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PDM Press Statement: Robert Been Jr.

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Turks and Caicos, July 14, 2023 

 

Good afternoon to the beautiful citizens of the Turks & Caicos Islands,

First and foremost, I would like to extend my deepest condolences to the families who have recently lost their loved ones. Our thoughts and prayers are with you during this difficult time.

Today, I stand before you with a few questions before proceeding with my press address.

Are the voices of the people of the Turks and Caicos Islands going unheard? Where are we heading as a country? where do we see ourselves in the next 30 years if real change doesn’t come? Are we far better off as a country than we were before?

Today crime has reached alarming levels in our nation. We are witnessing the highest crime rates in our countries history, with an increase in gang-related activity leading to tragic incidents of violence, including murders. Last year, we were compelled to seek assistance from the Royal Bahamas Police Force to regain control of our streets. However, upon their departure, we regrettably witnessed a rebirth in gun violence.

The recent beheading of an individual in Five Cays serves as a shocking reminder of the gruesome crimes plaguing our beloved Turks and Caicos Islands. That murder marks the eighth (8th) for 2023, and we hope it doesn’t contribute to the growing list of unsolved cases.

These unsolved cases can be seen as a clear indication that either our Premier is not allocating sufficient resources to combat crime, or our Commissioner of Police lacks the answers or solutions to address this escalating issue.

The emotional toll on our citizens cannot be underestimated. Every Turk and Caicos Islander has the right to feel safe and secure within their homes and communities. Our children, the future of our nation, deserve to live and thrive without the threat of violence hanging over their lives.

It is the responsibility of any government to ensure the safety of our streets and neighborhoods. Unfortunately, the current administration has failed to effectively address the crime and violence that plagues our beloved TCI.

The People’s Democratic Movement (PDM) recognizes that crime and violence demand a holistic solution. We are committed to confronting these criminal elements head-on and utilizing all available resources, both legal and material, to reclaim our communities from these detrimental forces. Strategic operations, proper manpower, and necessary equipment must be employed to restore peace, tranquility, and security to our neighborhoods.

However, addressing crime and violence requires a multi-faceted approach. We must look deeper into the root causes of criminal behavior and juvenile delinquency in our communities. We must examine family structures, the impact of fatherlessness, the challenges faced by single mothers, and the importance of providing support through extracurricular activities, youth clubs, church groups, and other community services. These measures act as barriers, preventing our youth from embracing lives of crime.

Furthermore, we need policies in place that foster economic growth and job creation. By cultivating a robust economy, we enable our people to find employment and become productive members of society. This holistic approach should have been a priority for this government

We must engage in genuine and comprehensive consultations with community stakeholders to understand the underlying issues and build trust between residents and the police force. Crimes should no longer go unreported, and we must ensure that our justice system functions effectively to keep criminals, particularly repeat offenders, off our streets. Implementing rehabilitation programs for those willing to turn their lives around is also crucial. We must offer them a second chance.

It is evident that the current government is overwhelmed and in dire need of assistance, not only in addressing crime but also in tackling the growing challenges our country faces. This is not a partisan issue; it affects every citizen of the Turks and Caicos Islands. The PDM has previously proposed solutions, and now it is time to put some of those solutions into action

Moving on to the issue of immigration, it is disheartening to witness the continuous influx of illegal ships making landfall on our shores. These incidents not only threaten our national security but also underscore our lack of knowledge regarding the individuals residing within our country

Additionally, there is a need for more firmer oversight in managing the approval of work permits. We must ensure that locals who are qualified for certain positions are not overlooked in favor of foreign workers.

The emotional toll this situation takes on our people is depressing. Turks and Caicos Islanders are feeling the pain, and we must assure them that the sacrifices of our forefathers were not in vain. As a small country with a small population, every citizen deserves a fair chance at a decent and happy life.

Regrettably, the PNP administration has shown a lack of leadership and direction when it comes to addressing the issue of illegal immigration. It has spiraled out of control, and the consequences of their inaction are evident. We must understand that illegal immigration is not solely a political issue; it affects our entire nation and community.

The minister of immigration in his budget address stated that “For the year 2022/2023 their teams processed, detained, and repatriated over 2882 persons from 31 boats”, can you imagine where those funds could have been invested if our boarders were better protected?

