Deserters: part of the problem

| 05/05/2014

Iread a previous Viewpoint about Cayman Brac's plight and felt compelled to expand on the issue from the perspective of a Caymanian with a long-standing love for the island, and a love and respect for many of the Brackers who have chosen to stay on their beloved island come hell or high water – and between Paloma and the recession, Brackers had big helpings of both.

Loving the Brac and seeing many Brackers struggling through the hard times there is heart-wrenching to me, so I need to share this because I become saddened and distressed whenever I hear or read about the sad economic plight of Cayman Brac. Some Brackers may be offended by what I have to say, but to them I say: If the shoe fits, wear it! Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.

There is a significant cadre of people who sit idly by watching from the comfort of their posh residences and they nary lift a finger to come to the aid of Cayman Brac even though they have the influence and means to effect some changes. Who are these people of whom I speak? Heartless politicians? Nay. Apathetic rich "expats"? Nay. They are Cayman Brackers. And they are part of the problem.

As the economy of Cayman Brackers continues to slide, Brackers who want to achieve the success that is measured by wealth and position continue to do what countless now-successful Brackers have already done in times past: they pack up and leave Cayman Brac to seek their fortune in Grand Cayman, or the USA, or wherever the grass is greener. Makes sense to me. Historically speaking, Brackers are not so foolish as to remain on an economically blighted island and expect to make their fortune. What is distressing is that when they do make their fortune, far too many Brackers just about completely forget from whence they came. I call them "Deserters".

It is shameful that these same now well-off Brackers – men and women who could make a huge difference by investing some of their wealth and making their influence known back in their home island – have chosen to pretty much put home and their own people on low priority. Yet they have the audacity to stick out their chest and proudly proclaim themselves "Brackers"!  Empty words! Even emptier souls. They or their parents may be born on Cayman Brac, but they are "Brackers" in name only and poor examples of Brackers at that. Their hearts belong to their big houses, fancy cars, social status, and fat bank accounts. 

Some of the well-off  Brackers and children of Brackers in Grand Cayman go "home" to visit the Brac now and then and some have modest houses there. But it is pitiful and astonishing how so many of these so-called "Brackers" forget about the plight of their home island until holiday season or long weekends or weddings or graduations or the Agriculture Show. Or funerals. While on the Brac, they join their family and friends in wailing and lamenting how badly the economy of Cayman Brac has slipped and how tough things are on the island.

To you I say: If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem! If every well off and influential Bracker in Grand Cayman and the USA were to have brought just some of their resources and influence and talents and business acumen to bear in bolstering "their" island, the Brac would now be a lush and flourishing Shangri-La; Cayman Brac would be the jewel of the Cayman Islands. 

But, sadly, once the wedding is over, once the Agriculture show has ended, once the long holiday weekend draws to a close, the Deserters get on the plane and when back to their Grand life, they forget about the plight of their family and friends back home. If you are a Bracker and have a close family member or friend who fits the description of a Deserter, I would make them hang their heads in shame every time I see them. I hope the term "Deserter" sticks and becomes a meme; it fits so well.

For all the combined wealth andinfluence Brackers are said to have in the Cayman Islands, from what I understand, it is a rather young female expat who is now investing millions on the island. And yeah, Brackers, there is the potential that she will have a whole lot of influence on your island. Probably already does. Of course government will bend their ears her way. That is the way things roll. But don't go bashing her!  Nature abhors a vacuum. She is doing what some of the more well-off Brackers should have done long ago but did not. She is writing cheques, investing in the island lavishly. Doubtless her investment dollars will bring her much say-so in shaping the future of the island. More so perhaps than any one Cayman Bracker.  She saw potential that far-too-many stick-out-chest Deserters were either too myopic, too lazy, or too comfy in their Grand lifestyle to give a hoot about.

Brackers: please don't groan and complain and snivel and whinge and moan when you finally perceive you are loosing control of your beloved island and it is being overrun with foreign influences. It's too late then anyway. Someone has to take control. Your people never did. In the absence of Brackers with foresight to invest there, it was inevitable that someone would start buying land and writing cheques to develop the island. Be mindful: with money comes influence. That is the way the world works. Cayman Brac may be a wonderful place but it is not immune to the workings of money and politics.

Brackers: Don't let it be a surprise that present and future foreign investors' concepts of how they want the island to develop is at odds with yours. That too is inevitable: they are not Brackers. To the Deserters who don't put out any meaningful effort to bolster Cayman Brac now but are thinking about retiring back to the Brac: don't be too shocked if you hardly recognise your home island when that time comes.

