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Jamaicans Boycott Trinidadian Products After Deportation Fiasco

Just over week ago, thirteen Jamaican citizens were refused entry to Trinidad. According to the Jamaica Gleaner, the passengers were sent back on the plane carrying the Jamaican National Football team back home after a game in Trinidad. The report claimed that:

The Jamaicans said that they were not allowed to contact anybody nor were they even allowed to use their cellular phones to contact the persons who were waiting outside the Piarco Airport to receive them. They also claimed they were threatened that their phones would be seized if they attempted to use them.

The story continued:

Among those turned away from her fellow Caribbean Community (Caricom) state was Anne Gordon, who was given the task of chaperoning an 11-year-old girl to see her father who resides in that country with his Trinidadian wife. However, both Gordon and the girl were denied entry, despite carrying Caricom passports.

Many Jamaicans – including Jamaican businessman William Mahfood, who happened to have been on the same flight as the deportees – were outraged by the actions of the Trinidad and Tobago Immigration Department and called for an immediate response by the Jamaican government:

 

He added:

In a recent ruling in the landmark case involving Shanique Myrie against the Barbadian Government, the Caribbean Court of Justice ruled that where a Caricom national is refused entry into a member state, that national should be given the opportunity to consult an attorney or a consular official of his or her country, or to contact a family member. The Jamaicans maintained that they were not granted either of these rights.

Many Jamaicans were outraged by the actions of the Trinidadian immigration and called for a an immediate response by the Jamaican government. In an interview posted on Facebook, Trinidad & Tobago's National Security Minister Gary Griffith said that the reason that the persons were not allowed entry was because they did not fulfill the stipulated requirements. He also had that some had given false information to the officers:

Griffith says in the case of the 13 Jamaicans last week, they also failed to convince immigration authorities that they were bona fide visitors. In fact, Griffith said in some cases, the Jamaicans lied on their immigration forms. On the weekend, Trinidadian officials released figures indicating that in the past three years, more 1,000 Jamaicans have been denied entry to the twin island republic. 
However, Griffith maintains that his immigration officers only admit visitors who meet all the immigration requirements. In the meantime, he has admitted that Trinidad and Tobago needs to make changes to its immigration systems consistent with the recent ruling in the Shanique Myrie case.

Renz Pee felt that while the incident was unfortunate, the refusal of entry was justified:

The point of an immigration department is to control who enters the borders of a sovereign nation.. The Caricom legislation is to facilitate easier movement between Caricom countries.. but this does NOT mean that people who have no plan or direction on entering the shores of Trinidad and Tobago AND also providing dubious stories should be allowed to enter… If a Guyanese is entering Jamaica and gives the immigration officers the story that he's going to work for Tastee patty and upon further investigation it is found that Tastee Patty has NO knowledge of this person nor has extended any offer of employment to them.. then now the motives of the person are called into question and this person could potentially become a ward of the state as they may never return to their place of origin.. Immigration has a duty to know where all foreigners who enter their shores are, or else that is pandemonium. This situation was unfortunate but seems justified. 

In the context of the Caribbean Court of Justice's ruling in favor of Shanique Myrie, issues surrounding CARICOM and the free movement of people throughout the region have been brought to the fore. Some in Jamaica have decided that the best response to this latest incident would be a boycott of Trinidadian products sold in Jamaica. Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago have long been economic rivals and this boycott would be merely the latest chapter of a long standing trade war between the two most populous territories of the English-speaking Caribbean.

Jamaica's Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister A.J. Nicholson rejected the idea of boycott stating that it would constitute a breach of the Treaty of Chaguaramas:

The Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas establishes a regime where goods that are classified as being of Caricom origin are entitled to duty-free treatment on entry into each Caricom member state, unless a member state has invoked a particular exception under the treaty. It would be a breach of Jamaica’s obligations under the treaty to block the entry of goods from Trinidad and Tobago, which qualify as being of Caricom origin, as a result of the allegations of unjustified denials of entry.

One of the leaders of the boycott movement, primary school teacher Kesreen Green Dillon, was interviewed by the Jamaica Gleaner.

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Poster encouraging Jamaicans to boycott Trinidadian import in favor of local products.

In the Facebook group ”Real Change For Jamaica”, Green Dillon expressed concern over the way Jamaica supported Trinidadian products:

What bothers me is how much we buy their things and ignore ours. We do not buy things like Excelsior products but when I went to get snacks for my daughter this morning, all I saw on on the shelves and in trolleys were SUNSHINE SNACKS. It appears that Jamaicans support them more than they support themselves. To what benefit do we do that? Are they doing their part according to the Treaty of Chaguaramus (sic)?

