19 April 2017

BVI Financial Services Increase Transparency And Efficiency

Press Release


“The British Virgin Islands (BVI) has continued to take steps towards increasing the level of its transparency as well as enhance international cooperation capabilities and efficiency,” Leon Wheatley, Asia Representative of the BVI’s Financial Services Commission, told the 300 plus attendees at the Companies Registry’s Corporate Governance Roundtable, held at the Kowloon Shangri-La Hotel in Hong Kong.

The BVI operates and maintains a well-regulated financial services system, which is committed to transparency, integrity and proper regulation, according to international standard setters such as the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which have made periodic assessments of the jurisdiction. As a result, the BVI has been placed “among the most compliant jurisdictions globally,” said the BVI regulator.

During the Panama Papers episode, Mr. Wheatley continued, many of the media outlets covering the story were surprised to learn that the BVI has received favourable reviews by respected international bodies such as those mentioned above, and that the BVI has a documented history of early adoption of a number of global initiatives. Essentially, the reporters uncovered what many within the industry had long known – that the BVI has been a well-regulated jurisdiction for financial services.

Mr. Wheatley noted that at present, the information the public can obtain about a BVI company includes the memorandum and articles of association, certificate of incorporation, name change certificates and registers the companies may elect to file, such as the register of charges. Information that is not publicly available includes the register of directors, the register of members, beneficial ownership information and resolutions/minutes.

Last year the BVI embarked on a project to have all BVI companies file their register of directors with the Registry of Corporate Affairs. This was done with a view to ensure compliance with FATF recommendations. As mentioned, these files are not publicly available; however, they may be accessed by a competent authority.

Under the BVI’s legacy system, corporate services providers for years were required to seek licencing to operate in the BVI. This legal requirement does not exist in many jurisdictions, and affords the BVI the opportunity to assess entities during the application phase, conduct desk based monitoring following licencing, and conduct onsite inspections. In addition to placing increased focus on the testing of IT systems during the conduct of onsite compliance inspections, the BVI is currently considering the possible implementation of legislation that would introduce minimum standards for data security for licenced corporate service providers.

“In order to facilitate all of the above, corporate registries, government agencies, corporate service providers and the wider industry will have to devote considerable resources and time towards meeting these standards,” Mr. Wheatley concluded. “But I do think the end result will be a more compliant industry, a standard and goal the BVI has always played its part in striving to achieve in the global marketplace.”

About BVI Finance

BVI Finance is the voice of the British Virgin Islands’ financial services industry; marketing and promoting its products and services, as well as managing and maintaining its excellent reputation as a premier offshore financial centre. Established in 2002 as the BVI International Finance Centre, BVI Finance was re-branded in 2015. The BVI has established itself as the leading provider of offshore financial services, not only due to its best-in-class innovative regulatory regime and business-friendly environment, but also through BVI Finance’s presence at conferences and trade events in our core and emerging markets, and support in maintaining a strong relationship with key stakeholders both locally and internationally. To retain the jurisdiction’s competiveness, BVI Finance partners with local and international practitioners, media outlets and investors in emerging and traditional markets. Read more at: http://bvifinance.vg/About-Us/Who-We-Are


About BVI House Asia

BVI House Asia is the representative office of the Government of the British Virgin Islands (BVI) in Asia Pacific. Based in Hong Kong, BVI House Asia was established in September 2013 to support and expand the strong relationship that the BVI has enjoyed with the Asia Pacific region for over 25 years. With a focus on financial services, the BVI provides a wide range of services to Asian businesses, such as asset protection, property holding, financial management, trading, copyrighting, bespoke trust services and investment business. The BVI is among the largest corporate registers in the world and is lauded for its efficient time to market, competitive incorporation fees, and strong and innovative legal system. Drawing on its deep experience in the region and mature infrastructure in Asia, BVI House Asia is committed to building effective, trusted and responsible relationships with its clients, business partners and vested third parties.


For more information about BVI House Asia, please visit: www.bvihouseasia.com.hk.

Department of Information and Public Relations (GIS)
354 James Walter Francis Drive

RJT Edifice Building, 5th Floor
Road Town, TORTOLA VG1110

18 April 2017

DANISH REPARATIONS FOR SLAVERY IN THE CARIBBEAN, PROPOSAL FOR DUAL CITIZENSHIP, EXAMINED BY VIRGIN ISLANDS HISTORIAN


Caribbean News Now



Wayne James, former senator of the US Virgin Islands 
and former Senate Liaison to the White House





By Wayne James


ST CROIX, USVI -- League for league, square mile for square mile, the Caribbean archipelago is the world’s most international region. There, since the 15th century, the Old and New Worlds have collided and the world’s people -- Native Americans, Europeans, Africans, and Asians -- have intermingled.

