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HomeCommentaryOpen forumOpen forum: Will Wisdom Prevail at the Sixth Constitutional Convention?

Open forum: Will Wisdom Prevail at the Sixth Constitutional Convention?

Verdel L. Petersen

I thought about waiting until January to compose this letter, but I’m feeling inspired at the moment and hope my brief message will be published before 2024.

As the 21st Century Digital Historian of the USVI, it’s my mission and passion to educate, enlighten and inspire minds. This year, a lot of my time and energy was spent advocating for the adoption of the Revised Organic Act of 1954 (as amended). Although my request to testify in support of adopting the Revised Organic Act of 1954 (ROA) as a framework for a proposed V.I. constitution was ignored by the 34th Legislature, I am more determined than ever to promote the idea. What is there to lose?

The election of delegates to the Sixth Constitutional Convention is scheduled for the Nov. 5, 2024 general election. It’s up to the convention delegates to respect the will of the electorate or to focus on creating a document that’s aligned with their personal agenda instead. On Nov. 3, 2020, 72% of the voters who participated in a referendum expressed support for the adoption of the Revised Organic Act as a framework for a new constitution. Does it matter what the majority wishes? Is the political ideology of the majority of delegates more important than the will of the people? Let’s see if the elected convention delegates will reflect on the history of the three previous conventions and avoid the mistakes of the past.

Let’s pray that wisdom prevails. The 35th Legislature passed some amendments to the law to establish the Sixth Constitutional Convention earlier this year; it mandated that the convention produce a proposed V. I. Constitution by Oct. 31, 2025.  If Congress approves the document, the V.I.  electorate will get a chance to accept or reject it.

It’s possible that the Revised Organic Act would be replaced by a document written by Virgin Islanders. The other possibility is that a stalemate will occur. The choice is ours.

Do you wish to help shape the political destiny of U.S. Virgin Islands? Are you satisfied with being governed by a Congressional Act that you have no power to amend? Do you prefer to live in a democratic society that respects the will of the majority or one that guarantees special rights only for Native Virgin Islanders?

Sincerely,

Verdel L. Petersen, St. Croix, USVI

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