Cayman issues poised for 'prime time'

Thanks to our insular geography, small size and culture of taciturnity, the Cayman Islands has historically been quite effective at keeping our problems “in house.” In other words, our disputes do not typically spill out onto the country’s front lawn for the rest of the world to see.

Currently, however, we as a country are grappling with multiple incendiary issues, each of which has the potential to appear on the international scene and cause substantial reputational harm to Cayman’s carefully crafted image unless handled with care.

From the standpoint of sheer numbers, we cannot recall another point in time where Cayman faced so many reputational threats of our own creation. For the purposes of this editorial, we shall focus on three: same-sex marriage, fallout from the FIFA scandal, and the war of words (and documents) between Premier Alden McLaughlin and ex-Premier McKeeva Bush.
(Note that these are distinct from largely local issues such as the George Town landfill, as well as the baseline global conversation about Cayman and its status as an international financial center and tax-neutral jurisdiction.)

Same-sex marriage: Leonardo Raznovich – a gay law professor who married his husband in 2012 in Argentina – appears to be “the perfect storm” to blow away the status quo in Cayman on legal recognition of, at the very least, “civil unions” between two men or between two women. In what may very well become a landmark test case for Cayman, Mr. Raznovich is protesting the Immigration Department’s refusal to list him as a dependent on his husband’s work permit. As legal professionals have warned, Cayman’s laws and policies on homosexuals appear to be at odds with conventions established in Europe – to which, as a territory of the United Kingdom, Cayman ultimately is subject.

FIFA fallout: The international media are still following with interest the legal developments in the case of former local and regional football leader Jeffrey Webb, who faces a litany of charges in U.S. federal court related to allegations of bribery, corruption and money laundering that have engulfed international football body FIFA. In Cayman, Mr. Webb (and associate Canover Watson) face charges locally in connection with the Health Services Authority’s CarePay scandal. Meanwhile, Mr. Webb is still the titular president of the Cayman Islands Football Association, which is drawing scrutiny from the community and government for its financial statements and process of electing officers.

McLaughlin v. Bush: The long-simmering feud between Premier McLaughlin and Opposition Leader Bush has reached the boiling point. Mr. McLaughlin and Mr. Bush have begun hashing out their considerable differences in court, and in public – with Mr. Bush accusing Mr. McLaughlin of being part of a U.K.-driven conspiracy to remove him from his position as premier, and Mr. McLaughlin responding by suing him for defamation, and, lately, in connection with that suit, levying sensational allegations in Parliament of the existence of “fabricated documents with forged signatures.” When a feud escalates to the “Premier v. (former) Premier” level, it is likely to draw the attention of the international investment community which values “stability” as a prime consideration when determining where it will conduct business.

How we address these volatile situations will reveal much about our country’s approach to fundamental concepts such as respect for human rights, resistance to corruption and the sanctity of the democratic process.

Collectively they comprise a multipart test of the maturity of Cayman’s society.

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  1. Same-sex marriage:

    My understanding is that marriage, as defined in the constitution, is a union between one man and one woman. If marriage is not a union of one man and one woman then what is it exactly? Also, why not have one man and two women or one woman and three men? If the issue is that consenting adults should be able to form whatever type of relationship they want then we should not discriminate against any group of consenting adults that want to get married.

    FIFA fallout:

    Let the legal process do what it does. If at the end of the day anyone is found guilty of any crimes then they must be held responsible for what they have done.

    McLaughlin v. Bush:

    The best way to put this issue to rest is to put everything on the table. We need openness and transparency and the only way to get it is to have all communications on this matter from Mr. Bush, Mr. McLaughlin, the FCO, and the Governor/Governor’s office made available to the public so that it is clear to everyone that there was no conspiracy.

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  2. I think that the Cayman Islands will always be in the spotlight with its issues, when we have the politicians that don’t know how to handle government business, like if it should be handled internally or externally because of arrogance and corruption. When those two elements are mixed together things are bound to get out of control. This is when people lose confidence in your ability to govern and lead the Islands in the right direction.

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  3. I applaud the Editorial Board for mentioning these issues as they are very real and topical in the free world which is watching since Cayman is on the global scene as a popular tourist destination and well-known investment center.

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  4. I would be very interested to learn the composition of the "Editorial Board" and in particular whether the Publisher of the Compass is an active member. Would the Managing Editor care to comment?

    ***Editor’s Note: The Editorial Board includes Publisher/Editor David Legge, editorial writer Patrick Brendel, and assignments editor Alan Markoff. Managing Editor Norma Connolly is not a member of the Editorial Board, though she and other Compass journalists regularly provide input and feedback.***

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