However, Garnett Weir pointed out that Excelsior was now owned by a Trinidadian company:

Excelsior is now a Trinidadian brand. The company Jamaica biscuit co. Ltd was sold to a Trinidadian company. http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/19990312/business/b1.html

Wayne John felt that Trinidad & Tobago has been treating Jamaica unfairly for a long time:

Trinidad has consistently been treating us with disdain. They gave us a hard time when we [were] trying to export our patties there yet our supermarket is full of their products.
When they took over Air Jamaica they promised they would retain our pilots and after a while they laid them off and the last straw was last week when they detain (sic) 12 Jamaican passengers and denied them entry for no good reasons and had them in some unpleasant holding area with substandard meal. One of the passenger[s] was a little girl who was going to see her dad for the 1st time and a man who was visiting his wife for their anniversary they didn't even allow them to contact the people who were at the airport to meet them.
I say enough is enough, we don't need them nor their product.
Boycott their products and services.

Pump Cahryl Stilletos, a Jamaican living abroad, decided to join the boycott:

We need a list of all the products imported from T and T and all the companies they own or operate in Jamaica, while the subject is still hot… I have already thrown my curry in the trash, it doesn't say T and T but it look look like it should be from there so one down….Although I am not in Jamaica and would NEVER visit T and T ( far more beautiful places to see )….I want to support the campaign….After this success we going to launch a campaign to get back our blue book (is what color unu passport is now)

In contrast, Rupert Francis remembered travelling throughout the Caribbean years ago and feeling welcome everywhere:

I had the honor of visiting Trinidad over 4 years ago, on the last voyage of the ‘Federal Maple’ the postal vessel that traversed the Caribbean. I found all the people from all the islands especially Trinidad and Tobago very friendly and accommodating, but that was 40 years ago! From all the stories have read about the treatment of Jamaicans in our so-called ‘sister countries', if this real which I suspect it is, the matter is downright reprehensible and unlawful. Our respective foriegn ministers must move quickly and expeditiously to make sure this does not happen again.
 
Francis continued by reminding that Jamaica has not always be in favor of unity:
 
The question is: Do we have the moral high ground from any of these vantage points? Are we doing it lawfully? It sems to me that whereas some carribbean nations are are keen about a coomon market and common heritage others have or are willing to turn their backs on us! Is this history repeating itself, remember the referandum in Jamaica, ‘Federation yes, Federation No?’ Do you remember who won? This act though is a low blow and I did not expect this, I have a lot of friends and relatives in Trinidad! They will have to turn me back!!!
 

Jamaican blog Veritas wrote that the calls to boycott Trinidadian products were misguided and showed a lack of understanding:

Let us not forget that CARICOM is not a federal state, you are not entitled to anything outside of Jamaica. Our sense of entitlement is appalling. You are a foreigner when you land at a port in Trinidad and Tobago. In my opinion, the ‘CARICOM passport’ functions like any other visa. As far as I understand visas, they authorize you to land at the port; admittance has to be a discretionary matter. It simply has to be. I am defending the right of Trinidad to refuse any person it deems ineligible because I reserve the very same right for Jamaica. 

He also added that Jamaican pride may be a big cause for the controversy:

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?

Carlton Stewart did not support the boycott either:

I do not agree with a boycott of TRINIDAD AND OR BARBADOS products or services. Within the REVISED TREATY OF CHAGUARAMAS ..there are facilities to deal with issues of this nature. When we engage in a boycott we will be hurting our fellow brothers and sisters within these territories who are really not responsible for the actions of their Government or Government Departments. THE HEADS of our CARICOM COMMUNITY , they are responsible, but they move like molasses in winter on important matters. They must see us in their faces when they leave their homes demonstrating for action. It is lack of action on the part of THE HEADS. If we respond with boycotts then where will it stop, it is the HEADS, who are responsible and must be strongly urged to move using the facilities within the agreements that set up CARICOM. Christ told his disciples that they should forgive their neighbors seventy times seven, we don't even gone five times yet and we ready to throw away the baby with the bath water. CALL UPON THE HEADS TO STOP SLEEPING ON THE JOB AND DO THE WORK THEY ARE BEING PAID TO DO.

Reaction to the proposed boycott on Twitter was mixed, with many enthusiastic about the effort…

…and others feeling that it was futile, given how how much Jamaica depended on Trinidadian imports:

The images used in this post, all part of the Jamaican boycott drive, are by Kesreen Green Dillon.
  • http://www.ivtrades.com/ ivtrades

    i don’t think any goods were actually boycotted. There were calls for this to be done but no official boycott has started

    • debbie brown

      Thats what u think.

  • Str8from973homie

    How did Jamaica allow this to happen?? They have these inferior fools in crappy Trinidad looking down on us…. Man get the pnp out of office. We need back a white JLP or high colour brown man to get us back on our feet. Truth

    • bobtailbassant

      wow sooo you think only a white person or high colour brown man could help you and your country…interesting… and you are wondering why Jamaica have to depend on Trinidad….I think you just answered your own question….meanwhile there are more Jamaicans then ever in T&T for the carnival including Usain Bolt so I not sure what all the bachannal was about but for us here in T&T it was business as usual….

      • Str8from973homie

        You’re a fool. You said nothing. Jamaicans visiting your trash can of an island to promote themselves and their business is what is to be expected. Usain Bolt is likely being paid by one of your companies’ to even be there. Trinidad has the 2nd biggest carnival in the world… It is only right that the more famous island sends some of it representatives to add some style. As for race goes please. Indians run Trinidad. What is the black mans contribution to that flat island? Lavantille.

