My Dear Trini Friends,
I know you are wonderful individuals and that you would not put your friends through the hassle your Immigration and Airport security have become known to put us through. I love you, and I know you will agree with me that I have to love me too. Every once in a while, I have to take a stand on a point of principle – only because I love me.
I’ve never overstayed my welcome in Trinidad and Tobago, yet on a stop-over just over a year ago, I was singled out for a very thorough search although I never left the airport. In fact, I was escorted from my plane through what seemed to be a secure (sterile) area via a guarded elevator and to the gate of my connecting flight.
I objected, because I considered this harassment. Before that, I watched as the two other Jamaicans I know (seated in first class) were given the same treatment. Bags emptied on a table, bodies patted and rubbed down, thoroughly searched. Taken from about six spaces from the front of the queue, I was the last person to enter the aircraft.
I was flustered, mad even, but other countrymen and women have been treated much worse than I was. So now that we’ve decided to boycott products made in your homeland, please don’t be offended. In the first place, our balance of trade was never equal, in fact it was the reason so many Jamaicans were looking to work in T&T. Your products are all over our supermarket shelves, our #2 trading partner with close to US$500 million a year.
This is way, way above T&T purchases from Jamaica. And there is a problem when its time to pay. I’m sure you know the term ‘hard pay” its takes a long time and to top it off, T&T Banks say they can’t pay in US dollars.
Members of various governments – who can forget Kamla?- and most recently one ‘big-mouth’ talk show host have made very offensive remarks about my countrymen and women. But, shouldn’t we be the ones to take offence? It is offensive when we are taken aside and searched, harassed just because… It is offensive when politicians old and new believe they have the right to say just about anything to counter the reports of blatant ‘abuse of power’ in what amounts to human rights abuses of my fellow Jamaicans. Detaining and searching without a reason and denial of entry without reason, willy-nilly.
Well, now the people have spoken, or they are speaking with their money. Neither the government nor the opposition have sanctioned it, but the people are speaking loudly and clearly.
On my part, I have not purchased a single item marked ‘Made in Trinidad’ for a sometime now. I’ve encouraged my family to follow suit and now, most don’t. Other Jamaicans are now doing the same. Our aim is to buy local since we have locally made versions of everything made in your country.
We are simply tired of being made the scape goat of every problem in the region and vilified for trying to make a living. We will buy our locally made snacks, sodas and drink mixes and what we don’t make locally, we’ll get it elsewhere. I guess our trade deficit with the US will get bigger.
My friends, I wish this wasn’t so hard, and we do know that local distributors and workers will also feel the pinch but this has been coming for some time. I won’t be travelling to T&T anytime soon, unless its government business and when I do, most likely it won’t be on CAL but I do hope we will remain friends.
No hard feelings, I still love you, It’s just that I love myself too and I won’t pay anyone to abuse me.