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

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

deportees

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?

13 Jamaicans denied entry to Trinidad and Tobago

Jamaicans are considerably incensed over Trinidad and Tobago’s refusal to grant 13 of their compatriots permission to land in that country. The subject has dominated the talk shows as well as social media ever since the day the 13 were sent back. This isn’t the first time this has happened, in fact news reports said that over the last three years at least 1000 Jamaicans have been sent back from the twin island republic. An Observer article provides details of what is promising to blow up into a diplomatic row:

On Tuesday, 13 Jamaicans, including an 11-year-old girl and a man who is married to a Trinidadian woman, were denied entry upon arrival at the Piarco International Airport in Port of Spain and were sent back to Jamaica the following morning.

Immigration officials at the airport seized the Jamaicans’ passports and ordered them to sit on a hard bench all night before shipping them out of the country, despite the fact that the Caricom Single Market and Economy (CSME) allows for free travel between countries by Caribbean Community nationals.

The move by the Trinidadians is also a direct breach of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas and defies a recent ruling by the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), which handed down a judgement in favour of Jamaican Shanique Myrie who had sued the Barbados Government.

Myrie was refused entry into Barbados on March 14, 2011, was detained, subjected to a dehumanising cavity search, and deported to Jamaica the following day.

Reactions from social media and local newspapers give some idea of the outrage this has caused:

From Facebook:

Mariel Brown
The fact that 13 Jamaicans from one flight were deported needs to be addressed by the tt government before we end up with a xenophobic backlash from Jamaica.

Diana Thorburn Chen
There are already FB fliers circulating calling for a boycott of all T&T goods & services.

Zarna Herrera
Xenophobic backlash in full force already

Signs of the xenophobic backlash are fully in evidence. The following is from the Observer article quoted above:

Jamaican George Lopez said Jamaicans can use their purchasing power to hit the Trinidadians where it hurts most.

“The only thing that works is the economic embargo. Don’t buy their goods, don’t give their children jobs. The Government won’t do it, so the people must,” said Lopez.

“I am going to remove my money from any financial institution that has ties to the eastern Caribbean. I have long boycotted them, my family and friends also, from the 1970s. They are racist,” he charged.

Lopez said Trinidadians’ hatred for Jamaicans go way back to the 1960s when the Alexander Bustamante-led Government voted against a Caribbean Federation.

“There is a retention of hatred. It is the small island mentality. Jamaica is a continental mentality. I won’t go there (Trinidad),” he said.

Meanwhile on Twitter my good friend Grindacologist was gnashing his teeth and muttering under his breath about any Trinidadian musicans coming here:

@Grindacologist

wait till kes the band try come round ere again…a worries…

all di one machels montanas…

goin mek dem sleep pon di tarmac…

when a jamaican gets killed in trinidad dem all try deport the corpse…

Stay tuned to this spot for further updates on this contentious issue.