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Tuesday, June 25, 2024
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Creating a People's Document

Dear Source:
Michael A. Monagle could not be more correct and I thank him for his Source article on the relationship of the proposed wording of the Virgin Islands Constitution and that of the Republic of South Africa. South Africa, for too many years found that divisiveness was the downfall of the country and made changes to ensure equality for all. On June 22, 2008, I wrote a proposed preface to the Virgin Islands Constitution:
Section 1: Historical Reference
In the course of Virgin Islands history, there remains the incontrovertible fact that the greatness of our people was irrefutably shaped by those who came before us. Our ancestors are the foundation and basis for our culture, traditions and unyielding way of life. This Constitution distinguishes Native Virgin Islanders as those persons who are descendants of greatness; of fortitude under great odds; and who persevered the indignity of forced servitude to emerge proudly and establish this great land. In tribute to the eminence of its people, and with reverence to our forebears, this Constitution is gratefully dedicated.
I believe language such as this is far more appealing to the diverse cultures that exist today than language which separates. It honors the fortitude of the people who built the Virgin Islands. Like Mr. Monagle, I have testified several times before the Constitutional Convention. My observance indicates that there seems to be an element among the convention delegates who would prefer no constitution to one which requires citizenship separations. This attitude is not progressive and threatens to set the Virgin Islands back to the 18th century. In contrast, there are many delegates who would prefer to not have separatist language as part of the proposed constitution. I believe strongly that the Virgin Islands should have a solid Constitution which allows equality for all. To do less would be another injustice thrust upon the people. I hope that the delegates can work it out. If not, the effort to create a people’s document is certainly doomed to failure.

Paul Devine
St. John

Editor's note: We welcome and encourage readers to keep the dialogue going by responding to Source commentary. Letters should be e-mailed with name and place of residence to source@viaccess.net.

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