The Great Divide: Expats vs. Caymanians

| 08/06/2009

I find it highly disturbing that there is such contention between Caymanians and expats and "paper Caymanians". The more we concentrate on "us" vs. "them", the more we will find to divide us.

To bring it home, for women who go to that salon where your stylist knows exactly how you like your hair done or how you always have your toenails done, do you realize that they will be rolled over too? Which Caymanian do you see fighting for that job? How frustrated do you think you will be having to explain yourself over and over till you find another stylist or nail technician who learns just how you like your hair and nails done?

For those with helpers that you and your kids love, for those whose children are learning much better from the teachers and tutors … how can you not see that in 4, 5, 7 years from now when that teacher or that tutor gets rolled over, your child’s life, and your customer service experience will negatively be affected? How do you think the tourist feels when they come to check in and no one knows that they’ve been coming to Cayman every year for the past 15 years?

How many Caymanians do you know that are clamouring to be housekeepers and make US$4 an hour? But a clean room is essential to tourism dollars, one of two economic pillars of which we all enjoy the benefits. What happens when Jamaicans, Hondurans and Filipinos no longer feel welcomed in our country and leave for home where they make just as little money but are far more welcome? What happens when your favourite bartender leaves and returns to Canada? These things add up people.

Yes, it is quite true that if there are capable, willing, reliable and qualified Caymanians, they should get the job. But in some cases, one (or more) of these elements is missing – Caymanian business owners, you know it’s true. Our own people sometimes want to pick and choose aspects of their job and tell the boss what they will do! And you know it’s true. Yes, immigrants need to be managed–diversity in immigrants should be encouraged as a means of enriching the pot and not being overly-dependent on workers from any one nationality. It is never a good idea to have all your eggs in one basket. Any finance person will tell you that. But you don’t need a rollover policy to accomplish that.

It should be a wake-up call to Caymanians that despite the fact that Government has a rollover policy, and has both raised the cost of work permits and made it harder to justify getting a work permit, that both Government and private sector businesses alike find it more beneficial to hire expats in many cases. Wake up, Cayman. The Government has put stringent measures in place and still expats are hired. Do you think businesses wouldn’t love to have fewer expenses and more profits?Do you think businesses and Government would do that if there were capable, willing, reliable and qualified Caymanians to fill the positions?

I cannot understand for the life of me why we cannot look at the bigger picture. For crying out loud, can’t you see that we all, expats and Caymanians, have a role to play in making Cayman successful? The more successful Cayman is, the more opportunities there are for everyone, Caymanian and non-Caymanian alike. Like other Caymanians, I am tired of hearing a lot of expats speaking ill of us and our country. However, I am sick and tired of hearing Caymanians doing to same to expats. If we treat expats negatively, mimicking how some of them treat us, we are no better than how we perceive them to be.

I challenge expats to find the good in Caymanians. Don’t be so quick to believe the worst of what you hear or see. Caymanians are still a good people and you shouldn’t bite the hand that feeds you. And as long as you are working in Cayman, Cayman is the hand that feeds you. You are just as dependent on Cayman’s success as Caymanians are. So learn to work with us. By the same token, Caymanians, please, for love of God, stop being so hostile to expats. I wish that we would stop blaming others for where we are as individuals today. If you really want something, you can find a way to get it with integrity. To me, that is where we as Caymanians are failing. We are losing our integrity. And that saddens me. When we drive away people who help us make our country successful and who we can learn from, we do ourselves a disservice. Business will go elsewhere. When business goes elsewhere there will be fewer jobs which means there will be less jobs for all – Caymanians included.

If your Government department or business/company doesn’t have succession planning, demand it. It creates a business structure that helps people understudy key positions, learn the ropes and get experience with the idea that one day they will be in a position to take over jobs as capable, deserving, experienced and hopefully educated individuals who also happen to be, guess what, Caymanian. Remember when you accept a position with any entity, it is because they found something beneficial in hiring you and you found something beneficial in being with them. It is not just about money for the employee. So, if your department or company doesn’t have succession planning and your demands for it aren’t going anywhere, let me share this with you:

My former (Caymanian boss) once told me, sometimes the journey to the top is not always straight. And she was right. We might have to become an expat in someone else’s country to get the world experience we need to assume the job at the helm. These days you have to be competitive, you have to think strategy. Victor Frankl said, "When we can no longer change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves." We should be flexible, resilient, determined. We should remain true to wholesome, Godly values. The way we treat some expats … it can hardly be called wholesome or Godly and for that we should be ashamed.

I am not yet 30, I am a woman, I am Caymanian. When I first started working in 2006, I was underpaid; my degrees did nothing to get me extra money. But I didn’t bash expats; I didn’t kick up a fuss and demand better pay or a better position. I learned all I could for two years at that job and then I applied for another job. The pay was better. There again, I took in as much as I could before applying for yet another job. This year, I started another job. Am I where I would like to be? No. Am I in management? No. But I am sure as heck on my way there. I take knowledge and work where I can get it. And guess what? Expats are very willing to share what they know and contribute to my development. I have to say, the pay is not at all shabby either. So you see, if one young female Caymanian can do it, others can as well.

This is hardly the time to tear each other down. Bring down the divide and let’slearn to work together already because all this bickering between expats and Caymanians is only creating tension, dissent and an awfully hard pill to swallow. The rollover policy only reinforces that divide and an increasing sense of expat alienation. Let’s either modify the rollover policy or create something that effectively targets the true issues. Stop focusing on expats vs. Caymanians and create a business marketplace and community where we can all coexist harmoniously. I hope we can all be mature and move forward for the betterment of the Cayman Islands. Otherwise, these words will prove true: "United we stand; divided we fall."

