Amid the call for the BVI to clamp down on individuals with unexplained wealth, former legislator Myron Walwyn said some members of the public are using the opportunity to question the hard work of Virgin Islanders who have hillside mansions.
Police Commissioner Michael Matthews recently called for legislation that will help to stop people who are getting rich from the illicit drugs trade which often leads to violence in the community.
Since then, Walwyn said he has heard “many comments recently about how many of the big houses on the various hills of the BVI were built.”
And in a Facebook post, he sought to defend the work ethic of BVI homeowners by pointing out that most Virgin Islanders are decent law-abiding residents who have acquired real estate through hard work and dedication.
“Yes, we do have persons who have acquired wealth by unsavoury means. However, I submit to you that those individuals are in the severe minority. The vast majority of the people of these islands got their homes/wealth by working hard and making sacrifices,” Walwyn’s Facebook post said.
Walwyn went on to explain the history of many mansions in the BVI, stating that people volunteered labour to build houses that grew into mansions over many years.
“Many of us who own a home got a start from our parents/grandparents. It was a joy for parents/grandparents to give their children a plot of land. Many years ago, the first floor of a home in the BVI was built by many hands (free labour). Friends and family would come by, most times on the weekend, and help to cast the cistern, etcetera. Once you provided good food, kept the drinks cooler filled with cold drinks and had some good calypso music playing, you would see action with cement and blocks,” Walwyn explained.
He continued: “When you moved into the first part of the house, you waited until you caught your hand and then you started on another part of the house and you continued that way over many years until you got to the size of house you desired.”
Mansions driven by expat community
Walwyn also sought to debunk the view that many of the hillside mansions were built from unexplained wealth, reasoning that many locals have strived to acquire large houses so they could rent houses to the BVI’s growing expatriate community.
“Fortunately for the BVI, we have a huge expatriate community and accommodation is needed to support this. This is how you got disposal income for other investments or if you got a loan to build, this assisted in paying most, if not all, of the loan payments,” Walwyn posited.
“Most of what we see on the hills is the hard work, togetherness and industrious nature of the people of the BVI,” the Facebook post said.
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