Our community’s values

| 20/01/2009

It’s three years ago this month since the high-profile deportation of six Latino construction workers for the crime of protesting against their employer’s treatment of them.

It’s three years, too, since a Cayman Islands Police boat rammed a ramshackle craft filled with Cuban refugees in order to prevent them landing on the Brac. I’m not sure what their crime was, but the ramming of their boat was reckoned to be a pretty harsh extra-judicial punishment.

Both incidents are long forgotten, although at the time they received several days’ front-page coverage in the Net News. No official investigations were made. The construction workers were hustled off the Island so that they could not give testimony against their employer.The refugees were denied food, water, medicine and repairs in the hope (presumably) that they would die on their way to Honduras. The international law of the sea, that had benefited so many Caymanian seafarers throughout our history, was also denied them.

No Cayman government unit or agency came out of the incidents with any glory. Quite the contrary. The Immigration authorities, the Labour Office, the Police Force… none of them was well respected before by the victims’ sympathisers, and respect is just as absent today. The Attorney-General’s Office ignored its duty to see that justice was done, and indeed it must have connived at the deportation. The Pensions Office and Insurance Office failed to protect the migrants from their employers’ alleged theft of their payroll deductions.

As for the refugees, well, no official who has ever dealt with boat-people could give a tinker’s damn what happens to them, as long as it doesn’t happen on Cayman soil. Even then, sometimes…

Not a squeak from any of our MLAs, or government’s Human Rights Committee, or the Foreign & Commonwealth Office. (I was on the Human Rights Committee at the time, and you have never seen such fierce determination not to confront the authorities. It’s why I have no respect for the HRC to this day.) Very few squeaks from private citizens, either, or the Churches.

How could the ordinary men and women of Cayman be so callous?

Ah, well, it’s three years ago, and there’s no profit in agonising over old crimes – except, nothing has changed since then. Those same things are happening today. For all the preaching and praying and praising God that goes on, there has been no genuine progress towards spiritual enlightenment.
Low-paid workers are still being exploited and stolen from. The Contractors Association has sorted out its act a bit, reportedly, but there are other employer-groups that haven’t. Many individual householders are still ripping off their helpers without compunction.

And every time a migrant is deported in order to save his or her employer from prosecution, a new Work Permit is issued to the same employer by some corrupt crony.

The Attorney-General’s Office almost never intervenes to defend the rule of law in these cases. And even when it does, the courts’ rules allow for unlimited deferrals, so that off-Island witnesses aren’t available. It’s a blatantly wicked system, that allows poor migrants to be victimised. (Our court system is quick enough to prosecute migrants for theft, even on dubious evidence. They are detained in Cayman until they run out of money and are forced to confess just to get back home. The judges know this, the police know this, the immigration authorities know this, the Prosecution Service knows this – and, knowing this, all of those agencies snigger up their sleeves at the plight of the victims.)

Yet every criticism of the injustices is met with some anti-immigrant insult. There is no remorse for the exploitation and theft, no regret, no shame. Only a tribal solidarity defending the God-given right of employers to cheat their migrant employees if they want to. There is a callous disregard not only for the victims and the concept of impartial justice, but for plain decency as well. No wonder there exists a chasm of mistrust between the authorities and all the immigrant communities. No wonder, an absence of goodwill towards government agencies.

The number of native Caymanians who despise migrants and their values is relatively small. They certainly don’t comprise a majority in their own community. Yet they are allowed to shout their hatred from the rooftops, and their compatriots are not brave enough to tell them to shut up.
We all know about the three monkeys of the fable who see no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil. They are depicted with hands over their eyes, ears and mouth, respectively. In Cayman there is a fourth monkey. His hands cover his groin, protecting himself from the attacks of evil-doers. What a sad commentary on our social values, that fourth monkey is.

Sometimes, when it threatens our social fabric, we have to be brave enough to face down evil – even when it is our friends and relatives. In a tribal community, each member owes loyalty to his tribal brothers, not to strangers. Each member is his brothers’ keeper, not any strangers’ keeper. But he owes loyalty, too, to his brothers’ values. He has a moral duty not to turn a blind eye when any of his brothers cheat and steal.

Tribal Caymanians reject “human rights” in favour of civil rights for themselves alone. Well, fair enough. But with rights comes a duty of responsibility. There is no virtue in being mean to outsiders, just because they don’t share one’s own birthright.

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Category: Viewpoint

Comments (3)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Always attacking the messanger, if you don’t like the truth of what he says.

    Perhaps you can supply some evidence about these 2 incidents that what he said is not true?

    "It’s three years ago this month since the high-profile deportation of six Latino construction workers for the crime of protesting against their employer’s treatment of them.

    It’s three years, too, since a Cayman Islands Police boat rammed a ramshackle craft filled with Cuban refugees in order to prevent them landing on the Brac. I’m not sure what their crime was, but the ramming of their boat was reckoned to be a pretty harsh extra-judicial punishment."

  2. Anonymous says:

    Can anyone explain the fundamental difference between the rhetoric and tactics of George Lincoln Rockwell and Gordon Barlow? Can anyone say if, in fact, there is any fundamental difference?  Anyone, including Mr. Barlow himself, please? In my view, both men incite hatred by twisting facts to suit their warped interpretations and often discard facts altogether. Barlow has one up on Nazi Rockwell however, in that he has the gift of knowing the thoughts of others. I glean that from the third paragragh of his diatribe above where he presumes as to the hopes of others as if he knows what their thoughts are. It does not occur to Gordon Barlow that presumptions are best kept in the part of one’s mind where they can cause no harm, assigns no stigmas and certainly raise no accusations. In specific mention to the issue on which he makes these presumptions, he has clearly chosen to ignore the facts relating to these actions. Yes, I have been disturbed by recent policies relating to refugees, but I obtained the pertinent facts. Upon hearing which, I was almost sickened to my stomach to discover that these actions are per policy. The related policies emanate from a little document popularly called The White Paper. This ‘partnership’ document is the will of our ‘Mother Country’ imposed upon us and we have no choice in the matter of compliance. This Mother Country is Gordon’s country of birth (or not too distant heritage) and coincidentally the same country which is recognized by history as being the main purveyor of the inhumane slave trade between Africa and the Americas. Isn’t that coincidence, Gordon? Old habits die hard.

    I beg statistical data on the vast number of workers ‘deported’ from the Cayman Islands because their ‘unscrupulous’ employers refusal to treat them with fairness, dignity and respect. Surely if this is happening, with the full knowledge of all the agencies Gordon names, including the FCO, we are most definitely breaching all human rights protocols. Where are Mother Country’s ‘contingent liability’ concerns to ensure the Cayman Islands follow UN mandates? Seems like Gordon is the only one who know of these occurrences.

    Anyway, I could go on and on about Gordon’s unilateral perceptions but why bother. Since we’re inventing monkeys, how about we add monkey #6. He is a Shiva Monkey (no disrespect to Hindus reading, just reference to the anatomical requirements). He is the one who has one hand over his eyes (to be blinded from the truth), his fingers in his ears (to be deaf to the truth), one hand over his groin (obviously for self-protection), one hand on his posterior ( to collect what exudes from that area so as to smear it all over), one had wide open (so as to reap and collect the benefits of his community) and one hand boldly displaying the middle finger (in disrespect to all around). Note that his mouth is not muted in any way, so as to be able to loudly shout his putrid rhetoric. Gordon, any volunteers for being Monkey #6?

     

  3. Peter Schmid says:

    sadly, I am ashamed to say that all you have stated is true.