        • bobtailbassant

          well my trash can is where you guys come to for everything, so I may be a fool but what dose that make you…?Also I’m an Indian so thanks for the compliments, however that doesn’t make what you are saying any less stupid. Your country and my trash can is one and the same with crime so again what is your point. At the end of the day it remains the same, it is business as usual here in T&T and your people still trying to get into the trash can, the famous ones, the not so famous ones, the rich one, the not so rich one. You can rant all you want it has not changed the price of Carib here nor has it done that in your island. So again whats your point, is it that your little ego is so bruised that you just want to cry and bitch for nothing? Note you call T&T a trash can, but I have respect for my Jamaican friends I will never call you country a trash can or anything of the sort. Again what does that say about you??? Sad little person who wants to have a chip on your shoulder, come to T&T we will help you with that chip. Ah go give yuh ah lil ketchup tu eat it with LOL!!!

          • Str8from973homie

            Us Jamaicans are opportunists “like any ambitious people. We held a higher position in the caribbean’s economic scale once before… Rewind to the 50′s and early 60′s. We were begged to stay in the West Indies federation but we left due to our cockiness. My brother, it is not about your race as we have active Indians in our political scene. The problem is with Trinidad’s cockiness. Trinidad is experiencing a boom economically but they have the same problems if not more than Jamaica had in the 50′s. We too have oil deposites but have to make sure that it is not only feasible but to make sure it doesn’t immediately disrupt our ecosystem. Jamaica is going on the right track, once we distance ourselves from you savages we will be more than ok. I love Indian people and am grateful to their influence on the island(curry, roti, Diwali, and other Indian culture). It’s not about race, which is what the other Trini commenter didn’t understand. I said what I said because I realize a the black man in my country will be a detriment, same as how the black man is a detriment in Trinidad. Lavantille=trenchtown. Wake up. Despite the riches you’ve recieved in Trinidad, we share the same quality of life. Google it. In fact, we may be higher

          • bobtailbassant

            well firstly I am a girl not a guy, secondly you are make stupid statements again and are calling us Trinis savages yet you are the one doing the name calling. I don’t know about you but the ‘black’ people in my country are very educated and upstanding, you can not and should not assume that all people are the same because of a few fools. This is your problem, you may have been rich once but T&T like other countries in the world go through the highs and lows of having a robust, viable economy. If we are ‘cocky’ it is with good reason, now I do not believe that we should flaunt it around, but you can not tell me that you don’t have some kind of chip about T&T. Also I would remind you that of the 13 Jamaicans that were sent back home only 2 has made an official report. Say what you want that fact remains that same. Also as far as I know not a lot of Jamaicans seem to be bothered by this, at least not the ones that are here working and liming and making a life for themselves…the “opportunists” as you call them…like I said it is business as usually here in T&T…

          • Str8from973homie

            Please. I know many Trinidadians personally. You have no right to be cocky. Things are not that great in Trinidad period, hence your disgusting crime rate. You just wrote a paragraph of nothingness, nonsensical chatter and fecal matter as a main subject. I call you people savages because for the most part you guys are loud, crass, overly confident and ignorant. Whether or not you agree savage, the truth is that this disdain that you Trinidadian rats feel towards us superior Jamaicans is simply a human emotion called jealousy. The same problems Jamaica is facing are the same problems Trinitrash is facing. The poor Jamaicans that migrate to your country are simply that… Poor Jamaicans. You keep them, because they are a drain on our society. PS, keep it up, one day you may be able to accomplish the global recognition Jamaica has.

          • bobtailbassant

            ummm think you are mixing up Trini and Jamaicans now buddy. You want to talk about crass and loud?!! Talk yuh shit man with yuh dumb ass. You are sounding bitter and sad right now. I will leave you here with your poor delusions when you reach to sweet T&T (and you will come) we will love your stupid ass all the same because unlike YOU we will not begrudge yuh ugly ass some love and good food. Yuh uncouth, senseless, ignoramus, with so little respect yuh make yuh own mother shame. You clearly just want to be stupid and argumentative, so you can feel free and beat up yuh chest like yuh in something. My convo. you with you, however, is done as I have made my point about you!!! Bye Bye dumb ass!! BUSINESS AS USUALLY HERE IN SWEET T&T

          • Omar Brissett

            Serian run TNT. remember u all lots of Trini lives Jamaica work Jamaica go schools in Jamaica doh forget madam p live Jamaica 15 years wonder if she was getting bad treatment we don’t have diss countries all Jamaica government do is put jobs in place and we doh go Trinidad and Trini stay Trini if we dead tomorrow the country still remain so wat we all fighting for

  • sugar

    too many undesirable jamaican are visitng trinidad and not wanting to leave. once they visit and they see how nice trinidad is they then decide to make it home. send them back they are criminals. does anyone actually want jamaican in the country. so many of them are being killed. why still wanting to come to trinidad. go back to your poor island trinidad is so so rich yet those outsiders are prepared to squat in illegal infested laventille than remain in the land of their birth

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