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VI needs referendum on independence- Rajah A. Smith

- says people have a right to have a say in the process
Businessman and Progressive United (PU) At-Large Candidate in the 2019 General Elections in the Virgin Islands, Mr Rajah A. Smith says a referendum is needed before the territory embarks on any journey towards Independence from the UK. Photo: Provided
Claude O. Skelton-Cline remarked that while a referendum along the journey is necessary, education of the people in needed so the Virgin Islands would be deciding on its future from a more informed position. Photo: VINO/File
Claude O. Skelton-Cline remarked that while a referendum along the journey is necessary, education of the people in needed so the Virgin Islands would be deciding on its future from a more informed position. Photo: VINO/File
BAUGHERS BAY, Tortola, VI - Businessman and Progressive United (PU) At-Large Candidate in the 2019 General Elections in the Virgin Islands, Mr Rajah A. Smith says a referendum is needed before the territory embarks on any journey towards independence from the United Kingdom.

Speaking on the October 13, 2020, edition of the Honestly Speaking radio show with moderator, Claude O. Skelton-Cline, Smith said that while he understands some, including Skelton-Cline, are pushing towards their theories of independence, citizens still have a right to decide on the process.

Independence should be decided by citizens- Smith

“As a territory as a whole, independence is something that should be, all the citizens of the territory should be engaged in it… and share their views and I think that we should actually have a referendum with all this talk of independence and self-governance,” he said.

Mr Smith further called on Mr Skelton-Cline to lobby for a referendum on independence.

“You are within your right to support independence, just like I am in my right to oppose independence at this time, or set the stage towards independence,” Smith said.

He pointed to Puerto Rico and its referendum on independence or statehood, under the United States, “I think that is something we should do, and know where the people of the Virgin Islands want to take this territory,” Smith said.

Education is necessary along the journey - Skelton-Cline

Skelton-Cline remarked that while a referendum along the journey is necessary, education of the people is needed so the Virgin Islands would be deciding on its future from a more informed position.

“It is incumbent upon every citizen of this country to do their own homework, do their own studies so that when we have whatever lead-up to determining what path we wish to take, they would, in fact, be voting from a more informed position,” he said.

Skelton-Cline reminded of the UN General Assembly adopting a Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples, which affirmed the right of all people to self-determination and proclaimed that colonialism should be brought to a speedy and unconditional end.

47 Responses to “VI needs referendum on independence- Rajah A. Smith”

  • East Side (15/10/2020, 17:22) Like (41) Dislike (12) Reply
  • Portie (15/10/2020, 17:27) Like (13) Dislike (2) Reply
    Can we depend on your influence and bring some people up from st thomas to vote on it? Please let it not be another boat full of people like your last election- where the boat was full but only 22 people total voted for you. Would be a disaster.
    • @Portie (15/10/2020, 17:59) Like (8) Dislike (3) Reply
      Oh, it was 22? I thought it was 19. My bad...
      • Portie (15/10/2020, 19:46) Like (8) Dislike (3) Reply
        Officially it was 22 but then again you gotta subtract his and his mom 20. Can you imagine all the st thomas people geh free boat ride to give my bwoy a smile and thumbs up? Mussa be the same people Bertie bought up a few years later to VG. Free day trip dem say.
      • whatever (16/10/2020, 08:12) Like (1) Dislike (2) Reply
        It was 22 more votes than the Overspend got!
  • hog city (15/10/2020, 17:28) Like (18) Dislike (2) Reply
    Ok rajah got his 3 mins next!!!
  • Stop it... (15/10/2020, 17:36) Like (36) Dislike (1) Reply
    This is not the time to be talking about independence...We have so many more pressing and Priority stuff to be dealing with....1/ Open borders, 2/ Reentry border plabs...3/ Financial services decline... Dont allow allow CSC to dictate the Narrative and the distraction from the real issues...
  • ok (15/10/2020, 17:54) Like (29) Dislike (4) Reply
    referendum needed

    Who will patrol our shore's? Who will protect us ? Who will run the BVI next ? China? USA?
    • @ ok (15/10/2020, 20:21) Like (6) Dislike (0) Reply
      Who will protect our shores from the same drug smugglers if we go independent...we are not dumb
  • Sublight light servant (15/10/2020, 17:58) Like (21) Dislike (0) Reply
    An ignorance, envious, jealous prideful, and arrogant mindset will certainly cause a person to think and suggest to others that we need a referendum before independence persue for the B.V.I. Isn't it time that you, and others that think like you, to stop presenting this dead, horse talk to the public? Isn't it time for you to come to the realizaion that you sound disgusting to those of us that know better?

