 person military unit in the BVI? The BVI is friendly with its regional neighbors and don’t perceived any threats from other nations. Who will pay for the training, equipping, housing, compensation, care and feeding …….etc of a 500 person unit?

    Moreover, Mr. Smith is talking about training non combatants. Is he talking about training medics, chaplains, emergency response personnel…….etc. Is he talking about an emergency disaster response unit, ie, a unit similar to CDEMA (Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency), US FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency)?

    Like 16
    • Diaspora says:

      “Additionally, economic independence is needed for successful political independence. Consequently, an aggressive effort must be launched to deepen, strengthen, improve, sustain and diversify the BVI economy to pursue economic independence. Developing economic independence will be heavy lift, for the VI does not have the resources to establish either a primary or secondary economy (manufacturing); it has a tertiary (service) economy.” Real talk.

      From the foregoing, it appears as if political independence is easy to attain but putting the territory on a strong independence footing is a function of strong and solid economic independence. Nevertheless, attaining economic independence is a more challenging undertaking. The VI is at the base of the economic independence pyramid and much work is needed to approach the apex. Suggest appointing a crossfunctional, ad hoc committee to look at attaining economic independence. This action should be started now and continued by the next government; it should be a bipartisan project.

      Like 11
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    • Kinte says:

      I agree with most of your post except the independence part of it. The B.V.I. is too small and is a total importer of goods not an exporter and for the forseeable future will be so.

      Like 8
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      • E. Leonard says:

        @Kinte, here is my take on independence (political): “Further, though some citizens may be advocating for independence, the VI IMO at this juncture is not ready for independence; however, self determination is a right that should be discussed among citizens with the path forward resolved through a referendum.” Agree that the BVI as a small island developing state (SIDS) has some sustainable development challenges. Further, its small size poses some disadvantages to any thrust for independence.

        These disadvantages and challenges include include 1)limited ability to exploit economies of scale, 2)limited ability to influence domestic competition, 3)limited ability to influence domestic prices, 4)heavy dependence on a narrow range of products, 5)small domestic market and heavy dependence on imports, 6) little to no export possibilities, 7)heavy dependence on direct and indirect government employment, 8)high government operating cost and small population (30,000) over which to spread the operating cost, 9)high emigration and brain and skill drain, 10) relative long distances from markets increasing transportation cost, 11) high transportation, energy and telecommunications costs, resource-poor locale………..etc. Consequently, for independence to be a win-win reality, these disadvantages must be embraced and addressed.

        Like 11
        • Joe says:

          Well stated.

          But there are really no pre-requisits to Political Independence–except the courage and will of a people to pursue it. Why be fearful?

          All else will fall into place with solid leadership.

          Many of your points are are noteworthy, were often raised by citizens of now Independent Caribbean, Asian and African nations, most of whom do not regret “taking the leap” into Full Sovereignty.

          Like 1
          Dislike 3
          • E. Leonard says:

            True, there are no concrete prerequisites for the VI pursuing political independence. It is the VI and Virgin Islanders right to attain political independence from the UK. Nonetheless, my view is that the VI needs to attain economic independence or be making significant progress towards before taking that giant leap into the deep.

            Moreover, the VI is a 59 square mile , 36 Island/islets/rocks, resource-poor group. It lacks the resources to establish either a primary( oil, precious /strategic metals, forestry, fishing) or a secondary (manufacturing) economy; its economy is tertiary/service base anchored by two fragile sector——financial services and tourism.

            Yes, the BVI is viewed as having a higher standard of living, quality of life and higher per capita income ($38K, can be a misleading number) than many of its regional neighbors.

            Additionally, its tiny size posed some advantages and vulnerabilities as noted in another blog above. Further, political independence comes with a myriad of responsibilities that a political independent VI will be have to shoulder: external affairs and internal security, defense, judiciary, civil service, currency, international travel, access into the UK/EU, US…..etc, currency, ambassadorships/embassies, disaster management/support, border protection…….etc.

      • Where's the Vision? says:

        We can’t even grow our own food. I tried my hand just after the hurricane when it was raining a bit. I planted Tomatoes, pumpkins and some Ochroes. Within a couple months after the hurricane, the rain ceased; didn’t rain for at least two months. I dried my cistern and run up my electricity bill pumping water for my plants. I did get a nice little supply of tomatoes a few pumpkins and some ochros and it did feel good eating Fresh food right out of the ground.
        The rain is falling again and I’m getting a bit restless about gardening; But not sure.
        Instant Gratification is a good feeling; but being Free to do as one pleases isn’t necessarily the best option.
        The prisons are filled mostly with prisoners who were Free to do as they please

    • Onething says:

      You dont seem to realize that the uk is 4000 miles from the bvi. A FEMA for the bvi could work to help in times if diaster. The uk has millitary bases outside the uk. It has nothing to do with friendly neighbours. There can be locals working on the bases trainning and going to the uk to join the army. The usvi do it. Bvi people join the u.s army why not have your own base on bvi soil. But ppl are quick to shoot down ideas…small minds..