May God bless the Cayman Islands and guide us–now and always.


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  1. Matt Jones says:

    As an Expat living on the Caymans, I  have some feelings on this issue.  I am definitely not a fan of rollover but there isn’t any other way at the moment.  Perhaps that will change in the future.  Nevertheless, I’m sad to say I’m not staying for much longer.  Once my us visa is granted i’ll be off to Chicago for a while, but I know I will want to return. 🙂

  2. Anonymous says:

    I agree, that the divide is useless and not making anyone happy. The expats inevitably have to work harder than Caymanians because they have to prove themselves – there are many Caymanians that show up to work when they feel like it and dictate how they work instead of trying to work hard to earn $, take all their vacation days and sick days and still take updaid leave. If an expat did that they would be fired in a heartbeat. Many of those "paper Caymanians" are the ones who came here from overseas, many of them before the moaners were born, and paved the roads of Cayman, opened law offices, accountancy firms, built condos, opened restaurants, and banks. All the banks besides CNB are overseas banks, at which Caymanians now have the most employment, who initially sent over someone from overseas to open the branch here in Cayman – a non-Caymanian made that possible. Non-Caymanians who came here have made Cayman what it is now  it surely was not the seaman who intially settled here – and those too were from overseas. If you are not happy at your job check you attitude, if you are jealous expats get your jobs, get an equal eduation – remember the international companies here have a reputation to uphold to their overseas clients who want to see they are paying for someone with a good education who can meet their needs and get the job done efficiently – if you can do that you deserve the job.

    As for roll over why would anyone want to invest $$ somewhere that won’t have them for more than 7 years and once kicked out why would they want to come back after having to find a way to support themselves and their families for a full  year. Most of the condos and houses on Seven Mile – a big money maker are bought by expats, Caymanians usually live out of town and already have land from their families – so the property market in that sense depends a lot on the people from overseas who again would not want to buy a place without further guarantees.

    There is already a rule that  businesses must be Caymanian owned – that is a HUGE priviledge – in all honesty there would be a lot more competition if that rule didn’t exist which would in turn lead to lower rates all around from service providers.

    Either Cayman wants to be a leading offshore center with a global outlook or simply a little island in the Caribbean – if the former well acceptance and tolerance is needed, if the latter well then Cayman will become more isolated and as a result poorer.


  3. Anonymous says:

    I am involved in the sevice industry so that is the only area that I can add my 2 cents. Our policy is to hire EVERY Caymanian that applies for a position. There may be times where applicants apply for a position and we offer a different opportunity until they are capable. In the past year we have applied for a renewel for a work permit for a person who has proven themselves to be hard working, honest. Immigration said that there were Caymanians that can do the job. GREAT!!

    Well, the labour board sent 4 applicants and 4 responded from our advertisement. 2 applicants decided they would give the job a shot. One did not show up for work and the other lasted 2 days and did not bother to call to let us know they would not be coming in. These were excellent, well paying jobs.

    Now we find ourselves in the position of not having anyone to do the work. This affects our business and the fact that other employess have to cover the work. The gentleman that wanted the job had to leave the Island.

    I hear these stories about how there are SO many qualified, hard working Caymanians and all they want is a opportunity. WHERE ARE YOU!!! Could I suggest that the Labour department take an ad out in the local papers and notify the public who is available and what their qualifications are.

    I have lived here for over 30 years and am gratefull for what Cayman has enabled me to do. My observation is that this has become an entitlement Country it seems when a Caymanian applies for a job they have a chip an their shoulder and immediately start telling me what  I can or can not ask of them. Get real. At some point the money from Government will run out and people will do whatever they can to feed themselves and their families. It is not the job that demeans the man, it is the man that demeans the job.I can not tell you how many jobs I worked just to put food on the table. If you work hard, others will notice and you will advance and retain your self esteem.

  4. Penny Pincher says:

    I am an ex-pat. I am here because I can make more money for less work with less competition than home.  If i were not paid more I would not be here, away from my family. 

    Yes Cayman has non-monetary perks, but these have to be balanced against having to put up with the odd bigot too many.  And, please do not take this wrongly, Cayman is a cultural desert.  That is ia factor of a) its small size, b) its isolation as an island and c) (probably) its proximity to Florida.  (i.e. the fact that it is a cultural vacuum is is not a slight on the Caymanian people, 20,000 Canadians or English could not do any better).  

    But unfortunately having experienced so much xenophobia and bitterness from too many Caymanians in my time here, my money is being hoarded for the day I return.  It is not being spent on living here because so many make it clear that they do not want me living here and, more importantly, because I fear that at some time in the future even more discriminatroy and racist legislation will be passed to appease the moaners.  My fear is that these moaners do not realise how lucky Cayman is or how much Cayman needs the ex-pat population to drive the engine of the local economy.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Your entire article is an offensive patronizing pile of jingoist, bible thumping trash. 

    Do you really think Mani’s and Pedis and cleaning toilets are all that ex-pats do for you? This island would shut down if it weren’t for the expats who run your government, write your laws, bring the money, the hedge funds and the legal work here, not to mention sail the dive boats, manage the construction sites, design the buildings and count the money.  Caymanians can do all of these things, but there aren’t enough of you to cope with the demand (even though it has dropped significantly in the last year).