For centuries, within eyeshot, and sometimes within a stone’s throw, Spain, England, France, Holland, Denmark, and Sweden vied for dominance and sought fabled riches. The region was also a principal site for the unfolding of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade. And as such, the Caribbean is today the arena for heated discussions and diplomatic discourse on the ever-elusive reparations.

But if there is one nation that should pay reparations for its active participation in the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, it is Denmark -- so much so that it could easily qualify as the initiative’s “poster nation.” Here are ten reasons why:

READ THE FULL ANALYSIS HERE .

********************************



By Wayne James

US Virgin Islanders who officially reside in the islands and can trace their ancestry back to the Danish era (1671 – 1917) should be entitled to automatic Danish citizenship, whether they decide to renounce their United States citizenship or obtain dual citizenship of Denmark and the United States.


The request of US Virgin Islanders for automatic Danish citizenship is separate and distinct from any claim for reparations or the redressing of past wrongs. To the contrary, the request is a claim for the redress of a present, ongoing wrong: Many US Virgin Islanders, in 2017, still feel part-Danish; many US Virgin Islanders are, by blood, part-Danish; and many US Virgin Islanders feel that they have earned the right to Danish citizenship because of the 246 years of service and contribution to the Danish nation. In essence, many US Virgin Islanders feel that Danish citizenship is their birthright.



READ THE FULL ANALYSIS HERE .

17 April 2017

St. Eustatius declares right to full measure of self-governance based on UN charter.





LEADER OF GOVERNMENT OF ST. EUSTATIUS CLYDE VAN PUTTEN.ST. EUSTATIUS:

The government of St. Eustatius (Clyde van Putten) surprised the Dutch Government on Monday morning when they sent a letter to the Kingdom Council of Ministers, Minister of Interior and Kingdom Relations Ronald Plasterk, the second chamber and Prime Minister of the Netherlands Mark Rutte informing them of the decision the Island Council of St. Eustatius has taken based on Sint Eustatius right to a "full measure of self-government" as laid out in the UN Charter and relevant UN resolutions, certain planned and enacted legislation (e.g. the WoiBES, and the draft legislation to permanently embed St. Eustatius into the Dutch Constitution), as well as measures (e.g. the preliminary supervision and other types of unlawful interference by the Minister of the Interior and Kingdom Relations in the Internal Affairs of St Eustatius) imposed on the Government and people of St Eustatius by the Government of the Netherlands as of October lOth, 2010, clearly manifest an intrinsic inconsistency or conflict with the UN Charter and relevant UN resolutions.


The letter to the Kingdom Council further states that The Island Council of St. Eustatius, exercising its right to a “full measure of self-government” pursuant to Chapter Xi of the Charter of the United Nations in combination with UN Resolution 742 (VIII) of November 27, 1953:

1. Declares any provision in the WOLBES which is in conflict with St. Eustatius’ right to a “full measure of self-government” inoperative.

2. Abolishes the position of governor or Lt. Governor of St. Eustatius effective January 1, 2018

3. Declares that all documents emanating from the Government of St. Eustatius requiring the signature of the governor shall effective immediately be signed by a person designated by the Island Council of St. Eustatius.

4. The Island Council of St. Eustatius decides when a provision in the WOLBES is in conflict with the right to “a full measure of self-government”.

The decision taken by the Island Council of St. Eustatius came in the wake of ongoing discussions with the Netherlands with their continuous interference, also the fact that the Netherlands has failed to respond to letters sent to them by members of the Island Council. 

“On January 4th, 2017, a letter with reference number 0001/17, was dispatched to you by the Executive Council of Sint Eustatius, including a copy of a related motion of the Island Council of Sint Eustatius of November 30th,2016. Said letter contained a formal petition to stop the process of permanently embedding Sint Eustatius in the Dutch constitution. As far as I have been informed, the Executive Council has not received any reply from you as yet. In a letter to the Executive Council dated February 27th, 2017, the Minister of the Interior and Kingdom Relations did indicate that he expected to respond to the Executive Council's letter to you of January 4th, 2017, "within a few weeks". 

