COMMENTARY: The International Airport Plan – Coercive Depopulation?

A popular magical remedy purported to cure Dominica’s many woes is to construct an international airport. People who would benefit from such an airport are the large Dominica diaspora and a few more tourists who could then fly in and out non-stop from America and Europe – most of them non-voters by the way. But, with elections looming,
once again an international airport has become a key election promise of both main parties. It’s an enchanting promise.

Never mind the chronic urgent need for real hospitals, new bridges, the pitifully low minimum wage, the ruination of agriculture, and on and on the sad list goes. Never mind the severely damaged forest ecosystem, resulting in a future of more and more landslides and catastrophic Layou-style flooding.

The promise of a cosmopolitan future for Dominica is false and misguided. The world is changing. Due to mounting scarcities of resources, world economies will become, are now becoming, much more local. This movement applies even more so to island economies. Now is the time to reinvest in the local economy – to invest in creating a
skilled and motivated workforce, rather than succumbing to jealousy and constructing this costly infrastructure in imitation of other islands. If we wish to be the envy of the Caribbean, we only have to develop our people and our local economy.

Ignoring this unexciting longer-term scenario, the DLP is once again dangling the international airport carrot in front of us. And it seems to mesmerize a majority of people.

Survey crews are on the ground in the Woodfordhill-Wesley area carving out the current government’s airport plan. Incredibly the DLP airport plan happens to occupy a completely different piece of ground than the previous UWP airport plan….“Huh?! What?!”, one might exclaim. “Why?” would be a better question.

Yes, as silly and wasteful as it sounds, it’s true. The UWP airport ground was depopulated and expropriated some 20 years ago. Now, like a recurrent bad dream, the depopulation and expropriation process is about to begin for the current DLP airport model. The two combined will amount to well over 1,000 acres of Dominica land
emptied by the government. Almost all of it is prime agricultural land.

So, let’s imagine, just as it happened some 20 years ago, that all of this new land is expropriated by the government and then, no airport is built. We cannot ignore this possibility – there is the parallel precedent. Perhaps this government has no intention to build an airport. After all, their intent is to win an election, not to follow through with electioneering promises.

In this 2019 airport case, the government would end up with another 500+ acres, resulting in another portion of prime Dominica land being depopulated. To what end? Why does this government seemingly want to depopulate and take over historically productive agricultural land?

The international airport plan is being presented to the voting public as a beneficial and essential project. More essential and beneficial than hospitals, bridges, a respectable minimum wage, a resurgence of agriculture … a return to national self-respect and some degree of economic autonomy?????

On top of that it involves the coercive depopulation of agricultural areas and villages. What’s the end game here? Who will benefit from the newly emptied lands?

Let’s get some answers.

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23 Comments

  1. Annon
    June 24, 2019

    The less said about a International Airport on DA the better. There is no money for it via the government.

  2. KIP
    June 24, 2019

    WE need five international airports Grandbay ,Scottshead,Capuchin,St Joe
    Grandfond.

  3. Joseph John
    June 23, 2019

    Yea Roger Rabbit, stop thinking with your mind closed. I am sure you have heard of enhancement, improvement and expansion of national infrastructure and the impact such policies have on employment and development. I am sure you have travelled further than a rabbit hole.

    • viewsexpressed
      June 25, 2019

      Joseph , you are so blind and deaf and demonstrates some level of ignorance and illiteracy of the bigger picture. Ohhh, just let us build an airport, just for the sake of Skerrit, nothing about national interests, it`s maintenance, its tourism, who will or may come. The complimentary structures and services we need to accommodate these numbers of visitors has not yet been part of the bigger developmental plan. But this idoitic Skerro says his people just developed a fictional picture in their blind minds that this is it. How crazy can Skerrit and his blind loyalists be. We need proper, well planned developmemtal plan and what surrounds this so called airport which will have economic benefits for the people there, or is this big structure airport going to be this monumental tower going no where, after all the fanfare of opening?

