More than 5,000 citizens have exercised their constitutional right to demand a say at the polls on the future of a project of national importance.
Barring any late changes of heart or legal intervention, on 19 Dec., the people will determine the outcome of the long and vexing debate over whether the port project should proceed.
The Compass has not and will not take a stance on this central question.
The issue – not just the development itself but the ideal of a free vote of the Caymanian people in the islands’ first ever people-initiated referendum – is too important to tamper with.
No doubt, prospective voters will see and hear plenty from passionate advocates on both sides of the argument.
Our neutrality is paramount.
We reserve this space as a forum for balanced and independent reporting and informed opinion on every aspect of this controversial project.
One clear editorial position we will take is to join Governor Martyn Roper in encouraging everyone with the right to vote to exercise that right. It may be true that, because of the rules of this referendum, staying at home effectively counts as a vote in favour of the port project.
But the results on the day, rightfully, will be held up as evidence of how those who care about this issue feel about the direction the country should take. It’s important therefore that as many Caymanians as possible, whether they are for or against the piers, take advantage of this historic opportunity.
In the run-up to the vote, our reporters will endeavour to outline all the available facts on the proposed cruise and cargo development.
We will interview the key players and delve into the trove of reports prepared in the six-year planning phase.
We will grapple with the fundamental questions that have emerged over that time: Cruise vs stayover, development vs the environment, government vs the campaigners. Are these false oppositions or hard choices?
We have invited columnists representing the full spectrum of opinion on this issue to take their best shot at persuading the public which box to tick.
We invite the community, too, to get involved. We will dedicate space within this section and through our website and social media for your letters and comments. We ask only that contributions be concise, respectful and backed up by facts.
The road to this referendum has been pockmarked with misinformation, missing information and a fair dose of rancour. While passionate advocacy is welcome, the Compass hopes to facilitate a substantial and serious debate that allows all voices to be heard and puts all available facts at the voters’ fingertips.
Our agenda is simple: To ensure Caymanians go to the polls informed and empowered to make an educated decision.