PDM Announces Plan to Stop the Sloops’; says PNP Gov’t is “clueless”
By Deandrea Hamilton
#TurksandCaicos, February 2, 2023 – For some, the Progressive National Party government has failed to contain the illegal migration problem. To no one is this perspective more true than the People’s Democratic Movement which in a statement, hammered the government for inaction on stemming the flow of illegal boats from embattled Haiti and cited that now, there are a marked increase in human smuggling operations since the PNP took office.
“The PNP Government of the day seems to be clueless about how to tackle this problem. In the two years that they had come for the work, the country has seen no new plans, strategies, or methods for addressing the illegal movement of people, weapons, drugs, and contraband. On the contrary, we have seen an increase in illegal activities within our territorial waters,” said Edwin Astwood, Opposition Leader.
Over 500 Haitians have been caught so far in 2023 trying to enter the islands, illegally. Police have confirmed that some illegal boats have been missed by the coastal radar and marine branch, which brings unknown dangers to the British overseas territory.
The overwhelming influx is fueled by people seeking relief from a toxic cocktail of widespread infections and deaths as a result of Cholera; the vacuum left by the expiration of term in office of all its democratically elected leaders; the high cost and scarcity of food and the take-over of murderous gangs across the nation.
Astwood said the remedy needs funding and his party has the right strategy.
“The PDM has been working on a very ambitious strategic plan for “Stopping the Sloops”. This plan has a clearly defined vision and mission, with achievable objectives. The strategy was developed with a new and innovative way of stopping and detecting illegal entry into the Turks and Caicos Islands. It employs a multisectoral multiagency approach using new and very promising tactics.”
No details of this plan is shared by Astwood, but he does give clues about where there is grave concern; he slams the PNP for leaving smaller islands unprotected. He likened them to a magnet for the unscrupulous captains who use the lanes and lands for their often ill-fated, always nefarious and irresistibly lucrative voyages.
“For our Family Islands and communities border protection and security are extremely low, or completely absent, hence they also act as alternative unmonitored landing sites for these illegal boats.
We the PDM have been studying in much detail every aspect of this issue of illegal boats. Our Plan will coordinate our intelligence, interception, processing, and enforcement systems. Through increases in the critical staffing areas; increase policing of our waters; use of technology, including sensors, radar, and aerial assets, investments to modernize the ports of entry, and stronger partnerships and information sharing, we the PDM desire to create a safer, more secure, and more efficient border environment of the entire Turks and Caicos Islands.”
Since the statement was issued on February 18, there has been no formal reply from the PNP Administration. The issue of illegal migration once again proving to be politically polarizing and not severe enough a threat to elicit greater collaboration by the two parties for the good of the country, which is pumping millions of dollars into repatriation costs and bleeding even more dollars due to the social impacts resulting from the deepening crisis in Haiti.
“Protecting our borders from the illegal movement of weapons, drugs, contraband, and people, while promoting lawful entry and exit, is essential to our country, the Turks and Caicos Islands, security, economic prosperity, and national sovereignty.
A PDM government would be committed to enforcing our immigration laws so that we can secure our border and keep the TCI people safe. Our Strategy includes taking action to directly disrupt cartels, smugglers, and nefarious actors.
However, smugglers, human traffickers, and nefarious actors know our loopholes well and continue to exploit them. To truly keep the TCI people safe, we must end loopholes that have left us with policies that serve as tremendous magnets for illegal immigration.”
The plan is to stop the sloops.
“It consists both of a short-term and a long-term plan.
No doubt this Strategy will require budgetary support from Government funding, and New Visionary Leadership for execution and bringing the Plan to fruition. “A new and innovative plan will never be executed with an old and outdated way of thinking.”
The funding will be for acquiring the most suitable and most effective technologies for the purpose, the most suitable and most effective equipment for the activities, implementing the new methodologies, and most importantly employing the most suitable and skilled Turks and Caicos Islanders for organizing and executing the approach.”
There is a document and a vision said Edwin Astwood, who is a former minister of health of the Turks and Caicos Islands.
“We the Peoples’ Democratic Movement believe that the TCI should be free from having to face the consequences of illegal boats carrying people, guns, and illegal drugs reaching our shores. We are committed to securing our borders, and developing and enforcing effective immigration laws. We also believe that all of our people and residents have a right to feel safe and protected.
The mission statement of the PDM’s New and Innovative Plan outlines how we would achieve the vision. Our Objectives comprise the specific results that our new system aims to achieve in “stopping the boats”, within the specified timeframe stated.
The PDM’s plan needs the Haitian Government, said the Leader who is depending on a missing in action level of accountability from the Haitian government. It is a murky, maybe even a doomed expectation as Haiti’s government is relatively non-existent. Its last elected president – Jovenel Moise – was assassinated in July 2021 and its remaining democratically elected leaders demitted office in early January 2023.
“We need both countries to be in agreement to work together to address this expanding illegal immigration from Haiti, while at the same time promoting trade and commerce.
