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Stanford Charge May Impact Antigua`s Election – Professor

CaribWorldNews, NEW YORK, NY, Thurs. Feb. 19, 2009: A Caribbean-born, political science professor believes that the charges filed by the SEC on Tuesday against billionaire Allen Stanford, could impact the Antigua and Barbuda general election next month.

Arizona University assistant professor and political scientist, Dr. David Hinds, told CWNN on Wednesday that voters on the island could become so disgusted with the impact of foreigners on their country in the light of the allegations that they may simply stay away from the polls.

This, said Hinds, will only hurt the incumbent Baldwin Spencer government, even though its history of association with Stanford has been shorter than the opposition Antigua Labor Party and former Prime Minister Lester Bird.

Hinds pointed to reports of long lines outside the Stanford-controlled Bank of Antigua as an indication that the electorate is worried and peeved over the alleged fraud charges, moods he said, which could affect the incumbent.

`The line up at banks will play out in the election and could affect the incumbent government,` said the political scientist whose specialty is Caribbean issues. `The impact of foreigners coming in and being given special privileges that lead to situations such as the current one may not sit well with voters. Especially since the current government, though critical of Stanford while in the opposition, played ball with him once they got in to office.`

Hinds insists that despite the Bird history with Stanford, Caribbean voters have short memories. `Bird has been out five years … its now ancient history and one I am certain the ALP will now turn around and use against the incumbent,` said Hinds. `This is one of the ways  politics plays out in the Caribbean since there is not much to choose from between two main parties ideologically, the one is power will usually pay for the current woes and it’s the incumbent that suffers as we’ve seen changes in recent elections in the region.`

Foreigners come in and push up rates of land and people respond to that by asking about how the investment is improving their own lives and since its not, it’s the govt. in power that suffers,` added the Arizona-based Guyanese national. `Look at Barbados, St Lucia and Jamaica.`

Still he predicts that the ruling Antigua United Progressive Party will win come March 12th, though by a much narrower margin than their victory five years ago.

`He is likely to get a second term,` said Hinds of Spencer, but insists that the party will lose votes because of the Stanford debacle. 

`Many of the people who would probably have voted for them may stay home,` said Hinds. `People will say all of them are the same thing… this could affect the final count especially if Bird’s hold on to their loyalists. If you look at the trend in last Caribbean elections you will see there was voter turnout of just over 65 per cent with a least one third or so staying away. This could happen next month.`

The political scientist also feels that the ALP loyalists may turn the Stanford issue into a political football, despite claims it will not from the top.

`I think they will use it,` said the outspoken lecturer and writer. `Then it puts the Spencer team on the defense as they can say the UPP is now ‘dating’ Stanford and dismiss their own history with him.`

Hinds, meanwhile, also rapped regional governments, whom he said jockey one another to see who can be more friendly to foreigners and because they are desperate for investment, they end up attracting rogue capital since very rarely is careful due diligence done.

`What happens is that we are eventually drawn in and end up being embarrassed as we are now,` added Hinds.

Hinds` comments come as the AP reported that Stanford also owes hundreds of millions of dollars in federal taxes,  more than $212 million to be exact. He also has yet to be served court papers from

U.S. officials since SEC regulators said on Wednesday they still do not know the whereabouts of the billionaire Texas banker, charged with a "massive" $8 billion international financial fraud.
CNBC reported Wednesday that Stanford  had tried to hire a private jet to fly one-way to Antigua from Houston, but the jet leaser refused to take his credit card.

However, the other two executives who were charged with Stanford, Laura Pendergest-Holt and Jim Davis, have been served. – By CWNN Staffwriter.