Since then, and without said answer having been received by the Executive Council, both you and the minister of the Interior and Kingdom Relations presented the draft legislation for said embedding of Sint Eustatius in the Dutch constitution to the newly elected Dutch Parliament on March 23rd,2017. This appears to be a clear indication that the petition of January 4th, 2017 has been ignored.

The Dutch Parliament also requested you to inform them about the content of the Executive Council's letter, and your reply to it, no later than February 14th,2017. As far as I have been able to determine, this information has not been provided to the Dutch Parliament.

Meanwhile, as proposed by the Executive Council in a letter dated March 14th, 2017, a process of dialogue between the Executive Council and the Government of the Netherlands is being prepared under the guidance of a committee of four "wise men" appointed jointly by the Governments of Sint Eustatius and the Netherlands. The objective of said dialogue is to come to lasting solutions for the differences of opinion between both Governments, including the manner in which the Government of the Netherlands has dealt with Sent Eustatius' right to self­-determination and full internal self-government.” Excerpts are taken from the letter sent by Van Putten to the Dutch Government.


16 April 2017

Poll: St. Martin voters call for French- and Dutch-side unity







MARIGOT--In an exit poll conducted by St. Martin Stats for the French-side newspaper Le Pélican during the second round of voting for the French-side Territorial Council elections in Sandy Ground, Concordia, La Savane and French Quarter, an overwhelming majority of voters support greater unity between Saint Martin and Sint Maarten.


The pollsters surveyed 297 voters, of whom 245 “agreed” or “strongly agreed” with the statement on greater unity, representing 91 per cent of respondents.

“The support for greater unity cuts across all demographics and geographical segments,” St. Martin Stats co-founder Timothée Didier-Bandou explained. “Even amongst recent French-side arrivals – so perhaps those with less ties to the Dutch side – a full 82 percent agreed or strongly agreed with the need for greater unity,” he added.

13 April 2017

SINT EUSTATIUS ISLAND COUNCIL ADOPTS PROPOSED AUTONOMOUS CONSTITUTION, WHITE PAPER ON THE POLITICAL FUTURE

Photo: Dependency Studies Project (2014)
 
 
Derrick Simmons Jr.
Commissioner of Constitutional Affairs

 
PRESS RELEASE
 Oranjestad, Sint Eustatius
 April 11th, 2017
 
 I am pleased to have had the opportunity to present the white paper “On the Road to Autonomy” and the draft constitutional framework “Elements of a draft constitution” to the Island Council last week Tuesday.
 
First of all, I wish to thank all those who have contributed to these two historic documents being prepared. I want to particularly single out the local Constitutional Committee, Dr. Carlyle G. Corbin, Mr. Denicio Brison, and others for their continued hard work and advice.
 
Having these documents debated and ratified by the Island Council today is the first important step towards attaining the island’s rightful constitutional status, in line with the wishes of the population.
 
The white paper basically:
 
·         Examines the desire of the people of Sint Eustatius to achieve an autonomous political status within the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
 
·         Draws attention to the fact that Statians have systematically formally expressed their preference over the years, but instead were given the status of partial integration when the Netherlands Antilles was dismantled in 2010.
 
·         Clarifies that the financing of the autonomous arrangement can and will take place within the normal budgetary process of Sint Eustatius (BDO study).
 
·         Emphasizes the importance of self-determination within the Dutch and international context.
 
·         Concludes with an examination of the unusual circumstances surrounding the removal of the Netherlands Antilles from the UN list of NSGT’s, short and medium-term actions towards Sint Eustatius’ re-inscription on the UN list of NSGT’s, and a clear plan to increase regional awareness of the right of Sint Eustatius to genuine self-determination.
 
Constitutional framework:
 
The "Elements of a Draft Constitution" for Sint Eustatius was prepared to reflect the transition from the "public entity" status to an autonomous country within the Kingdom, consistent with the results of the 2005 political status referendum in which the electorate voted for a restructured autonomous arrangement, and the subsequent 2014 political status referendum in which they similarly selected the status of "Autonomy within the Dutch Kingdom."  
 
In giving effect to the referendum results of both referenda, the present Elements" document has been written consistent with the constitutional arrangements presently in place in the other autonomous countries within the Kingdom, in particular Aruba, Curacao and Sint Maarten. There are also specific differences reflected owing to Sint Eustatius's differential in population size with the other autonomous countries, the accompanying capacity building requirements, and the interest in achieving a genuine autonomous governance model free of democratic deficit.
 