      Like 1
      Dislike 1
  8. Concern says:

    They pushing independence because it is easier to steal the government money without being asked questions….Them some damn thieves….

    Like 11
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    • Kinte says:

      My sentiment exactly.

      Like 6
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    • In aTrance says:

      If this is how we are being treated and we have a Queen, Governor, Police force, ministers not recognising and answering the member of the Opposition, not auditing the books and paying whatever their friends charge for a government Contract, can you Imagine what it would be like under a independent government?

      I am scared just to think of it.

  9. Kinte says:

    I agree with the fact those pushing for independence are self serving and wrong. I totally agree with the U.K. inquiry and their request to know the beneficiaries of the various off shore accounts.

    I believe the governor should have more oversight rather than be a figurehead.
    That other stuff about the military being set up in the B.V.I is pure nonsense as is the statement about an embassy. You only set up embassies in independent countries

    Like 11
    Dislike 4
  10. DUH says:

    Isn’t the UK destroying the economic pillar that we have built.I don’t believe some of you elevator goes to the top.Why come on here talking Uncle Tom nonsense. This is the mindset that has us in this critical position right now. Isn’t Nevis enjoying it’s independence? All it takes is people with courage who can think.

    Like 5
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    • @Duh says:

      @Duh, Nevis has independence? Is not Nevis part of the sovereign state of St. Kitts and Nevis (SKN)? True, Nevis has autonomy.

      Like 2
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      • Joe says:

        So what status does St.Kitts have…if Nevis is not independent?

        Both are independent nations–within a Federation.

        Like 1
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        • Tiro says:

          When did Nevis get independence?

        • Where's the Vision? says:

          Nevis by itself is not Independent; together they form an independent nation or federation; (SK/N) its usually written.
          Prime Ministers are heads of states in independent countries; Premiers are heads of state of non-independent countries.
          St. Kitts has a Prime Minister; Timothy Harris while Mark Brantley is Premier of Nevis.

    • Virgin islander says:

      If all those other Caribbean islands are independent and great why every man, woman and child coming here. We Virgin Islanders need to stick together and don’t let outside influence persuit their agenda on us. Jamaica, Dominica, st Vincent, Grenada, Santo Domingo, Guyana, st Kitts, Nevis and I could go on and on. We are smaller than all those territories and even the great China knocking on our door and the Premier let them. All those countries was under the crown but the power of man forced independence. People are struggling and leaders are riddled with corruption.

      Like 14
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      • What Time Is It? says:

        @Virgin Islander, solid point you made there; right out of left field.
        As Virgin Islanders we need to remember who we are; where we came from and do as Rodney King told the police the beat him up in Los Angeles during the early 1990s; “Can we all just get along?”
        Yes, tourism and offshore business have significantly changed and improved our way of life; but we are also less wealthy because of our lands that are now in the hands of those who hired us and paid us minimum wages. Because of our Tax Revenue we gave away to our New Land Owners (in the name of incentives) our Hospital, clinics and health care services are less than what they should be. Roads are crumbling; schools, ports and other infrastructure are less than adequate. Meanwhile crime is rampant and we are annually plagued by hurricanes, as has been our recent experience. We are also sitting on top of an Earthquake Fault and our country is broke; (no doubt as a result of greed and corruption). We aren’t that “Blessed and highly favored”, as we have been singing and giving praises.
        My mom, deceased a few years now, used to often remind us that “Life is serious”. Of course it is in Natures Little Secrets.

        Like 2
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      • About time says:

        Exactly! Persons here screaming for independence because they either know we are corrupt territory and want to keep it so or just don’t know what it means to be an independent territory…but, we see the crumbling government falling right before our eyes and we’re playing blind. They are trying to expose each other and distract the people. The ignorant who don’t know what it takes to be independent need to do more research and pay close attention to these distractions. WAKE UP AND SMELL THE BOILING POT OF POO that is our government. They want to make sure they good but what about the people… wake up people! Independence for what?!

    • Express ur self says:

      Independence is the right way forward…we can start to prepare for the eventually from now..there are many areas to address.. but status quo is not the answer. ..the people must have more say in the decisions taken..not the UK

      Like 1
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      • What Time Is It? says:

        Independence sounds great; but no one is exactly spelling out what an Independent BVI would be or feel like. How will our personal lives change and improve?

        If we were independent we would still have to balance and audit our books, live within our means, like most of us have to. We will most likely pay higher taxes to pay for all the extras we will have to keep in place and we would likely have to invent our own dollar and money system; definitely nothing close to the value of the US Dollar.
        Perhaps we should start a Conversation, brainstorming what Independence would mean to us; personally and nationally

    • Tiro says:

      When did Nevis get independence?