    Civilized countries take steps to legislate the equality of all people, recognizing their worth not only for their skills, but also for the contributions they can make to the culture to which they emigrate.  Last time I checked this country had a population of 5000 in 1970: the rich culture associated with the generations of those 5000 is adequately taken care of through a countless list of local initiatives that cost the government millions of dollars.  Further, many ex-pat businesses (if there is such a thing given all businesses are owned by 60% Caymanians) assist with paying the bills of all the national charities that preserve the culture.

    Conversely, this ‘territory’ doesn’t even see fit to enforce its own people’s compliance with laws that it passes (ostensibly) for their own good, let alone protect the basic human rights of ‘guest workers’.  You pass a law that prevents anyone from forcing people to work on Sundays, I guess, because you think it will assist with spiritual development, but you don’t mind if a few hundred Jamaican workers are called in by their Caymanian bosses every Sunday at 7 a.m. to work construction for 12 hours.  You can buy booze in any number of Caymanian run businesses on Sunday, but lord forbid trying to buy a book.

    You pump hundreds of thousands of dollars into museums and programs and a protectionist arts/music program, but you ignore the most colourful piece of your history – when tortuga was the stomping grounds for sailors, navy and pirates in the 18th c.

    You pass a health care law that forces businesses to buy health insurance for all their employers, but you don’t even chastize a doctor who sends a woman nearly in labour back to Jamaica on a plane so that she won’t be a ‘burden’ on the Cayman health system.

    You insist rabidly that ex-pats should buy real estate when it costs us more money, and the market is hampered by your own policies and fees.

    In most civilized countries, the policies that you defend here would be considered unconstitutional and a violation of fundamental human rights.  Your isolationist protectionist  mafia-like racket will make Cayman ugly and inhospitable, dangerous and divided. 

    It’s a good thing you believe in god, because you will need his help once Cuba opens up. 

    • Anonymous says:

      This is always a heated and interesting debate! We read with much interest the recent article on this topical matter of expats and Caymanians and in particular the commentary of the Hon.Minister Rolston Anglin and those of Tony Travers in the context of the all too often criticized ROLLOVER POLICY.


      It is a real shame that almost every time a non-Caymanian gets an opportunity to bash this policy, it is simply pigeon-holed, like a defenseless old beating rag, and whacked on the head a few hundred times.

      Is it anger venting? IF so, why? b/c a person has come to a completely new country and after 12 months of residing there feels he or she (1) kinows everything there is to know about the community and (2) should be able to vote, pariticipate fully in business (3) vote for whomever they wish and (4) have equal rights with Caymanians (as defined in the Immigration Law) to be hired, trained and promoted???? Where else in the world would anyone in their right mind expect to go to be treated like this – NAH! IT had already gone on for too long and we should never go back to the days of no Rollover policy!


      All the incredible demands and bickering is PRECISELY the why there were about 28 amendments to the Caymanian Protection Law,1977 and that still did not provide  complete happiness to the foreign worker nor investor nor did it offer any type of real protection for Caymanians in the work force! We ended up with an even more ridiculous, unsustainable and unfortunate reality: an11 YEAR MORATORIUM on all grants of status!


      THREE CHEERS to the Hon Rolston Anglin for apparently holding sure and steadfast despite the howling winds of Tony Travers once again inappropriate, incorrect, old-fashioned and meddlesome natter (aka "commentary") on the Rollover policy. He needs to be told where he has no business sticking his nose!……after all if I understand correctly he has been hired to do a job which has a specific remit and by no stretch of the imagination should this include commentary on the Country’s immigration policy (provided such policy is not an unrealistic barrier to economic advance nor an international embarrasment – neither of which it is!) 


      Since the Immigration law, as is the case with a number of significant laws, will inevitably contain certain sections which lend themselves to emotion and subjectivity, it is also the case that there will be those who will advocate for certain changes or better yet, refinements to the law. These could be good – once meshed out properly.


      Nevertheless, CAYMAN AND CAYMANIANS inconjunction with international law and international human rights provisions NEED the ROLLOVER policy. Granted, the ROLLOVER should be applied equally and fairly and there should be checks and balances in place to ensure this.



      HOWEVER, any suggestion that there should be any type of more than minor tinkering with or changing of the policy should be BOLDLY resisted by Caymanians one and all as we are the ones who stand to lose a lot if there were no such policy!!!


      If you were to take a piece of land in Texas and measureout 100 sq.miles and then put a big thick wall between those 100 sq miles and the rest of the world, and if 60,000 people of mixed race, culture and background were to be invited in to operate that piece of land like a country, there are sure (as it is most unfortunately human nature) to be those who will try to beat the system, take advantage of it, (i.e. lying about how much they need a particular individual so that the particular individual may be designated as a "Key Employee" and therefore not subjected to the ROLLOVER policy) and there will be ongoing needs for monitoring and updating of the laws which filter the actions of individuals and maintain harmony in society – especially as time progresses!


      …….soon, however we would start to see large distinctions grow between the "HAVE’s" and the "HAVE Not’s" – depending on who is winning the arguments about labour rights, protection of the family, education, social welfare, socio-economic development. etc.

      Anyone seen Travers on any platform talking about the importance of the maintenance of the viability of the Caymanian family unit? Notice something consistent about his message? It seems to me to be saying, just give us more so that we can make ‘MO’ MONEY’and "NO" we are not interested in your concerns, your problems etc.


      When is Tony Travers and his crooneys going to get the picture?? The days of commandeering and inconsiderately carrying out social enginering from their airconditioned offices, cars and condos are GONE! And for those who don’t really believe that let them continue, to see how long before they will be brought to justice!


