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Charlotte Amalie
Wednesday, February 1, 2023
HomeNewsArchivesA Matter of Status for the Virgin Islands

A Matter of Status for the Virgin Islands

Dear Source:

As usual, Mr. Estemac hits the proverbial nail on the head. We, as a people, must dedicate ourselves to our families, the community and the Virgin Islands as a whole. Regardless of where we come from, we are all in this together. Any divisive attempts to create disharmony will be at the detriment to all of us. As Mr. Estemac points out, their must be a renewed pride in our communities and the people who reside there must take an active part. Our well-being and future are at stake.
The upcoming constitution can change how we live and perhaps help institute the need for greater participation by all citizens, not just during the constitutional process but forever. There is a compelling need now to form our government in such away that these necessary modifications to our collective participation can become possible. Without it, the status quo could be our destiny and I don't think anyone wants that to be our legacy now or for our children's future.
The matter of status is difficult. The Constitution of the United States, through the Territorial Clauses, disallows any territory to become incorporated. To ask to do so would mean only two things: statehood or independence. Since statehood is not an option, asking for incorporated status could only mean independence which would be surely detrimental to the people, as the Virgin Islands could not self-support itself as it is now structured. We could however, ask the United States for a different designation to compliment our new role as a self-governing territory should the constitution become a reality. I believe the term Commonwealth more aptly describes a government who seeks greater autonomy in its decision-making. It also designates the will of its people to join cohesively to the notion of "we the people". In fact, the new constitution, if ratified, could use that term without permission from the USA. The use of the term Commonwealth would instill that national pride that Mr. Estemac espouses. It would demonstrate to the citizens that we are truly on a course of self-determination rather than simply a "possession" of the Unites States. As one senator put it recently, we have "matured politically" and we need a constitution that represents that maturity. We are ready for such a document and we need such a document to move forward. Mr. Estemac is correct that we need to alter our level of ambition. If we don't, the future could be more of the same.
Thank you Mr. Estemac for you thoughtful insights.

Paul Devine
St. John

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