Thursday, May 17, 2012

Telling the world (visitors to this blogsite)

My March posting “Cayman - warts and all” argued in favour of telling the truth about one’s homeland. Why hide the bad bits? Inviting prospective residents to come to Cayman on false premises is futile, when you think about it. Tell them there’s no crime, and they won’t take precautions. Tell them the Police are efficient, and they’ll be all the angrier when they come face to face with the reality. Tell them how welcome they’ll be, and they’ll be disillusioned when they discover the xenophobia that pervades our little society, fostered by the Immigration authorities.

Our rulers have never in recent decades felt comfortable when people tell the truth about Cayman. I remember the late 1980s, when the Department of Tourism’s brochures suppressed the fact that most Caymanians had African ancestors, lest American tourists be put off visiting. The ancestral lands were given as England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland. What were the visitors to think when they saw all the dark faces – remnants of the famous “Black Irish”?

It was all part and parcel of the official policy of censorship in these Islands. At around the same time, the local newspaper was discouraged from publicising any criminal activities here. Cayman was advertised as being “crime-free” right up to the 1990s. The Police denied the existence of criminal gangs in the schools until the 2000s. As a result, criminality and gangs flourished. After all, why protect a society and its visitors against a problem that doesn’t exist?

The Cayman News Service website this last Tuesday reported that there have been forty-three murders over the past eight years, of which seventeen have not yet been solved. This, on an Island of 50,000! Each ethnic group in our society keeps its secrets, naturally, but each knows its secrets, too. Those seventeen unsolved murders were not committed by criminal masterminds but by young tearaways. Are the guilty parties being protected by persons of influence? That would go some way to explaining why the Police aren’t trusted.

Our Immigration Monster is the chosen instrument for the suppression of critics. Expat residents can be – and sometimes are – deported for breaking the unwritten rules of censorship. I’ve covered the matter in several past blogs, but it bears repeating. Virtually every native Caymanian has the power to deport virtually any expat, for pretty much any reason. The vague accusation “he’s anti-Caymanian” is sometimes enough, and always has been.

Even anonymous denunciations are acceptable as evidence. Occasionally, someone in authority will deny that, but the denial is never meant to be taken seriously. “Anti-Caymanian” can mean anything from criticism by a middle-class expat of government's protectionist policies, to a protest by an expat domestic servant against his or her employer’s refusal to pay wages owed.

 When I blog about such things, does it damage Cayman? Am I letting the side down by washing our dirty linen in public? Is it treason? No, none of those things. If the facts themselves don’t damage the Islands, then the reporting of them can do no harm.

According to Google’s statistics, two thirds of all visits to my blog come from outside of Cayman. Almost all of those visitors are expatriates living in other countries, I would think; I contribute to several international forums for expats. The grand total for the blog is only a thousand or so a month, at the moment. The numbers are inching up, but it’s a gradual business. I look forward to the day when they reach ten times the present total. By then, hopefully, there won’t be as many bad things to write about.