Today’s Editorial for June 19: Pirates Week debate needed

On page 6 of today’s Caymanian Compass, there is an article highlighting the results of our two-week on-line poll which posed a question about changing the name of Pirates Week to Heritage Week.

The poll came after Leader of Government Business McKeeva Bush announced, days after assuming leadership, that Cayman’s national festival would cease being called Pirates Week.

We had nearly 1,100 votes in the on-line poll, and a vast majority of the respondents – more than 68 per cent – thought that Pirates Week should be left just the way it is.

Although the article only includes a sampling of the many comments received about the topic, a number of people commented about the historical link Caymanian society has with pirates. Like it or not, one person commented, pirates were a part of Cayman’s history.

Of course, whether or not pirates should be a celebrated part of Cayman’s history is a different question.

Most of the poll respondents, however, seem to take the concept of Pirates Week with a sense of fun. Several noted that other places have copied the idea and that the 10-day festival helps the economy.

Although it is debatable whether the event draws the amount of paying tourists that would be hoped for, there is no denying that residents support the event, including the Heritage Days during the week. Whether that support would continue if the theme were to change strictly to heritage and culture is unknown.

Several of the respondents wrote to say how dismayed they were that the Cayman Islands clergy seemed to have been behind the decision to abandon Pirates Week, and others were equally dismayed that Mr. Bush announced the decision without consulting the public or even the Pirates Week office.

Whether or not the Pirates Week concept has become stale or offensive in light of the dirty deeds of real Somalian pirates this year, are certainly topics for discussion. Perhaps some tweaking or overhauling of a 30-year-old idea is in order.

However, to make such changes without consulting the wider community is not only unwise, it is overbearing, especially if a large majority of the population disagrees.

We call on the government to initiate consultation with the various stakeholders, including the Cayman Islands Tourism Association, the Pirates Week office, the Chamber of Commerce, and the District Councils to determine first if they believe Pirates Week should be changed, and if so, when and in what way.