Premier Updates Audience on Cuban Standoff
A political meeting for the Constituencies of Red Bay and Prospect was held by the Cayman Islands’ Premier, the Honourable Alden McLaughlin and Prospect incumbent Austin Harris on Thursday night, 8th April.
The Premier, who represents Red Bay and Mr. Harris, who represents the Prospect Constituency were joined on the podium by the new Leader of the Progressives and Minister for Finance, the Honourable Roy McTaggart, who if re-elected could possibly be the next Premier of the Cayman Islands.
Premier Alden McLaughlin took to the stage to thunderous applause from the crowd; his theme song, ‘Like a Rock’ making the moment even more euphoric for supporters on-hand.
A short video detailing the challenges faced by the Government during the COVID-19 pandemic reminded the crowd both present and online of the nightmare that unfolded only one year ago in which Caymanians and people around the entire world were locked into their homes.
Before his address, Mr. McLaughlin took time out to tell the audience of a volcano that had erupted in St. Vincent and said he wanted to send his best wishes, express his concern and pledge to help.
He also addressed a developing situation regarding several Cuban migrants who left the Cayman Islands and were picked up by a passing ship, which is now held up in Cayman waters.
The Premier said amid growing concern for the health of a one-year-old baby onboard the vessel with the migrants and the refusal of the Cuban migrants to send the child ashore, an order of protection was sought via the courts and an operation was carried out, after which the child is now safe at the hospital in Grand Cayman, along with his mother.
The father of the child received several injuries in the ensuing melee and is also at the Hospital at this time. His condition and injuries are unknown.
Mr. McLaughlin said he wanted to address the issue as it could have larger implications for Cayman’s reputation and could also become an international story.
Among other highlights during the Premier’s remarks was the fact that roughly 3.5 million dollars had been spent on roads in Prospect and Red Bay and that 38 street lights and 37 drains had been put in.
He pointed out the acquisition of land for the Eddy Sanchez Community Park project and noted that Traffic was of paramount concern.
With four new developments coming to the area, he said the concern was that the problem would exasperate and the fact that the prospect areas, including Red Bay were among the most narrow parts of Grand Cayman, made any planning to mitigate the situation all the more complicated.
“Permission alone takes a lot of time and moving utilities without disrupting people’s lives is another concern,” said Mr. McLaughlin, who noted that the Caribbean Utilities Company (CUC) had already completed the transfer of utilities to the other side of the road; a move which will accelerate the ability to affect change in the area more rapidly.
Mr. McTaggart told the audience of several hundred supporters that he was proud to have served along with both Mr. McLaughlin and Mr. Harris during his remarks, and noted that with only days left until the election, he was expecting that among the 19 persons to be elected, there would be eight Progressives and four Alliance members.
“The other 38 will be crying,” he joked, explaining that the Progressives and Alliance members were in full rally mode, with momentum in their favour.
“Please stick with us. There is no substitute for experience,” said the Minister for Finance.
He recalled that during an unprecedented eight years as the Premier of the Cayman Islands, Mr. Alden McLaughlin had not only helped to draft the terms of the Islands’ Constitution but had also staved off the brunt of death and hardship caused the COVID-19 pandemic around the globe.
He said the Premier was now postponing his retirement to assist the transition of the new Government.
He added that Mr. Austin Harris had also served admirably; first as counsellor and then as Parliamentary Secretary to the Premier and that he deemed Mr. Harris to be of outstanding moral fortitude in relation to honesty, integrity and honour.
“Reduced unemployment, a new coast guard, expanded marine parks, the defense of the Islands’ financial services and a new waste to energy contract were also touted as being the result of the efforts of the teamwork that has come to define the Government,” noted Mr. McTaggart.
He elaborated by laying out the future plans that were in the works for the Team if re-elected.
“We are now looking at a phased re-opening of our borders and getting cruise tourism back, in addition to plans to complete the John Gray High School, a mental health facility, improved education standards and opportunities for housing,” in what he called, “Plan Cayman”.
“We are proud to stand on our record,” declared Mr. McTaggart, who is also the incumbent Candidate for the George Town East Constituency.
Upon taking to the stage, Prospect Constituency incumbent, Mr. Austin Harris told the audience that he had worked between 60 to 80 hours per week in the service of the people of the Cayman Islands and shared his achievements, whilst acknowledging that, “It is harder to get re-elected than it is to get elected.”
He said this was the case because one was then judged on the ‘report card’ of what was done in their time in office.
“I took on many legacy issues and in many respects having single member constituencies has been better for focusing on certain areas,” he noted.
He said among his achievements were new street lights, paved roads, and speed bumps, explaining that many of these issues can take months to years to come to fruition, due to bureaucracy and that even in the unlikely event that he was not re-elected, the work he had initiated would still be unfolding into the next administration.
“Teamwork makes the dreamwork,” he declared, adding that Prospect was much better in 2021 than it was in 2017.
The MP noted that future plans for the Constituency included a greener Prospect.
“We will focus on the litter problem by amending the Laws and creating harsher penalties and implementing litter wardens, in addition to creating community parks, which can serve to reduce crime and also as community farms that can feed the people of these constituencies.”
“Grow what you eat and backyard farming will be also encouraged,” he said.
Mr. Harris noted that due to the cooperation between he and the Premiere, the numbers to bring the motion and have it seconded was already a reality and therefore the plans already have a chance of being successful.
“We have the numbers to make things work and in this business you need friends to make things happen. You need one to second, ten to move and ten more to pass something into Law,” he explained.