16 August 2009


Sometimes I feel like the SFS Center is somewhat insulated from the South Caicos and wider TCI community. We have everything we need here (apart from ice cream and chocolate), and our attention is focused out towards the water rather than in towards town. Just last night there was some sort of festivities going on in town and we had no idea until too late. But now I really feel disconnected. Last night before bed, Jessee came across an article in Reuters that explained that, as of Friday, Britain has suspended the Turks and Caicos government! Read it here: http://www.reuters.com/article/marketsNews/idUSLE64144220090814.

How did that happen without us hearing more about it?! I had read about some unrest in a local newspaper - there were anti-government protests on Grand Turk and Provo a while back - and had laughed about photos of TCI citizens carrying placards asking the British Parliament to oust their government. The British staffers here were amused saying, "I don't suppose there are many other places in the world that would care to see the return of the Empire." But I didn't think it was really going to happen!

The reason given for the takeover was "widespread corruption." Or, in the colorful language of one British official, "clear signs of political amorality and general administrative incompetence" (Reuters 2009). This suspension of government could last as long as two years. It doesn't appear that this will directly affect us, but I know the workers at the High Point development were concerned. The success of the resort they're building depends on serious improvements to the South Caicos airport, a project that apparently had secured government funding until now. About half of the workers at High Point were sent home months ago and development was slowed because of this uncertainty. Who knows, maybe the airport project was one of the backroom deals that led to this takeover. The Reuters article quotes the director of the TCI Finance Services Commission (TCI apparently is a center for offshore finance: read "tax evasion") as stating that the corruption probe focused on tourism and real estate activities. Of course, I'm not quick to trust anything coming from a guy whose job it is to foster an industry where millionaires and corporations can hide their money from taxation.

A second article (http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2009/aug/16/whitehall-takes-over-turks-caicos), which I've found just now, gives some insight into the positive light in which some islanders see this takeover. And it also cites questionable relationships between TCI politicians and foreign developers.

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