Tooting our horn
Beaconites have big news. Last month the Beacon received one of the premier investigative reporting awards in the hemisphere for its part in a recent cross-border collaboration with the Puerto Rico Center for Investigative Journalism. The project resulted in the three-part “Paradise Lost” series, which was among 15 of nearly 300 entries from across Latin America and the Caribbean to be recognised by the Instituto Prensa and Sociedad during a Nov. 11 award ceremony in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Along with 11 other investigations, the series received honourable mention. The Virgin Islands segment of the series — by Beacon Editor Freeman Rogers — chronicled the ramifications of widespread mangrove destruction as Tortola and other islands have developed since the 1950s. The Puerto Rico and Cayman Islands segments — by Víctor Rodríguez Velázquez and Kayla Young, respectively — probed the environmental and social consequences of rapid coastal development in those territories. Last month’s honour was not the first for the Paradise Lost series, which also scored the annual award for Best Multimedia Investigative Reporting from the Overseas Press Club of Puerto Rico in August. Beaconites are grateful for the opportunity to collaborate, and they thank the Puerto Rico centre and Omaya Sosa Pascual, a centre founder who led the series as special projects editor. Beaconites believe that cross-border investigations — which have become much easier in recent years thanks to Zoom and other technology — are invaluable for a region made up of islands that are divided by geography and language but nevertheless face very similar issues in an age of climate change and other global challenges. They hope to continue collaborating in the future.
A Beaconite has previously used this space to note her support for using the legal system to accomplish tasks that no other means can accomplish. The United States is often criticised for relying too heavily on the courts, but one can’t argue that they don’t get things done. A perfect example cropped up last week when the European Union Court of Justice ruled against a requirement for EU countries to establish public registers of beneficial ownership. Here, the registers have been a near-constant pain point throughout the past five years, as the Virgin Islands and other similar jurisdictions have strived to balance a commitment to privacy with a commitment to meeting global transparency standards. What years of active and passive resistance couldn’t accomplish, the court did in one fell swoop. Though the decision apparently is not binding in the United Kingdom and her overseas territories, the inevitability of public registers as a global standard now seems much less inevitable. As VI asset recovery lawyer Martin Kenney remarked in an interview with the Beaconite, the ruling “shows us that litigation mitigating over some of these issues is a good thing. It forces the issues to be resolved in a logical way, under the law, instead of just kowtowing to whatever someone tells you to do. If you inherently think it’s wrong, go and fight.”
A woman tragically lost her life following a vehicular accident on Saturday night, and a Beaconite noticed an outpouring of tributes and other support on social media. Police provided few details about the Saturday incident, but residents also used the occasion to express concern about a longstanding problem: Too often, motorists in the Virgin Islands aren’t following the rules of the road. Residents’ complaints ranged widely and included various common offences: driving without using indicators; tailgating; blinding oncoming vehicles with high beams; and breaking the rules at roundabouts, among many others. Given that the tourism season is here and the holiday season is fast approaching, the roadways will become much busier in the coming weeks. A Beaconite is appealing to residents to drive safely and to keep a sharp lookout for pedestrians, especially children and seniors. Police also need to step up enforcement efforts.