      Whether you like it or not Tony Travers , this generation of Caymanians is (a) educated enough; (b) smart enough and (c) not afraid to speak up and we say "NO MORE" – a fair playing field in the job place, with Caymanians being giving the first opportunities. THAT is the only way to advance the country.


      Of course people of other cultures live among us and the truth is, Caymanians are fond of their foreign neighbours and or the most part and are proud of our multi-culturalism.


      However, at the end of the day the message is clear – you can call it "ROLLOVER", "ROLLUNDER", "Gap Year", "New Era", "Retention System" whatever – to do away or substantially limit the few teeth that the the Rollover policy has in it would be totally unfair to Caymanians and fundamentally lacks in any real substance in the argument which Travers has been babbling about from his mile-high window: that it causes us economic damage because the best professionals do not want to come here…….please!


      Many, many other countries operate very similar systems without strife or hindrance…..doesn’t Travers have his hands full enough trying to convince the Obama government that we are sufficiently well regulated so as to not warrant any further artifical limitations on the growth of our economy through foreign investment?……In any case, I hope he is successful at that -it is after all the type of thing he is hired to do- and I certainly hope, if it has not already been done and made clear, that his total earnings for this efforts on behalf of the Cayman Islands financial services product are made regularly clear and are not excepted from any review of the Auditor-General or the Public Accounts Committee of the Legislative Assembly.


      Yours sincerely,


      a dedicated and concerned reader & young Caymanian


      • Anonymous says:


        You make some excellent points. While Mr. Travers may have great understanding of Cayman’s financial industry it would be a mistake to believe that he is an expert on immigration policy. The combination of calculated overstatements, belittlement of Ms. Seymour and her concerns mixed in with some obfuscations and delivered with gusto simply will not do. The Business Staffing Plan does not of course of itself achieve any expatriate-Caymanian integration, nor is rollover a separate issue from managing integration.  What Mr. Travers really means is that so long as you don’t rollover the Brits, Canadians, Australians etc. that service our financial industry you can manage the size of your population by rolling over the Filipinos and Jamaicans that by and large are blue collar workers.  The great danger is that since Ms. Seymour is a former PPM MLA who was soundly defeated at the polls and Mr. Travers is apparently the victorious UDP’s advisor-in-chief that Caymanians divide on this issue along party lines. That would be a tragic mistake as her concerns are legitimate and well-founded.     

  6. Anonymous says:

    regarding the story about the young Caymanian woman terrorized by her Brit boss until she left.

    1.  Even if its a true story, these things happen in the real world, and she did the smart thing by leaving.  you mentioned by the way that she is doing better now – sounds like more of a loss to her employer than her;

    2.  she had the right to leave and find another job at the drop of a hat, b/c she’s Caymanian.  Expats don’t have the right to go anywhere.  Bad boss = go home or endure until your contracts up;

    3. differences in pay scale often have to do with experience in the job.  you said this was her first job out of school…..

    4.  Just as many bad experiences happen to ex-pats.  Local bosses lie about work, lie about pay, lie about everthing to get ex-pats down here and then they (*&^$ them over once they’re here. 

    You should take a more balanced view – people are not good, gentle, fair and decent b/c they have red passports and are named Ebanks.  And people are not evil, greedy, hateful and unfair just because they’re foreign.  the point of the article (with all its flaws) is that Cayman is going nowhere if people like you continue to create diffeernces between ex-pats and Caymanians.

  7. Anonymous says:

    RE:    [I would like to point out that once a person receives status, they are Caymanian and should be considered and treated as such.]

    should being the operative word.  Does it happen that paper Caymanians are treated poorly?Obviously , you’ve never seen a white status-holder with an american or english accent go through immigration.  Many times they are treated as poorly as ex-pats…

  8. Anonymous says:

    Nice try Twyla, but you’re creating a system where Caymanians will always be an undereducated, spoiled aristocracy to a revolving group of migrants who are here for nothing except to take what they can get before they leave.

    Rich professional ex-pats will probably always qualify under your system to come and work, because they bring the experience and education from the real world.  Unless they go out in the real world, Caymanians will never get the jobs or experience to replace them. 

    Meanwhile, your children grow up thinking that in the real world, the sons and daughters of clerical level government workers with grade 12 can live in a big house, drive a Mercedes and have servants around the house. 

    But let’s not talk about those ex-pats – let’s talk about the unskilled and semi-skilled workers.But let’s not talk about those ex-pats – let’s talk about the unskilled and semi-skilled workers.

    Your servants paid $4 an hour will never be able to own a home or really contribute to the economy, so unless you give them some kind of hope for a future in Cayman, they will always do what they do now – save save save and get the heck back home, where they are welcome.

    Recently a friend who had been here for 10 years had her appeal for PR status denied.  She had worked at two employers since she got here, had skills that caused her employer to have to hire another foreign worker when she left, and had been involved in a local athetlc association prominently for about 9 of those years.  But, at $15 an hour in a semi-skilled profession, she was never able to afford a houseor buy any land.  Did her 5 weekly hours of community involvement help her?  NO – immigration said that because it was an organization that catered mostly to ex-pats, it was not to be considered community involvement.

    What a load of BS.

  9. Anonymous says:

    One aspect of this ongoing rift between some expats and some Caymanians that bugs me is the oft-repeated idea that "expats have come here out of self-interest, mostly economic.  Some might say that is ‘coveting’.  When it no longer serves their own interests they will leave.  Clearly merely living 10 years in a country out of self-interest says nothing whatsoever about a person’s loyalty and commitment to these Islands."