We the PDM believe that by working cooperatively, both governments will work to combat human smuggling and trafficking in the region, and support both countries in our efforts to combat crime and violence, by cutting off this funding mechanism. These efforts will build on existing bilateral agreements between the TCI and our neighboring countries and will reflect a shared commitment toward regional and hemispheric security.”
For Haiti, despite optimism when the United States and Canada agreed to ‘boots on the ground’ and military support, little had changed for the nation, home to 11 million people including some five million starving children. This month, both countries informed that while they are prepared to sanction alleged corrupt ex-leaders and provide a presence, no combat action is planned.
The PDM, meanwhile, has not said when they plan to release the strategy for public consumption.
“We the PDM have a new and Innovative Plan to protect You, to secure our borders, and to Stop the Illegal Boats. The Premier and his PNP government have No plan,” said Edwin Astwood in conclusion.
Millions to come from FSC
#TurksandCaicos, March 17, 2023 – Revenue from the Turks and Caicos’ Financial Services Sector will more than double in the next few years, if E Jay Saunders, Deputy Premier and Finance Minister gets his way. It ‘s one of the reasons the country is investing so much capital into getting off of the EU blacklist and becoming a secure trustworthy financial destination.
“The FSC’s revenues for 2020/21 was $10.5M— the figures for 2021/22, would be about similar,” he said. He further explained that $10.5 million from the FSC represented about 2.6 percent of the country’s 408.5-million-dollar revenue. Though it increased to $14 million in the 2021/22 financial year, finance is still a small fry compared to tourism or even stamp duties but that will change, says Saunders.
“My revenue goal for the Government by the year 2029 [or] the election after the next election – is $500M. By that time, I want the financial sector (FSC) revenues to represent at least 5% ($25M). So that’s my goal for the financial sector by 2029.”
This goal, should it be met, would increase the Government’s revenue by 100 million dollars, a significant increase in spending power for local upgrades and improvements for Turks and Caicos residents and visitors.
Saunders says it’s time for the TCI to diversify its sources of revenue to make sure that what happened in the COVID-19 pandemic, which saw residents out of a job for months, will not happen again. Tourism now makes up around 80 percent of the country’s GDP. The Minister of Finance wants to push that down to 60 or even 50 percent.
Debrief on Haiti Caribbean heads visit
#Haiti, March 17, 2023 – When a CARICOM delegation visited Haiti earlier this month, conspicuously absent was the Turks and Caicos Islands despite being one of the nations most directly affected by the multi-dimensional crisis there. There is no comment, as yet from the Premier, to say why this was the case.
Still, from the expedition, CARICOM heads of Government have informed that there will be lobbying in Africa for assistance in Haiti. They say they have decided that the best course of action for the Caribbean country is to bolster the Haitian National Police and act as intermediaries with Africa and the world. The decision follows a one day visit on February 27th, and a March 5th meeting chaired by the Bahamas.
CARICOM says during the trip delegates ‘met with a broad range of Haitian stakeholders to hear their views on the way forward to a Haitian-led solution’. With that in mind it has made a decision on how to proceed.
“The Heads of Government agreed to support the Haitian National Police in their efforts to address the security situation. The focus of the Community will be the provision of training for the HNP and the provision of humanitarian assistance to HNP and the wider Haitian society, taking into account the challenging humanitarian and security situation”
It’s not clear yet where and how this training will take place. Also distinctly absent from the report, no more mention of boots on the ground from other countries despite CARICOM Member States indicating they were ready and willing should it come to that.
In addition, recognizing ‘the common historical experiences and the strong African-Caribbean relationship’ CARICOM says,
“Heads of Government also agreed to seek support from African countries for Haiti. They also agreed to work with the Governments of Canada and the United States as well as the UNDP”
Magnetic Media has reached out to the Premier’s Office to get a full debrief of the February 27th visit (led by Jamaica; including The Bahamas and Trinidad and Tobago) to learn of Turks and Caicos’ posture following the critical sessions.
New ASHLEY’S LEARNING CENTRE CONCERT
#TurksandCaicos, March 17, 2023 – Musicians from the New World Symphony will be in the Turks and Caicos in concert next month and residents are invited to attend in support of the future of Ashley’s Learning Center.
A fairly young orchestral academy based in Miami, the New World Symphony was launched in the 1980s by 1987, Michael Tilson Thomas and Ted Arison,Carnival Cruises founder. From the 1500 applicants who vie for a spot each year, the symphony accepts around 35 music graduates annually for training fellowships.
A select few of those graduates will be in country on April 8th headlining at the Ashley’s Learning Center concert ‘We’re all in this together’. The concert which also feature local artistes will be held at Brayton Hall on Venetian Road from 6 pm to 8:30 pm
Tickets are available ON ISLEHELP $75 PER GENERAL SEAT $125 PER PREMIUM SEAT $195 PER GALLERY SEAT – with /FREFRESHMENTS.
For TICKET RESERVATIONs you can call: 649-341-2304 or email EVENTS@ASHLEYSLEARNINGCENTER.ORG
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