Embattled Cayman premier says fight for immigrants led to legal woes
Byron Buckley, Associate Editor
BELEAGUERED PREMIER of the Cayman Islands, William McKeeva Bush, says his attempt to improve the immigration status of Jamaicans caused a "bang up" between himself and the governor - Duncan Taylor - of the British territory.
Bush, who was arrested in his home country Tuesday on suspicion of theft, breach of trust, abuse of office and conflict of interest, has high praises for Jamaicans who have worked in Cayman over the years in a variety of occupations.
"Cayman never had an abundance of nurses, carpenters and other artisans. That's what Jamaica gave us - some of the best tile layers," Bush told The Gleaner this week while visiting the island as keynote speaker at the University College of the Caribbean's commencement ceremony. Jamaicans, he added, continue to make their contribution to Cayman's development as doctors, business people, teachers and officers of the court.
Bush said the fallout with his political detractors came because he had granted citizenship to "people whose human rights were being abused, and the vast majority of them were Jamaicans".
In 2005, the Cayman Island administration (now in Opposition) introduced visa requirements for Jamaicans to enter that country in response to advocacy by the local Chamber of Commerce following the increase of Jamaican nationals going to Cayman as a result of the economic boom there in the wake of Hurricane Ivan.
"They were hyped up because I had made people citizens," Bush remarked.
On his party's return to office, Bush proposed to amend the visa requirements for Jamaicans making children under the age of 15 years, persons over the age of 70 years, or in possession of a valid Canadian, United Kingdom or United States visa exempt.
"But the governor refused it; that was one of the bang up he and I had," Bush related.
In a September 2011 statement Governor Duncan Taylor said:
"Having taken advice on the matter and acting in line with my discretion as set out in Section 33 (2) (b) of the Constitution, I reluctantly concluded that I could not agree to this proposal because I was concerned that the waiver would introduce risks to internal security, an area of special responsibility for me as governor."
"I know that the vast majority of Jamaicans are law-abiding citizens. This includes residents who make a positive contribution to our society and economy in the Cayman Islands; and short-term visitors, including business visitors, whose visits are welcome and trouble-free. There is, unfortunately, a small minority who have the potential to cause problems."
"The problem is that I am advised that there is a lively market in forged and counterfeit documentation in Jamaica, including in visas for the UK, the US and Canada ... ."
Bush said that currently the labour market is down in his country but when it rebounds, there will be the usual demand for skilled artisans from Jamaica.