The facts are this, in order to get real control of who is entering our country, we must get a firm grip of our boarders to ensure our people are safe and secure. This is not an easy task, but we must invest heavily in this area.

By effectively managing the influx of illegal immigrants, we can ease the burden on our taxpayers and social services. We must advocate at regional and international levels, ensuring that our unique circumstances are taken into account and that we are not disadvantaged by international laws.

Secondly, we must engage in open and honest conversations with our people regarding the fair and balanced issuance of work permits. We need to develop policies that ensure our citizens have access to the resources of our country, and these resources are distributed fairly. This approach requires the input of all stakeholders to foster consensus on this contentious issue.

Finally, the lack of access to capital and affordable housing has led to a significant exodus of our people from the Turks and Caicos Islands. Many are living paycheck to paycheck without seeing a path to financial freedom. The cost of accommodation and land purchases continues to rise, making it increasingly difficult for locals to maintain their daily lives.

We are witnessing a wave of brain drain, where our brightest minds are leaving our shores due to the lack of opportunities. It is truly disheartening to see such talent forced to seek careers elsewhere, hindered by limited financial support and inadequate access to capital.

The current government’s approach seems to encourage dependency, rather than empowerment.

Advancing the lives of our citizens appears to be absent from their priority list. Their delegation of important responsibilities to private entities, such as the Tourist Board to the DMO and the airport, indicates a lack of commitment to their 14-1 elected duties.

The PDM pledges to implement economic policies that empower our people and allow them to achieve happiness within the TCI.

We the PDM will develop a robust economic agenda that provides access to capital, better opportunities, and credit facilities. Our goal is to enable our citizens to own properties, live comfortably, and not worry about their next meal or falling behind on bills.

We must create a legislative framework that facilitates economic activity, entrepreneurship, and business growth. We must maximize our potential by treating our people as individuals with immense capabilities rather than beggars reliant on handouts. The PDM believes in providing our people with a hand up, offering opportunities driven by economic growth.

Education and skills training will play a vital role in expanding earning potential. Our young people must be prepared to seize opportunities arising from technological advancements.

In closing, I want to assure my fellow citizens that your voices will be heard once again. When the time comes for the next election, the PDM government-in-waiting will provide you with the government you truly deserve. For far too long, we have accepted the UK and others telling us what we can and can’t do.

It’s time for us to stand up and stop accepting “no” as the final answer. We must take control of our own destiny and demand real representation.

There is only one message we the PDM have and that is to make Turks and Caicos Islanders first. Our goal and vision for this country is to navigate it onto the right path, ultimately leading us to achieving self-determination.

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TCI GOVERNMENT ANNOUNCES JUDICIAL APPOINTMENT

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#TurksandCaicos, May 21, 2024 – Ms. Patricia Arana has been sworn in on13 May 2024 as Resident Magistrate, Grand Turk.  She first joined the Judiciary of the Turks and Caicos Islands as Registrar of the Magistrate’s Court in April 2022.

Prior to taking up the position of Registrar of the Magistrate’s Court, she was the Deputy Registrar General at the Supreme Court of her native Belize in Belize City. She started her judicial career as a Magistrate in 2010 and was promoted to the position of Senior Magistrate in 2015. As Senior Magistrate, she worked in several districts in Belize, and acted as Chief Magistrate on several occasions.  She was also within that period, seconded for two years as Legal Counsel to the Financial Intelligence Unit of Belize.

Ms. Arana is a graduate of the University of the West Indies where she obtained a Bachelor of Laws (Hons) Degree, and a graduate of the Norman Manley Law School, Jamaica, where she obtained her Legal Education Certificate. There she distinguished herself when she received the H.H. Dunn Memorial Prize for Legal Drafting and Interpretation.

Regionally, Ms. Arana currently serves as an Executive Member of the Caribbean Association of Judicial Officers (CAJO) on behalf of the Judiciary of the Turks and Caicos Islands. She is also an active member of the Caribbean Association of Women Judges (CAWJ), and the National Garifuna Council (NGC) Orange Walk Branch.

In the Turks and Caicos Islands, Ms. Arana has since her appointment in 2022, served in various capacities: ADR Administrator and lately a member of the Mediation Committee, a member of the Breach Process Rules Committee, Justice of the Peace Vetting Panel, Justice of the Peace Disciplinary Panel, and Election Adjudicator.

