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Virgin Islanders versus non Virgin Islanders

- The first of two stories asks some very tough questions on an issue that is clearly dividing the Virgin Islands. It is also a story on why lamenting about a changing Virgin Islands demographic is a rendition to nostalgia
Dickson Igwe. Photo: Provided
By Dickson Igwe

Any intelligent observer of Virgin Islands media will certainly notice a new pontificating by well known media personalities. A growing lamentation, and a cry, that the country is changing from under the feet of the indigenous Virgin Islander: that the Virgin Islander is a threatened minority, an ENDANGERED SPECIES in their own country so to speak

That too many expats have the upper hand in the management of the territory, that the schools are flooded with the children of expatriates. And that the country is increasingly being controlled by outsiders, and so on and so forth. 

These are valid fears. They are songs of anxiety, and a hearkening back to a time when the vast majority of residents were native Virgin Islanders: these serious concerns spring from the flow of migrants into the territory beginning in the early 1980s. A flow that increased dramatically as the BVI became a tourism and financial services El Dorado.

However, solutions to the challenge are never really discussed by these local media hacks. Immigration resulting in a very large migrant population that as of March 2013 is the majority is a very real feature of these Lesser Antilles. However, the subject, instead of being properly discussed, assessed, and addressed, has instead become a long and eternal whine of local pundits: a shouting at the wind.

The Virgin Islands is not alone in this migration dilemma. In Europe, for example, there is a debate on whether migration at very high levels is a good or bad thing. There are economic, social, and political implications and ramifications; that come with high levels of migration. And when the majority population is migrant these factors are amplified.

There are pluses and minuses with a high level of migration into a country. The experiences of countries such as the USA, Canada, and Australia, have been that migration has been a net benefit to those societies economically, while engendering a more cosmopolitan culture that enriches communities.

On the other hand, high level migration can swamp local cultures, and create social disharmony and ethnic and racial hostility. It is crucial the immigrant population is integrated into the local culture. Comparing the USA or Canada with the Virgin Islands is purely academic however. A better model may be the Cayman Islands where there are concerns that the indigenous population is becoming a threatened minority. In the Cayman Islands, over the years, the law there appears to have been calibrated to take account of the new migration reality.  

OK. A number of weeks back, in a news story, this Observer alluded to evidence that there is a nasty strain in Virgin Islands politics. He described it as a divide and rule, Virgin islander versus Non Virgin Islander, from here versus not from here, song and dance. He further stated his belief that this unhealthy and opportunistic paradigm would be a factor in the General Elections of 2015 or 2016. The commentators singing this song he further assessed were simply the mouthpiece of dark forces waiting to be unleashed from a veritable political volcano in coming months. He still holds to his theory.

There is clear evidence from soundings in the local media that this early 2013 is seeing the development of just that observation. With every announcement of a new position in Government, or court conviction, add show host comments on the changing and increasingly migrant face of the local school population, the first response online appears to be an evaluation of the applicant’s, convict’s, or students’, national status, nationality, and physical ancestry. In the case of job appointments, the first determination on whether the applicant is qualified or not, is clear evidence that the applicant is a first, second, or third generation Virgin Islander. These may appear reasonable demands. However, in a modern global economy they will not necessarily hold water.

In any case, this Investigator’s assessment on these comments is this: they are not necessarily cries from persons who love these Lesser Antilles: but they are more a display of political opportunism. However, he has warned that this rendition to jingoism could easily backfire politically, and not in the direction these news personalities perceive.   

In any event, a few full moons ago, this Wannabe Globalist penned a story on the global job market where he warned that the days of blind entitlement were long gone. In that story, he alluded to today’s employer, whether public or private sector. These employers and businesspeople were first and foremost, looking for ability and competence, not a blind adherence to rite of passage based on bloodlines.

He remains certain that training, competence, and capability, will always prevail over emotion and entitlement in the job selection process, and after that, the quality of work produced at the workplace. It is usually only a matter of time before gross incompetence is discovered, whether from an expat or local native. And locals certainly do not hold a monopoly on job incompetence as anyone who has witnessed the outcomes and results of certain imports into the local job market can clearly determine.

In Government, incompetence may be overlooked. After all taxpayer monies are usually guaranteed, and stakeholders the world over tend to be mute as politicians give the spin on their efforts to persuade and encourage voters that they mean well. There is a wall of protection the junior and mid level bureaucrat can hide behind.

And in monopolies the same holds true: incompetence will survive; monopolists have got the consumer and stakeholder locked in.

However, in the real world of free enterprise and competition, only competence, efficiency, and effectiveness matter: not entitlement and political connection. 

Now, this continual pontificating and belly aching is unnecessary. It is a rendition in panic in this Observer’s opinion. It puts the fault of a changing Virgin Islands demographic squarely in the migrant’s back yard. And not on the reality of a West Indian, and even global paradigm, that people will travel to where jobs and economic opportunities exist, notwithstanding geographic barriers. Then there is the reality of high levels of marriage across islands and national boundaries in the Caribbean: an age old fact of West Indian life.

Add the fact that a lack of a cohesive immigration and labor reform, in these Virgin Islands, over many years, has left the country in its present predicament.

To be continued...

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6 Responses to “Virgin Islanders versus non Virgin Islanders”

  • qc (17/03/2013, 14:52) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply
    This mad trying to start confusion?
  • . (17/03/2013, 17:43) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply
    No just trying to increase the hits on VINO's website as well as the other paper that publishes his rants.

    I nominate Igwe to the welcoming committee for the illegals they just rounded up on Peter Island. They have already demonstrated their competitive spirit, ability and effectiveness just by getting this far. In his view they are more entitled to employment and rights than BVIslanders are and certainly more deserving. Given the unwillingness to enforce the Labour Code, it would seem Government agrees.

    So welcome them with open arms and in a few years they can start clamouring for rights just like all the expats do and if they manage to break up a few marriages and produce a few babies along the way, so much the better.
  • paul (18/03/2013, 06:03) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    Yes locals are second class
  • mighty mighty Scaliffe (18/03/2013, 15:44) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
    BVI locals get no respect in their own country...the island man has taken over after the last elections locals were dead!
  • the change (19/03/2013, 23:36) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    he VI is sure changing pure down islanders and white...I feel my my grand children
  • Taino (20/03/2013, 18:59) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    Yes you make me cry, it's been nothing but expats since year 1492, WHERE ARE THE TAINOS!!!

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