Back in 1968, a young Patsy Lake participated in the momentous Positive Action Movement march, which favourably shaped the history of the British Virgin Islands.
The Noel Lloyd-led march was in protest of a Batehill Company’s unjust development of land in the territory.
“I never thought that I would have to march again,” said Lake, fifty years later. She was speaking to members of the press on Thursday (May 17) at the Sunday Morning Well in Road Town.
Lake will be among key speakers at the upcoming event which is being dubbed the ‘Decision March’. The march is in protest of the UK parliament’s recent order to impose public registers of beneficial ownership on the BVI.
The public register is an amendment to the UK’s Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Bill, which mandates that Overseas Territories like the BVI reveal the names of ‘secret’ owners of offshore companies registered in the territory.
The march will begin at the Sunday Morning Well, into Fleming Street and Waterfront Drive, then culminate at Government House, where the Governor resides.
The march slated for May 24 and will start at 3:45 pm to facilitate public servants.
Pay no mind to critics
According to Lake, protesters were met with resistance half-a-century ago, and the same is happening now.
“I took part in Wickham’s Cay march against the Wickham’s Cay’s decision and at the time when we were marching, there were those who felt that we were just troublemakers. We are running the investor, and we should not march. And you will always find critics who will always want to discourage you. But this is for the people and the people’s future,” she pleaded.
She said she would not participate in the march if it was politically driven.
“I say to people: I will not take part if it is and National Democratic Party [or] Virgin Islands Party march … Some saying it is a John Cline march. But, I am telling you it is a people’s march. This is a country march. So come out and march.”
March not affected by Governor’s absence
In the meantime, organising committee member Bishop John Cline said the march will happen, despite Governor Augustus Jaspert’s absence from the territory that day.
He said the Governor’s trip abroad was planned prior to the march.
“So, it has nothing to do with being absent for the march. We are marching to the Governor’s House. We are not marching to a person but to an office … The Governor holds a certain office in this country, and that office will be filled by the Deputy Governor who represents the UK,” Bishop Cline said.
He said the planned petition will be served to the Deputy Governor David Archer, Jr who will then give the petition to Governor Jaspert to hand to the UK.
“So, it is not a disappointment for us [but] we would have loved for him to be there.”
Public servants can march too
Zoe Walcot MacMillan, another member of the organising committee, said public servants will be allowed to march.
“Following the meeting with the Deputy Governor, he is supposed to make a statement to civil servants that there will be no penalization of them being able to take part in the march but they have asked that you do that on your own time.”
For persons interested in coming from the sister islands, chartered ferries will be made available.
The local business community, the organising committee, and private ferry owners will collaboratively foot the cost of the ferry service.
Based on reports, response to the event has been “overwhelming”.
Premier Dr D Orlando Smith, Leader of the Opposition Andrew Fahie, Deputy Premier Dr Kedrick Pickering as well as Bishop Cline are some of the confirmed speakers of the march.
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