Tobago’s Internal-Self Governance — No Façade Structure

By Stephen Kangal
July 11, 2012

Stephen KangalCurrent proposals originating both in POS (The Green Paper) and Scarborough (The Draft Bill of the THA) now in the public domain and geared to accord a higher level of self-governance to Tobagonians must not result in another façade Legislature exercising political and administrative autonomy merely to achieve peace, order and good governance in the sister-isle. There must be fundamental changes both in structure and substance. Tobago must be treated with dignity, the inalienable right of its people to self-determination respected and their ownership or sovereign rights over adjacent maritime resources to be exploited for the welfare of its people recognized and legitimized.

Tobago must accordingly be granted an adequate measure of resource jurisdiction and effective and exclusive control over its rich maritime patrimony to be exploited as Tobagonians see fit to increase their self-reliance and economic independence and incrementally reduce their traditional dependency syndrome on Trinidad. These hydrocarbons lie on the natural physical prolongation of Tobago into and under the sea. That is the legal basis for claims to the resources of the sea universally. They are nearer to Tobago and installations are clearly visible.

The Green Paper plan to endow the new Legislature and Executive Council to extend its law-creating capacity exclusively to the island of Tobago and ten miles of Territorial Sea and leave the jurisdictional status of the off-shore islands, the archipelagic waters and the air-space over these areas including over the ten mile territorial sea band in a limbo is to grant a “bob-tail” brand of self-governance to the island. This must be opposed using well-known Tobago muscle and intellect.

The strategic location and value of Tobago in the archipelagic state of T&T cannot be over-emphasised. The entire boundary between T&T and Barbados on the one-hand and with Grenada is measured from and derived from Tobago. It stands to reason that Tobagonians must now be accorded a type of functional exclusive economic jurisdiction over the living and non-living resources of a sizeable part of the Exclusive Economic Zone located seawards of the limits of the 12-mile Territorial Sea over and beyond what is being proposed using as a determining factor the question of adjacency. Tobagonians cannot be encircled by maritime oil/gas blocks on all sides and yet are blocked from deriving direct benefits from these oil and gas fields. This is a denial of their solemn maritime patrimony to be harvested equitably for the benefits of its people.

Accordingly the proposed Tobago Legislature and Executive Council should be invested with the law-creating capacity to apply and extend to the main island, the off-shore islands, the archipelagic waters, the territorial sea of 12 miles, their superjacent air-spaces and the exclusive economic zone located north, East and West of Tobago.

In order to determine the geographical reach of the law-creating and law-implementation capacity of the proposed legislature the Act must contain a definition of Tobago. The following is offered:

Draft Definition of Tobago
Patented by Stephen Kangal

“Tobago shall comprise the island of Tobago, Little Tobago, St. Giles Island, Marble Is, Goat Island, Sisters Island and other off-shore islands, the archipelagic waters and Territorial Sea, the air-space above these two aforementioned maritime areas as well as over the land-space and shall exercise sovereign and other rights over the adjacent Exclusive Economic Zone on behalf of Trinidad and Tobago as set out in the Archipelagic Waters and Exclusive Economic Zone, Act No 24 of 1986, extending to the limits established by internationally-recognized maritime boundaries and the jurisdictional limits to be agreed in maritime areas lying between Tobago and Trinidad and/or in maritime areas where no bilateral limits have been agreed to with the two neighbouring states concerned, to 200 nautical miles.”

5 Responses to “Tobago’s Internal-Self Governance — No Façade Structure”


  • This article written by Mr Kangal represent the first an. D genuine attempt I have seen in recent times by anyone to clearly articulate the true meaning of self determination. I am extremely concerned that the TOP which many regarded as the natural party for self government remained quiet while the fundamental issue regarding Tobago is systematically taken out of the hands of the people of Tobago. In fact, the Prime Minister is reported to have said that the future of Tobago is a matter for the Parliament of Trinidad and Tobago. This kind of view as reported , gives the impression that at the end of all the so called consultation, the people of Tobago will only get what they are given. This is unacceptable and demonstrates the contempt in which the true and legitimate aspirations of the Tobagonian people are held. It appears Tobagonians gave up Crown Colony for Clown Colony status.

    Tobagonians must wake up, self determination is your right and is enshrined in the UN charter. It is not up to any external legilature to impose or dictate your future.

  • Do we think by creating a deep water Harbor and upgrading the Airport can make and Island stand on its own? Where was the THA budget coming from all these years?
    Tourism, International Flights, Resorts, this sounds great, but what about when Natural disasters strike,what about resources-where would this be coming from? Natural gas, Oil, And most of the basics, What would Tobago imports and exports be?
    Being separated from Mother land Trinidad would be ultimate self-suicide to the Max! What about all them Trini’s who gone there, realize they want to come back home? Is there sustainable enterprises in operation to keep the Revenue going?
    If Tobago would be getting Statehood or nation Status, Palestinian are entitled to the same.
    Afghanistan is the poorest and most illiterate place in the world, yet the super powers are contending for it.$$$ Billions are being invested here, but do we question what is the paybacks?
    If Tobago feel like breaking away and standing on her own, no probs, but the Question would re-main- What is the Paybacks? Politicians or is it Big Business after this move?

    • Dear Trini
      Your myopic and parochial view is definitely obscuring your vision. You are reverting to the outdated and discredited issue of secession of the 1970s. Tobagonians are not talking about seceding. That argument is long over. Today we are merely exercising our right to self determination. Consider for a moment, If the small LDCs of the caribbean or countries such as East Timor or others such as Angola and Mozambique lived in fear of the future, they all would continue to struggle under the weight of colonialism and imperialism. Currently, the Falkland Islands is preparing to vote on their right to self determination and not unlike Tobago, they have significant reserve of oil and gas within their maritime boundaries.
      You need to abandon your antequated and petty imperialist viewpoints and recognise that self determination is about exercising our sovereign right and dignity as a people.

      • Dear Audley
        “Sovereign right and dignity as a people” Tell me Mr. Graham which Caribbean Island is Sovereign? The sovereignty of Nations is a thing of the Past. Show me a nation that is not entangled in the this World Bank or IMF policies, drowning in Debts… yet we talking about sovereignty!!!
        What about Self Determination? Do we determine our selves, or is this just another fluke in the game.Colonialism and Imperialism is so strong within us, we don’t know we are still being controlled in another guise.
        Tell me a little about Tobago’s Industrial Sector?
        Agricultural Sector? Exports?
        What rights? When we cannot carry out our own Laws.
        We are being fooled with this word: Caricom, this grand scheme by the Super Powers thinking it enhance self determinism.
        I wish we had dignity as a people, but elaborate here:Americanism, Imperialism and Globalism, do we think Tobago or any other Island can stand apart from this?….
        Peace

  • When the battle for internal self government for Tobago heated up, one of the reasons proffered even by the likes of A.N.R. Robinson was that Trinidadians did not like Tobagonians, a we and them scenario.

    If one follows the logic now postulated in the new attempts at internal self government, the kinds of conditions demanded–recognizing territorial waters/airspace, residential qualifications, titles of THA officials et al–they all point to secession rather than internal self government.

    Prior to the discovery of oil and natural gas around Tobago, those deposits from Trinidad supported Tobago. Suddenly now oil and natural gas deposits around Tobago ‘belong’ to Tobago. Share Trinidad own, but allyuh own is allyuh own.

    Quite frankly some of the demands in the name of internal self government are quite excessive: the proximity of these islands cose to each other and comprising of one territory makes any claim for territorial sea etc ridiculous to say the least.

Comments are currently closed.