#SaveBarbuda: Protect Caribbean Island From Land Grab and Environmental Destruction

#SaveBarbuda: Protect Caribbean Island From Land Grab and Environmental Destruction

February 6, 2022
Petition to
Signatures: 674Next Goal: 1,000
Support now

Why this petition matters

Started by SaveBarbuda

From the wetlands to the pink sands, billionaires are bulldozing the island of Barbuda. 

Since emancipation from slavery in 1834, the people of Barbuda have shared communal rights to the land in a unique land tenure system. This has protected the island’s socially and biologically diverse environment. Now these ecologically sensitive lands and the associated lifestyle are being grabbed and rapidly destroyed by billionaire developers building enclaves for the ultra-wealthy.

Right now, hundreds of exclusive private residences, an 18-hole golf course, an airstrip for private jets and several luxury resorts are being constructed without proper authorization on the small Caribbean island of Barbuda. All against the rights and wishes of the local community

These controversial developments include Paradise Found, backed by Robert De Niro, and the Barbuda Ocean Club, developed by Michael Meldman (co-founder of Casamigos Tequila and George Clooney’s longtime business partner) and billionaire ‘environmentalist’ John Paul De Joria (co-founder of Patrón Spirits and Paul Mitchell Hair Products).

The people of Barbuda and their Council are screaming, but the Government does not hear them. Neither do international organizations and the foreigners who are enjoying - or about to enjoy - the fruits of grabbed land and an outstripped community. This petition is to amplify the voices of Barbuda. To let everyone know that Barbuda does not stand alone, and that there are people, around the world, who care about this land, about autonomy, and about Barbudans' right to continue to sustainably develop and preserve their own island, which is now so attractive to investors.

Saving Barbuda is a race against time. But it's not too late.

We are demanding that the involved corporate actors immediately stop all construction, sales and operations related to these development projects, and promptly and fully repair all environmental harms that they have already caused.

The investors and developers involved in these developments include PLH (Barbuda) LLC, Discovery Land Company, Paradise Found LLC and The Abercorn Trust Inc. Contractors and affiliates include BlueFin Development Ltd, Confluence Electric, D Benjamin Architects, Deborah Brosnan and Associates, Eagle LNG, Gachot Studios, Gary Kaye Design, Harris Kalinka, JWP Design, Kelly Construction Company, Patronus Medical, SAV Digital Environments, SB Architects, Tom Fazio, Vita Inc. and Von Design Co. For more information, our running list of involved corporate actors can be found here.

We are also calling for the Government of Antigua and Barbuda to immediately end partnerships with the developers, cease construction of the new airstrip on Barbuda, recognize Barbuda Council as the sole authorized administrator of Barbuda’s land and leases, and uphold all of its responsibilities under the Ramsar Convention. 

For more information, please keep reading below, visit www.savebarbuda.org or find us on social media @savebarbuda. You can also support our crowdfunding page here

These luxury developments threaten everything about Barbuda.

They violate the land rights and self-determination of local Barbudans, who have communally owned this land together ever since the abolition of slavery nearly 200 years ago.

They are destroying the internationally-protected wetlands of Codrington Lagoon National Park. The park is a Category II Protected Area under the International Union for Conservation of Nature and a designated Wetland of International Importance under the Ramsar Convention. The wetlands play a crucial role in the ecosystem, and they help to protect the people of Barbuda from severe weather events, which are increasing due to climate change. The Barbuda Ocean Club is building more than 400 luxury homes and an 18-hole golf course on top of this protected wetland.

The developments risk the lives and habitats of diverse flora and fauna, including the red-footed tortoise, various species of endangered turtles, fallow deer, the Barbudan warbler, the endangered West Indian Whistling Duck, and the largest colony of the Magnificent Frigate Bird in the western hemisphere.

They endanger the water quality of the Codrington Lagoon, Barbuda’s major fish nursery ground, thereby impacting local food access and economic opportunity. This also threatens the water climate of the entire Eastern Caribbean, which is directly affected by activities on Barbuda.

The developments also undermine Barbuda’s protection from severe weather events, increasing the island’s vulnerability to climate change, as the damage being done to the coastline removes crucial natural defenses against hurricanes and storm surges.

They also threaten to irreparably harm Barbuda’s natural coastline and wave quality, including the pristine Palmetto Point swell admired by surfers from around the world.

This is an example of disaster capitalism.

In 2017, Hurricane Irma damaged over 90% of the structures on Barbuda. During a mandatory evacuation of all residents, the Government of Antigua and Barbuda (based in Antigua) started clearing land to build an unauthorized airport for international private flights. They also pushed forward new laws giving away land that residents had traditionally held in common, allowing outside investors to take over vast areas of the island. This is disaster capitalism at its worst. In the words of Naomi Klein: “There are people with power who are cashing in on chaos”. 

And it's all part of a catastrophic global trend, with impacts beyond Barbuda.

Land grabs like this have become a pattern, where vulnerable communities are dispossessed of their land to make way for large-scale private investments from which governments, multinational corporations and investors seek to profit. 

Such projects are also part of a global trend of over-development of small island nations, by companies with total disregard for impacts on locals and the environment, and without consideration of climate change adaptation and mitigation. 

What these investors are doing to Barbuda is also an example of disaster capitalism, which is when powerful actors take advantage of a natural disaster (like Hurricane Irma) to exploit affected communities and profit from their vulnerability.

Barbudans have been leading a resistance movement for years, and now the international community is getting involved.

Experts at the United Nations have expressed “deep concerns regarding the potential impacts of the Barbuda Ocean Club Project on human rights, including the rights to food, water and sanitation, housing, and a healthy environment, as well as cultural rights.”

Join us in calling on the responsible actors to stop the destruction and #SaveBarbuda!

Support now
Signatures: 674Next Goal: 1,000
Support now