Did Haiti Need this Blow, Jamaica?

A look at the protest march held in Haiti on February 18 against Jamaican treatment of their Under-17 football team and responses in Jamaica to the Haitian outrage.

The photos below are from the protest march held in Haiti on February 18 against Jamaican treatment of their Under-17 football team.

Poor John Maxwell must be turning in his grave. Jamaican officials, showing uncommon concern for the nation’s health saw it fit to send back the Haitian Under-17 football team which had come here to participate in the CONCACAF tournament.

According to an Observer source, fears about a potential cholera outbreak escalated after several of the Haitian players, who arrived in Jamaica earlier this month to compete in the tournament, fell ill. Others had symptoms including fever and headaches. Eight of the players were tested and three were found to have malaria. They were slated to be admitted at the Cornwall Regional Hospital, but there were no beds there, the source said.

As a precautionary measure, the team was to be quarantined. But after a day of waiting inside the hospital’s emergency ward, the Haitian coach got angry, left the hospital, and returned to the hotel at which the team was staying, the Observer was told. He was later allegedly handcuffed and forcefully removed from the hotel by representatives from the Ministry of Health, who had quarantined the sick players at the Falmouth hospital between Tuesday night and Wednesday morning last week.

 

The situation wasn’t helped by language problems and the different responses to malaria in each country. It’s a fact that in Jamaica anyone with malaria is immediately quarantined and in general the health authorities are quite punctilious about keeping the nation free from contagion of various sorts. I remember being astonished once years ago when i had just returned from India to receive a visit from a health official who came to my home to ensure that i wasn’t suffering from any illness i might have brought back with me. I did feel slightly insulted but then decided to look on it as a good thing–one small corner of the governance structure that actually works.

 

Even so i feel that the Jamaican reaction erred on the side of insensitivity. I was alerted to this situation three days ago when an irate friend in Haiti contacted me. At the time there was hardly anything in the media about it and I myself wasn’t fully pripsed on the situation. I asked him if the events were recieving a lot of attention in Haiti. “Attention? We are very pissed off,” came the annoyed reply.

 

So i went on Facebook and Twitter to find out what others felt about this and was quite horrified at the overwhelming tendency to simply dismiss the whole affair with a smug “Better safe than sorry” response. According to one tweeter “if it were anywhere else. Like China they would b sent home too. This is not a precedence. Been done b4. Remember swine flu!”

 

Except that malaria, unlike swine flu, isn’t a contagious disease and China does a lot of things that a democratic country like Jamaica might want to think twice before doing. And of course when Jamaicans are ejected from Cayman, Barbados or the UK for fear of their culture ‘infecting’ local youth, i don’t want to hear any weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth. Those countries are also thinking “Better safe than sorry!”

 
Other tweets from the diaspora were more critical of Jamaica:

 
@public_archive I seriously doubt the Jamaican government would quarantine the Canadians with STDs running around Negril. Yeah, I said it. #haiti

 
Skin-bleaching and anti-Haitianism go hand in hand. #Haiti #Jamaica

 
@djaspora: #Jamaica should know/do better. Quarantine Haitian kids cause of suspected malaria? Is it malaria or blackness that is contagious? #Haiti

 

Incidentally the Haitian team coach is Brazilian. I heard him on RJR a little while ago describing the extremely long waits at the hospital and a clinic, we’re talking about hours, five or six hours, without treatment or explanation.He himself was one of the three sick members of the team and returned to Haiti with a very high fever and profoundly upset.

 

I would have thought that even if Jamaicans feel that they’re in the right they’d have shown more interest in trying to find out what had caused the Haitians so much offence instead of simply shrugging and saying “Better safe than sorry.” The Haitians are clearly hurt and humiliated. They may be overreacting too, just as the health officials seem to have done. I was surprised at how little attention the Jamaican media paid to this situation over the weekend. It wasn’t until the Haitians really made a big issue out of it that the media, today, started focusing on it.