  • from buckingham palace (15/10/2020, 17:59) Like (12) Dislike (1) Reply
    The 2007 Constitution,was suppose to be a step closer to terminate the status of association with the United Kingdom,but 13 years after the commencement of this Constitution. we have become british overseas territories citizens and full british citizens.should we give that up for who and for still have people in position,contravening the fundamental rights and freedoms of the little people in society.I hope you are not talking about going independent?That is out the question.Too many mixed nationalities with belonger status,so the born bvislanders will not accept a known expat belonger to be prime minister,or to be governor general.It will become a civil war for sovereignty.So take out independence on your mind.lets talk respect for fundamental rights and freedoms as it is in the constitution.
    • @ From buckingham palace (16/10/2020, 04:43) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
      The 2007 constitution miss the opportunity to address this issue, the bvi then eete much more stable and financially strong..The head loyal as a matter afact the Constitutionsl committee agenda was to focus on oppressing xpats... They got blind to the real futuristic matters that will advavce us on this issues...So, say all this to say, the 2007 committee messed up
  • ccc (15/10/2020, 18:01) Like (2) Dislike (24) Reply
    What do we get from Uk? Nothing
    • AT CCT (15/10/2020, 20:10) Like (19) Dislike (0) Reply
      we get citizenship from uk,our passport is called a british passport,its like birth rights from your mother,thats what we get from uk.
    • Rubber Duck (16/10/2020, 04:10) Like (8) Dislike (0) Reply
      We god democracy from the UK , and the right to say much as you please.
    • Migoman (16/10/2020, 15:23) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
      I dont know about you but i felt pretty safe after irma when the"uk" guys were patrolling the place.
      P.s. i also drank lots and lots of the water they were giving away.
      NOO to independence
  • Local Boy (15/10/2020, 18:15) Like (32) Dislike (0) Reply
    Raja boy dem mashing u up. In a referendum the BVI ppl will vote a resounding NO to Independence.
    • @local boy (19/10/2020, 08:07) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
      They mashing up because they can’t or don’t read, he said he is against independence. He is on the NO side.
  • @Rajah (15/10/2020, 18:24) Like (18) Dislike (0) Reply
    I see you are setting yourself up for a good ole BVI roasting on line.
  • Really (15/10/2020, 18:52) Like (20) Dislike (0) Reply
    clearly non of the above comments read the article , Mr Smith is against indepence , all he is saying alloy the BVI people
    to vote whether for or against it
    • Outsider (18/10/2020, 15:08) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
      “All he is saying”
      He is saying a lot.
      He wants to have a referendum on an issue everyone knows is a looser.
      But drag the territory through that and the disruption it would bring.
      Imagine trying to sell our offshore companies in the run up to a referendum? How many Chinese businessmen would want to incorporate here when people like Mr 22 votes are creating uncertainty about what the territory is.
      It’s irresponsible.
      • @outsider (18/10/2020, 17:14) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
        That’s all you outsiders do, try to tear down Virgin Islanders, you is the one sound ignorant, the government and their consultant preaching independence every day, so the very government creating uncertainty. All Rajah saying it is not their will as a government but the territory and its citizens and not OUTSIDERS should have a referendum and bring clarity to the matter.
  • Hmmm (15/10/2020, 19:14) Like (12) Dislike (1) Reply
    I'm willing to consider independence if all these conditions (in no particular order) are met:

    1. Any in office party starts and finishes a full term of service with at least 80% of their promises fullfil and none of their projects going over budget.
    2. If at least 80% of the police force are born Virgin Islanders.
    3. A decent sense of national pride is restored.
    4. Stricter immigration standards, not just for people entering the country but for people currently in the country failing to thrive.
    5. At least 60% of teachers, nurses and doctors are Virgin Islanders whether naturalized or natural born.
    6. No foreigners holding any high position of power, ever.
    7. True accountability for politicians (politicians can be jailed).
    8. A constitution that absolutely forbids citizen by investment.
    9. A law library containing public records and copies of the constitution that is fully accessible to every person in the VI.
    10. Updated legislative, judicial and executive systems that can adequately keep branches in balance.
    11. Updated public education system. (We are in dire need for civic classes in our school. And please. Can we teach more than Christopher Columbus and slavery... Maybe some 19th and 20th century history....including VI history from that time.)
    12. Better public health systems. (Not just in terms of services available but a way to deal with the public health crisis such as the raise of chronic lifestyle diseases and cancer in the territory.)
    13. The formation of a military along with mandatory military service for any 20 or over, especially if they wish to run for office or work in high positions of government.
    14. Sustainable agriculture and fishing that can support at least 30% of the territory's food needs with plans for exportation if possible.

    These are just some of the things on the top of my head. It may seem like much but if you want to have independence, what kind of country we would be is the most important question of all. Do we want a corrupt country that would sell our lands, people and future for the shiniest penny at the moment? Do we want a country of lazy, dependant people who just try to milk the system as much as possible and leave when the cow is dry? Or do we want a country filled with proud, intelligent people who are willing to build and add to our vision of greatness?