    Most expats I know that have left, or will be leaving soon, have been forced to do so by the Immigration Laws of the Cayman Islands – regardless of their involvement in the society of the Cayman Islands, their investment in the Cayman Islands or their love for the Cayman Islands.

    They are forced to leave by law and are then criticized for "taking the money and running".

    Clearly, leaving the Cayman Islands at any time says nothing whatsoever about a person’s loyalty and commitment to these Islands.


    • Anon says:

      "One aspect of this ongoing rift…"

      That is no  mere "idea". That is simple fact that is borne out by common experience. Even after some expats obtain permanent rights they still see Cayman simply as an economic convenience and not as home. This mentality was not introduced by ‘rollover’, it always was.  

  10. Anonymous says:

    In general and in my experience, good Caymanian workers get good jobs and do well, mediocre ones see a letter to immigration as part of the career progression path. 

    • Anon says:

      "In general and in my experience, good Caymanian workers get good jobs and do well, mediocre ones see a letter to immigration as part of the career progression path". 

      Since this "in (your) experience" you are either not Caymanian or have very little experience because that is as false as the day is long. They are many bright, capable, hard working Caymanians with ambition who are perceived as a threat and deliberately kept down. letters to immigration is the only leverage we have to counter blatant discrimination in the workplace.  However, even that is ineffective since the Boards are obliged to reveal those letters to the employers and it typically ends with the Caymanian being dismissed (either directly or constructively) from his job since there is no whistle-blower protection.      

  11. Mike says:

    Great commentary.

    I never understood the issue of Caymanians versus Expats only because expats exist in Cayman only under the laws which Cayman’s elected government officials have created.

    Is enforcement of these laws the problem? The available means to address complaints? Still more issues for Cayman’s government, elected by Caymanians.

    If Caymanians have a problem with their own laws, enforcement of those laws, or the actions of their elected officials, it’s time those who have a problem with expats looked in the mirror.

    The issue will and always be between Caymanians versus themselves.




    • Anon says:

      Dear Mike,

      That is very a simplistic commentary. Enforcement is easier said than done as expat employers find ever more ingenious ways to manipulate the system and there is a shortage of resources to enforce.


  12. Anonymous says:

    So sums up the heart of the matter–there are good Caymanians and there are bad Caymanians.  There are good expats and there are bad.  Caymanians cannot penalize good expats for the sins of the bad ones and expats cannot penalize good Caymanians for the sins of the bad ones.  The person who said "Quit making it about the Expat. Everybody has a sad story" is quite right.  Every individual should be judged on his/her own merit. 

  13. Annoymous says:

    The article is very well written and expresses a single point of view.

    I am a born Caymanian with generations of born Caymanians under my belt.  However, I applaud another native for speaking their minds on this issue, so please now let me say my piece to say this:

    Several years ago at the Trust Company where I worked I watched a young Caymanian fresh out of business school be hired to the firm as a Secretary.  I too was employed as a Secretary.  When this young woman started she was well educated in all the new technology with computers and software programs.  Therefore the company assigned 5 persons for her to act as their Secretary all the while the rest of us ladies in the company as secretaries only worked for 1 or 2 persons max.  She was brilliant, fast and accurate at her work and soon more officers were assigned for her spreadsheet capabilities.  They raved at her for months and months.  She worked tirelessly many long hours to keep up with her work everyday, which I could see she was being swamped and stressed out by the demands of having to work for so many persons and I would offer to help her sometimes when I was sitting at my desk doodling with nothing to do.  She was so grateful and she asked me if anyone else had this much work to do daily and I honestly told her, no she was the only one so far and I also told her that I felt it was so unfair.  All the persons she worked for were foreign and they would smile in her face and laugh at her behind her back and discuss how challenging they were making her work and had bets going to see when she would break from all the heavy loads they distributed daily.  I took this to the HR dept. who claimed I was making stink and should not get involved. 

    She was young and full of life and went about it as quickly and accurately as she could.  In many instances they didn’t have to return anything to her to redo unless it was an error on their part.  I was amazed at this young brilliant Caymanian woman.  She was polite, hardworking and dedicated to her job.  One day I asked her how much she was making, and she told me $1500 per month.  I was shocked.  Two weeks prior to this they hired a foreign secretary from the UK who didn’t have any degree and was paying her $2800 a month and she was working for only one officer in the same department.  This went on for as long as I could remember.  Finally this young Caymanian woman was approached one day by her British boss who was the most miserable man on the face of the earth.  He threw a stack of files on her desk and ranted about she had made so many errors with the tapes he had given her.  So I went to her and took them and went through the tapes and found ONE error, and it was the date on a single letter which was clearly a typo, and easily corrected.  I gave it back to her and told her that there were no errors on this tape and all that she had prepared was correct with the exception of the one date and I had made the change and printed it off for her.  She gave them to him and from where I sat I could hear him quarrelling with her.  Two weeks later when our pay cheques came, she was so annoyed and frustrated to note that her immediate boss had not signed off on her overtime.  So she was short over a $1000 that pay cheque and mind you she had worked her tail off for weeks. The reception login book showed her coming in at 7am and leaving at 11pm most evenings.  I watched her when she went into his office and from my eavesdropping she questioned her overtime.  He stood up and pointed to the door, he kicked her out of his office and his voice was the only voice that could be heard, because she was a very soft spoken person and would NEVER raise her voice.  She walked out sat at her desk and started to pack her things.  I walked over and asked her what was wrong she told me that he had refused to sign off on her overtime to HR and that if she didn’t like it she could leave.  Well that is what she did.  While she was packing her desk he came out of the office (I was helping her to pack) and he asked me to leave them alone, I stood by her side and I told him that I was not leaving her desk.  He then shouted at her that she was a ‘good for nothing secretary’ and that ‘all caymanians are lazy’.  He marched back to his desk and she proceeded to reception in a distress state of mind as he had called her these names at the top of his lungs so the entire office could hear him.  I in the meanwhile called to the Mng. Director and told him briefly what was happening.  He told me to ask her to come and see him.  I tried but she would not go.  She told me that she was leaving this evil place.  She had worked so long and hard to please all her foreign bosses in that company and not one of them stood up for her that day.  Well a few weeks later her job was filled with 5 people all on work permits.  This is true and I can prove it. 

