In light of the recent comments in the media by Mr. Gordon Barlow, human rights activist, I feel that it is important in the interest of full, free public debate to add some food for thought.
The rollover policy and its implications for citizenship in these islands is a highly emotive subject and there are genuine concerns on both sides.
However, I do believe that this entire situation is a shining example of democracy in a pluralistic society at work.
While those without the right to vote may debate me about the democracy part, the fact that they are allowed to voice their concerns and potentially influence those of us with the right to vote is evidence of the pluralistic society we live in.
Let us continue to build upon this positive aspect and not tear it down with counterproductive exercises.
Any outside interference would be absolutely counterproductive to this process and as Mr. Mario Ebanks rightly asserts, would be the spark for a revolution, the sort of which I would not like to envisage.
Class action law suits to the European Court of Human Rights or direct British intervention in my opinion is tantamount to interference.
I would even go as far as saying that any action by either the EU or the UK Government in this regard would hint strongly of racism and cultural discrimination.
I reach this conclusion because the EU has found it convenient to withhold disaster recovery aid from their specially designated C-envelope to assist hundreds of needy Caymanian families with housing, instead choosing to play bureaucratic football for nearly two years, unfairly toying with our people’s lives. (Strangely enough, I have not heard any human rights advocates speak of protesting to the EU Court of Human Rights on behalf of Caymanians who are suffering.)
And after their parsimonious display of ‘assistance’ after Hurricane Ivan to add to their long list of actions which would be deemed negligent in any family court, our Mother country would be extremely bold to once again intervene by directly overruling our duly elected Government. (Again, I have heard little on these matters from human rights activists).
If Mr. Barlow or anyone else for that matter thinks that we currently have a wedge between Caymanians and expatriates due to this rollover policy and its implications for citizenship, then let the EU or UK intervene. Then we will certainly go from a simmer to an ugly boiling-over of our already crowded melting pot.
You see, you can’t have your cake and eat it too. You can’t violate our human rights by denying us assistance we are not only entitled to, but in need of and then use the guise of human rights to knowingly create social unrest in our country, to the benefit of no one in the end.
How can any judge who has never been here, never lived here, never known what we were or aim to become, and who is incapable of identifying with our social values, be expected to fairly and objectively rule on an immigration policy that would truly benefit the Cayman Islands people?
No prosthetic limb of our court system will ever be recognized by Caymanians, especially if some unwanted policy is undemocratically rammed down our throats. This is an affront to our people and a clever yet legal means of saying that ‘you are incapable of governing yourselves so we’ll show you how it’s done.’
The whole idea reeks of neo-colonialism and is revealing itself to be a subversive attempt to directly undermine our ability to govern ourselves.
I say to all involved, let our democracy work, whether we like the decisions of the people or not. This is a capitalist society.
We base our policies largely off of what will make us money, or what will least harm our money. The opposition to the rollover policy has been for the most part based upon its purported effect on the bottom line. Until we can clearly see how it plays out, we cannot make assumptions that the economy will crash because John Brown is the only one in the world who can do this job for my business.
Let us continue to debate, review the facts and give equal weight to the economic, cultural and social data.
Let us try to be objective, and work together to build this society.
In four years time, we will be able to make a better judgement and the politically astute will align themselves (with their 20/20 hindsight) according to whichever direction the pendulum has swung.
Running off and crying foul to your kinsmen in the EU and UK when the policy is not perceived to be to your advantage is again counterproductive and will not ultimately serve this society well but will only widen the divide between us.
It is a case of being a spoiled sport and quite possibly the most inappropriate action that can be taken.
I do not know Mr. Barlow, and until I hear him explicitly say so, I will not assume that he is actively advocating for an appeal to the European Court of Human Rights or for direct intervention by the British Government.
If the ultimate objective is the strengthening of the Caymanian democracy and the empowerment of Cayman’s people, if one is truly seeking social justice, and the fostering of social harmony to heal the wounds that are presently opened, then no human rights activist worth their salt and no true friend of the Cayman Islands would be promoting or advocating for such a counterproductive and divisive action to be taken.
Let us work hand in hand, here at home.
The world for the most part is not sympathetic to our plight.
Therefore it is up to us, using the mechanisms of our pluralistic and capitalist democracy to work things out.
Let’s not waste our time with any counterproductive legal action and veiled threats designed to instil fear in our people. Let’s get on with the business of living together with mutual respect, loving our neighbours (Caymanian or expat) as ourselves.