    Currently, all these talks of independence seem overly-emotional, self-serving, virtual signally, malintentioned and dishonest. They don't even seem to be the thoughts and the feelings of the people. The American people are going through a revolution now and we're just hopping on the bandwagon. If we are going to change our lives our thoughts and our feelings have to be our own because if we're wrong it's our lives, our future and that of our descendants that will be forfeit.

    Our poorest and weakest need to talk the loudest and be thought of the most because I gaurentee you the rich will be the first to ditch the boat. Take a look at NHI for example. We were all forced to enter the system and it cost a lot of us our own insurance. We were promised we'd recieved the same level of care but instead we got worse care and doctors all over the territory got rich. It's a battle with NHI to go overseas to get treatment. People have been sent to counties for treatment where they know no one and may not have even spoken the language. Some have even been left stranded there. Meanwhile, our politicians, sitting or otherwise fly off to the US or Europe when they are sick. Where's the fairness in that? And theses are the people who want to lead us and be the highest authorities in the land? With no accountability?

    Earlier this year the Premier admitted that NHI is bankrupting the country. In our own country we have actual citizens who have been denied access to NHI while foreigners have access to it. Wasn't NHI suppose to cover everyone? But I digress. The point I was trying to make is if NHI alone can bankrupt the country then what about our roads? Our schools? Our social security? How will we financially support ourselves and sustain and independent economy? Do you all really think the US would continue to let us use their currency if we go independent? That we'd be able to sustain our financial industry without the backing of the UK?

    I don't appreciate all these commentators and politicians agitating the public for political brownie points, not caring about the disharmony and harm it is causing to the people.

    I'm not against a vote for independence but I want to hear actual valid, well thought out discussions. I want to see a cohesive plan that can leave the population optimistic and motivated. I don't like feeling manipulated and I don't like seeing people being manipulated. Decisions like these will affect people in more ways than can be imagined. Lives would literally be made or destroyed. Only wisdom and intelligence should be accepted.
    • NDP Start it (16/10/2020, 05:14) Like (8) Dislike (1) Reply
      NDP was the one aggressively talking about independence. . They all Just want to do what they want to do with the people and the people and the Treasury money with no accountability no one to answer to.... That's their motive.. They are not genuine..
    • Real (16/10/2020, 10:20) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply
      You hit the nail on the head, dead center, some of these wana be economist have no idea what they talking, this ain’t the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s when most Caribbean islands went Independent, those leaders from these islands were no just come johnies, they worked really hard and sacrifice to reached where they are today, throwing the word independent in the air with no proper plaining ain’t gone cut it jack
  • No (15/10/2020, 19:32) Like (7) Dislike (0) Reply
    NO independence is not a over night venture. Work to empower the people instead of seeking a fight for titles to the peoples detriment. At this stage that is where the focus must be as a so called politician.
  • ndp (15/10/2020, 21:07) Like (0) Dislike (2) Reply
    Hope this smith is not an Uncle Tom like olando
    • Portie (16/10/2020, 14:51) Like (0) Dislike (2) Reply
      Look at the pic well. Shave the mustache and he more Fahie than Smith. Food for thought. Pork Ch**
  • Devonee (15/10/2020, 21:09) Like (4) Dislike (2) Reply
    Get a thread mil . You and Claude needs help bad
  • huh (16/10/2020, 04:36) Like (3) Dislike (2) Reply
    Might as well you quote Skater Bim and make an article about him. Who is Rajah Smith and why should anybody care what he thinks or says?
  • Real Talk (16/10/2020, 08:21) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
    We as a V. I people must do our homework, Mr Smith of all people should know that if any government of any of the British Overseas Territories wishes to gain Independence from the UK, it must conduct a referendum and secured 75% of the votes. After which the UK will served their documents having no ownership over us. So our government show no what to do, let us produce our own food, good governance, financial accounting etc, not building one the world most expensive bridge and building a million dollar post office in Virgin Gorda in 2020 etc.
    • Quiet Rebel (16/10/2020, 12:06) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
      What is the source document for this 75% criteria? Did not the UK exit the EU with just approx 52% of the vote? If the VI were to pursue independence, the UK can persuade but cannot stop it from getting independence. Check the UN charter.
  • Jeeze (16/10/2020, 08:25) Like (3) Dislike (0) Reply
    Yall mis understand mr Smith
    All he's saying is to give the people of the BVI a chance to say something.... in other words ..there must be a referendum in order so you the people of the BVI get give your input..
    That's all he's saying, jeeze yall read and understand before bashing at someone
    • TamTam (17/10/2020, 19:34) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
      Yall??? What is yall?? Talking
      Independence and self determination but copying black American southern lexicon. Be yourself .If copying, let it be worthwhile.
  • Interested (16/10/2020, 08:34) Like (5) Dislike (0) Reply
    Rajah Smith is a BVIslander.He has the right to speak and express his views just like anyone else.I think that he has expressed the thoughts of many in the BVI,Before we talk of independence,we must first ask the people what they want.With all that is going on however in the midst of a pandemic and economic downturn,this will not be the appropriate time to address this subject.
  • Heckler (16/10/2020, 10:16) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    Maybe but not under Mugabe
  • Real (16/10/2020, 10:52) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    the mentality in these comments are sickening
  • Bescon of hope (16/10/2020, 11:44) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    Owing to the feeble condition of our economy, high crimes, and disunity among the citizens of the B.V.I, why now did you chose and lspewed this spudle spurdle talk that a referendum is fit for our condideration to voted on? Why disrespected our knowledg, and under estimate our good judgment on this issue? Can you definitively answer? Shssss! You cannot.
  • What's the agenda here? (16/10/2020, 13:07) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
    You back talking about independence again? Why????????????????
  • E. Leonard (16/10/2020, 13:15) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply
    Upfront, I’m not totally averse to political independence. Nevertheless, some economic independence should be pursued before political independence. Independent will affect every resident from Anegada to Great Thatch and from Jost Van Dyke to Cooper so every resident should have a say if he/she is either For or Against independence. This say can be made through a referendum. The UK voted to exit the EU with 51.89% vote For, a simple majority. If the VI were to pursue independence, it should set the FOR vote much higher, eg, 70%.

