Cross-Border Politics: Why TnT may have blanked 13 Jamaicans…

A look at some reasons 13 Jamaicans were denied access to Trinidad and Tobago.


Diana Thorburn Chen: An apology is not necessary. What is necessary is for Jamaicans to have an honest conversation among ourselves about why we are turned back so often from our neighbours’ doors. But that would require us doing some soul-searching and talking honestly about how our actions bring on these reactions. Highly unlikely, so we will keep up the facade of indignation over and over again as until we face the truth nothing will change.

VERITAS also thought that Jamaicans needed to open their eyes and look within…

We are hypocrites too. When CARICOM member Haiti was struck by that devastating earthquake recently, and many Haitians turned up at our borders, desperate for admittance and “free movement”, we demanded the government send them back. Many of us were angry any money was even spent to accommodate them for the period they were here. Is it that free movement only applies when we want it?

What really troubles me about all this is the nagging feeling that most of us are angry because of our false sense of pride. We have always been a proud and, as one of my colleagues pointed out, reactive people. Trinidad’s exercise of its sovereign authority hurt that pride and so we are now reacting. If we are honest with ourselves, we have always harboured the unhealthy sentiment that Jamaica is the best of the Caribbean, a capital of sorts, and therefore we have behaved accordingly entitled.  That is the source of our pride. Many of us are incredulous because we deem Trinidad a “spec in the sea” and “two likkle fi even be a country”, an “insignificant” country should never seek to disrespect Jamaica, right? We took the same stance on Mugabe’s comments on Jamaica. Meanwhile, the United States rejects us in droves every single day and we sit pretty smiling at that, with little more than a peep. In our quest to satisfy our wounded pride, we have gone as far as accusing Trinidad of “badminding” Jamaica for our achievements. I admit myself baffled at that argument, because we have such precious little to ‘badmind’. We are on auto pilot, veering on the edge of a political, economic and social abyss, who would ‘badmind’ that? Pride aside, how about we accept the fact that statistics are not in our favour? Most countries have instituted visa requirements against us because we do not have a good track record for international conduct and behaviour. We have to accept that; the bad mek it worse for the good. It is unfortunate, but true. Let us put our pride aside and accept the realities.

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Then there were those who still thought Jamaicans had been wronged:

Michael Andrew David Edwards Whatever the reasons, the treatment as described is unacceptable; they wouldn’t accept it from us

And others who imagined the worst case scenario:

Nicholas Laughlin: I find myself thinking it’s a good thing Trinidad and Jamaica don’t share a land border.

Oh Nicholas, the very thought makes me shudder. But honestly i do have to ask: how can a population that has no qualms about turning away neighbouring Haitians when they arrive on Jamaican shores in dire need be so self-righteous when 13 of theirs are shown the door?

Author: ap

writer, editor and avid tweeter

10 thoughts on “Cross-Border Politics: Why TnT may have blanked 13 Jamaicans…”

  1. I think most of you commentators miss the point. The arguments you raise are strong but totally irrelevant to the matter. Consider this:

    – We set up a community of nations through treaty.
    – We agreed on free movements of goods without customs duty.
    – We agree that citizens of member countries are ENTITTLED to a six months stay in any country with ONLY these exceptions:
    (a). they are “undesirables”
    (b) they will be a charge on public funds.
    – Most importantly, we set up a court to interpret the treaty and agree to abide by its ruling.
    – The court set the test to determine the above exceptions.
    – The court ruled that Caricom nationals refuse MUST be give means to a judicial appeal and be advised of their right so to do.
    – The court ruled that they MUST be allowed to contact family members, consular officials, or an attorney.

    Whether its Haitians coming to Jamaica or Jamaicans going to Trinidad, the law is the law. Either we apply the law without prejudice or leave CARICOM. I accept that the processes to implement the CCJ may not exist yet but when we make mistakes we should just apologise and move on. Not the denial and braggadocio coming out of T&T.

