Finance Minister responds to published remarks; says he is not a ‘xenophobe’

Providenciales, 03 Jun 2015 – I refer to the swirling debate that is ongoing regarding statements made by me in the House of Assembly during its last sitting. My statements were made during a passionate debate in which I expressed my personal view. It is unfortunate that this stand taken for Turks and Caicos Islanders, in the Turks and Caicos Islands, was taken out of context. I have been painted in a light that is 100 degrees removed from all that I am and all that I have stood for and defended over the entirety of my professional life, my political life and my adult life generally. I can only call these tactics malicious and rife with intent to cause discord among the people living within our shores.

I refute any notion that I am a Xenophobe and, notwithstanding my utterances, wish to be judged by my record rather than by an impromptu bombast. I say without fear of contradiction that the Progressive National Party in and out of Government is among the most inclusive and tolerant and liberal in the region.

To put my passionate if not stately remarks in context, TCI is home to some 45 different nationalities none of whom have ever been restricted in the celebration of their national festivals. The Haitian and Jamaican in particular have been an integral part of the collage that is Turks and Caicos for as long as I can remember. Generations of them have assimilated into our society so that today there is not distinction between their children and mine.

We extend a warm and friendly welcome to all who come to our shores legally and with goodwill, in any category of activity required by our economy and social system, we extend a hand of cooperation and friendship, and even a pathway to citizenship for those who meet the criteria and who have a genuine respect for our people, our way of life and our laws.

I am passionate about my duty to this country both as a citizen and as a Member of Parliament and Cabinet, and I am passionate about my people, but to my immigrant friends, I have not turned my back on you; I have simply turned my face to the future; a future in which you are welcomed to share if you would stand with me to build this land, and so I stretch out my hand.

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