The Defeat of the Dolphin Mexican Kingpins

Island Notes 73

Part Two of the Anguillan Trilogy

I had just completed three grueling days of journalistic pursuit on Sint Maarten.  I was working much too hard for my new career as World Kid and decided to take a break at the end of the assignment.  I hopped a ferry out of the French West Indies port of Marigot, St. Martin, and twenty-five dollars later ended up at Blowing Point, Anguilla.

“Need a taxi, sir?” yelled out a young woman driver.

“No, darling.  I’m walking today.”

I knew my destination was just west of the port and headed up the road.  I stopped at a split in the route that had me guessing which way I needed to walk.  I didn’t want to make the wrong choice.  I had one bag of clothes on one shoulder and a heavy daypack of gear on the other—camera, lenses, audio recorder, laptop.  I asked an old man nearby where the Ferryboat Inn was.  He motioned me to follow him through a parking lot that led onto one of the lanes I was pondering.

“You see that sign way down there on the left?  That’s Patsy’s.  If you walk past that, you will see another sign just like that except it’s called the Ferryboat Inn.  That’s where you want to go.”

Five minutes later, I arrived and settled in.  The inn is located on a lovely sand beach with a grand view of St. Martin to the south.  I was curious about the pier that jutted out from the coast.  It was unlike any I have ever seen.  The decking formed a square far out in the sea, and the bottom was netted.  I had absolutely no clue why this dock was shaped this way.  But with the sun setting and a Mount Gay in hand, I decided to give this mystery a rest.  My trip to Sint Maarten that had ended earlier that day had been a handful.

The next morning I ran into the same old man at Blowing Point and asked him about the strange pier.  “Oh that’s where the Mexicans were going to put the dolphins.  It was going to be Anguilla’s next big tourist attraction.”

It turns out that this Mexican development company had already set up profitable,  swim-with-the-dolphins operations in the Caymans, the Virgin Islands and Guatemala.  They wanted to establish one here on Anguilla.  Before people on the island knew it, the pier was being constructed right in their backyard.

“A number of folks got together to stop it, “ continued the old man.  “We had nature groups, the archeological society, all kinds of people against it.  They finally had no choice but to get some lawyers and take the Mexicans to court to stop the construction.  The lawyers told us we had a case, but when it was presented to the judge, she said it would take her two weeks to review the case.  I was shocked.  I thought the lawyers had presented everything clearly and expected a verdict that afternoon.”

The verdict never came in the promised two weeks.  It didn’t come until this past September, one and a half years after the case was presented to the judge.  She did not rule as the locals wanted, a verdict saying that the location was unsuitable for this folly.  Rather, the judge ruled that the Mexicans would have to reapply for project consideration and a proper environmental assessment would need to be conducted.

“The Mexicans left the island long ago,” added the old man. “They now have three months to comply with the judge’s request.  I doubt if they will return.  If they don’t come back, the judge will force the local government to remove the dolphin trap.  The politicians were the ones that approved this fiasco in the first place.  If they don’t remove it, the next hurricane sure will.”   The old man just smiled as he looked out at the abandoned construction.  He knew its fate and who had won.

“Imagine, someone coming here from Mexico and telling us that we don’t have a chance to stop what they are going to do.  What arrogance.  Well, there won’t be any dolphins in detention in our back yard.”

Anguillan pride.   It is nice to know that the ‘good guys’ do win at times.  More power to them and the dolphins.

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