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A Champion Challenge: When will Caricom match West Indies cricketers

Today we’re all West Indians.

United under the maroon flag, we possess a power so magical that with a single win, we transformed Dwayne Bravo’s inanity into a global anthem of victory. Champion! Champion!

Photo: West Indies bowler Carlos Brathwaite (second from left) celebrates with captain Darren Sammy (top) and Chris Gayle after the wicket of England's Jos Buttler (far right) during the World T20 cricket tournament final match at The Eden Gardens Cricket Stadium in Kolkata on 3 April 2016.  Carlos Brathwaite sensationally hit four successive sixes off Ben Stokes in the last over as the West Indies stunned England by four wickets to win the World Twenty20 title. (Copyright AFP2016/Dibyangshu Sarkar)
Photo: West Indies bowler Carlos Brathwaite (second from left) celebrates with captain Darren Sammy (top) and Chris Gayle after the wicket of England’s Jos Buttler (far right) during the World T20 cricket tournament final match at The Eden Gardens Cricket Stadium in Kolkata on 3 April 2016.
Brathwaite sensationally hit four successive sixes off Ben Stokes in the last over as the West Indies won by four wickets.
(Copyright AFP2016/Dibyangshu Sarkar)

Under the unity flag of West Indian triumph, however, lies the troubling West Indian reality of a divided people wedged between past and possibility.

These you will find on any given day, languishing on deportation benches at Piarco International Airport. While Jamaicans have been the most vocal on the issue, a large number of Guyanese, too, are among the Caricom nationals being turned back at their first point of entry into Trinidad and Tobago.

Lured by Caricom’s boastful declaration of free movement within the region, each had arrived here assuming an automatic right to entry for six months only to be thrown into immigration limbo, their airline tickets instantly reduced to wasted money.

On the heels of their disappointment has developed an ugly acrimony which is fuelling anger towards Trinidadians. Occasionally, as happened last week, it rises to a threat to boycott all products from T&T.

In this pitched battled, Caricom nationals and T&T immigration officials square off against each other as equal victims of the policy incoherence created by successive governments.

Photo: Former Trinidad and Tobago prime minister Basdeo Panday (right) shares a joke with then Cuba president Fidel Castro during the closing ceremony of a CARIFORUM meeting in 1998.   (Copyright AFP 2014/Roberto SCchmidt)
Photo: Former Trinidad and Tobago prime minister Basdeo Panday (right) shares a joke with then Cuba president Fidel Castro during the closing ceremony of a CARIFORUM meeting in 1998.
(Copyright AFP 2014/Roberto SCchmidt)

It has been almost 15 years since that day in July 2001 when then Prime Minister Basdeo Panday signed the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas. Less than six months later, he was out of office, passing to Patrick Manning T&T’s signed commitment to a Caricom Single Market, supported by the free movement of people.

It would be another five years, 2006, before the single market would take official effect but, within two years, it was clear that the Manning administration was not fully behind the CSME.

The following comments by MP Colm Imbert in a 2008 parliamentary debate of a no-confidence motion against PM Patrick Manning are revealing:

“The former PM—the member for Couva North—he is the one who signed the revised treaty of Chaguaramas, binding all of us in this country to all sorts of things to do with Caricom, without reciprocity. It is the member for Couva North that did that—advised by the member for Tabaquite (Ramesh Maharaj) and by the member for Siparia (Kamla Persad-Bissessar)… So clearly the member for Couva North didn’t know what he was doing when he signed, advised by you…”

(Tdad Guardian, Aug 2008)

Photo: Then Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Patrick Manning attends a news conference at the venue of the Commonwealth Summit in Port-of-Spain on 26 November 2009.     (Copyright REUTERS/Jorge Silva)
Photo: Then Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Patrick Manning attends a news conference at the venue of the Commonwealth Summit in Port-of-Spain on 26 November 2009.
(Copyright REUTERS/Jorge Silva)

Declaring that Caricom’s mechanisms were too slow for integrating the region at the rate that was needed, Patrick Manning put his energies into fast-tracking a new regional bloc even as the Caricom Single Market continued to unfold.

Following a whirlwind tour of the region to pitch his proposal, he settled on a “coalition of the willing” in which Trinidad and Tobago, Grenada, St Vincent and St Lucia would come together in a political union.

As in the case of Panday’s signing of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas in 2001, the people of T&T were spectacularly omitted from Manning’s failed pursuit of his integration plan.

And there they have stayed, muddling their way through Caricom’s new regime, unclear of what to expect from the new system and what its expects from.

Much of the confusion that has Caricom travellers in tears comes from immigration decisions based on definitions of “undesirable persons” and “charge on public funds.”

