The U.S. Virgin Islands is under siege. Despite nearly 86 years of administrative power under the U.S. government, the isle of St. Croix has been subjected to a special form of neo-colonialism that is intolerable to the natives, residents and even the visitors.
The people of St. Croix and the USVI are more informed, involved and willing to do something immediately to stop the corruption, injustices, rapes, murders, oppression and total disregard for human life, our limited natural resources and the environment of St. Croix and the entire Virgin Islands.
Most people within the St. Croix and USVI community are aware of the problems. Fear, threats, power and position have immobilized many who know of the constant acts of disrespect to human life, democracy and civil liberties within our community. Most people who offer progressive and productive solutions are removed from the process in a hostile and non-inclusive manner.
The democratic process that is supposed to be afforded to all citizens within this unincorporated non-self-governing territory of the United States has been repeatedly abused by the local appointed and "elected" officials along with their entourage who currently reap the spoils of this internal war. Most importantly, the sector of our community that is usually neglected and ignored are our children who are supposed to be our first priority.
Every aspect of change, degradation and corruption that our community is exposed to directly and indirectly affects our children. Several areas that are visibly under siege on St. Croix and the rest of the USVI include:
1. Corruption: The corruption that everyone sees, witnesses and is suffering from within the V.I. government — especially within the executive and legislative branches — needs to be investigated by the U.S. government and other internationally neutral agencies like the United Nations.
2. Environment and sustainable development: The environmental issues that are destroying our land, air and sea within the Virgin Islands need to be resolved by cooperative and collaborative partnerships among the productive agencies within the V.I. government, St. Croix Environmental Association, St. Croix Renaissance Group and others willing to do something to improve our environment before it is too late. In the 21st century, sustainable development needs to be in the forefront of all forms of development so that the natural resources of our community are not exploited at the cost of all living things.
3. Labor: Poverty is directly connected to people's inability and lack of preparedness for the world of work. The USVI needs to engage in an intensive pro-labor and pro-work campaign to increase private-sector opportunities for our natives and residents. Unions that care about the overall welfare of workers need to insure that the interests of the people come first and are collaboratively blended with the needs of employers. This will increase the income base of our community and will provide more people who genuinely live in our community with opportunities to have our inalienable right to work and provide for self, family and community become a reality.
4. Education: It is easier to say "each one teach one" than to do it. The elitism and class wars that have plagued education — globally — need to stop. The USVI is suffering from this education and class war, too. If we really mean to "leave no child behind," then parents, educators, administrators, businesses, clergy and the entire community need to be ready for a series of serious changes within our educational system that promote a genuine combination of academics, arts, sciences, vocational training, civics and ethics.
A patched-up "comprehensive educational improvement plan" that reinvents a dysfunctional system will not be successful — especially in the 21st century. We need major renovations to the educational system currently in use within our public, private, independent, home and parochial institutions.
5. Arts and inner-attainment: The quality of arts activities and programs within the USVI needs to be more inclusive of the unique cultural identity of our community. Quelbe, caiso, quadrille, masquerade, bamboula, storytelling, oral tradition, natural arts and crafts, and much more need to be appreciated and given the international coverage currently reserved for non-Caribbean, non-Virgin Islands and other foreign cultural heritage expressions.
6. Health care: People come to the USVI from all over the world. We have the environment and many trained medical professionals, allopaths, osteopaths, naturopaths and others who are prepared and willing to establish St. Croix and possibly the rest of the USVI as an international health and wellness destination. This responsibility should not be rested solely upon the shoulders of the Department of Health — for reasons that are more than obvious, as no one entity should be overworked or overwhelmed in the health industry. Informed and preventive health care options and insurance need to be established.
7. Business and economic development: The V.I. government has consciously misrepresented the state of economic affairs within our community. Maybe St. Thomas is flourishing with four to eight cruise ships daily and St. John's eco-tourists are abundant. However, St. Croix is suffering from economic exploitation to a level that many do not like to talk about. The business community of St. Croix — especially small businesses — is struggling to stay afloat and the government does little to assist us.
These and many other issues negatively affecting our community have led to numerous protests, demonstrations, letters and pleas to the V.I. and U.S. media and other forms of outreach to request assistance to address the inequities suffered by St. Croix along with issues of concern within the St. Thomas/St. John district. This situation has led members of the voting population of St. Croix to ask Congress to intervene and amend the Revised Organic Act of 1954 to allow St. Croix to separate from the St. Thomas/St. John district.
United Nations Resolution 57/132 (on economic and other activities which affect the interests of the peoples of the non-self-governing territories) reaffirms "the responsibility of the administering powers under the charter to promote the political, economic, social and educational advancement" of those territories, and reaffirms "the legitimate rights of their peoples over their natural resources." The United Nations needs to know that the USVI is still plagued with serious corruption and severe fiscal irresponsibility by the existing government.
This same resolution:
1. Requests the administering power, bearing in mind the view of the people of the territory ascertained through a democratic process, to keep the secretary-general informed of the wishes and aspirations of the people regarding their future political status.
2. Requests the administering power to continue to assist the territorial government in achieving its political, economic and social goals and more.
We need for the local, national and international community to be fully aware that a significant voice of the people of the Virgin Islands — especially here on St. Croix — remains neglected, ignored and subjected to a farce of democracy.
The people of St. Croix have reached a crossroad where many of our concerns for life, health, security, prosperity, justice and genuine democracy within our community are under siege. There are voices and petitions being signed within St. Croix that state: "It has become increasingly difficult for St. Croix to grow and prosper under the current form of government. We wish to administer our own affairs and not be obliged to ask elected St. Thomas/St. John officials for approval on issues that impact every aspect of our daily lives."
Those with the authority and power to assist, protect and collaboratively work with the people of St. Croix and the USVI to restore a better quality of
life here will be genuinely appreciated and welcomed. The people have requested the administering powers of the United States to intervene, not to invade. Let's respectfully restore the phrase and actions associated with We The People.
Nebet Chenzira Kahina
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