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The Bahamas - Abaco Islands

Last modified: 2020-11-07 by rob raeside
Keywords: bahamas | abaco | the bahamas |
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image by Jaume Ollé, 8 May 2003

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Abaco Island

The Abaco Islands are a group of islands (the largest of which is Great Abaco) in the Bahamas.  In the early 1970s, there was an Abaco Independence Movement (AIM), which sought an independent or separate Abaco in the event that the British government granted independence to the colony of the Bahamas (which it did in July 1973).  AIM representatives flew to London and lobbied the British Government (Commons, Lords, and petition to Queen) to allow Abaco to become separate from any independent Bahamas.  The requests were denied, and the entire Bahamas became independent.
The AIM flag showed a lighthouse (presumably the lighthouse at Hopetown) amidst a sunburst.  A picture of the flag (in B/W) appears in  Steve Dodge's: "Abaco:  The History of An Out Island and Its Cays" (Decatur:  White Sound Press 1983), page 129.  This book also has a good discussion of the AIM and the reasons behind its activities.
James T. Liston, 4 May 2003

There were other flags flown in and around Abaco just prior to the Bahamas' independence. According to my friend, Brian Sinclair, a New York restaurateur, sailing enthusiast, owner of the islet in the Abaco group, and frequent visitor to Hopetown, the vast majority of the Abaco islanders, not having any desire to be included in the Commonwealth of the Bahamas, were trying to convince the UK government to let them retain a status of British dependency on the Anguilla model (presidency).Some even opted for outright independence (AIM). In the months before the Bahamas' independence the islanders were vigorously displaying the Union flags and multitudes of yachts and sailing boats were also flying a proposed flag for Abaco - the British Blue Ensign charged with the Abaco badge - a sailing ship on the light blue background resting on six dark blue and five white waves. Above the ship there was a golden scroll with "ABACO" on it. The badge, in the form of the shield, was framed in gold.
As Mr. Liston stated, to the dismay of the islanders, the British didn't show any interest in the plight of the Abaco islanders and abandoned them to the new Commonwealth of the Bahamas. So, the little island group submerged in significant obscurity, has nevertheless quite rich vexi-history.
Chrystian Kretowicz, 7 May 2003

I do not know much about the "governor"-like flag, except that it was one of the designs for the flag of an eventual administrator of the wished-for entity under the British rule. The blue ensign charged with the badge of the islands did exist. See also
Chrystian Kretowicz, 24 April 2008

The Badge

image by Chrystian Kretowicz, 24 April 2008

Abaco Independence Movement

image by Olivier Touzeau, 30 October 2020

I heard about the flag that was proposed for "independent" Abaco island in Bahamas. Abaco was settled by many Europeans from USA and it is an island which is a bit different from the rest of Bahamas. The Phoenix Foundation (anarchist-capitalist group) tried to establish the island independence. A party called Abaco Independence Movement was created and a new flag was proposed. At the end the movement couldn't reach popular support.
I don't know how the flag was, but probably it was blue, with white lighthouse with rays of gold and black radiating from it.
Anyone can confirm it?
Jaume Ollé, 13 March 2000

Yes, there was such a flag proposed. There was no anarchist group on Abaco but rather a group advocating continued dependence and government under the U.K. There were petitions sent to Queen and Government but all fell through when the plan was rejected by the House of Commons. There was a newspaper established to support the movement and several demonstrations were held during a speech from the Primer when he was speaking on independence in Marsh Harbour, Abaco. Three quarters of the adult population of Abaco supported this move but supported slumped as the years went on. The independence movement ended around 1974-5.
Dexter Russell, 31 May 2000

The text talks about a (proposed) flag with lighthouse and a UK blue ensign with badge in the fly, but the image show UJ with badge in the middle, kind of like governor's flag. What's that flag, and is that the same badge as it was in the blue ensigns
(reportedly used on yachts as an ensign!) ?
Željko Heimer, 15 January 2004

The flag of the Abaco Independence Movement is shown as a drawing in the book by Steve Dodge "Abaco - The History of An Out Island and Its Cays" published in 1983 and 1984 (LCCN 83-700772). It well reflects what the AIM was standing for: The major landmark - the lighthouse at Marsh Harbour - and the sunburst of "freedom".
Chrystian Kretowicz, 24 April 2008

The history of Abaco Independence Movement has not only to do with local separatism, but with micronational libertarianism:
Abaco’s population is divided between West Indian blacks, and white descendants of English settlers. Many whites on Abaco opposed the independence of the Bahamas, attempting to retain colonial status under the British crown. In June of 1973, a month before independence, the Abaco whites gained the financial support of Michael Oliver, who had earlier attempted to set up the nation of Minerva. Oliver hoped to turn Abaco into a libertarian enclave. Oliver bankrolled a newspaper and organized a militia, which he planned to fly to Georgia for military training by Chuck Hall, who supported the Abaconian whites for less savory reasons. Hall backed out at the last moment, however, and the Abaconian revolution ran out of steam. Oliver later attempted a similar action on Espiritu Santo, trying to support the republic of Vemerana.
Source: former website Footnotes to History by James L. Erwin
Some more source elements on Wikipedia: 
Olivier Touzeau, 30 October 2020