Nov. 15, 2004 – Delegate Donna M. Christensen, along with thousands of others, signed a petition recently that advocates the separation of the U.S. Virgin Islands.
More than 5,500 of the 25,770 voters registered on St. Croix have signed the petition, which asks Congress to make St. Croix its own U.S. territory, separate from St. Thomas and St. John.
Christensen, who is from St. Croix, said she agreed with the spirit of the petition, not the actual separation.
"Their position is a bit extreme, but I signed it just to draw some attention," she said. "Sometimes you act with your heart and my heart is with St. Croix."
Although the island of about 55,000 residents is home to the Western Hemisphere's second largest oil refinery, Hovensa, and the Cruzan Rum distillery, unemployment is rampant – regularly exceeding 13 percent, compared to around 9 percent on the other two islands.
Petition organizers plan to send the signatures to the U.S. Congress in February so new Congress members will be settled in and ready to address it, Rena Brodhurst, president of the Committee for St. Croix Self-Governance, said.
Christensen would not speculate how Congress might react, but said the plea for self-governance might be more effective as a referendum before local voters.
St. Croix residents voted four of their seven territorial senators out of office Nov. 2, openly complaining they were poorly represented and receiving less than their share of government spending.
The petition reads: "We the undersigned citizens of St. Croix in the United States Virgin Islands, hereby request that you amend the Organic Act of 1954 to make St. Croix a separate territory of the United States of America. It has become increasingly difficult for St. Croix to grow and prosper under the current form of government.
"We wish to administer our own affairs and not be obliged to ask elected St. Thomas/St. John officials for approval on issues that impact every aspect of our daily lives.
"We request the right to elect a governor, lieutenant governor and five senators who will reside on St. Croix and manage the island's affairs. We wish to maintain a tri-island election for delegate to Congress. Our population does not warrant another delegate.
"We request that all revenues derived on St. Croix be retained on that island. In addition, we request that all federal programs and funds currently provided to the Virgin Islands government be divided in equal portions for the two separate governments to administer."
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