The single market and economy needs to be promoted among ordinary people in a more practical way
Source: Stabroek News - Letters
June 2, 2008
It is unfortunate that at this juncture of our history as a Caribbean region, a sister country would callously disrespect the citizens of another sister country. I refer to the incident where some twelve Guyanese were refused entry by the Trinidad immigration authorities last week. This unwelcome act comes at a most inappropriate time when Guyana is slated to host Carifesta X, to which I am positive Trinidad, like other Caribbean countries, hopes to send its contingent.
This is also a time when great emphasis is placed on the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME), which seeks to encourage the free movement of skills throughout the region; a time when the Caribbean Court of Justice has emerged as the final court of appeal for certain member states; a time when foreign affairs ministries are issuing Caricom Skilled Certificates to their citizens in order that skills are easily transferred or exchanged within the region, thereby aiding in the efforts to collectively tackle some of the new and emerging challenges of globalization.
The actions of the Trinidadian immigration authorities, clearly, do not augur well for this spirit of ‘oneness’ which we in the Caribbean have been dying to achieve since the signing of the Treaty of Chaguaramas in 1973.
It is regrettable that while Caricom as well as governments within the region continue to promote policies aimed at fostering greater cohesion, unity, economic co-operation, etc, not much work is being done at the local level to ensure that the people subscribe to the ideals which will help to achieve the objectives of those policies. From what transpired at the Piarco Airport, it is obvious that there is a big disconnect between the immigration officers, junior level government employees, and the Manning cabinet. Imagine what might be the extent of the disconnect between the people at the grassroots level and the cabinet? This disconnect might not be a situation peculiar to Trinidad but might very well be a common thread that runs through countries of the region.
Guyanese have been experiencing this kind of unwelcoming treatment from various countries of the region, in particular Barbados, but it was hoped that with all these new initiatives by Caricom that the situation would have changed. However, it now seems that might not be the case. It is therefore fitting that Caribbean governments and the Caricom Secretariat take on a more proactive role in meeting the ordinary people in the community to aggressively promote the single market and economy concept in a practical way. Special training should be given regularly to immigration officers and airport workers to sensitize them to the critical role they have to play in this process, since in most instances they are the first to have contact with these new workers or migrants.
I hope that Caricom, through its secretariat, does not allow this matter to fester, but that it will take urgent measures to ensure that the Guyana government and the Trinidad government settle this matter.