    1. I believe in several of the instant cases lack of funds was a problem, and inability to show they wouldn’t be a drain on public funds. but yes i agree let’s apply the law equally across the board. thanks for leaving a comment!

      1. Thanks.

        The court dealt with the matter and see para 75 to 76: “not having sufficient funds at hand does not necessarily mean that the individual concerned will become a charge on public funds”. Also “visitors will not stay longer than its financially feasible to stay”.

        Consider: “the burden of proof must rest on the Member State that seeks to invoke either ground for refusing (para 67)”.

        I live in Europe and they have an arrangement like what we are trying to develop in Caricom. It works and its something that I passionately believes in. In principle I don’t want to support the boycott but I have been doing so because it seems nothing else will spur our governments to action like when money is at stake. I hope that the real complaints on my fellow Jamaicans will be addressed before the boycott really starts to bite.

      2. Sorry Robin that point was dealt with on Nationwide this morning by Ronald Sanders who has studied the legalese in question closely. what that section refers to, he explained, is people with credit cards and no cash, or family in Trinidad who are going to cover costs or other entitities who will cover costs. Look the first question every country asks you when applying for a visa is how you plan to pay for your stay. This is the norm. If you can’t do that you can’t get a visa. Simple.

  2. Annie

    Thank you for engaging me on this but you are wrong on two points here.

    1. We say that we are a community of Nations. Visa’s are irrevelant in this discussion. Bulgaria is a new member of the EU (on which we are trying to model Caricom). Bulgarians are free to come to the UK but they will not be allowed to claim benefits or otherwise be a charge on the public funds. If Trinidad want’s to rip up the RTC and implement a Visa regime, I have no arguments against that but as it stands, there are a part of caricom.

    2. If you get 3 lawyers in the same room you get 3 different opinions. So with all due respect it is not for me, you or Sir Ronald to say what is legally right. He merely expresses his opinion but it is only the opinion of judges ruling on a case before them that counts.

    What I am really concerned with here is due process. If Trinidad can prove the following then I will accept that they have acted legally.

    – The Jamaicans were allowed to contact consular officials, legal representative of family.
    – They were advised of their right to appeal the decisions of the immigration officers.
    – They were allowed to exercise the right of appeal

    To be honest, I really don’t care how many Jamaicans get turned back or the size of the trade deficit. I am interested that the RTC works throught the application of the rule of law and due process.


    1. And you’re wrong on more than two counts but i don’t intend to waste more time on this. of course no visas are needed with CARICOM but some of the same rules apply as for countries that require visas. If you’re poor and look like you’re going to stay and work they’re going to turn you away. and guess what?? they have a right to.

      There’s a misconception that signing a common treaty allows free movement. NOT so. There will be many more cases like this to determine exactly what the boundaries are within which CARICOM countries will monitor movement between them.

      Thanks for your comments!

      And i like the way you reserve the right to pronounce what’s correct or incorrect after roundly rejecting Sander’s opinion.

  3. Good to see some enlightening discussion on the matter. However, in matters like these, we need to take into account some of the issues that were raised by these thirteen people. I witnessed the same situation in 2010 when my sister-in-law visited Grenada from the States. She was assaulted by a taxi driver and when she went to the police station she was arrested just like that! They hurled insults at her about “You Jamaican b—h”. When you look at it, , the Haitian story cannot be used as an excuse to treat people regardless of where they are from, in an inhumane manner so today I take off my intellectual cap and put myself in the place of these persons who have primary information on how they were treated.

    1. Well they need to come forward with that information Jo. One of the things they announced on radio this morning was that this was not really forthcoming. Nothing can be done until people who experienced the so-called discriminatory behaviour testify to this officially just as Myrie did to win her case.

  4. Thanks for you time. I don’t expect this to die soon so I suspect that when the dust settles we will see whose view is right. Talk talk is always better than war war 🙂

  5. you know it’s not that important to me to be right. I think Jamaicans are reacting irrationally to this event especially considering their own inhospitality towards those they view might become burdens on the system here.

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