Photo: Antigua and Barbuda midfielder Joshua Parker (centre) celebrates with teammates Quinton Griffith (left) and Nathaniel Jarvis during the 2014 Caribbean Cup qualifiers. Parker, Griffith and Jarvis play professionally in the United States, Slovakia and England respectively. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Antigua and Barbuda midfielder Joshua Parker (centre) celebrates with teammates Quinton Griffith (left) and Nathaniel Jarvis during the 2014 Caribbean Cup qualifiers.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

The judgment delivered by the Caribbean Court of Justice in the Shanique Myrie case was explicit and detailed enough on both to have provided clarity and guidance to immigrations authorities and the general public alike across the region.

But that judgment has turned out to be a lost opportunity for re-aligning national policies, re-training immigration officers and sensitising the Caricom public about the implications of the new free movement regime.

Based purely on anecdotal sources, it would appear that the ruling has provoked a heightened insularity and antipathy against Caricom visitors in some Caricom countries. Perhaps, it has to do with the judgment’s position that “where national law does not conform with the parameters laid down by Community law, it will be the latter that ultimately must prevail.”

Until we are brought to a fuller understanding and appreciation of how the national interest resides in the regional interest, the idea that Caricom law should prevail over national law will be a hard pill to swallow especially among those accustomed to wielding unfettered power.

As if CSME simply does not exist, much of the commentary following the recent outcry from the group of deported Jamaicans suggest an indignant rejection of any such idea.

Photo: West Indies and Jamaica all-rounder Marlon Samuels plays a shot during the World T20 cricket tournament final match between England and West Indies at The Eden Gardens Cricket Stadium in Kolkata on 3 April 2016. Samuels was the man of the match as West Indies won by four wickets. (Copyright AFP2016/Dibyangshu Sarkar)
Photo: West Indies and Jamaica all-rounder Marlon Samuels plays a shot during the World T20 cricket tournament final match between England and West Indies at The Eden Gardens Cricket Stadium in Kolkata on 3 April 2016.
Samuels was the man of the match as West Indies won by four wickets.
(Copyright AFP2016/Dibyangshu Sarkar)

Indeed, at the highest levels of the past and current administrations, very senior officials have seemed unfamiliar to the point of clueless about the implications of having signed the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas and the Shanique Myrie judgment.

Within the European Union, national sovereignty versus Union commitment is an issue forever on the boil as interests collide and the parts negotiate with the whole.

In the United Kingdom, the collision has been serious enough to force the June 23 referendum which will decide whether the UK stays in the EU or not.

Within Caricom, the issues are almost never before the people. Acting in our name, governments commit us to agendas about which they know very little and we know even less and in which we have no say at all.

Then, knowing where their bread is buttered and their votes are counted, they dismiss their signatures at the first sign of hometown trouble, leaving the task of integration to who else but the West Indies cricket team.

Champion! Champion!

Photo: The West Indies cricket women celebrate their 2016 World Twenty20 title after a historic win over Australia. (Copryight SkySports)
Photo: The West Indies cricket women celebrate their 2016 World Twenty20 title after a historic win over Australia.
(Copryight SkySports)

 

About Sunity Maharaj

Sunity Maharaj
Sunity Maharaj is a journalist with 38 years of experience and the managing director of the Lloyd Best Institute of the West Indies. She is a former Trinidad Express editor in chief and TV6 head of news.

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82 comments

  1. But I think a problem too Vernal is local law wasn’t changed to recognise that treaty. Correct me if I’m wrong Ju Li.
    That means it was either clumsily done to start with… Or mamaguy from day one.

    • You’re right on that point Lasana!… Unless laws are ratified in the domestic courts nothing signed unto regionally or internationally are recognized …in this case the Revised Treaty states how the freedom of movement of ppl are suppose to work…the conditions that allow for it ..Immigration officers are in their right to use their discression in their jobs….however, outside of Caricom our neighbours, streets etc are filled with a number of foreign nationals from Latin America, India, China and Syria yet they are allowed in and not nationals from some of our neighboring Caricom nationals…if Immigration Officers want to exert their powers against some Caricom nationals then they should also send back other nationals as i mentioned from those countries, hence the Jamaicans can say they are being discriminated against, so are the Nigerian . Apparently, it is different strokes for different folks!!!

    • There is an organization that are bringing nationals from LA under the guise of Missionaries for several years..this org is not monitored by any Govt Ministry or one would hv to assume that persons working in the Ministey of Natuomal Securiry have to be gettibg “a cut” why this organization continues to work underhandedly, corruptly…i saw evidence of this just a few weeks ago…

  2. What Sunity is saying here is that we agreed to specific terms and agreements with our Caricom neighbors that in theory should be binding regardless of which administration is in office……..what happens in actuality according to her is that our administrations pick and choose which aspects of these agreements they prefer to abide by and ignore the ones they don’t.

    This situation in effect creates disunity, distrust and a breakdown of order between Caricom members because there is no protocol for how we are to treat one another.

