Seamen's place in Cayman history

Permit me to set the historical facts straight in your paper’s editorial of July 2, “Cayman, today: No country is an island.”

In your editorial you state, “Life in Cayman ebbed and flowed for the next 300 or so years, until our banking industry metamorphosed our country from a drowsy Caribbean backwater to a premier offshore financial center, with tens of thousands of inhabitants and hundreds of thousands of visitors annually.”

The facts are that Caymanian seamen, the demand for which began shortly after the Second World War, when American companies seeking skilled, non-unionized cheap labor (seamen) to crew their ships which flew “flags of convenience” were led to the Cayman Islands to recruit seamen of growing renown.

Almost simultaneously with this development, the tourist industry on Grand Cayman had its beginnings. This industry was born out of John Maloney’s article “The Islands Time Forgot,” which was published in the Saturday Evening Post of April 8, 1950.

It was Commissioner Andrew Morris Gerrard, arriving as he did in 1953 who took this budding industry to a new height by placing ads in the New York Post and other popular media. But Gerrard did not stop at that. He personally answered one thousand enquiries which emanated from his efforts.

Then, the English entrepreneur, later turned developer Benson Greenall arrived on the scene and, as a result of the lease struck with the government, he developed the Galleon Beach hotel on what later became the “Seven Mile Beach.”

The remittances from the Caymanian seamen and the money in circulation from the budding tourism industry meant that there was a dire need for a financial institution other than the existing Government Savings Bank, which was established in 1907, to service the government’s business exclusively.

The need for a modern and wider ranging bank was filled by the arrival in 1953 of Barclays Bank, which was an offshoot of the Jamaica operations of this bank.

So my dear editor, it was the seamen, then the tourists and then the banks. The second bank, the Royal Bank of Canada came 10 years later in 1963.

Your editorial reminds me of the old African adage, “Until the lion writes the tale of the hunt, the narrative will always glorify the hunter.”

I have noticed that over the years, the contribution of these stalwarts receive no acknowledgement.

I thank you for taking note of historical accuracy.