Skip to comments.Tale of two small countries (Cayman and Belize are very similar. Yet, one is rich, the other poor)
Posted on 01/17/2012 7:44:28 AM PST by SeekAndFind
Cayman is rich, and Belize is poor. Why? Both are small Caribbean countries with the same climate and roughly the same mixed racial heritage, and both were English-speaking British colonies. Belize (the former British Honduras) received its independence in 1981, while Cayman is still not fully independent but is self-governing at the local level, with its own currency, laws and regulations.
Belize should be richer: It has a larger population than Cayman (345,000 as contrasted with Caymans 54,000). Belize has a much larger and more varied land area with many more natural resources, including gas and oil, and some rich agricultural land that Cayman lacks. Both have nice beaches, but Belize has the second-largest barrier reef in the world after Australia and also has Mayan ruins. Yet Cayman, with fewer points of interests, has done more to attract tourists.
Back in the early 1970s, Cayman was as poor on a per capita basis as is Belize today. Both countries had ambitions to be tourist and financial centers. Cayman succeeded and has about six times the real per capita income of Belize. What did Cayman do right and Belize do wrong?
Perhaps most important is that Cayman had and maintained a competent and honest judicial system, which gave foreign investors confidence that their property would be protected. Cayman also has a very low crime rate. Tourists and other visitors walk around freely day or night in Cayman without fear. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for many parts of Belize, where crime is often a problem. In addition, many judges in Belize are poorly trained, incompetent and, in some cases, corrupt. These issues cause foreign investors to consider higher-risk factors for projects in Belize as contrasted with Cayman.
(Excerpt) Read more at washingtontimes.com ...
We just took a cruise to Belize. I could see myself living there once I got used to being cheek by jowl with such abject poverty.
But then I realized I grew up in rural Arkansas near trailer parks, so deep poverty has always been part of my surroundings, and it didn’t bother me then. There will always be rich, medium and poor and REALLY poor everywhere.
My only fear is looking like a walking dollar sign to the locals.
Countries with rich natural resources are prone to corruption because to the elite who control the resources still make money and like being able to manipulate the system. Countries like the Cayman Islands have no choice but to clean up their acts if they want to go anywhere.
The Caymans are surrounded by water and sharks.
In Belize, perps can easily enter and melt away in to Mexico, or Guatemala.
Belize has several arguing ethnic groups, including refugee groups that came in the 80’s. The Caymans does not.
Government Corruption is rampant in Belize, and while it exists in the Caymans as well, it is high-dollar bankster-type, and not street-level.
thought I was moving to Belize.
Rand is a good writer and a solid economist, but, in this instance, he is far off his area of expertise — starting with his clear lack of knowledge about the beaches in Belize. As a homeowner in Central America — and a guy who has written about it for 15 years - I would suggest that he stick to providing expert assistance in helping the countries down there establish vibrant free market economies. We certainly don’t need to Caymanize Belize.
One protects drug smugglers, the other protects drug smugglers' money.
Article is dead on.
If you ever get the chance to hit the Cayman’s; do it. Feel free to explore the island, rent a cycle and tool around - beautiful island, friendly people, amazing scenery. It’s truly an island paradise.
Belize is great in the policed corridors near the ports - but you leave that corridor at your own peril. For example; if you rent a car and drive outside the city; and a man jumps out of the jungle in front of your car - in all seriousness ‘Run him over’. Stopping will likely result in your robbery, kidnapping or potentially your death.
Jamaica? If it were in my power to give Jamaica away, I would. 80% unemployment - poverty, crime, drugs. Unless your stay is in a barb-wire on top of a 12 ft concrete wall, with machine gun nests every 150 ft (as found at Hedonism and Sandals resorts) - you don’t want to go there. Armed border guards are the norm, for a reason. Rich tourists are easy prey. I will never return there, it’s just not worth the risk.
Cayman, the least attractive Caribbean island I have ever seen, has the advantage of a strategic location - very near to US. Hence easy for offshore banking, money laundering.
Belize just needs to convince Porsche to name their next model THE BELIZE.
They really don’t rent cycles on the island. But rent a car at Andy’s or Cico Avis and drive around. Seven Mile Beach is where it is at and the water of course.
Great Beaches and great diving. No mountains or inland water falls, but who cares. Hang on the beach and Dive! It’s the best island for this.
Could you elaborate, please? I've never been to either country and your opinion runs contrary to many of the others on this thread. I'd like to hear why. Thank you.
Could be. Not a diver. There are better beaches everywhere. And prettier, more interesting towns.
Cayman and Rotan are the only two countries that you don't see armed soldiers on the streets.
I am going to Jamaica in a few weeks and won't go anywhere, except were my tour takes me. The cruise line has built a new pier at Falmouth. I have been elsewhere in Jamaica, but this is my first trip to Falmouth.