      • Joseph John
        June 25, 2019

        I know I promise to put you on ignore because of your boxed narrow minded views expressed. The impression you are trying to make is lost because I am not a political candidate and not a turn coat.
        From now on you do not exist.

  4. Joseph John
    June 23, 2019

    What kind of klutz talk is this. Those who embrace this mindset need to rethink their position. Dr Dr Skerritt promise an airport and we want it ,like yesterday.
    We do not have an airport…..yet
    we have airstrips.If it cannot accommodate 747 jets it is not an airport. Jamaica has two ‘international’ airports and several ‘air strips’ some of those strips are bigger than what we have. I wonder where St Martin, St Kitts, Turks and Caicos Islands and Dubai (to name a few) would be without proper air access.
    I wonder if those people who seem in denial have ever travelled anywhere. Or are they foreign agents working for competitors like enemies of state.
    At the simplest of ideas, THINK impact on the employment situation during construction and then on the operation aspect. THINK !

  5. WHAT !!!
    June 23, 2019

    Very interesting points to ponder. Hopefully this will be the beginning of a “question everything” campaign that will help educate and energize the citizens of this country.

    • Joseph John
      June 25, 2019

      @What, there is nothing to ponder. There is no whats or ifs. We do not have an airport and we need one right now.

  6. Viewsexpressed
    June 23, 2019

    J. Charlton..thanks much for your commentary and insight into this on going Airport fiasco now ably promoted by this failed Prime Minister supported by his blind. Minister and loyalists. The UWP has been in the go, rather in earlier tenure of thier government promoted..identified and purchased land for Airport. This loose, incompetent failed corrupt lanour government are political clowns with a pigmentstion of questionable political corrupt deeds that we need accountability for our states affairs finances and matters of oeople and state.
    This corrupt Labour government has failed us and fooled us years now with no development..no investment but abused our states resources and has killed all socia-economic development.
    Skeerit and his false..failed highky incompetent Labour government and this failure Odd Minister Skerrit.
    Skerrit must go to hell out of our Dominica. We highly welcome Hon. Linton and his highly respected UWP Team.
    Skerrit has been immature and failed our Dominica.

    • Kyla
      June 25, 2019

      I want I find is that just last year there were no talks of it. This Government has been totally against and international airport, yet all of a sudden, it is a go. They brought down persons ffom other Caribbean countries to tell us that we didn’t need it etc etc etc, then all of a sudden their minds and tongues have changed. Just like that…all if a sudden. Let us not forget how against they were against it you know. Even when the pm responded to the lady at Ross, he spoke about increased flights etc, (I don’t remember anything about international airport) then just like that. What gets me most is their supporters. When the Gov’t was against it, they were too, as the PM mouth change, their own change too.
      Stop playing ‘Beh Belle’. This is an entire country we are talking about and some of us this is the only passport we will ever have, the only citizenship unless our dear PM’s family.

  7. Leroy
    June 23, 2019

    Enough talk about the implementation of an International Airport in Dominica. For the sake of all the Citizens of Dominica Just build the Airport and stop making it a political issue. Equilibrium of a Country lies not only on political arena, But people with a strong dedication and vision for the benefit of all Citizens on a whole. An International Airport is an essential part of the travelers dream, in=fact those who never travel have no idea of what it is to change plan or sleep overnight two to three days before they arrived to their destination. If Dominica Build an International Airport, Dominica will be one of the fastest growing Country in the Caribbean and all the prime minster knows that. There Are several reasons why Dominica should have there own International airport just to name a few. (1) direct flight from any where in the world (2) more jobs and securities (3) Dominica will be a home to many of its Citizens again etc.

    • Annon
      June 24, 2019

      You need to look at the world economy. An International Airport will not noticieably increase tourism in DA. People are only dreaming.

  8. Flat Tire
    June 23, 2019

    I reference to this article I would like to ask Joseph john,gee Joseph, peeping tom , facially challenged capitolin and melo mills supposedly am educator which story avout the international aiprtot do they believe? How many stories habe the om given? 8?

