UK magazine uses Cuba cover shot for Bermuda crime story

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  • Misrepresentation: Global Reinsurance used this cover shot of Havana, Cuba, to illustrate a story about crime in Bermuda

    Misrepresentation: Global Reinsurance used this cover shot of Havana, Cuba, to illustrate a story about crime in Bermuda

Cuba’s crumbling streets are being passed off as Bermuda on the cover of a UK reinsurance publication.

The May issue of Global Reinsurance magazine, which has a print circulation of close to 10,000, includes the cover story entitled “Bermuda: no safe haven”, claiming that the Island’s “soaring” crime rate is driving away insurance executives.

The cover features a photo of a dark, seedy neighbourhood with dilapidated buildings and crumbling streets — leaving readers to assume the picture is an accurate depiction of Bermuda, one of the richest countries in the world.

The Royal Gazette can reveal the photo, obtained from stock photo agency Getty Images, was actually taken in Havana, Cuba; a communist Caribbean nation which, according to the US State Department, has an average monthly salary of $20.

The story, co-authored by Alex Wright, former business reporter for The Royal Gazette and Lauren Gow, was originally published in the March issue of The Insurance Times, which is the sister publication of Global Reinsurance. Both titles are published by Newsquest Media, the third largest publisher of regional and local newspapers in the UK with 300 titles in its portfolio.

The in-depth article includes a detailed map of Hamilton’s crime hot spots in relation to re/insurance company offices as well as charts depicting Bermuda’s murder and firearm incidence rates from 2011. Using stats taken from the UN’s Global Study on Homicide, the article states that the Island’s murder rate is double the global average and more than the US. In April, however, the Bermuda Police Department released their latest crime statistics, which revealed that gun-related crime was on a downward trend in 2012.

Joanne MacPhee, executive director of the Bermuda Chamber of Commerce, who was quoted in the article, said of the cover: “It is very disappointing to see Bermuda misrepresented on the cover of Global Reinsurance magazine. There is always the temptation to sensationalise an issue for ratings and readership and this seems to be a case in point.”

The article continues on to say that 32 insurance executives left Bermuda last year and highlights commentary from two anonymous insurance executives stating their fears, including one who said: “We have already seen a slow migration of people in our industry away form the Island and that is mainly because of the immigration laws, but that will become an exodus if someone becomes directly affected by crime.”

The other stated: “It seems to date to have been only gang rivalry over drugs but surely it’s only a matter of time before it crosses over. If it gets worse it won’t be long before you start to see people leaving.”

The CEOs that were named in the story, came to Bermuda’s defence, saying that crime is less of an issue than the foreign media presents.

“I have not seen a staff member leave as a result of concerns about crime,” said David Cash, CEO of Endurance.

Hiscox Bermuda CEO Charles Dupplin added: “Violent crime against international company staff has been at a very low level.”

Last night the One Bermuda Alliance issued a statement on the story, pointing the finger at Government for failing to get a grip on the crime problem.

OBA leader Craig Cannonier said the magazine story was “a publicity debacle that will be used against us by competing business jurisdictions and a major issue for international companies considering Bermuda as a location for their business”.

“This is the price we pay when problems don’t get solved,” Mr Cannonier said. “Global Reinsurance is a reminder Bermuda does not live in another world. What happens here does not stay here. Bermuda must take control of its problems.

“Bermuda's crime situation mushroomed into crisis three years ago. The Government was slow to react and we still haven't confronted the challenge from gangs in a concerted and focused manner; one that returns safety and hope to our streets.

“The Police have made some headway and members of the public are starting to cooperate with them. But we've not yet committed to broad-based plans that can ease the grip of gang life on their members.

“The proposal to bring Operation Ceasefire to Bermuda has been on the table in Bermuda for two years now and the government has yet to bring it forward. We believe this is the kind of operation that can make a real and positive difference to Bermuda.

“The One Bermuda Alliance understands our economic well-being is at stake. We intend to restore confidence to Bermuda and once again make it a safe haven.”

We received no answer by press time from Government or Global Reinsurance magazine in response to the story.

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Published May 29, 2012 at 9:00 am (Updated May 29, 2012 at 9:44 am)

UK magazine uses Cuba cover shot for Bermuda crime story

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