    Independence is a sense of national sovereignty and pride. Many of the VI sister regional Anglophone countries from Guyana to Bahamas to Barbados to Jamaica to Belize have attained independence from the UK, starting with Jamaica on 06 August 1962. Many went into independence with weak economies, poor infrastructure.........etc and are in various stages of growth and development. The VI should benchmark these countries to avoid the pitfalls that they have encountered. Further, the VI before pursuing political independence must do a cost-benefit analysis. Independence must be a win-win for the VI. To prepare residents for a referendum vote, a series of presentations, briefings, workshops.......etc should be conducted on the pros and cons on independence.

    Moreover, as noted above, I suggested pursuing economic independence, ie, control of and production of local resources, before political independence. Political independence is an easier lift than economic independence. Under UN Charter Chapter XI, the VI is entitled to pursue self-determination, including independence. Other than full independence, there are other options, eg, free association, federation..........etc. The VI is a small (59 square miles spread over 36 islands, islets, cays, rocks), resource-poor, disaster-prone locale that lacks the natural resources(fishing, forestry, mining, energy) to develop a primary economy or a secondary economy (manufacturing). The VI economy is service-based and anchored by tourism and financial services. The service-based economy is fragile and Covid-19 exposed its structural weaknesses. The VI needs to strengthen, deepen and diversify its economy. The VI has a 12 mile territorial sea and up to a 200 miles exclusive economic zone that it should explore to pursue a Blue Economy, eg, fishing, aquaculture, biotechnology, energy ( wind, thermal, wave, gas, fossil fuel) to help diversify its economy. In addition, human resources is the VI most important resource and it must invest in and on its people to develop a knowledge-based economy. This investment start from Pre K to the tertiary level. STEM needs to a be a focus.
    • Eagle and Buffalo (16/10/2020, 19:17) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
      Good read! Real talk and real, strong talking points for a discussion on independence. Throughout the length and breath of the BVI, there are opinions among residents on whether the territory should go for independence or stay an OT or the UK. Let’s get it clear that independence is much more than a small percentage of the population with high income and the revenue from tourism and financial services. Independence is more than the temporary high from fragile economy. It is about external affairs, national defence...... etc. We need to step back, clear our heads and think hard and clear about independence.

      [ Let’s lead like eagles, not careen off the cliff like buffaloes]
  • Windy (16/10/2020, 13:35) Like (0) Dislike (1) Reply
    Sure ! The only ones able to vote vote are the “ belongers not all the other tax payers
  • Boo (16/10/2020, 15:35) Like (1) Dislike (1) Reply
    Parna stick to digging holes and driving truck. Leave this to the adults. We don't want no independence under a dictatorship
  • voice (16/10/2020, 17:12) Like (4) Dislike (0) Reply
    Rajah I agree with you. You held your ground.What we need is people to continue working hard to build this territory. What are we going independent with? Does the man who is touting Independance know the cost? Does he know why so many of our brothers and sisters fron our independent neighbors came to this territory? Time for him to stop ranting.He was not elected by the people.He might be more useful if he sticks to his preaching.

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