  11. Give them what they want says:

    Strip bvi landers of British passports and bvi passports u.k…they want it

    Like 4
    Dislike 1
  12. Bill says:

    I’m commenting without reading the article or comments .do anybody have any idea what would become of the Bvi If independence is granted !!!!

    • Rubber Duck says:

      Lots of the finance industry would close down. Without the British Legal System to back it few would be interested in forming a company here rather than in say Singapore.

      Tourism would decline. The British bit is definitely an attraction to American tourists.

      The rental industry in Tortola would decline. Locals who have made fortunes from rentals would lose lots of money.

      Corruption would increase.

      British passports would be withdrawn. Travel on BVI passports would require visas to most places. There would be no right to free British healthcare or right of abode.

      The police and customs would become local. Best of luck with that.

      The country would be defenseless. Anyone with 50 armed men could take it over.

      The GDP per head would decline to St Lucia levels. About 60%.

      On the positive side donkeys would be more numerous.

    • Wendy says:

      The BVI flourished due to its independence. Therefore it has proven its ability to be independent.
      Dependency is not the nature of BVIslanders. Obliterate the dependency mentality of the imported from dependent islands..and nurture the dependent mentality of true BVIslanders. Reclaim the true nature of who we are and we will fast forward as we have done in the past.Reclaim our true selves and we will be a..ok. Immigration reform,self awareness,truth of history,awareness andknowledge of current events, solid and competitive education ,healthy lifestye is the antidote to the now newly acquired dependency mindset in the VI.

      • Rubber Duck says:

        The BVI flourished because Brits came here and founded the finance and yachting industries. If it had not been British they would not have done it.

        • WHAAT!!!!!!! says:

          …Brits came here and founded the finance
          and yachting industry…
          May the forces forgive you this deliberate lie. CBRomney and HL Stoutt must be turning in their graves.
          Another example of deception and altering history in the name of racism.
          In truth the Brits did nothing in the VI to advance the economy.They declared the VI had no economic value and left them
          to sink. The independent nature of VIslanders is their sustenance.

          Like 1
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      • Rubber Duck says:

        Meaningless platitudes.

      • Onething says:

        I don’t think you ready said that from a stable state of mind. Its not the idea of independance its about the economic, political and the other factors that comes with it. You obviously dont realize the size of the BVI or you want to take us back to sustenance farming and cut off from the world with a weak passport (we cant keep the bvi or uk passport after independance)we would have to get our own made here

        Like 1
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  13. BVI says:

    You are on point.

  14. Hmmmm says:

    YES! WE NEED MORE WHITE PEOPLE TO DO THE JOB FAST, EFFICIENTLY AND CORRECTLY LIKE THE RECOVERY AGENCY.

    Like 1
    Dislike 1
  15. Wendy says:

    The way I see it ,in principle,we have been independent and as a result surviving wonderously for quite sometime. Now they are demanding that we become dependent,which is exactly what will happen if our self built economy is toppled by the UK which claims to be our Mama.

    Like 1
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  16. Wendy says:

    We need a change inthe demographics of the VI. A demographic made up of those not prone to violence and those who attract criminals. This crime thing in the VI can be traced to specific groups and sources. Crime is a newby to the Vi. It is insane to deliberately create a new BVI where those from crime cultured countries are now the majority of the population and outnumber VIslanders who are historically known to be nonviolent and then complain about crine. A pathetic demented unfunny joke on the VI and its people then talking crap bout we are one.
    .

    Like 2
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    • Onething says:

      You’re one sick person, in the way you think. How is crime new to the bvi? Bvi landers commit the most crimes here. What percentage of balo is from abroad? Foreigners get deported yeah, but who do the most crimes here? Im from the bvi and I know its locals doing it.

  17. Brad Boynes says:

    Yaaaaawn. Next.

  18. WHAAT!!!!!!! says:

    …Brits came here and founded the finance
    and yachting industry…
    May the forces forgive you this deliberate lie. CBRomney and HL Stoutt must be turning in their graves.
    Another example of deception and altering history in the name of racism.
    In truth the Brits did nothing in the VI to advance the economy.They declared the VI had no economic value and left them
    to sink. The independent nature of VIslanders is their sustenance.

  19. Onething says:

    You people are really small minded. A millitary base can be useful. It can create job and a way for virgin islanders to directly train and enter into the army for whoever want to do so. St. Thomas and st croix has millitary bases, martinique, aruba, puerto rico also. People always tear down ideas before looking at anything.

  20. Onething says:

    Independance for the bvi the children and grandchildren of the the people pushing for independance will be leaving for greener pasture. Good luck the bvi passport will be null and void and bvi citizenship will cease to exist. When uk passports expire u wouldnt be able to renew. But I want you to vote independance make it a race thing but I wonder where will you move to after?

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