    I still work for this company and this same British boss went on to earn Caymanian Status and till this day he hates this country and its people.  We are now a company of 35 and 26 are foreigners (23 work permits, 2 status holder and 1 PR).  The good thing is that young Caymanian woman went on to bigger and brighter things in her life.

    Thisis just one of many relating to the treatment of Caymanians being victimized by foreign bosses.  When we say that Caymanians are lazy, well I am not one of those and neither was that young woman.  I also are aware of many others who are going through similar treatments today in their offices which range from Law firms, Banks, Insurance Companies, Management Co’s, Retailers and so on.  Hardworking Caymanians being pushed to the limit and are underpaid while their foreign counterparts reap the bonuses, the perks, and much more. 

    Therefore, when we speak of the GREAT DIVIDE please remember that it is not the native Caymanians who created this divide, it was and is the foreigners who have done this.

    I for one have no issues with foreigners unless you try to change/abolish/make fun of/disrespect or complain about me; my way of life; my country or my people; then you are walking on the fighting side of me.  I am 68 years old, I am retiring shortly and I have seen first hand the injustices that many smart, conscientious, brilliant Caymanians have been through at the hands of their foreign counterparts, and believe me it continues today as now my children are falling victims to the same thing.  The cycle of the GREAT DIVIDE has been ongoing for years it is not from today.

    • Frequent Flyer says:

      To the person with the big long story about her evil British boss and the lowly bright young Caymanian worker…  Those types of things happen every day all over the world, with and without regard to nationality, color, gender or religion. At least a Caymanian has the luxury to jump into another job the next day! An Expat must stick it out, leave, or go thru a huge ordeal to change jobs IF they can.

      I spent almost 10 years being degraded, underpaid and unappreciated while I brought in thousands of dollars in sales to my boss who disliked expats.  I had no choice but to stay in that job or go home and that was not an option either.

      When I applied for status the ‘manager’ wouldn’t write a employment verification letter or reference for me. So youcan bet that shortly after getting status my life improved dramatically when I left that firm and vowed never be unappreciated in my job again. (The boss even offered me money to stay, then cheated me on my last paycheck!)  I went through several more jobs before landing on my feet in a great job. And I can also tell you that looking for a job as a Caymanian IS difficult. We all know that almost all the jobs in the paper are for permits! My heart has always gone out to Caymanians because of this.

      Why on earth would she stay at a place that treated her that way. What I am surprised at is that YOU carried on working at that place for those kinds of people.  And you didn’t take up for her very much until the end. (I think, but I started skimming it because it got long and whiny)  Good for her for moving on. Gold will always shine through. Being as good as you say, she will do very well!

      My point is… THIS HAPPENS EVERYWHERE!!!  All over the world. Every day. Not just in Cayman.  Quit making it about the Expat. Everybody has a sad story.


      • Annoymous says:

        Frequent Flyer

        My point is that we don’t have to keep taking this kind of treatment.  You should not have had to take this kind of treatment either.  The fact that you have moved on with your life, many can’t do this.  The reason I kept silent this long is because I was raising my kids in a single parent situation, I had to take it to put food on the table.  This DIVIDE was imported into our society.  This is not a Caymanian thing.  We are just too passive a people to put up a fight.

        I note that you chose to leave your home to make a better life in this country and I applaud you for doing so and for enduring hardships to do so, but when the day comes that this country is no longer the place you want to call home, you can easily book a one way ticket out of here back to your home country.  What is unfortunate is that we natives have no other place to call home and have to endure these hardships placed on us because of this DIVIDE.  We have to remain behind and clear the paths that were paved for us.

        So I don’t feel you have any right to speak to me on this subject, I have endured much, long before you even set foot on these shores.


    • Anonymous says:

      If all this was true why not go to the Labour Board. The claim that the young lady worked from 7.00am until 11.00pm most days is a pretty good indicator of how "factual" these comments are.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Anyone that elects freely to invest 10 or more of their prime working years in a country, need not prove their loyalty or commitment to that place further.  After 10 years, that is where they live and like it or not, they are your neighbour.  Their right to exist in that place should not be revoked by anyone, esp not by those that merely covet their career or client portfolio.  It’s not just an issue of human rights, it’s an issue of 10 Commandments…

    "You shall not covet your neighbour’s house; you shall not covet your neighbour’s wife, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbour."
    Exodus 20:2-17; Deuteronomy 5:6-21

    • Anonymous says:

      "Anyone that elects freely to invest 10 or more of their prime working years in a country, need not prove their loyalty or commitment to that place further".