    I think the best way for Trinidadians to understand the problem with such a situation would be for the US, Canada and Britain to arbitrarily disregard their agreements with us and refise entry to those countries on a whim the way we do!

  3. The theme of this piece seems to be the absence of honor among this region’s ruling elite, the honor needed to give treaties and agreements worth more than the paper and ink they’re made of!

  4. Just because people vote doesn’t mean there is a democracy Rose-Marie. Some of the most undemocratic bodies allowing voting.
    The WICB is set up in a totally self serving manner and insulated from its employees, fans and even Caricom.
    Problem is everyone but their officials can see that model won’t last for ever.

    • I understand that. I mean every local board like our TTCB would have to be in collusion for this to be so consistently bad. But I’m just surprised that heads of government are also powerless. It’s like we dealing with the mafia in a region like Gotham City or something. I’m assuming that this body came into being as a result of some agreement by the heads of Caribbean states. Shouldn’t it be possible to revoke that by the equivalent of some caricom decree?

    • They are safe in the gated community that is the WICB. And fans and Govts foot their lifestyles.
      So how to get rid of them? Starve them out. And that is boycotts. But don’t aim for Cameron. That’s why the petitions will fail.
      The route is through each individual board.

    • Well if that is the route then we surely doomed..I recently heard Basrath make some inane comment patting his board on the back after the semi final win.

    • Starve TTCB and see. Are they self-sufficient? I doubt it.

    • Lasana Liburd If they are not being solely funded by WICB then they would certainly have a problem. The issue, however, is one we have seen with the Ramesar-led police association and the PSA led by Duke. In both of those cases, and the TTCB, there was no unity in presenting a replacement. What we saw was that everyone wanted to be in charge, with the end result being that the people who needed to be removed remainedin power.

    • Power doesn’t concede easily. The old guard doesn’t resign. The old guard dies.

  5. ‘ … in their wisdom…’ is an oxymoron.

  6. I’m still at a loss as to why the Caribbean region is saddled with an arrogant incompetent board that nobody seems to want. Not the heads of govt. .not the players or the coaches..not the players association. .least of all not the millions of fans. How is it in a democracy everyone is powerless to make this right. In any normal sport the coaching staff get to select their players. In our convoluted set up on any given day a team is picked on anything but performance. Sammy said it himself. .he doesn’t know when these 15 guys would be playing together as a team as many of them would not (some never ) be picked again. And we talking about a championship winning team that just snatched victory from the jaws of defeat. It is really mind boggling for lay people to understand. Of course the WICB in their wisdom would have all the answers.

  7. Even the EU is rethinking its policy of free movement of persons in its broad context. This was caused by the recent immigration of persons from the middle east and Africa. The Paris and Brussels attacks further highlighted the security risks of open borders and Schengen Regions are rethinking their policy of open borders.

    Regardless of what was signed in Chaguaramas, the security concerns of today have caused Nations to re-think the 1990s policy of open borders. T&T spends a lot on health care and other services for citizens which can be enjoyed by illegal immigrants who do not pay taxes. With greater economic insecurity, it is needful to curb the number of persons who can be a liability to the State. Persons entering here must be an asset and not a liability.

    Hence the need for upholding our immigration laws – which by the way – is not inconsistent to immigrations laws throughout the Caribbean, nor is it inconsistent with the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas or the CCJ ruling.

  8. when the people like the players challenge existing norms by rebelling with self belief.

  9. If the members of the WICB had a morsel of integrity,they would all resign.It is obvious that they do not have the respect and trust of the region’s players,so why hang on?Were officials of the board at that game in India?

  10. It’s a mindset just recently Bassarath was patting the Board on its back claiming “everywhere they went they were doing good” what a shameless bunch of misfits

  11. Does free movement connotes illegal movement?

    • What would be illegal movement?

    • I’m trying for the umteenth time to reply to your comment here my blasted phone giving trouble…can’t even upload the doc I’m trying to upload for point of ref 😛

    • Anyways, I’ll hv to do without it… So according to Articles 45 & 46 of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas 2011… Which addresses the issue of Free Movement of Caricom Nationals… It state .specfically who shall be considered for such in order ro ply their trade….interesingly though one can hv the requirements & at the same time be denied entry…its all up to immigrarion to decide who are allowed entry & who are not! The latter is not stated so in the Revised Treaty…. At a meeting I attended years ago ago regarding this same issue aa a university grad i asked the question on is having the Carricom skills certificate sufficient to get a Caricom national as a license to any Caricom country port of entry? The faciliator was both a lawyer and trade specialist from the Min of Foreign Affairs CSME Unit…she responded no it wasnt..it is up to Immigration officers to decide in their opinion who is accepted & who is denied because it is their to do so…in other words, she was explaining that while the requiremenrs are met on paper their is a gap between this arm of security officials & the Treaty itself….there is no coordination between the parties..she gave her own eg when she went on a work visit to Dominica the Ministry’s Rep how she was denied access to enter the country by Immigration officers…so something is clearly wrong…immigration officers hv their jobs to do with or without CSME requirements….so if one does not hv it & has no legitimate reason/s for entering the ports of entry what should happen??

