Treat tourists like gold, says opposition leader
Published on May 10, 2013

“We need to realize what we are doing and look at our visitors as very important, they need to be welcomed and when they encounter a problem we need to treat them like gold,” said opposition leader Sharlene Cartwright Robinson, when she was asked at a recent Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM) press conference on how she felt about the treatment of two departing American tourists, who just one day apart were each found with a single unfired bullet in their luggage.

One, an 80-year-old retired neurosurgeon from Florida, was held in jail with a man accused of murder, where he was fed spicy grits and hot dogs.

“I will never look at a hot dog the same,” Horace Norrell told an American reporter interviewing him.

After spending the weekend in jail, because no judge would stay late on a Friday to hear his bail application, the senior citizen was reunited with his wife, who waited on him in the TCI. He was released on $4,000 bail and returned to the US.

Just one day earlier, a 60-year-old Texas woman, accompanied by her husband, was also found to have a single bullet in her luggage. In the woman’s case, the court remained open and granted her $4,000 dollars.

Meanwhile, neither the premier nor the minister for border control has addressed the issue, which is threatening the territory’s tourism industry. Americans are up in arms and are contacting their government about the incident. Many are reportedly cancelling planned visits to the TCI, some through fear that a similar fate could befall them and others in protest over the treatment of the two US visitors.

TCI Governor Ric Todd has said only that the law must be followed.

It is widely accepted locally that the bullets were planted in the visitors’ bags, but the identity of the perpetrators and their motive remains a mystery. There is, however, some speculation that this is yet another attempt to hold the TCI’s fragile tourism industry hostage to promote a political agenda.

The local tourism industry was directly attacked on two previous occasions by members of the ruling Progressive National Party (PNP) when they shut down the Providenciales international airport, once by a public demonstration that closed down access to the airport and the second by a strike of airport firefighters orchestrated by current Premier Rufus Ewing.

Meanwhile, the fragility of the territory’s principal source of revenue is illustrated by continuing media reports and commentary in the US – especially in the Herald Tribune in Sarasota, Horace Norrell’s home town in Florida.

On Wednesday, columnist Tom Lyons warned potential Turks and Caicos visitors to beware: “Your stay could be much longer than planned, with accommodations well below par.”

“Who knows what police were thinking as they hauled a 60-year-old Texas woman to jail for alleged possession of a bullet that she said she knew nothing about, but even the dimmest police administrator surely could have smelled a rat the next day when a second tourist was found to have exactly one bullet in his luggage, too. Sherlock Holmes has not even a distant relative in the Royal Turks and Caicos Island Police, it seems,” he continued.

“It is hard to imagine the degree of incompetence required when a police administrator or prosecutor is unable to deduce these must be false charges based on planted items designed to appear like evidence of what would be an absurd crime,” he said.

In accurately describing Governor Todd as an appointed career British diplomat, Lyons wrote, “There is no mention of him being a total twit, so it seemed reasonable at first to expect him to be as outraged as the average reader who encounters this story. After all, publicity over this visitor-targeted scam could seriously harm tourism, which is the Turks and Caicos only major industry if you don’t count the enabling of drug smuggling and money laundering.”

Lyons said that Todd has responded to an onslaught of public questions mainly by expressing his determination not to get involved.

“I don’t normally do travel advisories, but in my places-to-go ranking, Turks and Caicos just took a spot not far above North Korea,” Lyons concluded.