 

It’s an extremely vexed situation. Jamaica has the upper hand. Does it cost so much to apologize and try to mend fences?

Author: Annie Paul

writer, editor and avid tweeter anniepaulose@gmail.com

13 thoughts on “Did Haiti Need this Blow, Jamaica?”

  1. Hail Annie Paul, please clean up the responses to this article…seems to be some SPAM in here. To the matter at hand. I submit that your sympathies are misplaced as later reports (which have not been refuted) indicate that the Haitian team and coach knew they were sick before they traveled and they still ventured to Jamaica. This disclosure should have been made to Jamaican authorities before they arrived. That discourtesy on the part of the Haitians led to an avoidable embarrassing situation.

    Secondly, why are stupid people turning this incident into a racial issue? The arguments, if accepted, are in essence saying that the (predominantly black Jamaican) state in 2011 is anti-black and anti-Haitian. These stupid people need to get a life. Vybz Cartel is not a reflection of the majority of Jamaicans. By the way, fire fi Cartel…mi bun im straight.

    Side Bar…additionally, fire fi Buju! (still like him music).No sympathy for him either. He got caught trying to hustle drugs (cocaine). Worst thing to me is that his defense was that he was trying to impress people with big talk. He should have stuck to the principles of Rastafari and not run after filthy lucre. I have more faith in the US (in)Justice system than what obtains in Jamaica and so accept the ruling of guilty on the charges laid against the Banton.

    My rant continues…further more…fire fi Dudus too. Boom Bye Bye for all cocaine producer, dealer and seller. Harsh…yep, but until you see a life (especially that of a young person with much potential) destroyed by drugs you may not understand my position.

    Back to the Haitian situation. Maybe Jamaica should make moves to smooth things over (not apologize) so that Jamaican products can properly take hold in Haiti once they get the monies long promised by the international community.

    Peace and love, Stero

  2. Jamaicans are generally poor at customer service [apart from the ones in the posh hotels and even they fail miserably sometimes, especially when dealing with locals]. I understand the ‘health’ concerns but definitely they should have been given top priority at the hospitals and consoled in some manner.

    1. yes, you can’t subject a visiting team to the travails the poor here have to deal with daily…bad enough that they have to face it, but to treat young teenagers who were tired from playing and excited to be here, like this, was really unwarranted. Can you imagine how those kids are going to grow up feeling towards Jamaica? We’ll be discussing this with a resident Haitian here tomorrow on Double Standards, Newstalk 93 at 12.10 pm. Do tune in!

  3. They could have quarantined the sick, allowed them to send for other players and let the others play. But such a solution requires thought, and clear action. Not hallmarks of our society, much less government.

    Plus, its not like there is a deep seated anti-black self-hatred in a mostly black country. Or is there?

  4. UK Pogus Caesar’s new book MUZIK KINDA SWEET = it features rare archive photographs of legendary Reggae artists including: Burning Spear, Mighty Diamonds, Augustus Pablo, Jimmy Cliff, Junior Delgado, Prince Alla, Dennis Brown and a host of others – a must for all lovers of Reggae. 

    Punch and OOM Gallery launch Pogus Caesars’ new limited edition book , the Birmingham-based photographer celebrates iconic Black musicians.
    Specially commissioned and published by Punch and OOM Gallery, the book features 95 evocative, nostalgic and largely unpublished images of musical legends including Stevie Wonder, Grace Jones, Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry and Augustus Pablo.

    The book contains a foreword by Paul Gilroy, Introduction by Kate Pryor – Williams (Arts Council of England ) & Ammo Talwar MBE. Shot entirely in black and white on a Canon Sureshot camera purchased in the 1980’s, the photographs offer a stark alternative to the digital performance photography of today.

    All books are signed, and are part of limited edition of 250. 190 Pages, A4 Paperback Monochrome, 95 Black and White plates.

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    muzik kinda sweet on photobucket

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