Those who think that Cayman is not institutionally ready for independence need to think again. Up to last year, St. Kitts and Nevis had a population of about 52,000 people. The GDP per capita was around US$20,000. It is a reasonably well-run independent country and conducts its own foreign affairs through approximately 12 foreign missions. During the same period, Cayman had 65,000 people and a GDP per capita of about US$85,000.
The problem, therefore, is more in the mind. That is why I agree that a section of the population in Cayman needs to be educated about independence. This is as it should be. Caymanians are the only people who have a right to determine whether or not they want independence. But like anyone who is giving consent to anything, be it independence or continuing in the current somewhat-benevolent dictatorship, that consent must be informed.
It has long been peddled that independence would make Cayman go the way of many independent countries. The truth is that many of the challenges faced by such countries had little to do with independence per se. In fact, Cayman is far more ready for independence institutionally and economically than many such countries were.
Those people who say that Cayman should aim to be independent in 20 years or so need to face reality. During this time, the population will continue to increase. And due to a low birth rate among Caymanians, there will be more status holders from the UK and elsewhere. Many of these people will not want independence. They too will be entitled to their vote. Frankly, even today I think that a referendum on independence would be very tight.
The efforts to assess the constitutionality of the governor’s action on the Civil Partnership Bill are all well and good. But as I have told some of my colleagues, I doubt that they will succeed. What is more, this is not the last time that the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland will come with an unwanted prescription.
But that government must not be blamed. They are looking out for themselves, just like Caymanians often look out for themselves, however imperfectly. Indeed, the governor reminded us recently that the relationship is voluntary. This is a quintessentially British way of saying, “Stop whining every time we want to impose legislation. If you want independence, we can give it to you. You cannot have your cake and eat it too.”