The "Elements of a Draft Constitution" seeks to integrate the recommendations of the White Paper "On the Road to Autonomy" which sets forth specific aspects of an autonomous association that comply with international law and principles, in particular the minimum standards of the United Nations  (U.N.) Charter, relevant resolutions of the U.N. General Assembly, and the self-determination aspects of the core human rights conventions. Of particular  relevance are the minimum standards for full self-government under autonomy contained in Resolution 1541 (XV).
 
Accordingly, the "Elements of a Draft Constitution " is reflective of an arrangement which would place an autonomous country of Sint Eustatius as part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands with the retention of Dutch Nationality in the same manner of the Caribbean partners of the Kingdom, with a Sint Eustatius citizenship, and a constitution of its own making with a unique government structure. The constitution would provide for the full exercise of executive and legislative authority over its internal affairs while providing ample space for relevant technical assistance, in particular that required in the building of capacity.
 
The "Elements of a Draft Constitution" also provides for the requisite transition to Sint Eustatius of those powers currently exercised by the Kingdom, and formally exercised by the autonomous country of the Netherlands Antilles of which Saint Eustatius was a part until 2010.  Additional features of the "Elements of a draft Constitution" include a dispute mechanism, an adjusted role for the Governor, and an Audit Chamber as a financial supervisory mechanism similar to the other autonomous countries in the Kingdom.
 
In line with the agreements with the Dutch Government to have dialogue, including a round table meeting, I will be having meetings in the Netherlands in the week of  April 17th. During my visit, I will provide the Dutch Government representatives with the documents approved today. I will also seek to receive a response to the letter sent to Prime Minister Mark Rutte formally protesting the embedding of Sint Eustatius in the Dutch constitution.
 
Also, my delegation will meet with other Dutch ministries in order to discuss their involvement with executing the economic development plan and the capacity building required to achieve an autonomous status.
 
The process moving forward will include local and regional engagement and dialogue, education of the population regarding the constitutional process, implementation of the economic development plan.
 
Besides those actions, it is always important that the government makes sure that continued improvements to the current functioning are being made, so that the organization is prepared for the future status. 
 

12 April 2017

POLITICAL STATUS REFERENDA IN NEW CALEDONIA, BOUGAINVILLE

The EconomistVotes loom on the future of New Caledonia and BougainvilleThe first Pacific island may choose to stay part of France, but the second could split from Papua New Guinea.


IT HAS been six years since the birth of the world’s youngest country, South Sudan, in 2011. It may soon have some younger siblings. The Pacific island of New Caledonia is due to hold a referendum on independence from France by November next year; Bougainville, 1,200 miles to the north (see map), is supposed to vote on separation from Papua New Guinea in 2019.

The timing of the two referendums was fixed decades ago, to defuse long-festering conflicts. But the approach of the appointed time is raising tricky questions about how to word the question on the ballot, who should have the right to vote and what to do once the results are in.



New Caledonia’s secessionist uprising ended in 1988 when leaders of the indigenous Kanaks and French loyalist politicians agreed to hold a vote on independence a decade later. When that deadline arrived, the two sides approved a further delay of 15-20 years. They also agreed to share power in the local government and to try to bring about an economic ré-équilibrage (rebalancing) to lift predominantly Kanak regions.

New Caledonia has a population of 269,000. Kanaks account for 39%; Europeans for 27%; other Pacific or Asian ethnicities and people of mixed race make up the remainder. Most Kanaks are thought to lean towards independence; most Europeans, towards the status quo. The electoral roll for the referendum will not include those who arrived in the territory after 1998. That excludes many of the European métros who come and go from mainland France on short-term contracts.

Even so, French nationalists such as Marine Le Pen, a leading contender in France’s presidential election, are keen for a quick vote and a straightforward question, in expectation of an emphatic defeat for the independence movement, which has never won a majority in elections for the local parliament. But some loyalist politicians, such as Pierre Frogier, a former “president” of the local government, would prefer a new accord deferring a vote again, for fear that Kanaks might resort to violence in the event of a “no”. Unrest in St Louis, a largely Kanak suburb to the east of the capital, Nouméa, has served to heighten those fears, and led to a bolstering of the police force in November.