      Come again! Expats have come here out of self-interest, mostlyeconomic. Some might say that is ‘coveting’.  When it no longer serves their own interests they will leave. Clearly merely living 10 years in a country out of self-interest says nothing whatsoever about a person’s loyalty and commitment to these Islands. 

      A claim for Caymanian status out of a self-serving and silly ‘interpretation’ of the bible will get you nowhere.   With that sense of entitlement you have only underlined why we need ‘rollover’.    


  15. Anonymous says:

    Excellent and balanced – thank you – but one minor correction. The article suggests that qualified teachers are beingrolled over. That may be so, but if it is, it is most likely because their employers  are not making fully considered key employee applications in good time, or the teachers themselves are not investing in a small home for themselves and doing the things neccessary to gain points for PR. Particularly if they are excellent teachers and are making a significant difference to Caymanians, they have a very strong basis foor a Key Employee application.


    Now pedicurists….not so good a position. Train some Caymanians in your trade however and there is a chance…

  16. An expat says:

    "…you make it seem that the tenure of expats is more uncertain with the introduction of rollover so that it creates a disincentive to invest. The fact is that rollover or no rollover the law stated that there could be no legitimate expectation of work permit renewals or permanent rights. If expats were minded to invest in property under those conditions why would they be less inclined now?"

    I can’t complain about my choices, but it does look that way for me.  I have a good job here (thank you Cayman!), but it’s not so well-paid that I can afford to leave a house somewhere that I don’t live.  The "uncertainty of the roll-over" does provide real disincentives, and I promise you that I am not trying to stir up trouble or complain, but I’m just offering my perspective really. 

    I came prior to the rollover, so while I agree that I was (am) not "entitled" to presume an expectation of work permit renewals or permanent rights, I did have the thought that if I did everything right, contributed, played fair, helped my fellow people get through, work hard, be productive, etc, then I stood a fair chance of getting those renewals and I could build a life here.  Unless granted status, I knew I would always be a guest here and liable to be sent home – I got that part and it was OK because I had a shot.  I love it here and took the risk that I might not get the next invitation to stay.  So I bought a house. 

    Rollover came on shortly after that and now there is a real risk that even if I "do everything right", there’s a real chance (probability actually) that I’ll have to go.  What then?  Rent out my house and be landlord from another country?  Rent a place over there because my equity is tied up in a property here?  Hope I can get another job here after the year is up so I can move back to my house? Not optimal, to say the least.

    I do love it here, so I don’t have any regrets other than buying the house, but I sure wouldn’t buy it again.  I can accept being a guest (and I hope I am a welcome one), but no, I would not buy property here knowing that the clock runs out whether I do it right or not.  Just my perspective.

  17. Anonymous says:

    well said, it is nice to see that others can look at the situation objectively

  18. whatever happens, happens! says:

    As it is with many other issues there is no easy answer!

    A few things are clear however:

    The country’s leadership must motivate all Caymanians to be productive in whatever capacity they can be, we must slow down the "hand-out" tendency, we cannot afford it.

    Being a Caymanian Citizen (by whatever means) makes you a shareholder in the country’s debt, therefore it is not all fun & games once you have citizenship. Yes, you definitely have priviledges, but you also bear responsibility, I for one feel that inasmuch as Cayman has held out its hand and accepted me as a Citizen, I also have committed myself to work for the betterment of the country! how foolish would I be, if I accept citizenship in a Country and then do things to the detriment of the place where I have invested my working life’s earnings?

    Cayman needs more good Citizens, but I believe that until you are given permanent residency or Citizenship, there is always an understanding that your tenure here may come to an end and that is the case anywhere except the country of original citizenship.

    One of the biggest problems that stand between a more harmonious relationship between foreign born and natives her in Cayman is the tendency to look for the causes of problems among the imported persons. More often than not that is the wrong place, remember it is Caymanians who grant permits, approve plans, vote, sell (their) Real estate etc, like many other people Caymanians have some greedy people amongst them we know who they are.

    In my opinion, the recent situation with the Bodden Town candidates is a case in point, many people where looking to the Governor or the AG to contest the situation, but in fact the matter rests squarley with the electorate in Bodden Town, if they don’t  want to challenge the matter, why should anybody else?

    Let us hope that our leaders will be ethical and work towards the best for the country, we sure need it, now more than ever! 

    • Anonymous says:

      "In my opinion, the recent situation with the Bodden Town candidates is a case in point, many people where looking to the Governor or the AG to contest the situation, but in fact the matter rests squarley with the electorate in Bodden Town, if they don’t  want to challenge the matter, why should anybody else?"

      You really don’t get it. (a) This is an expensive undertaking for anyone simpyl for the sake of upholding the Constitution; and (b) it is the AG’s duty (not merely his prerogative) to uphold the constitution. 

  19. Anonymous says:

    Let me see if i am understanding this correctly…

    What I took away from this is that we don’t want either executives or the lower working class to get status because on the one hand, a lot of the lower working class are too poor to afford a house here or much of anything else.  When you look at it deeper you see that the working class, in many cases, can’t afford to send their children to private schools here and the option to send them to the public schools is not available because that is reserved for Caymanian children only.  So if they have children, the children end up staying in their home country.  If those children are staying in their home country the lower working class then has to send money out of the country to support those children.  Which means less money stays here in the country and so they have less money to contribute to the society here. If we give those people status, they would not be able to pay their rent here.  On the other hand, the upper class that hold high-ranking positions and can make those investments here but we don’t want to give them status either because that means that they will dominate the area where born Caymanians want to work in.  Did I get that right Ms. Vargas and Knal?