I see the writing on the wall. Cayman Brac as we have known it is done! A new day has dawned. Don't get blinded staring at the sun. Brackers, had their chance to make Cayman Brac into something they could be proud of, but now it is obvious that they really did not want it. This saddens me greatly. When Brackers are finally on the outside looking in and relegated to feeling like second class citizens on their own island, maybe they can take some small comfort that at least someone from somewhere saw potential on Cayman Brac and seized profitable opportunities that the Deserters turned their backs to.

In conclusion, Brackers: the next time you want to complain to someone about the plight of your island and opine what can be done about it, call up a well-off Deserter friend or relative and remind them that their continued apathy and desertion of Cayman Brac count among the reasons Cayman Brac is dying on its feet. Hmmm? Maybe it is fitting that funerals are a big draw in bringing the Deserters back to the island.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Successful Brackers that have left the Brac need to follow Linton Tibbett's and Cleveland Dilbert's lead and invest in the Brac.

    • Anonymous says:

      By "invest" you really mean "donate".  Another sad example of a Bracker wanting someone else to take responsibility for them.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Brackers who have left the island have absolutely no obligation to invest their hard earned dollars there. No one wants to invest money in something he or she knows will not guarantee some form of positive return. Incentives need to be put in place for people to want to spend money there. Usually the people who are so vocal against reasonable development of the island are people who have movedthere with their lofty pensions and stock portfolios. These people care nothing about the standard of living of the local population resident there. They try to come across as though only they care about the environment. This simply is no true. Also, the two elected officials, albeit in very different ways, have done a lot for the island. I don't believe the problem is representation. But the head of the Brac civil service shows NO leadership at all; XXXX. He needs to be replaced.  The private sector needs to stand on it's feet more and improve it's services. Government doesn't have to spearhead this.

  3. Anonymous says:

    The Brac has two main problems:
    (1) It is not connected by a paved road to Grand Cayman – so it suffers from an inconvenience factor. North Side and East End are not that different and would be in a similar predicament except you can hop in a taxi and get there. Running up cycles on aging 737s is not the answer to this issue btw.
    (2) It is not Little Cayman – the Brac suffers from an identity crisis. It wants to be “big” just like Grand Cayman. Little Cayman understands that being smallis good for a boutique tourism industry. Hence Little Cayman runs at full occupancy even though it is even harder to get to than the Brac.
    The future for the Brac should lie in preserving the many historic homes and developing a proper small and upscale tourism model based on B&Bs, safety and peace and quiet. But those responsible for tourism policy will never get that. All they understand is large condo schemes and marinas for imaginary weekend boaters.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Cayman Brac's past, present and unfortunately future power structure depends on keeping the masses dependant and on the verge of poverty. The big boys past and present throw the occassional bone to the backyard dogs to keep them feeding at their trough. Cash handouts, big salaries they aren't qualified for, a well for a farmer, or the occassional threat of cutting them out of the pie if they don't fall in line are common bribes to insure the systematic social inequalities are secure.  If we don't allow outside investors to develop Cayman Brac and include those that are willing and capable of participating regardless of their Clan affiliation the Fat Lady will have her Swan Song on these shores.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Lots of people on Grand Cayman love to proclaim their Brac roots but do little to nothing to help and support that island.

    They sure don't talk about any money they are putting into the Brac economy.

  6. Anonymous says:

    The place is too little. Move away unless you can find a way to make a living. If you want to ignore reality that's fine, but stop complaining that the place isn't some kind of economic miracle.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Maybe rather than expecting someone else to sort out their problems, Brackers can do something themselves?  Heaven forbid.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Typical brackish whining.  It's always someone else's job to create wealth there.  Normally the government's so maybe I should be thankful they are mooching from someone else for a change.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Some of your points are valid, but you're over-analyzing this 'plight' as you call it. The reason why Cayman Brac's economy is dwindling is because it lacks sufficient natural resources and the residents always intervene and impede development – from which wealth could be drawn and circulated into their economy. But no. They want to be immunized from following the same development undergone on GC.

    Furthermore, CIG has yet to even develop incentives or policies to increase ecotourism entrepreneurial opportunities. 

    What the Brac needs is a thriving private sector!!!!

    • Anonymous says:

      Ecotourism and entrepreneurial opportunities should be started by Brackers, then you can insist that Government offer incentives and policies.  CIG cannot offer incentives in a vacuum- something has to be started first.  And by something I mean sensible, safe (not opening up the island to be swamped in sea water) ecotourism projects. Don't make the same mistake Grand Cayman made many moons ago.

      • Anonymous says:

        Nobody starts a business hoping later to be recognized and become a candidate for a concession.  Even when you do the right thing: look at Lighthouse Point's sustainable eco-tourism dive resort and remind me of the grid metering policy that followed, or Electric Cars – and we're not even talking about the Brac yet!