Cuz Romney keeps his money in the Caymans?
I been thinking of moving to Belize, but I guess it would be a bad choice. What can the Belize citizens do to improve Belize?
Two things separate the vast majority of wealthy countries from similarly situated poor ones. 1. Rule of law. 2. Property rights. You really need look no further than those two things in order to be able to guess the relative prosperity of a country.
In 1997 my wife and I stayed at the Hyatt in Cancun for two weeks.
This was before the entire country of Mexico was overrun with drug cartels but it was getting started.
Some of excellent golf courses that we played at had armed guards walking the perimeter and it was not pleasant.
I went back to Cancun in 2008 for one night only and couldn't get out of there fast enough.
No more visits to Mexico for me.
If I want sunshine, I'll go to obama's home state, kenya.
Cayman doesn’t have any resources, and is too small and isolated to have the issues Belize (or Jamaica) has, so it can focus on the sections of industry (tourism, finance, shipping (none of which require much more than access to water and a complementary legal system)) it does without many complicating external factors. Seems to me that in terms of actual operation and practial possibility they’re not really very similar at all. I guess Richard Rahn was short on rent this month.
I cruise a bit, not as much as some, more than others.
I find it a monument to cowardice to see bits of paradise surrendered to the drug cartels, eagerly and with full cooperation. The cruise ships are pulling out of Acapulco, because of a couple thousand gang members. So, we have a city with a population of less than 1 Million, surrendered to drug dealers and gangs with a membership of less than 1,000. The city outnumbers the drug dealers by a ratio of about 100:1. Now, the entire city is going to lose their greatest industry, “tourism”; because of some parasites that the locals seem content to keep around, and actively support.
Until the Mexicans decide to stand up to ‘evil’, and act like a man, instead of cowards - the country will continue to degenerate, and more of Mexico’s favorite ‘imports’ will continue to cross our borders, bringing with them the very problems they chose to flee.
There's a lot of talk comparing the various countries in the area about which is better to travel to and retire in...Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Panama, Honduras, Belize.
The ongoing competition will be good for all countries involved IMO. Costa Rica is renowned for cheap medical care among other things.
THere are no barbed wire fences or machine gun nests at Hedo in Negril. At least there weren’t any as of 6 months ago.
Jamaica sports 2 Hedonism resorts, Hedo 2 and Hedo 3. We were on a cruise ship in Montego Bay, and took an excursion past Hedonism (Runaway Bay) - and you could clearly see the walls with rolls of Barb wire, and “observation” decks every 150 ft around the outer perimeter.
The Negril resort is on the tip of the island, so there may be security that isn’t as blatant, isolating that portion of the island. But, rest assured - there IS security.
Just an FYI, Hedo 3 is closing this year. Hedo II is still in operation and I can assure you from first hand experience there are NO armed guards, barbed wire, or machine gun emplacements at Hedo II in Negril.
Nor is the Negril location at the “tip” of the island. Ricks Bar is at the end of 7 Mile Beach. Hedo II is located in between the Grand Lido and Beaches IIRC. There are fences between the two, but no barbed wire to be seen.
There is a hired Security staff but none of them carry weapons. Jamaica is a very different place than it was 10 years ago. There’s crime alright, but it’s much more organized and preying on tourists is frowned upon. It’s bad for business. Oh one can get oneself in trouble to be sure. But if you’re not completely stupid Jamaica is a wonderful place to visit.
I went to Sandals in Jamaica back in the late 1989 with my wife. We saved for over a year for the vacation.
Worst vacation of my life - period.
It was akin to being held hostage.
We were imprisoned on the resort, with menacing crowds gathered outside the barbed wire. Inside was no better. The local restaurant, bar, and hotel staff stalked the guests, hitting them up for money, goods, food, etc. If you were Canadian they harassed you to no end to sponsor them to immigrate. If you gave the staff money to leave you alone, they sometimes did, but more often than not came around with more of their friends to shake you down and guilt trip you about how rich you were vs. them.
The trips outside were like going into a war zone. Crowds of beggars and thugs hawking useless souvenirs mobbed you at every turn. The place was literally an open sewer.
Wife and I went in 1995 to the north west coast Sandals, Negril.
Absolutely perfect, no hassle, no hangers, no beggers, no nothing.peaceful on the beach, multitude of stuff to do.
Went into town, hiked up a mountain, went horseback riding in the interior, generally had an excellent time, all inclusive trip. catching rays on the beach in a hammock with a pina colada machine 3 feet away was too cool. Excellent food and drinks all day and night, poolside, formal, leasure, or on the sand. Had a blast for a week.
We stayed just to the left (west) at
Sandals, in Negril, no wire, no baltant security, no hassle anywhere on the grounds.
Please send me a full report.
Are you going on a tour or just going?