The Peoples’ Democratic Movement wishes to take the opportunity to address a few pertinent issues affecting our Beautiful by Nature Turks and Caicos Islands –
US Travel Advisory to US Citizens
We are troubled by the Statement issued by the US as a result of the recent acts of crimes that affected Us citizens visiting our Islands. We deeply regret the experience of the tourists that fell victim to these crimes and offer our sincerest apologies and regrets. It is important that these individuals (as well as persons looking to travel to our Islands) understand and appreciate that these are not common occurrences and we are still a country that enjoys a low crime rate with great people. To this end, we are seeking to make contact with the victims and have our sincerest regrets personally conveyed to them.
The Opposition remains committed to assisting the Government and the Police in any and all efforts to ensure the safety of our tourists and residents alike. We must remember as a people the importance of this Industry to our economic survival and also our individual role in ensuring that Statements like these are not issued nor the alert heightened.
I am calling on all citizens to assist the Police by coming forward and assisting in the solving of these crimes. We also have the benefit of Crime Stoppers who are committed to crime fighting and whose number 1800TIPS treats each caller as anonymous. Crime Stoppers does not want to know who you are, they just want to partner with you in making these Islands safer for all of us.
I also wish to use this Forum to condemn the actions of the few individuals who continue to prey on our tourists and residents. There is no justification ever for violent crimes and I am asking persons to see the errors of their ways and what can become of a nation for a few selfish acts.
It is important that the Government does everything to assure the United States that these incidents are not common and also to ensure that the Police and other Crime Fighting Agencies are well resourced.
Cuban Detainees
Today we were shocked and dismayed to learn of the escape of the 16 Cuban Detainees seeking Asylum in the Turks and Caicos Islands. There were many issues that arose during the handling of this matter and it was important to respect the legal process. However this recent event turns on an issue of national security. We are calling on the Government to conduct a full Inquiry into the escape of these Detainees and to forthwith make an initial Statement to the people of these Islands as to when the Government and Law Enforcement became aware of this issue that has already played out on US Television.
Healthcare and NHIP
The challenge to accessing healthcare is mounting and more and more incidences are being reported to me for representation. It is important that we begin to seriously address this issue. Though we are faced with many other challenges that can easily become a national distraction, it is important that we maintain focus on the important issues affecting us of which healthcare ranks as a high priority. I will like to encourage persons who are experiencing difficulties and who have had bad experiences to make the Reports to the relevant Bodies and/or to continue to make representations to your elected Representatives.
We await the Premier now Minister of Health’s Statement on the audits of the Hospital Contract and to inform the people of these Islands as to what the Committee to which it can make its complaints.
TC Invest Home Owners
Equally important is the issue facing former TC Invest mortgage holders. We are also very concerned about the plight of former TCI Mortgage holders whose mortgages have been sold and whose loans are being called in under strained and near impossible conditions. We are in possession of letters that were sent out to Home Owners informing that they were being given a total of three months to pay their mortgage in full or have their properties auctioned. This is rather unfortunate and it is important that these persons are assisted. We wish to advise those affected that we will be addressing these matters with urgency.
Though we are faced with seemingly other distractions, we deem it important to let the people of these Islands know that we are on the job and that we will seek to always represent your best interest. As we move on over the next few days, I pray peace over this land and a speedy resolution to all that remains unsettled so that we can move forward as a People.
We in the PDM are very concern about the continuing high levels of unemployment and the seemingly lack of interest or no how of this Government to create meaningful high paying jobs for our people. Therefore, we are calling on the Private Sector businesses to not only follow the Labour Laws when it comes to filling job vacancies but to take on a new commitment to ensure that our people are given the opportunities they deserve. Now more than ever we need everyone to do their part, as we are committed to do ours.
May God bless these Turks and Caicos Islands.





My Party remains vigilant in protecting and defending the rights of every Turks and Caicos Islander through strong representation in the House of Assembly and by completing the Objectives outlined in our Party’s Constitution and Campaign Manifesto (The Blue Print), chiefly among to form the Government of the Turks and Caicos Islands through a majority of members supporting our Party, the People’s Democratic Movement. Despite the recent legal challenge against four of our members by the Attorney General’s Chambers, we will continue to provide strong representation leading our people in the Right Direction.

On Friday March 8th, after a long day of waiting for the Attorney General’s Office to take legal action in the Amanda Misick’s Integrity Commission Notice matter, I instructed our Attorney’s Garland and Co. to file my Party’s case against Ms. Missick in the Supreme Court in Providenciales. We did so because the merits of our arguments are substantially different from those of the AG’s office.

At 4.00pm after our Attorneys had completed this process the PNP rushed to file a case against our candidate Oral Selver claiming that he made a false declaration. We will vigorously defend the veracity and completeness of our candidate Hon. Oral Selver in the Courts.
After more than 24 hours of rumors that the AG’s Chambers were going to be challenging sitting PDM Members and soon after this Event, our Attorneys became aware that the AG’s office was planning to file a separate matter not only against the PNP’s candidate for Cheshire Hall and Richmond Hill but also against four of sitting members namely: Hon. Edwin Astwood, Hon. Josephine Connolly, Hon. Derek Taylor and Hon. Delroy Williams.
Several attempts were made by our members to obtain the details of the allegations but the Acting Attorney General did not make it available or answer any further calls. Our members became officially aware of the nature of the case when the AG’s Office issued publicly a Press Release. Our members up until that time received no documents including a letter or Summons neither was our Party made aware. We view this move as unfortunate and unprofessional.

We view this entire act as completely misguided and untimely and will defend our Members’ right to remain sitting members of the House of Assembly. Contrary to public discourse, this matter has nothing to do with Conditional Purchase Lease, the Integrity Commission or the flipping of crown land. We will defend their good name, honor and integrity.

