Cayman mulls visa waiver

Premier
of The Cayman Islands, W. McKeeva Bush, is considering making it easier for
Jamaicans to visit that country once they are already holders of a United
States visa.

Bush,
who is also the minister of finance, tourism and development for the island
group, said he believes the rigorous process to which applicants for US visas
are subjected should be satisfactory for entry to Cayman, obviating the need
for the granting of a Cayman visa.

“The
US visa process is well scrutinised. If it serves the US, then it serves us.
What I do believe needs to be done now is to consider allowing entry to persons
with US- issued visas.

“There
is still so much good business connections between Jamaica and The Cayman
Islands and legitimate business people need to move to and fro,” said
Bush, who was speaking to The Gleaner at the Hilton Rose Hall Resort where the
31st meeting of CARICOM Heads of Government was held this week.

The
premier raved about his Jamaican ancestry, disclosing that his
great-great-grandfather had lived in the parish of Westmoreland back in the
early 1800s, before migrating to Cuba and then Cayman.

“The
Cayman Islands has had tremendous and historical connections and relations with
Jamaica for many years. I have always had a tremendous connection with Jamaica
and its people.

“At
one point, we were annexed to the parish of Westmoreland and our government
administered through the Jamaican Government,” he said.

Bush
praised the work ethic of Jamaican immigrants, who play a major role in the
Cayman economy, particularly as tradesmen, health-care staff, and domestic assistants.

“Some
of the best workers the Cayman Islands has seen come from Jamaica. I have no
problem hiring Jamaicans,” he said.

Tough opposition ahead

Bush
said he could not commit to whether the visa waiver would be limited to
business persons. But he cautioned that any attempt to amend visa rules may not
go well with the People’s Progressive Movement, the parliamentary Opposition.

“Only
God knows what they will do. They will jump on any political bandwagon, but we
have to do what is right,” the premier said.

The
Cayman Islands has an estimated population of 52,000 people, with a significant
Jamaican presence.

Bush,
who heads the United Democratic Party, admitted that there had been
discrimination against Jamaicans in the past but argued that proper screening
was imperative.

 

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