Bougainville’s population is similar in size to New Caledonia’s, but far poorer. The separatist war that ran from 1988 to 1997 claimed about 5,000 lives and led to the closure of a big copper mine run by Rio Tinto, an international mining group. A peace agreement in 2001 established an Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) and included a provision for a referendum to “include a choice of separate independence” by 2020. Some rebels spurned the peace talks, however, and held on to their guns.

Papua New Guinea’s prime minister, Peter O’Neill, is adamant that he will not allow Bougainville to break away, and insists that the referendum will be non-binding. Yet in January his government collaborated with the ABG to set up a Bougainville Referendum Commission. Both sides have also agreed to hold the vote in June 2019.

The ABG had been counting on reopening the closed copper mine to fund its future state, but Rio Tinto demurred last year. Other investors are wary, too, fearing renewed conflict. Without the mine, the ABG is reliant on the central government for the bulk of its revenue. But Papua New Guinea is facing a fiscal crisis and, despite the impending ballot, has trimmed spending on Bougainville. If, as expected, Bougainvilleans vote for independence, the island’s future is unlikely to be prosperous.

Peace agreements that depend on delayed referendums enable both sides to imagine the future of their dreams, but only by putting off the day of reckoning. 

When that comes, as both Bougainville and New Caledonia are discovering, the advantages of an ambiguous status quo may seem greatly preferable to the dangers of a clear decision. (REALLY?)


11 April 2017

El Archipiélago se escuchó fuerte en Guatemala





Los líderes raizales Endis Livingston Bernard, Walt Hayes Bryan, y Ofelia Livingston de Barker (en la foto, de izquierda a derecha), representantes de San Andrés, Providencia y Santa Catalina’, realizaron con éxito su alocución ante la Corte Interamericana de Derechos Humanos (CIDH) este miércoles 22 de marzo en Guatemala.
Su intervención estuvo enmarcada en denunciar la crítica situación que vive el archipiélago de en materia de derechos humanos y medio ambiente, resaltando los motivos del derecho a medidas especiales que –como pueblo étnico– tienen los raizales, enunciando el Convenio de la OIT y la Convención Americana de derechos Humanos como referentes.
La fragilidad ecosistémica de las islas y su preponderancia reconocida por la Unesco, desde la designación de Reserva de Biosfera, también fue resaltada durante la intervención, así como el riesgo latente ante la construcción de megaproyectos y las tentativas de exploración petrolífera que se cierne sobre estas aguas.
“La particularidad de ser un territorio ancestral, donde el pueblo raizal ha mantenido su subsistencia por siglos,ha sido reconocida por la Corte Constitucional colombiana en varias de sus sentencias, la 530 de 1993 y la 053 de 1999, entre otras”, indicó Hayes Bryan.
En la fase de preguntas, el juez Humberto Sierra Porto, interrogó a la delegación sanandresana a cerca de las amenazas internas a las que se ha visto abocada la comunidad étnica; a lo que Hayes Bryan respondió señalando como “temas críticos” la sobrepoblación con los subsecuentes efectos visibles en el precario tratamiento de los aguas servidas y de residuos sólidos, entre otros.
Otras intervenciones
El designado como agente para representar a Colombia fue el abogado Ricardo Abello Galvis, quien explicó a los presentes la solicitud realizada un año atrás a la Corte y enfatizando en “la obligación de los estados en informar sobre estudios y construcción de megaproyectos que impliquen daños ambientales transfronterizos y que puedan vulneran derechos colectivos al goce de un ambiente sano de poblaciones aledañas”.
Se pronunciaron igualmente representantes del país anfitrión, de Honduras,  Bolivia y Argentina; quienes coincidieron en que existe una honda relación entre la protección del medio ambiente y la realización los derechos humanos, “a la vida digna, la vivienda y la alimentación adecuada”
También la Secretaría Ejecutiva de la OEA manifestó que “la violación de los derechos ambientales ponen en riesgo el libre disfrute de los mismos” y que para ello “sendos estudios de impactos ambientales deben adelantarse antes de la construcción de megaproyectos, así como el desarrollode un plan para mitigar o erradicar los riesgos a los que podrían enfrentarse la naturaleza con edificaciones de gran envergadura”.

DIEHARDS STILL INSIST ON MAINTAINING COLONIAL STATUS OF PUERTO RICO AS OPTION IN TERRITORY'S JUNE REFERENDUM

"Whoever celebrates that U.S. Congressional) letter (supporting inclusion of the colonial option) is like the slave who dances to the sound of his chains." - 
Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP) Sen. Juan Dalmau






SAN JUAN – The president of the Popular Democratic Party (PPD), Héctor Ferrer, welcomed a letter signed by eight U.S. senators in which they say the June 11 Puerto Rico status referendum is unconstitutional and say commonwealth is a viable option.

