We are well aware that many of the great wars of history weren’t started or fuelled by citizens of two or more countries hating one another but from diplomatic fallout that led to military action. The Gulf war also known as Operation Desert Storm was not provoked by American citizens hating Iraqi citizens but by a United Nations Security Council resolution against President Saddam Hussein accused of atrocities committed against the people of Kuwait.

President Saddam of Iraq

President Saddam Hussein preparing his troops for battle. Photo courtesy guardian.co.uk

It’s well known that the leaders of Caribbean governments have not always seen eye to eye with the most glaring example being in 1958 when The Federation of the West Indies was launched but collapsed in May 1962. Our leaders, blessed with the vision to politically unite the West Indies made a mess of things because they couldn’t agree to disagree! As a result the hope of making the region a strong economic block died and the people, not the politicians, are the ones suffering today for it.

West Indies leaders

West Indies leaders being addressed by the Crown. Photo courtesy caribbeanelections.com

Speculation is rife that the people of the Caribbean have never forgiven the leaders of yore and by extension the citizens for their poor judgment and failed commitment to a worthy process; and exact revenge in ways they deem appropriate.

The most topical case is that of Shanique Myrie, a Jamaican woman who, alleges that on 14 March 2011, she suffered abuse at the hands of a female immigration officer at the Barbados Grantley Adams International Airport. She said, though she was allowed entry into Barbados for a month evidenced by the required stamp in her passport she was, without explanation detained for two hours, verbally abused, denied entry and “finger raped”.

Shanique Myrie

Shanique Myrie. Photo courtesy rjrnewsonline.com

Needless to say Shanique has since sought legal recourse and the matter has placed both the Jamaica and Barbados governments up against each other in the courts. On the civic level clearly this situation is wrong even if the alleged abuse was to a (Barbadian) Bajan and may have quite possibly happened to a Bajan and being dealt with quietly, we will probably never know. But politically speaking this is probably every Foreign Affairs Minister’s nightmare!

We all want to believe this alleged incident was isolated; never happened before and will never happen again but suppose, just suppose for a minute that this behavior has been nurtured over the years and engrained in the psyche of our immigration officers across the region…what would be the economic fate of the region if this were so? What’s for sure is that trade, tourism and so on will plummet further depressing the socio-economic landscape of the Caribbean!

Immigration officer Eddie Gillett

Do all Caribbean Immigration officers love their jobs like Eddie Gillett. Photo courtesy villageviewpost.com

It is no secret that immigration officials across the region, particularly at Piarco International Airport in Trinidad are very vigilant when flights from Jamaica touchdown. We can all speculate as to why this is but does the stereotype associated with Jamaicans (drug users, pushers and traders) warrant such vile treatment?

I think not and we should return to the days of respecting each other as proud people of a beautiful region, the Caribbean before we lose our global prominence as a warm, friendly people with resources ideal for inward investment! Cover photo courtesy glamour.com