I have the urge to just go, rent a car and see the country
I am glad your experience was better than ours.
It really was a terrible time - when we left I felt as if the return trip had been negotiated by a hostage rescue team. We were leaving enemy territory.
I have never, and will never, take another hedonistic-themed vacation again. Back then, we drank, but I no longer do. Most of the guests were sloshed all the time. But that didn't bother me as much as the patronizing games practiced in the barbed wire compound known as Sandals Resort. From the loudspeaker, came shrieks of "Players!!! Oh Players! Beautiful Players!!! Time for beach volley ball!!! Come Players!!"
It was like being in a Potemkin village.
Hurricane Gilbert had hit the island in the past year, so they were dealing with that, but this had been my second trip to Jamaica, and I vowed I would never, ever go back.
Vacations today (to us) are low key affairs. We lived in Europe for 4 years, and loved that. When we vacationed there it was in a small cabin or cottage. I will never again go to a Third World Country for a "vacation."
Ah, yes they do. Little Honda 50/150 cc scooters, right off the port. If your cruise ship docks there, it's pretty hard to miss them.
Glad you enjoyed it. Took my parents with us in 2009; it wasn’t good.
Glad you enjoyed it, but we’ll spend our time and money on less lush (Jamaica is a beautiful island, no question) place like the Bahamas, Caymans and the dwindling number of islands that still feel ‘safe’.
Our experience on Jamaica wasn’t as pleasureable as yours.
Because 13.1% unemployment is a good thing, and
Current concerns include the country's heavy foreign debt burden, high unemployment, growing involvement in the Mexican and South American drug trade, high crime rates, and one of the highest prevalence rates of HIV/AIDS in Central America.
Not to fear, Belize's greatest problem is their CULTURE, as their culture discourages education and achievement, and promotes the fast, easy dollar without the impediment of ethics, morals or laws. Hence, they are their own worst enemy. Whereas, you will find the exact opposite in the Caymans - and surprisingly, for some weird reason, they don't have these types of problems. What an amazing coincidence < /s>
I believe that the more your visit and familiarize yourself with the western Caribbean and the Pacific Gold Coast, the more you will realize that many of the challenges you cite are superficial rather than deep-seated.
Their resolution lies not in Caymanizing places like Belize (i.e., turning them into Potemkin tourist traps), but in helping the very industrious and decent people in the western Caribbean and Pacific Gold Coast countries develop vibrant free market economies. That’s what I am doing in the countries in which I am blessed to have influence.
Two quick points: (1) Don’t take everything the US government tells you about the countries south of our border at face value. (2) If you have some extra money to invest, buy up all of the land you can in countries like Honduras, Belize, El Salvador, and Guatemala.
I wish I still had money to invest, as there are some stunningly beautiful spots of land I’d love to own.
However, my personal philosophy is different than yours. I do not believe anyone, outside of Jesus and God working in concert (even then, we are talking about generations) can fix the problems. You could drop 100 yrs worth of the USA’s GDP into Belize alone, and you wouldn’t fix anything. It’s a cultural issue, and it’s just that simple.
People work to the point of personal satisfaction, sort of a “How good is ‘good enough’?”. Our culture in America is that it’s never ‘good enough’, hence we build faster and faster computers, advance medical science, improve technology, efficiency, production, et. al. This is the anti-thesis we see in other countries, where the attitude is “I’ll take the hand-outs, the used and discarded technologies from the giants; why not? It’s nearly free, requires no real effort, and they feel guilty, which means I don’t have to work as hard”.
We see this in South America all the time. Why are they discovering Aztec and Mayan ruins? Is it the search of archeology and the pursuit of science? Nope ... people are chopping down trees looking for Chicle. The idea of growing this agricultural parasite as a crop has apparently not yet occured to them. But, chopping down large expanses of jungle is easier. As they go chopping and harvesting the Chicle, they stumble upon ruins.
South America has rich natural resources (oil, minerals, mining); yet less blessed countries are blowing past them in the world market (India, China, S. Korea). Why? Because their culture does not value education, hard work, industy and technology. It’s sad; but this is a change that no amount of investment will cure. It must come from within; and given the route that South America has chosen over the past couple generations, it’s not going to get much better - which is really pathetic.
I’m an engineer, if it were safe, if the gov’t wasn’t so corrupt - you would have no problem getting people like me to relocate to Belize, Mexico, Jamaica, Bahamas, Honduras to work in a technolgoy based company. Seriously, if MSFT, Intel, Freescalel, IBM, Apple, Dell and other tech companies opened plants in these countries - can you imagine the influx of technology that would propel their economies into the stratosphere? Who wouldn’t want to live in an island paradise? Unfortuately, this will likely never happen in our lifetimes - not due from a lack of opportunity, but due to the risk of these companies being robbed blind by corrupt officials.