By David Tapfer
On a number of occasions I have questioned the idea of the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) going independent. I know that the Progressive National Party (PNP) ran on that platform and were elected. However they did not get the popular vote and their top vote getter bowed to opposition leader Sharlene Cartwright-Robinson. The Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM) won three of five at large seats and could have won more.
David Tapfer is a retired, US-born engineer and management executive. He is the former chairman of the Middle Caicos Branch of the Peoples Democratic Movement
I have warned that independence from Britain would certainly see the end of the use of the US dollar, negotiated by the founder of the PDM when the TCI had a US base here. I have argued that with independence comes the cancellation of the ten-year visa. That also is a by-product of the US base.
Britain got 50 World War One destroyers, which the US had in mothballs, and the USA received the lease for the base. This was at the start of World War Two. The base continued operations through the NASA moon shots. With the base came the US military and the US dollars. Now the US base is gone, closed, kaput.
Our tourism is tied 95 percent to the USA and that is why our tourist board was hard at work in Canada, Germany and now in the Portuguese-speaking country of Brazil. Brazil, they say, is another wonderful vacation land. Are the tourist gurus looking forward to the end of US arrivals, when Premier Ewing, former premier Mike Misick or whoever achieves independence? Chavez, another friend of Mike, is gone to meet his maker, so the Venezuelan pesos will not save the PNP.
Remember, Premier Ewing said the special investigation and prosecution team (SIPT) prosecutions are a farce and the PNP debts and obligations are now unmentionable.
What has happened in recent months is the USA has reinforced my position. First, the Obama administration took away our duty free status and we had to plead “we ain't rich, we poor” to get it back.
Now the US is warning their tourists they are not exactly safe in the TCI. If our voters keep the Progressives in power we will soon have the status of St Vincent, where I used to spend a lot of time. For small money you could purchase a nice piece of land. The weak Eastern Caribbean dollar and zero access to the USA is their lot. Only US citizens can escape to the USA. My wife and I also have our investment here in dormant Middle Caicos but we hope for the best.
William Hague, who came to power in the UK coalition government two years after the last PNP administration was removed by Britain's Labour Party, has told Premier Ewing if you want independence it’s up to the voters. Britain saved us from bankruptcy but, with the PNP, bankruptcy continues. The missing financial plan has VAT still looming. Finance minister Washington Misick has had four months and counting and has not yet figured the way out of his own PNP mess. Which one of the PNP or PDM has the moral authority? The choice is now up to Cheshire Hall-Richmond Hill voters in the March 22 by-election.
I suspect if someday independence were achieved by PNP, Ewing and Mike would be alone with their yellow shirted friends. Mike and others are not welcome in the USA. One TCI PNP chief minister, now put right back in government, spent years in a US prison. Our PNP “model citizen” Dave Smith has been sentenced to 20 years in a US jail and the former pilot of Michael Misick’s leased jet is now cooling his heels in a US lockup for 20 years. The DEA was chasing him for years but the PNPs loved and protected him. Twelve PNPs and more will be in court soon. No wonder they want independence!
All this is more evidence of TCI losing the dollar and the visa rights if independence is achieved by Ewing, Mike or whoever. Ask yourself what independent nation uses the US greenback and has instant access to the USA?
The PNP has given us the status of a banana republic, but we only have a few bananas to eat, not trade. Is that why appointed House member John Phillips now wants us to start a farm?
Ask yourself, why elect a party that thinks it needs to divorce itself from Britain and England’s closest friend, the United States of America? Cheshire Hall-Richmond Hill needs to give the PNP candidate their own moon shot! Otherwise… how's your Portuguese?