    • Thanks. I’d love to see the legal excerpts you’re referring to when you get your hands on them Ju Li.

    • I hv it just not uploading Smh!

  12. Do you still think that the WICB should take credit for this victory???

  13. Ouch Gerry, Sammy sounds wounded. His words are ringing. Are his days now numbered?

    • He knew his days were numbered the moment he stood up for his squad.

    • His days numbered long time due to age, recent form and standing up for his/players rights.

    • Well, at least Sammy delivered one memorable performance for the series, eh? Seriously though, I thought his words were unfortunate in the circumstances.

      • Earl Best

        Of course you would, GEZP! I’m sure the Board feels the same way. Truth is always unfortunate when it puts us on the spot.

        And just as a matter of interest Wired should do a little impromptu poll to see how many readers think Sammy’s words were unfortunate. I’d bet my house that YOU and others like you and Cameron are in the minority.

        I stop short of drawing any hard conclusions about that putative result since i don’t want to encourage any discussion about the tyranny of the minority. Or of the majority,

    • His words were well measured and well timed . Did he tell an untruth ? No uniforms ? Not a work of encouragement from the Board? . Well done Sammy .

  14. What Sammy ain’t say is what he forget to say. #WHEFADDA

  15. Hahaha. Hope you are listening to the West Indies captain Darren Sammy giving his shout out to the WICB Gerard for the disrespect, lack of uniforms, uncertainty…

  16. Gerard Emile Zatopek Pinard, stop using the occasion of the WI teams as an opportunity to make a case for the WICB, we should be celebrating the success of the TEAM on the FIELD…..that analysis could be left for later

  17. Immigration should be to the betterment…
    If at some point there is need for unskilled labour….by all means..
    ALWAYS be willing to accept skilled labour
    But this free for all ..come when yuh want do as yuh want stay how long yuh want?….NAH

    • Well, we can continue to pretend that we can compete globally as individual nations each on its little rock with limited resources…or, we can think a little bigger and imagine what we could achieve as one CARIBBEAN nation.

    • Yuh think an American traveling from Texas to California have to answer any dotish questions bout where he stayin’ and how much money he have? Yuh think he need a passport fuh dat?

      • Gerard, when did the Caribbean become a Federal State? The two scenarios are very different.
        Why don’t the Jamaicans boycott American products when they are denied a Visa or entry?

    • Well we seem to be doing pretty well as it is…allowing any and any body to come and stay I can’t see how that’s improving “competitiveness” unless of course you advocating for companies hiring illegals so they can pay below market slave wages

    • Ahhhh…well an AMERICAN travelling from Texas to California is still within his own country. We had an attempt at a federation. ..ask Manley why it didn’t work

    • A Texan is an American
      A new yorker is an American
      A Californian is an American
      A Jamaican is a Jamaican. ..not a trini

    • Check yuh passport and see what it have on de cover! We don’t have to continue to think in an insular manner, but instead create a single Caribbean nation. Two World Champion cricket teams have shown the way to what could be achieved when we unite as one. Just a small example that, with some vision and commitment, could be replicated in other spheres.

    • Well you go round the Caribbean and lobby fuh dat… we all separate countries. .when dat change….call meh

    • Ah go call yuh…when yuh get big. Lol

    • Personally, I don’t think a man leaves his country to go and live someone else unless there is opportunity for him. And that opportunity he accepts helps that country he now works in.
      Immigration is a plus. Not a minus. Of course there are kinks as in everything else. But more positives than negatives to me. And the Caribbean is too small not to unite.

    • Listen everyone for integration until they realize that these Caricom people come in , overstay their time, work and send back the money in $US to their homeland, do not pay taxes and I can go on and on. They want Immigration to step in only when it adversely affecting them. We are the only country admitting Caricom people for 6months. Go Barbados or Jamaica for two days and see how much time you getting on your passport. People do your research before writing these long columns talking things you’ll do not know

  18. Firstly. ..are we guided by a court whose authority we don’t recognise (CCJ)?
    SECONDLY….so immigration should just be a free for all?..I thought the CSME allowed for “skilled worker” movement? ..

  19. Yuh know what does kill me. Every day people complain about d amount of illegal Guyanese selling on Charlotte Street or the amount of illegal Jamaicans committing crimes but we should just let everybody come here and stay here whether they meet the entry criteria it not….. I shall be very widely missed with this bullshit and move happily along thank you very much