October 21, 2020

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Hundreds call for change at political rally

Ezzard Miller

Speaker after speaker called for the ouster of Premier McKeeva Bush and the ruling UDP on Thursday night, claiming the Cayman Islands was at a crossroads, threatened with losing democracy without immediate action.

Addressing a crowd of 250 gathered on central George Town’s courthouse steps, the roster of speakers comprised PPM leader and George Town MLA Alden McLaughlin; East End and North Side MLAs Arden McLean and Ezzard Miller; West Bay activists Alice Mae Coe, Ormond Morgan, Paul Rivers, Captain Bryan Ebanks, Mervin Smith and Dr Edward Caudeiron; and Bodden Town anti-landfill spokesmen Gregg Anderson and
 Vincent Frederick.

Each exhorted the crowd to stand against plans by the Dart-government ForCayman Alliance (FCIA), including closure of a section of the West Bay Road and creation of a waste facility in Bodden Town, and massive land acquisitions by the Dart group, feared to presage multi-million-dollar development.

Mr McLaughlin called the FCIA proposals “absolutely asinine” and  “absolutely idiotic”, warning they were “symptoms of a much more frightening problem: a premier and a government who are absolutely clueless, flailing about to try to fix our economic problems.

“They don’t have a plan, the captain has lost contact with air traffic control, they are flying blind, the plane is running out of fuel and there is not a runway in sight. After almost three years in office, they seized on Dart to fix it. Their policy is to sell the country’s assets and buy votes,” he said.

Captain Bryan Ebanks

Appealing to national pride, Capt Ebanks told the group the FCIA threatened their 300-year-old traditions, accusing Dart founder Kenneth Dart, of “economic communism”.

“In Cuba, they took the country by force. Mr Dart is taking this by money. He is using politicians to use his money to destroy us. We will lose our power and control. It is not as though he needs more money or more land, and I have never seen politicians so disrespectful of the people that elected them,” he said.

Both Mr Anderson and Mr Frederick pointed to the need to remediate the George Town landfill on site, pointing to plans by previously designated contractor Wheelabrator to convert waste to energy, producing electricity, lowering consumer costs, and potable water.

Otherwise, they said, Cayman’s waste problem will simply be moved to Bodden Town, endangering another community’s health, safety and property values.

“This is not something we are going to accept. If we are subject to economic enslavement, what are we going to gain?” Mr Anderson asked.

Gregg Anderson

The most disturbing imagery of the night was suggested by Mr Rivers, former independent political candidate for West Bay, who likened Dart Realty and local politicians to sexual predators: ”We are in bed with a rapist and our leaders are holding us down. We need to get rid of that man,” he said, alluding to Premier Bush.

Warming to the theme, Mr McLean asked if UDP Bodden Town MLAs, Mark Scotland and Dwayne Seymour, “have gone mad. Are you already fed up with politics, after only three years, that this will be a one-term thing?”

Only half jesting, he suggested the landfill be moved to two spacious residential properties adjacent to Royal Palms on Seven Mile Beach: “It’s nice land there. It’s perfect to put in there,” he said archly. The area is home to the Dart family.

The 7:30-10:00 gathering culminated as Mr Miller warned the crowd: “This is about trust and you cannot trust the UDP. You cannot trust the Dart conglomerate. You cannot believe anything they tell you. There is a master plan here and your children have no future.”

Plugging his “one-man, one-vote” initiative as a way to unseat Mr Bush, “and all nine members of the UDP that agree with him”, Mr Miller said closing the West Bay Road was “just the tip of the iceberg”.

“We stopped the East End dock by marching,” he said, alluding to pressure that stopped development of a cargo and cruise facility in High Rock. “Now is your time. Come out, stand up and march.”

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