We wish to encourage our supporters and all Turks and Caicos Islanders to remain vigilant as the process is brought before the courts. My party respects the rule of law and we encourage our citizens to allow the matters that are now before the courts to be aired.






Press Statement From Opposition leader Sharlene Cartwright Robinson in Turks and Caicos Islands

Press Statement from Leader of the PDM,Sharlene Cartwright-Robinson on VAT and Other Pressing Issues
Published in TCI Post on 27th February 2013

Delivered by Party Leader and Leader of the Opposition
I am pleased at the response to this letter.
Whilst we celebrate we are cognizant of the fact that the Repeal Bill has not been assented to and we deem it important for the people of this country to understand the victory we celebrate and what remains on the Table.
Minister Simmonds’ letter of January 14, 2013 flat out said no to the PNP Government’s request for a delay. Together as a unit on a national issue of grave importance, we now have some breathing room/ the delay (as it were) originally sought by the PNP Government. This we celebrate.
The ball is now in the PNP Government’s hand to meet the conditions set out so that VAT can stop lurking in the shadows. I had expected that the Government in submitting its last letter to Minister Simmonds would have prepared the required Fiscal and Strategic Policy Statement for completeness knowing that this would be requested and which is also required in law before a Budget can be passed so I am disappointed that we are still at this place and I call on the Government to resubmit this as a matter of urgency. We are also aware that the Government in the last Cabinet Meeting in January agreed to restrict expenditure and in the HOA Meeting of February 1, our colleague, Hon Derek Taylor led our position on the issue and made inquiries as to the areas that will be affected by the Government’s decision to accept this path. We again in the interest of transparency now call on the Government to inform the people of this country as to the areas that will be affected.
We are still of the opinion that there must be real efforts to grow this economy and to market this country. The PDM remains committed to this and believe that there must be a meeting of the minds and supporting legislations must be put in place to make TCI more inviting. We believe that the key to moving this country in the right direction is to first elect the Party that has already led in similar times first and then to encourage investment in existing businesses and the encouragement of new ones. We must attract fresh monies and this will also help in the creation of jobs, an issue on which there is now no representation.
While the Bill itself has not been repealed, I say kudos to Backbencher Hon Norman Saunders for bringing the Bill alongside my Private Members’ Motion and I must thank the Appropriations Committee who met without hesitance. I believe the work of this Committee cannot be underrated. To the members of the VAT Implementation Team, this is no indictment on you and I am sure you will do well in collecting the existing taxes. I am pleased that we will finally see the much needed resources in compliance which is what is needed in many aspects of Government.
In getting these type results, it is tempting to get caught up in one’s self and I am careful to not let this be said of me, but this was a marriage of leadership in many fronts and I pay tribute to the Business Sector and the Clive Stanbrook led Independent Business Council, Jerzy of the Private Sector in Grand Turk and the Business community generally who invested in promotional material and also the Study by Prof Teather which helped me in preparing in the Appropriations Committee and in my Party’s Official Position.
VAT taught us many valuable lessons – we must take the time to research issues and I thank Edith Cox for her valuable lecture on the issue and her assistance in preparing members of our Party’s Executive on the issue so that they can educate others and for her assistance in preparing the only written Political Party’s Position on VAT. Proper research and positions must be set out in writing with sound reasoning, (after all this is what we asked of HMG noting that valuable studies and research was nonexistent in support of VAT). We also learn that going it alone is never as strong as coming together – so much more can and was achieved. We celebrate this historic unity of the Government, Opposition and the Business community. The education sponsored by the business community, the HOA’s stance together with the failure of businesses to register made this feat possible.
Lest we forget, we joined the Business Community’s fight and I was glad when my Team was asked to make the statement of the century in TCI Politics. I say thank you to the Opposition members for their support for the Motion drafted only the day before and then of course to the Government for supporting it at that eleventh hour and again to Hon Saunders for seconding it.
This is in all respects a delay until the Government of the day completes its part and we call on the Government to inform the people of this country, in the interest of transparency and good governance on the areas where the spending will be restricted. We await an update on when the revised Fiscal Strategic Policy Statement is submitted.
I am pleased that the Turks and Caicos Islands has been welcomed and reinstated as an Associate Member of Caricom. There is much to be gained from our Association. I am disappointed that a more united position was not presented overseas in that an invitation was not extended to the Opposition to be a part of the delegation. I believe that though we are in a Bi Election campaign, there are national and regional statements to be made and the presence of the Opposition would have signaled a strong message. However it is my Party’s intention to govern differently and to at all times present a united position and presence on national issues locally, regionally and internationally.
