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Are we leveraging the power of local social media to bring about real change?

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#TurksandCaicos, November 16, 2021 – One of the greatest strengths of any country is the right to freedom of expression, with the ability to exercise those rights without fear or retaliation. Although, this right could become a casualty of war if we fail to protect it or by denying its power.

Local social media in the Turks and Caicos Islands and around the world has been a driving force for change.

Albeit, in some countries, government is monitoring every move, every speech, every broadcast, every publication and every utterance. We are fortunate to live in a country where censorship is not a battle we have to fight.

However, with that freedom of speech and privilege, it comes with a huge responsibility, because what was meant for good could easily be misused and abused.  On a regular basis, we are exposed to hateful speeches, derogatory comments and propaganda, be it by individuals or special interest groups with their own hidden agenda.

What’s disconcerting is when we use this freedom as a means to criticize and disrespect people rather than their actions.  The old adage of “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”, is so far from the truth.  Social media is a great sounding board, but we ought to be careful not to argue with useless words or comments that have little or no value.

In order to comprehend and advance the critical issues that are in dire need of attention in our country, we should not only focus on the headlines, but also take the time to weed through the noise on social media to get to the substance.  Sitting down in front of the television set to get your updates from the 5 o’clock news, is no longer the primary medium that grabs our attention. Its social media and television is now secondary.

According to consumer technology association, more people own a mobile device than a toothbrush.  With such easy access to social media, in essence, it’s like having a captive audience.  However, if it’s not used for the good of society, social media will always remain a divisive topic in the public sector.

In recent years, local social media has emerged as a very effective platform for reaching TCI citizens in meaningful and engaging ways. From promoting the agenda of local politicians, to holding them accountable for their actions or lack thereof.  The results of the most recent election in the TCI, is a testament to the power of local social media.

Many local Facebook users and commentators have seized on the opportunity for their voices to be heard. With high focus on issues such as police accountability, illegal immigration, government inaction or social injustice.

When posting a comment or article in print or on social media, we should be reminded to ask ourselves the following questions;  is it factual, is it enabling and empowering others to action for the betterment of the people or society in general?  Or is it stoking division?

If it’s not offering solutions to our gripes, we need to change our narrative. What we need is more voices of reasoning, activism and problem solvers not just criticism.  Furthermore, we have to find creative ways to get our message across without being disrespectful or demeaning with a greater focus on diplomacy.

Facebook and WhatsApp are very popular platforms which could be used by our local communities to focus on areas of common interest.   Likewise, it should also be used to acknowledge our differences while finding a unified voice and ways to manage them.

In order to accomplish this, as concerned citizens, we have to first identify what are the greatest demands. Only then can we begin to work together against a common enemy rather than fighting amongst ourselves.

We may have differences, but the goal should not be to eliminate them, but to find more common ground that we can all work with and build on shared interest.  We should also be very cognizant of whose narrative we are following or gravitating toward. At some point, our passion for a cause needs to go beyond the number of Facebook likes.

Although we are only a small developing country, we no longer live in a bubble and are now on the world stage.   With that being said, certain comments or remarks are all things that should be given careful thought, as it could adversely impact our delicate tourism sector and the nation as a whole.

There are a number of ongoing struggles that I believe should garner greater media attention. Issues such as certain communities that are being marginalized, better housing affordability, increase in minimum wage, food and gas pricing regulations, crime and punishment and the like.

What I have learned over the years, if you want to get something done and it’s a cause that we truly believe in, then it’s worth fighting for. It cannot be a one off post or discussion.

The long and short of this article is, we should not be afraid to call a spade a spade, but let’s try to do it with more diplomacy.

Let’s capitalize on this momentum and use these popular platforms to build our people up, not tear them down and with less focus on trivial matters.

Let’s continue to put the pressure on decision makers by being methodical and relentless in our approach, and champion efforts to bring about real change.

I believe this will inspire our listeners and audience to a point that will move them to action.

 

Ed Forbes,

Concerned citizen of Grand Turk

 

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Health

Woman dies on Tuesday; 32nd Covid Death for Turks & Caicos

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

#TurksandCaicos, January 20, 2022 – The Turks and Caicos has recorded its 32nd death related to COVID-19.

A Ministry of Health press release informed that the individual who was in quarantine in Grand Turk and requested emergency aid on Tuesday; response came from the public health team in Grand Turk.

The person, who we are told is a special needs young woman – was unvaccinated and had underlying medical conditions.

The death rate in the Turks and Caicos of both vaccinated and unvaccinated persons has climbed alarmingly this year.  In the 21-month period from March 2020 when the country recorded its first case to December 2021, there were 26 deaths recorded in the TCI.

In the 19 days since the start of 2022 that number has increased to 32; which means six deaths already in January.

 

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Bahamas News

Cruising should slow down says PAHO

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

‘Slow down on Cruising’, that’s the word from the Pan American Health Organization, PAHO in their latest recent press conference.

Dr. Ciro Ugarte Director of Health Emergencies at the PAHO was referring to the Bahamas but made sure to note that the advice was highly relevant to many countries in the times of omicron.

“In the context of intense transmission, due to the Omicron variant as we have highlighted several times. It is just logical to suspend or at least limit the cruise ship traffic as an outbreak on board might end up exceedingly high and probably will go beyond the capacity of local health services”

Both the Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos are experiencing a massive uptick in cases and several warnings regarding cruise travel have been issued by the US Centers for Disease Control.

Cruising just resumed for many regional countries this past Summer, Turks and Caicos was among the latest to restart on December 13.

A stop to sailing would be devastating to economies, however, ports of call like Grand Turk which are reeling with rocketing case numbers of COVID are urged to consider the suggestion of slowing down on ships by PAHO.

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Caribbean News

Cayman gets its second ‘Sir’; former Premier Alden McLaughlin knighted on Jan 1

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

#Cayman, January 20, 2022 – Former Premier of Cayman Alden McLaughlin was knighted at the start of 2022; named in the Queen’s New Year Honors List. He is only the second Caymanian to have ever received a knighthood from her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

Sir Vassel Johnson, received the honour in 1994; he was Cayman’s first Financial Secretary; he died in November 2008 at the age of 86.

Current Governor, Martyn Roper extended congratulations saying, “This is an outstanding personal achievement for former Premier McLaughlin, one of the most important and impactful political leaders in Cayman over the last 21 years. It is a significant moment for our islands. This historic award is only the second ever Knighthood to a Caymanian since the first in the 1990s. It is a strong signal of the respect in which Cayman is held and a visible demonstration of the progress Cayman has made as a vibrant democracy with strong good governance foundations.”

Sir McLaughlin, who is also now a QC attorney, served two terms as premier and had a career in politics that spanned 21 years. McLaughlin is known for his role in modernizing Cayman’s constitution.

Current premier G. Wayne Panton described the occasion as a unifying moment for the country saying, This is a day of celebration and great pride for all Caymanians as a son of our soil has been bestowed one of the highest honour.  Today marks a new and most unique storyline in the history of the Cayman Islands.  In considering the rarity and magnitude of this occasion, this is certainly a unifying moment for our community.”

Sir Alden McLaughlin, 60, was appointed as a Knight Commander of the Most Distinguished Order of Saint Michael and Saint George on January 1, 2022.

 

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