“What’s happening with the letter sent by eight senators, which includes the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, who determines the money [U.S. funds for the referendum], [and] who is not only telling the secretary of Justice not to give the money, but that the plebiscite ballot does not comply with the Constitution, laws, norms, nor public policy of the United States. It is a fatal blow to the plebiscite and the result of the plebiscite,” he said in a WKAQ 580 radio interview.

In February, Gov. Ricardo Rosselló met with Attorney General Jeff Sessions to request an evaluation of the status options included in the ballot, “statehood” and “free association / independence,” and to request$2.5 million set aside by the administration of President Obama to finance the plebiscite. New Progressive Party (NPP) leaders, who drafted the Immediate Decolonization Act, said the referendum will be held even without the federal funds.

Ferrer said the eight senators make up 10 percent of the body and raise a similar arguement to that of the PDP’s over the past few weeks, that the process is rigged, anti-democratic and infringes on the rights of thousands of Puerto Ricans. The PDP’s president said he cannot advance what the party will do.

“I’ve been listening to the party leadership. What I’ve done is give that discussion some room. I have spoken with the mayors, with the legislators, with people within the party, always listening to them, allowing that conversation to go on ahead of the assembly,” he said.

Called Out for Endorsing Colonialism


Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP) Sen. Juan Dalmau said the PDP has no reason to celebrate.

Whoever celebrates that letter is like the slave who dances to the sound of his chains. Frankly, and paraphrasing the Letter to the Philippians in Bible teaching, “their god is the colony and they are proud of things that should embarrass them. Their colonial vocation and obsession cloud their understanding,” he said in a Radio Isla 1320 interview.

Dalmau said two senators who signed the letter voted in favor of the fiscal control board, which has been criticized and condemned by the PDP itself.

“Now they are celebrating that those same congressmen are demanding to include the colony, which allows them to legislate unilaterally over Puerto Rico by imposing a fiscal control board, affecting pensioners, affecting the University of Puerto Rico, affecting the country’s public and private sector working classes, affecting the healthcare system. What those congressmen who wrote that letter are doing is reiterating and reclaiming the authority they believe they should have over Puerto Rico,” he denounced.

Dalmau added that the PDP should have reacted differently to the letter.

“What the leadership of the Popular [Democratic] Party should have done is, upon receipt of that letter, express repudiation, denunciation, indignation and head what… is attainable as a political mechanism to face that colonial regime that allows that kind of humiliation,” he said.

10 April 2017

VIRGIN ISLANDS PREMIER ADDRESS TO USVI TRANSFER DAY CEREMONY

Remarks by Premier of the Virgin Islands

Dr. the Honourable D. Orlando Smith, OBE

Centennial Commemoration of the Official Transfer Day Ceremony

Legislature of the Virgin Islands, Capitol Grounds
St. Thomas, USVI
Friday 31st March, 2017
3:00 p.m.


I am truly honoured to join you this afternoon as we reflect on the 100th Anniversary of the United States Virgin Islands.

I join you in honouring the dynamic legacy of the brave men and women of past generations of Virgin Islanders who sacrificed, laboured and toiled so that we may celebrate today.

The peaceful transfer of the Danish West Indies to the United States of America was indeed a defining moment in history, marking the beginning of a new era in the life of both our territories.

Although the transfer brought many new rules and regulations, together we found ways to maintain our mutually beneficial relationship.

The history of these islands — records that — in the Post Emancipation period, it was customary for BVIslanders to seek employment in other islands.

We regularly sought opportunities in the USVI, particularly on the coal refueling wharves which catered to the steamships, docking into St. Thomas.

Women also sought work in the overnight guest houses and homes of well to do families.

Life in the BVI at this time was based around a thriving export-driven economy, with regular goods of ground provisions, fruits and cattle to the Dutch, French and other British Islands.

BVIslanders generally had a surplus of produce and cattle as we owned large tracks of land.

Families were usually large, with 10 or 12 children to assist in the labour intensive pursuits of working the ground.

The Territory also had a cadre of expert boat builders and seamen, who bravely traversed the waters of the Eastern Caribbean facilitating the export trade.

