After some pressure, the neighbouring United States Virgin Islands (USVI) has agreed to sign off on an interim agreement to address the long standing travel restrictions issue faced by local bands/musicians when hired to perform on that island.
Exactly one month after BVI’s Culture Minister, Hon. Myron Walwyn publicly threatened to have USVI bands/musicians barred from performing at the BVI festival next year if the matter was not addressed soon, Lieutenant Governor Osbert E. Potter met with the Minister.
In an interview with BVI Platinum News on Tuesday, August 9, Minister Walwyn disclosed that he had an official visit from Dr. Potter on July 29th in the BVI.
He said out of that meeting, they agreed that a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) will be inked between the relevant agencies to allow for an interim solution as they continue to push for the matter to be addressed at Congress.
Ultimately, the BVI wants to be exempted from the federal restrictions.
Minister Walwyn said they have already started to work on the MOU because it is with hope that it will be in place before the USVI carnival in April 2017.
“We have been able to come to an arrangement where an interim position will be taken until the substantive matter is sorted out…The interim situation will be that BVI bands will be able go to St. Thomas to play, particularly during the carnival season in St. Thomas, as part of a cultural exchange between the USVI Carnival Committee and the BVI Festival Committee,” he explained.
“So the machination is being worked out as we speak between the Ministry and the other counterparts in the USVI. So, hopefully our bands will be able to play in their village at the next carnival celebrations that they are having…We expect it to be in place for the festivities that they will have in St. Thomas in April.”
The Minister said it must be clear that it will be an interim measure and the BVI has been assured that strong efforts are being made to have the issue addressed at Congress.
“It’s an interim measure because the substantive motion is really to have the BVI exempted in the federal restrictions and we have gotten the commitment from them that immediately following the elections for the delegates to Congress, that person will be asked to take the BVI case forward—to have us exempted, having regards to the cultural relationship that we have over the years,” he explained.
The Culture Minister thanked the local bands for their patience since it has been an issue for many years. He however urged them to follow the rules which will be under the agreement once it is finalized and signed.
“I want to thank them very much for their patience because it is something that we have been working on for quite a while. I would want to encourage them to follow the laws of the USVI, (because) we are making substantial grounds,” he said.
“And we don’t want to compromise that by they going outside of what the proposed interim arrangement will be, because that will certainly compromise our plans moving forward to have the matter substantially addressed in the United States,” Minister Walwyn lamented.