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One of our reporters, Kevin Creary, had a one on one interview with the premier, Hon. McKeeva Bush last Saturday (6) following his appearance at a Jamaican Independence Day Celebration at Reflections on Godfrey Nixon Way. In this interview, the premier claimed the granting of Caymanian status to qualified Jamaicans and other suitable applicants caused him to lose the election in 2005.

He said: “In 2005 I lost the elections because I gave Jamaicans and other Caribbean nationals Citizenship. My doors have always been open to everyone; I pay attention to those who came here to work and to help build this country. There were too many people who thought they could abuse the foreign workers in this country. I met a man that has been here for forty years and had no legitimate residency.”

The last part of his statement I can 100% support. There are many (too many) cases such as this and most of them are in the lower income (or no income) bracket. They cannot afford the fees they have to find to try and remedy their quite legitimate claims. Unfortunately what happened with the policy of granting the Caymanian status in 2005 was it not being thoroughly researched. It was rushed through and it did look like an electioneering stunt that backfired. Deserving people with legitimate claims for status were left out whilst the less deserving, and in some cases, never even applied for it, were put in.

Yes, Mr. Bush did lose the election, but that was not the only factor, however, I am not going to labour on here going down that road. The People’s Progressive Movement (PPM) swept into power and implemented the 7 Year Rollover Policy, (that Mr. Bush had actually started) in a truly draconian way going further than had initially been put forward. The result has been a disaster for this country. It has affected the rich, middleclass and poor Caymanians (more so the poor) adversely and no one is better off for it. The PPM jumped on the bandwagon in the wake of the public outcry to the status fiasco and it was one of their centre-piece electioneering promises. Now in opposition, and with a new leader (Hon. Alden McLauglin), they have recognised their mistake and Mr. McLaughlin said, during his response to the premier’s Budget Address in the L.A. recently, “The rollover policy has succeeded in its objective at considerable social and economic cost. Eight years after it was introduced there is still widespread dissatisfaction with its workings and its effect, both within the immigrant population, which is subject to it, and among Caymanian employers.”

Mr. Bush had also earlier made similar comments but, since Mr. McLaughlin’s speech, seems to have gone quiet on the subject. Instead, and appropriately at both the Reflections event and at St. George’s Anglican Church Jamaican Independence Day Service (7) announced, “Effective September 1st, 2011, Jamaican Nationals with a United States, British or Canadian visa, or adults over the age of 70 years and children under the age of fifteen years will not require a visa to visit the Cayman Islands.”

We wait and see if the Jamaican Government will respond positively and as quickly as they did with their unfortunate retaliatory and reciprocal measures to Caymanians when our visa policy was introduced.

In Kevin Creary’s interview, Mr. Bush also said, “Four or five of my school teachers have been Jamaicans. One of them, Rev. Joe Crawford [past Minister of Elmslie United Church] from Mandeville, nurtured me into public speaking. I am 56, and I remember the days when Caymanians went to Jamaica rather than Miami to shop. Oxford Pharmacy [in Jamaica] was like Wal-Mart. I know when Caymanians could only go to the University Hospital in Jamaica. I have an uncle who was buried in Spanish town.”

If both our parties go forward and electioneer against restrictive practices and put forward policies for their removal, I will support them. My wife’s brother in law, Dr. Edlin Merren, one of our islands leading Caymanians and statesmen, told me a long time ago, “Colin, we [Cayman] have a roundabout that is going round and round in our favour. It is easy to stop but very difficult to restart.”

Electioneering may have started but it is the economy we have to restart. The roundabout has stopped and the moss has started to grow around it. These speeches are a step in the right direction. However, speeches are not enough. It is action and weed killer.


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