In this way migrating to other islands was common place as there was little to no immigration controls. People moved freely between the islands.

Due to the thriving port city that Charlotte Amalie had become, it was widely regarded by BVI landers as a key market place for their produce, livestock, charcoal, and straw work, among other things.

While some BVIslanders who had migrated to the Danish West Indies feared the uncertainty of the transfer and opted to return home before Transfer Day, many opted to remain and embrace the future under Association with the United States of America.

On March 31st 1917, a large number of BVIslanders who had migrated to the Danish West Indies became US Citizens, when the US Flag was raised.

This occurrence cemented the bond between the people of these two Territories.

Numerous families were therefore split, with parents, brothers and sisters permanently residing in each Territory.

Children of BVI parentage now living in the US islands returned to the BVI during the summer months to spend time with their grandmothers and to become acquainted with their cousins and other family members.

BVIslanders in the USVI took pride in welcoming their family and friends, facilitating their trips to sell and purchase items, such as building materials, not available in the BVI.

The years immediately following the transfer, saw the enactment of the 18th Amendment to the US Constitution, which banned the consumption, manufacture, importation, sale or transportation of alcoholic beverages across the United States of America.

The period from 1920-1933, the Prohibition Period, set off a thriving trade for BVIslanders, in the smuggling of rum into the US Virgin Islands.

Fishermen and boat captains took on jobs to transport the precious cargo.

Rum produced in the BVI and other islands was not in short supply, and could be sold for a high price in the US islands. Everyone, except Ella Gift, used charcoal to cover the many bottles of rum stacked in the hull of the boats.

Farmers also profited from this illegal trade as the sudden high demand for charcoal kept them busy.

Though the British Virgin Islands were officially a part of the Leeward Islands Federation with the sterling coinage as the legal tender, it was due to the deep trading relationship between the US and British Virgin Islands that there was always a large circulation of Danish Money in the BVI.

In 1951 when the British West Indies dollar was introduced, there were protests. BVIslanders protested as it was considered a weak currency.

By 1959, the Territory refused to join the West Indies Federation and soon after adopted the United States Dollar as legal tender in the Territory.

Since then, the use of the US Dollar has served us well, greatly facilitating the economic success in the twin pillars of global Financial Services and Tourism.

The official launch of Tourism in the BVI as an economic pillar is another signal event, which has been influenced by developments in the US Virgin Islands.

In 1956 when Mr. Rockefeller built Caneel Bay Hotel on St. John, officials in the BVI took note. They also noted the large tracks of land, he had donated for the establishment of the National Parks System on that island.

Though it appeared Mr. Rockefeller was already sympathetic to the situation in the BVI, overtures were made and he was invited to establish a hotel on Little Dix Bay in Virgin Gorda.

Mr. Rockerfeller is reported to have initially spent some $2 Million dollars to purchase land in the BVI. He further underwrote the purchase of 97 acres in Tortola and 20 acres in Virgin Gorda, forming the origins of the BVI’s National Park System.

The lands underwritten by Mr. Rockerfeller included Sage Mountain on Tortola, Spring Bay and Devil’s Bay on Virgin Gorda, and Sandy Cay on Jost Van Dyke.

As we pause today to mark this moment in our history, and honor our journey to this moment, we also acknowledge this Transfer Day as the beginning of a new course in the development of the British Virgin Islands.

Though we had to navigate the introduction of many new laws on both sides, such as immigration controls and the agricultural and livestock regulations, we have been successful in preserving our tight bonds.

Developments in the international sphere have shaped the experiences of Virgin Islanders (BVI and USVI) for centuries, and continue to do so today.

Once again we are being blown by the winds of change, due to forces beyond our borders.

Today, as they did in 1917, developments in the international sphere have ushered in a new era of change in the global construct.

Though there are many uncertainties we will face as a people, in this new period, we are certain that our destinies will remain interwoven; inextricably linked together by kinship, friendship and geography.

As we forge ahead, we will remember our shared experiences and continue to work together in pursuit of our highest aspirations.

I am certain that our continued spirit of friendship and good will, which has served us well in the past, will continue to guide us through this new period of change.

Single file and yet together we have journeyed to this day. We are honored to celebrate with you.

On behalf of the Government and People of the British Virgin Islands we extend our heartfelt Congratulations on this Centennial Anniversary of the United States Virgin Islands.

May God continue to bless you and these Beautiful Virgin Islands!