    [I would like to point out that once a person receives status, they are Caymanian and should be considered and treated as such.]

    As for the assertion that people should make a contribution to Cayman, I think that is true.  However, I don’t think that support and contributions are always so clear cut as owning property.  In any case, there were countless stories in the papers surrounding the implementation of the rollover policy of people who met all known requirements for status and were active in the community and yet got rolled over and were turned down for status.   

    What happened to, and…..  You can refer to the newspaper archives for story after story, editorial after editorial. 

    I believe that when people feel like they belong and have a sense of pride about where they live, they contribute.  One has to question how much of a home Cayman is to people that aren’t Caymanian.  If we treat people like they don’t belong here, they never will belong here nor will they ever want to belong here.  The problem with a policy such as the rollover policy is that affects ALL expats, even the ones who aren’t a "burden" to the society.  In effect, what the rollover policy has done is chased away good expats, discouraged investors and other expat workers from coming here.  If that is what you want, go ahead.  Wipe out all the expats.  There will be more than enough jobs for Caymanians then.  We won’t be able to fill them all.  Because of that, decent people won’t want to work in Cayman because it will be a very troubled place and the prosperity we once enjoyed will take another 500 years to come back.  That’s not a chance I am willing to take. 

  20. An expat says:

    "While I don’t like rollover, I haven’t seen a better solution put forward, to have nothing in place to stop people claiming status per international law will lead to a complete meltdown in Cayman in my opinion."

    I have no other solution either, and I acknowledge the validity of the concerns that the roll-over policy is designed to fix. 

    I too own property here and the Cayman real estate market is very slow (both now and generally) so when I have to go I may not be able to sell my property, though I wish I didn’t have too especially after the MASSIVE stamp duty I paid.  On the other hand, there’s little point in owing a house on an island where you won’t be living.  This combination of facts can’t be good for the non-vacation property market generally, as buying property is now very risky for expats (who would, really, unless status was "in the bag") and there are a lot of us.

    It’s too bad you couldn’t move away for a month and have that break the residency period for claiming status.  I personally would not mind at all signing something that said that I am and remain a guest of the Cayman people, that I don’t want to vote in Cayman elections, that my ability to work here is contingent upon there being no qualified Caymanian who want the job, and that I must train my Caymanian replacement whilst I am at work.

    I also wish that I could stay on for a while after I finish working, without voting or working, since this is where my house is.  Oh well… the price tag for coming here is that we have to leave I guess.  I wish it were different but I can’t complain about the underlying policies.

    • Anonymous says:

      An expat, you make it seem that the tenure of expats is more uncertain with the introduction of rollover so that it creates a disincentive to invest. The fact is that rollover or no rollover the law stated that there could be no legitimate expectation of work permit renewals or permanent rights. If expats were minded to invest in property under those conditions why would they be less inclined now? 

      "It’s too bad you couldn’t move away for a month and have that break the residency period for claiming status".

      There were doubts whether six months could stand up as a break in residency. A month certainly would not, no matter what the statute said. We can be sure that this is one area that the courts (which have shown themselves to eager to thwart the purposes of the immigration law whenever possible) would find was incompatible with human rights. Signing bits of paper saying that you give up rights probably would not be worth the paper they are written on.        

  21. Knal says:

    I’m an expat just over a year away from rollover, who owns property here in the beloved Isles.

    MIss Twlya, what you say does happen as I understand it with the points system, the problem arises from only accepting those wealthy expats as Caymanians is that they now slow the upward progression of present Caymanians. These epxats usually are the skilled labour force in Financial Services and as such are the ones usually holding the jobs most Caymanians want fro them or their children, the Gov also relies on their WP fees as these are also the most expensive ones.

    In the end you will end up with a Cayman where the majority of B & B Caymanians will be much less well off than those "paper" ones and no longer given first choice on opening positions.

    While I don’t like rollover, I haven’t seen a better solution put forward, to have nothing in place to stop people claiming status per international law will lead to a complete meltdown in Cayman in my opinion.

  22. Born Again Muslim says:

    Wow, nicely said! You are so right.

  23. Anonymous says:

    A wonderful piece of writing… many thanks for what seems an honest and objective viewpoint.


  24. Twyla M Vargas says:


    I do not agree that a person should be given Caymanian Status or not rolled over because they give me a good pedi, mind my children or clean my house.  I believe that person should prove themself in wanting to obtain such a prestige place in our society.   In proving themselves for that position, they should be financially stable, i.e. not becomming a burden on the Governement, owining a home business or property.  Involved in community projects with a helping hand to the youth and elderly.

    These persons should be able to offer some thing in return.   Not all expatriates are a burden on the economy of this Island, but there are many, and I say many.  These persons have lived here for a number of years 10, and more but they have never invested, assisted or showed in anyway that they want to make Caymantheir home.  You cannot expect to live here for 15 and 20 years and do not own a stich of land, a blade of grass, and have built a home and invested elsewhere, then cant even pay your rent.  Why do you want to be a Caymanian and not rolled over.  Just because you give me a good pedi, No I pay you and give you a good tip.  I take you on holiday with my children, pay you and give you a good tip.  Offer more to the community.  Contribute to the PTA, the Elderly, Wheels on meals, youth clubs, little league and contribute towards scholarship.  It is the thought that counts, not how much you put in.

    I welcome expatriates, but they must prove themselves to becomming one of us.

    Walk good.