  9. Ibo France
    June 23, 2019

    In my most honest opinion, in these times of modernity, an international airport is a necessity. It’s for ease of access not only for tourists and to spur economic activity, but for all Dominicans who wish to travel in and out of the island. The big problem is that the DLP continues to play political football with the issue. For the past umpteen years, on the eve of an election, Skerrit and his dishonest bunch make a solemn promise of building the airport which they fully know that they have no intention of keeping. This time around let’s fire him and prove that the majority of Dominicans are no fools like he thinks. The electorate will stop the ‘bag of lies’ once and for all. Enough is enough.

  10. Original
    June 23, 2019

    No one has said or is saying the airport is more important than the bridges, hospital or fixing the failed economy, in fact the airport is part of the entire realm of getting the country back up and running. The international airport would facilitate movement of products and people, eg suppose the hospital is completed and equipment gets damaged speedy replacement is facilitated via the airport, getting agricultural products to distant markets in timely fashion, there are many advantages to having an international airport. The sad part is this labour party government has no intention of constructing an airport but uses it has a political chip.

  11. Alicks
    June 23, 2019

    Dominica is really at a crossroad at this stage towards our forward development as a nation! We have had two major storms 2015 and 2017 which destroyed our country and our economy to virtually nil!!! Our population have been decreased significantly in the past two years. We haven’t been able as a people to work together for the betterment of our people and our country for many many years and that is why our country is so way behind compared to our neighbors. My opinion is an international airport should have been our jewel, 40 yrs ago but we just didn’t have the vision!! An inter/ airport if we are able to access the funds is a must!! Managed properly, with good governance and taking everything in consideration, it’s gonna benefit our country beyound! It will be an overall benefit to the economy of a country and it’s people. We have to Look beyound our own personal egos and political differences and think what’s the best for our country and our people beyound!!

  12. TJ
    June 22, 2019

    Give UWP a chance. The labor via its Guru has promised for also stipulates twenty years and failed.

  13. Cyril Volney
    June 22, 2019

    A commentary that makes sense.

  14. Ti Garcon
    June 22, 2019

    Excellent article, other points to mention are
    the repair and maintain the entire farm feeder network- or at least in main farming communities,
    the upgrading main road network from portsmouth to hatten garden down to delices. then from t-savann to grand bay to Roseau.
    Upgrade and expand ports of entry to cruise/ ferry and container shipping,
    Computerize the entire gov’t system (eliminate paperwork which is inefficient and handy for corrupt politicians aka paperwork goes missing),
    Upgrade the banking system to accommodate a cashless society (give banks incentives to eliminate bank lines, remove ATM user fees),
    Sufficiently finance the court system, too much court cases taking 2yrs+ like its normal and right.

    I could go on and on. An airport will cause the VAT to go to 25%, our dwindling population can’t support that. An airport will cost over $1billion, which is the rough equivalent of current national debt.

    • Gary
      June 25, 2019

      What is excellent about this article. Why is it the distortion of facts and the misrepresentation of the truth makes this article excellent. Do you know what Coercive Depopulation means, is The Government using force or intimidation as a means of expulsion to reduce the population in pursuit of an International Airport. You yourself have written such nonsense, more bull on top bull, example of you nonsense. Do you really think that computerization of the Government system can stop corrupt politician. As to upgrading the Banking system, is it the Government responsibility to do such thing. You are entitled to your opinion but not your facts, so long.

  15. Kalinago Justice
    June 22, 2019

    Well written,totally agree with you this commentary! This every five-year elections campaign promise is all that it is,this one-man rogue regime prime mistake continues to play fools promises with the already fooled fools! All it takes to comfort a fool is a promise!!!

  16. TJ
    June 22, 2019

    Let Dr. Skerrit answer. Why has he use the International airport issue to lie and lie to Dominicans.he has been given many opportunities to act. But his nose grows longer as he continues to lie.

  17. Roger Burnett
    June 22, 2019

    This commentary makes a lot of sense.

    I echoed similar views in my DNO commentary “A State of Self-Sufficiency”

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