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17 August 2009

Not unexpected, the British Government has imposed direct rule over the Overseas Territory of the Turks and Caicos Islands, the southermost islands of the Bahamaian Archipelego, north of Hispanola (Haiti and the Dominican Republic).

One of the last vestiges of European colonialism in the Americas, a movement towards independence led by Prime Minister Galmo Williams was undermined by charges of massive corruption in the elected local administration, including allegations of fraudulant land sales of “crown lands” (state property) to private developers under former Prime Minister Michael Misick.  A British  investigation concluded that  “there were ‘clear signs of political amorality and immaturity and of a general administrative incompetence’.”  Just like the British Parliament, I guess.

The territory will be directly ruled from Britain under a royal governor for at least a year.  Though not unexpected, Williams called the action a coup:

“A coup is anything that has been done without the will of the people and being a colony anything the British government wants to do to us they can do to us,” he told the BBC.

He said he accepted the territory faced challenges, but argued that by imposing UK rule, the will of the islands’ people had been ignored.

“We will never be able as a nation to move forward [if] every time we reach a crossroads our rights get taken away, our freedom gets taken away.”

The Turks and Caicos economy is based on money laundering and tourism.  In addition to an independence movement, there is strong political force seeking annexation by Canada.  As a self-governing territory, it is (or was) a member state of the Organization of American States, which Bloggings by Boz points out, makes the situation “interesting”.

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