Roatan’s Beauty, Truth & Wisdom

Cayman Islands Marketing Machine

My great grandfather on my mother’s side was a native of the Cayman Islands. My Father’s people have a British last name and were among the first settlers of Guanaja hailing from Grand Cayman. I’ve been to the Cayman Islands a handful of times and it always amazes me the hype that surrounds the place: the global recognition, international fame, and it being the banking and finance Mecca.

My 3-year-old niece was bragging to her fellow daycare inmates about her upcoming trip to the Cayman Islands for the Holidays. It sounds pretty, it evokes images of white sand beaches and piñas coladas. There are the sting rays and picturesque boating and diving activities. My mother tells me tales of the Cayman of old and how they would import pineapples from us here in the Bay islands. Their fresh produce was scarce and there was nothing there.

So how did they come so far so fast and why we in the Bay Islands, while we have much more to offer, we just have gone backwards. Maybe the answer lies in the fact that they are miles away from the country to which they are tied to. Or perhaps it’s that a developed nation such as the United Kingdom recognizes the jewel that Cayman Islands are.

I’m unsure of the answer. The truth is that the Caymans have left us in the dust. Having no hills, no water sources beyond a few wells and desalination facilities, no agriculture. Their biggest island is smaller than Guanaja, yet they have managed to have global appeal.

The Cayman Islands citizens are well cared for and their government works for them. I had forgotten the date of my last visit when I arrived at immigration in Cayman over the Christmas break. Their entry system was quick and suggested I had been there last in 2017 on a business trip.

They handle this information at the touch of a button, while we can’t even stop criminals with warrants for their arrest from coming across on the ferry, or the plane from the mainland.

Cayman Islands require stating who you are visiting or name the hotel where you are staying with a reservation. Now that is an immigration control that works.

While we belong to Honduras, we cannot stop the mainlanders from coming over or ask them where they will be staying or what is the purpose of their visit. I know I’m harping about the same issues over and over.

The Colombian government owns two small islands off the coast of Nicaragua: San Andres and Providencia. The Colombian government is aware these islands have limited natural resources and limited jobs, so they do the logical thing and restrict access to them. You may visit San Andres to vacation at any time, or enter with a job offer or as an investor. This is logical, not like our mass influx of people who have no place to stay and no job to come to.

We don’t have the infrastructure necessary to even begin to compete with Caymans. They have branched themselves into medical tourism now with their Health City. Here on Roatan, we can’t even get our hospital built. In brief words: the government has no interest in developing our Islands.

Why should they care if we represent less than 2% of the country’s population? Voting wise we are insignificant. I’m told we also represent very little for them tax wise. They would have us believe that the taxes brought in by the cruise ship passengers, airline passengers, ferry passengers, real estate sale tax, capital gains tax, and security tax don’t represent a significant contribution to the country’s economy. Well, I for one don’t think that is true. I want some transparency and accountability with these numbers. I want transparency.

I want to know what the actual amount of taxes is paid by Bay Islands to Tegucigalpa’s coffers. If we don’t, who has this information and why can’t we access it?

Bottom line is we have an albatross tied to our neck. The stench of corruption and mismanagement of funds reaches across the small stretch of sea that separates us from the continent. If we represent so little to Tegucigalpa both financially and democratically why not release us? I think we could manage just fine.