Sunday, July 19, 2009
Britain’s plan to re-colonize Turks & Caicos would be a coup approved by the Queen
by Larry Geller
Lots of countries have governments that could be described as more or less corrupt. So what? Should they be taken over because they are corrupt? That’s what the UK is proposing with regards to the Turks & Caicos Islands, a tax haven they might prefer be shut down (and “Home to the Best Beach in the World,” just 2 1/2 hours flight from New York). And no doubt it has a corrupt government, as many Caribbean islands are said to have as well.
The UK and the US have supported corrupt dictators and governments when it suited their national interests. Heck, looking in the mirror for a moment, we have Blagojevich selling political appointments, and pretty much the rest of US politics on the take from large corporations and special interests. Should the UK think of taking back its US colonies it would be a joke, but apparently picking on small Caribbean islands is fair game.
And yes, it is reported that the Queen has formally approved. Although replacing the existing government would be a coup, it probably would not qualify as a coup d’etat, because the Queen nominally runs the place.
As we in Hawaii know, the best way to take over an island is with the help of a navy warship. The HMS Iron Duke was standing by and apparently awaiting the release of a report from a Commission of Inquiry. An interim report came out in March but release of the full report was enjoined by a court action.
On Friday (7/17/2009) the report was posted on a website in redacted form and then rapidly pulled off.
Based on the report there does appear to be genuine grounds for the corruption allegations, but it is not clear that TCI is an exceptional case. This leaves open the possibility for future corruption interventions to be also based on other factors; something that assertive British protectorates such as Bermuda must be noting with alarm. Whether these former colonies choose to stop offending the British or choose to reduce the corrupt profits of their leaders remains to be seen, but it is clear which way the incentives lay.
The report is 269 pages long, but an interesting read as a chronicle of exploitation and colonization, UK style, in which the Queen still has effective control over what should be an independent country. Originally valued for the salt trade, the economy seems now to be dependent on tourism (and whatever the corruption brings in…).
At present, the coup is reported to be delayed at least until October. Island nations around the world might reasonably be concerned and carefully following events in the Turks & Caicos. Stay tuned.
I don't know if its a coup if the sovereign suspends a government. Of course, the British offered full independence to them in 1980 but they rejected it. Even Misick refused calls for immediate independence until he was accused of corruption. A colony that is listed as a "nonself governing territory" by the UN cannot claim its sovereign has enacted a coup against herself. Colonialism, yes; coup, no.
Good point. I couldn't find a better word for replacing a government than "coup", though, but you are right.