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US CONGRESSIONAL DELEGATION

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#TurksandCaicos, May 20, 2024 – The Governor’s Office can confirm that Her Excellency the Governor Dileeni Daniel-Selvaratnam and the Honourable Premier Charles Washington Misick will this morning receive a US Congressional delegation, who have requested a meeting to discuss the recent arrests of US nationals for possession of ammunition offences.

The US delegation, which arrived yesterday evening, was met by Protocol officials and is due to depart this afternoon.

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Government

PDM 10 All-Island Candidates a Surprising Slate dubbed ‘the Avengers’

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Dana Malcolm 

Staff Writer 

The Turks and Caicos Islands need saving according to Edwin Astwood, Opposition Leader and he’s assembled his ‘Avengers’ to do it; a team of 10 district candidates who were unveiled on Monday, May 6 to contest the 2025 general elections. 

“We the PDM want to be those champions for you. We want to be your avenging team to lift the country back up,” said Astwood who is the incumbent for ED 2, Grand Turk South.

The Candidates in question were all allowed to speak:

ED 1 Grand Turk North candidate George Lightbourne, former PNP member and minister now stands ratified by the PDM and said “I am fully aware of the issues affecting our people and fully prepared to tackle them.”

ED 3 South Caicos candidate Hynetta ‘Karen’ Forbes made a vow, “To you the people of South Caicos I promise to be a positive change and an advocate for empowerment for all— to make up for the lack and neglect we have endured over the years.”

ED 4 candidate, contesting North and Middle Caicos, Denaz Williams said “I believe in good representation so try me and I guarantee you will love me.”

ED 5 Leeward and Long Bay hopeful Keith Cox said “I want to make sure my efforts go to the betterment of Leeward and Long Bay, it’s time for a change.”

ED 6 candidate for The Bight, Audric Skippings, who returns from his loss in 2021 said “I pledge to be the voice of the people, the driving force behind positive change, and the chairman of progress in our district.”

ED 7 candidate for Cheshire Hall and Richmond Hill, is Rose Higgs who swore  “I am committed to serve as someone committed to changing politics and how some politicians behave after we elect them into power, I am your Beacon of Hope, I am going to parliament!”

ED 8 Blue Hills candidate Anthony Walkin maintained “The ideas I have for the constituency will change Blue Hills— no longer will you be suffering” he swore. 

ED 9 candidate for Five Cays, popular firebrand church pastor and businessman is how many know the energetic Bryant Cox, now approved on the PDM ticket he promised “ED9 it’s our time, I stand before you a man of action ready to work for you.”

Finally, ED 10 candidate for Wheeland Vaden Delroy Williams, who lost to newcomer Kyle  Knowles, now-Minister of Public Safety and Utilities by only a few votes in 2021, said “I am back because you have asked me to come back—because of the love I have for my people…”

They join the already announced all-island candidate team of Robert Been, Ruth Ariza, Karen Malcolm, Sean Astwood, and Ralph Higgs.

Sean Astwood, the former Five Cays members and deputy premier in the Sharlene Robinson administration, had missed the PDM’s all-island slate announcement on March 22; during the constituency candidates roll out had his say.

“Returning to politics was not an easy decision for me and I didn’t make it lightly— I came back because I believe we have a responsibility to stand up for what is right,” said Astwood.

Opposition Leader Edwin Astwood was especially excited to unveil the array of candidates having been the sole elected representative for the past four years. 

“Being in the fight alone these three and a half years wasn’t easy— I was in this battle alone but now you gave me 15 people, they had trouble when it was just me so imagine now with this team coming,” he exclaimed.

Astwood was the only PDM representative to be re-elected in February 2021 when the current PNP Administration gave them a historic walloping, storming their way to victory 14 to 1. Seven of those 2021 candidates including the party’s leader have returned to fight again in the upcoming elections which are constitutionally due in early 2025.

Ezra Taylor, National Party Chairman is convinced that the ‘rescue team’ will serve the Turks and Caicos to its fullest potential.

“Real representation, meritocracy, and honest engagement with our people will be the order of the day in the governance of the Turks and Caicos islands,” he continued “Our candidates embody the values that define us as a country, integrity, compassion, and a relentless dedication to the common good.”

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