Fourth District Representative Mark Vanterpool has said he believes there is a stigma that exists against the territory becoming independent.
While debating in favour of the territory receiving a constitutional review, Vanterpool said on Tuesday he is “baffled” why residents still do not believe the BVI can govern itself.
“Our people believe that we can’t determine and manage ourselves. This word independence has some kind of stigma and has some kind of stain on it that everybody gets frightened and says, ‘independence? You going to put us in bondage?’”
“In here (the House of Assembly) we are dodging around it again talking about self-determination. Independence is no longer what people thought of independence before. There’s no country that is independent anymore. We must all depend on ourselves. We have all kinds of treaties, all kinds of agreements set up to work together, there’s no more independence,” Vanterpool reasoned.
BVI labelled as villains for wanting independence
The Opposition legislator also said a double standard exists when it comes to the BVI wanting political freedom from the United Kingdom.
“What is baffling to me about colonialism is that the great United Kingdom felt that they were under a burden of something called the European Union, and they fought and battle to get out. But when we raise our heads to try to get out from what we are under, we are villains,” he argued.
“When we raise our head and say we don’t want nobody in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office telling us how much money we should spend and how much money we should borrow, and how much road we should build, and where we should go, when we raise our head and say that, we are demons.”
Scorned in 2013 for calling for independence
Vanterpool also recalled an incident back in 2013 when he suffered victimisation after speaking in favour of the BVI pursuing political independence.
He said: “I went with my ‘fastness’ to say that we need to be believing in ourselves that we can run our own country and we can manage ourselves … I was surprised the next day I get so much calls, and so much ‘cuss outs’. I went into a shell for a little while.”
Independence a dangerous thing
A day earlier during the said constitutional debate, government minister Vincent Wheatley said the BVI pursuing independence would be a “a very dangerous thing”.
He named Haiti as an example to justify why the BVI should not seek independence at this time, but instead should pursue greater ‘self-governance’.