A new day dawns on Blacktip Island after residents Wednesday voted to declare themselves an independent nation. (photo courtesy of Rocky Shore)
In a surprise referendum Wednesday, Blacktip Island residents chose overwhelmingly to leave the Tiperon Islands. The vote, if approved by the Blacktip Island Commission, would establish the small Caribbean island as an independent nation.
The vote, known locally as the Bleave, was called after an increase in import duty for alcohol from Tiperon, the capital island, resulted in several days of public protest on Blacktip.
“You better believe I voted to Bleave,” island mayor Jack Cobia said. “Our so-called representative on the big island wasn’t elected. Blacktip’s a small island, out on the edge of things. Last election, we just plain forgot to vote. That’s when politicos in the capitol appointed one of their cronies.
“Next thing you know, our man – a preacher, no less – votes to double the price of our booze,” Cobia said. “We scheduled a vote to stop the riots, and, boy, did folks turned out. Well, three folks, anyway. But we all voted ‘out.’”
Critics say independence could cripple the island’s economy.
“There’s no way this little sand spit can survive on its own,” said Rocky Shore, economics professor at Tiperon University-Blacktip. “Tourism’s all Blacktip has, and 100 drunks can’t provide the infrastructure to support that product.
“Democracy’s not always best,” Shore said. “Voters should have stayed home again instead of turning out to vote.”
The pro camp, though, expects the island’s economy to thrive.
“All the dive operations and bars are going like gangbusters,” said Rick Skerritt, owner of Eagle Ray Cove resort. “Us Blacktippers are used to looking out for ourselves, and each other.
“My ancestors came to this island with nothing but their dreams. And investment capital,” Skerritt said. “I’ll be damned if some pencil pusher from Tiperon’s gonna run my life.”
Others took a more low-key approach.
“Sure, people are up in arms, but nothing’ll change,” handyman Antonio Fletcher said. “It’s Blacktip Island. Nothing ever changes.
“It’s good being on our own,” Fletcher said. “Tiperon’s got too many foreigners, anyway. And teetotalers.”