In light of the conditions set by Minister Simmons to avert the implementation of VAT in the mean time, the Government has to urgently begin to pay real attention to the health care monster that it has created. We are disappointed that the former Minister of Health misled the people of these Islands when she said that the Audits had already begun. Healthcare costs is the single largest challenge to us next to the repayment of the debt. This country cannot continue as is with the costs and state of healthcare. Aside from being a financial burden, our people are still being turned away. We believe that the PDM has the moral authority to handle this issue and there are many persons that have valuable contributions to be made on the state of healthcare in these Islands. To this end, my Party will be calling a meeting with the Medical Association and other Institutions to meet with them and discuss the all important topic of healthcare. We therefore call on the Government to delay not further and to ensure that the Audits begin and a PDM Government will handle the rest.
Our people remain without jobs and without real opportunities to obtain jobs and to move up in their work place. This Government continues to pay lip service to jobs while our people are sleeping in darkness and cannot feed their families. After three months, no real effort or steps have been taken and the people of this country are disappointed that jobs are not a priority for this Government. We are committed to reducing the level of unemployment in this country and also to the creation of more jobs. We rest on our plans contained in our Blue Print and are ready to take office and govern from Day One.
Finally, I wish to say congratulations to Delano Williams and Angelo Garland on their recent accomplishments. Our young athletes continue to make us proud and we remain committed to creating opportunities for studies overseas based on athletics.
As Team Carifta gets ready to represent us, let us support our youth by traveling as a part of the delegation and/or contributing financially to the Team. Sports is an excellent teacher of many valuable lessons and we as a Party remain committed to Sports development as our record has shown through the opportunities provided for youth to compete overseas and the establishment of Sports organisations.
Congratulations to the Little Bees who took part in the National Spelling Bee especially little Trayvon Walkin. There is bright promise for our youth and this is why we must invest time and energy into our youth by providing real opportunities and programs for them.
The PDM remains committed to its contract with them and will be conducting in short order a tour around the Islands to meet with its youth.
I speak now to our troubled youth and applaud the Youth Department and the Youth Parliamentarians for the topic chosen for the upcoming sitting. The topic speaks to the provision of a Juvenile Center where we can assist our troubled youth. There are too many issues that remain underrepresented and we believe that there must be real attention paid to the emergence of gangs and youth in crime. We cannot afford to lose more youth to Prison and a life of under productivity. To this end, I remain troubled at a recent incident that occurred in which a young man was badly beaten. Too many incidences of this sort are not being addressed head on. We must admit that many of our youth are in trouble and many of our parents need help with them. It is time that we admit that and put programs and policies in place to support these homes, our schools and to protect our children sometimes from themselves. I have heard horror stories from our youth about school related incidents and I intend to address them in a more appropriate place. I just want to say to our people that this requires a community effort and we cannot continue to sweep them under the rug and close the doors of our schools to “outsiders” so as to contain the stories and I say no more. I intend, very early in our Administration, to take bold steps and introduce legislation to address many of the “taboo” issues.
The PDM are excited that DESTINY is now giving us and these Islands a chance to elect a PDM Government. We believe that this is a second chance to take this country in the right direction with the right candidate and the right leadership. On Friday March 1, 2013, Oral Selver will be officially nominated by the PDM Party. We support Oral because we know that he is the right man for the job.
Endorsement of Hon Oral Selver
Oral Selver has over 30 years stable employment in the Hospitality Industry. He is an example of hard work, strong work ethics and what one can achieve when they are committed to these ideals. Oral Selver rose from bread boy to bus boy to eventually management level where he championed the cause of the underrepresented and was instrumental in designing the gratuity system at 100% benefit to the hospitality workers. He is an accomplished businessman and a fine example of hard work and how it pays off. We are pleased that Hon Selver has a firm grasp of his national issues as well as his constituency issues and we are honored to have him represent such a diverse constituency and we endorse his constituency plans. He will tell more of his plans during the Destiny Rally.
Today, we officially launch our Endorsement Document for our candidate and we include our priorities for national concerns. This list is not exhausted but we are committed to addressing jobs and unemployment, health care, immigration and education and youth as matters of high priority.
PDM is the right direction. Destiny has given us a second chance. We have strong leadership, solid experience, vision, diverse skills and real plans that will allow us to govern from Day One.
Thank you.
Sharlene Cartwright Robinson