September 28, 2020

Visa scrapping is just “foolish”

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Former Honorary Jamaican Consul Robert Hamaty, longtime advocate for the island nation, has rejected Governor Duncan Taylor’s scrapping of a new visa scheme for visitors, calling it “foolishness.”

Simultaneously, current Honorary Consul Dr Jospeh Marzouca, said the governor should embrace two parts of the scheme allowing those under 15 years and those over 70, to enter Cayman without visas.

Further work, he said, could be done on the final, more controversial part of the plan, explicitly rejected by Mr Taylor: allowing free entry into Cayman of Jamaicans holding US, UK or Canada visas.

“How come a Jamaican requires a UK visa to go to Britain, but that is not accepted to visit the Cayman Islands?” Mr Hamaty asked. “It’s absolute foolishness. If the visa is fake, then he could never enter the UK or the US, and he could only stay [in Cayman] a limited amount of time until that visa expired,” he said.

Dr Marzouca offered the governor some comfort, saying he had been asked to post a warning to Jamaicans not to visit Cayman because of the recent spate of gang violence.

“We are considering the request, and so the governor may not to worry at all,” he said.

Yesterday afternoon, Mr Taylor rejected proposed amendments to 2005 visa requirements for Jamaican nationals.

Cabinet, he said, had suggested visa-free travel to Cayman for Jamaicans aged 15 years or less and 70 years or more. A third component would have allowed similar travel for those holding visas for the US, the UK or Canada.

Honorary Consul Dr Jospeh Marzouca

“The problem is that I am advised that there is a lively market in forged and counterfeit documentation in Jamaica,” he said, “including visas for the UK, the US and Canada.

“The Cayman Islands Immigration Department does not have the capability to determine whether such a visa is genuine or not and the respective countries have indicated that they are unable to provide the Cayman Islands with the access to the resources on which they rely to make these determinations,” Mr Taylor said.

“The authenticity of a Jamaican national’s UK, US or Canadian visa could therefore not be guaranteed and this fact could be exploited,” he said pointing to a 2005 reduction in crime after visas were mandated for Jamaican travel to Cayman.

Fearing “a significant negative impact on the security of the Cayman Islands,” the governor rejected any changes to the proposed easing of the restrictions.

Premier McKeeva Bush at a Wednesday night meeting in West Bay, rued the decision in the context of the governor’s constitutional powers: “The governor of the day doesn’t have to listen to anything we say. We can ask and advise, but he doesn’t have to agree. We said Jamaicans with US, UK or Canada visas can come here, but the governor said no, for national security reasons.”

Former Honorary Jamaican Consul Robert Hamaty

Mr Hamaty said the premier had been sympathetic “to the cause”, and that Mr Taylor was the victim of “totally bad advice” that was “absolutely wrong”.

“The Jamaicans that come here on work permits are thankful for the job and them money they earn. At one point we had 12,500 Jamaicans here, and there was no increase in crime,

“A visa is not going to stop someone in a ‘canoe’,“ Mr Hamaty said, alluding to smugglers’ late-night speedboats moving drugs and firearms. “What we need is fixed-wing border patrols fort that.”

Mr Marzouca observed that embracing the first two amendments “would give the workers here some comfort. Their parents, grandparents and kids could come and visit them.”

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