Mr. Hamaty responds to visa issues

I hope this will help to address some of the misunderstanding surrounding Prime Minister P.J. Patterson’s address at the Chamber of Commerce 40th anniversary dinner on Saturday night.

The Prime Minister was invited and accepted the invitation long before any discussion on the implementation of visas. His remarks in an addition to his written speech contained no threat or warning to Cayman or Caymanians.

He acknowledged that Cayman’s government had the right to implement visa requirements; he said Jamaica reserves the right to implement similar measures.

He said when Jamaican citizens obtain legal entry he expects that they would be treated with respect and that there would be no discrimination.

This is a normal expectation by citizens of all countries when they travel internationally. Surely the Cayman government would not tolerate Jamaicans discriminating against their citizens living or visiting Jamaica.

I interpreted the prime minister’s comments as an explanation of the visa abolition act.

A country that subscribes to the act allows citizens of its country to visit other participating nations without a visa. Countries that are not a party to this act normally have what is known as reciprocity. That is, if a visa is required by citizens of one country the citizens of the other country would also require a visa. This is an internationally recognized understanding.

The Office of the Honorary Jamaican Representative for the Cayman Islands has not received any correspondence or seen or heard any news release by any Jamaican government agency or official that has criticised or said the Cayman Islands government has no right to institute visa requirements for Jamaicans visiting Cayman. I may also explain that both Cayman and Jamaica have visa requirements for countries too many to list.

Many countries that remained part of the Commonwealth needed no visa; however, this has changed over the years.

I may add that since 9/11 I believe only holders of British passports can enter the USA without a visa and it appears as of 2006 this will change. Caymanians will also not be able to enter under a waiver and will require a visa, no matter if their passport is Cayman or British.

I personally fail to see any law abiding citizens and or their families, either Caymanian or Jamaican, fearing a visa requirement as long as it’s implemented on an impartial basis.

Certain concerns have been raised by Jamaican citizens, including legal residents, (those who have) status and work permit holders, about the possibility of their family or friends being denied entry if they meet the normal requirements for a visa.

In addition, there are concerns with regards to the possibility of the introduction of a quota system for visas similar to the USA quota system for each country.

Finally, in response to comments expressed on the air that the Jamaican government is responsible for Caymanians having to visit Jamaica to obtain visas for the United States: Clearly this is not so, as this arrangement is made by the various countries to save on embassy costs.

Robert Hamaty,Honorary Jamaican Consul for the Cayman Islands

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